A practice squad in the NFL is a reserve team consisting of players that can step into the first team if and when needed.
Practice squad players spend their time learning the plays and tendencies of the competition. They are also referred to as the “scout team.” They play the role of the opponents during practices. It allows them to hone their fundamental skills while assisting the 53-man team in preparation for the upcoming week.
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How many players are on an NFL practice squad?
Initially, the squad was limited to five players, then expanded to 10 in 2014, increased to 12 in 2020, and now 16 in 2022. This current number is the most in NFL history, and it is convenient due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. It won’t be a surprise if the NFL increases the number in the next few years.
Note that there are also some restrictions placed on scout teams. These restrictions include that out of the 16 players on the practice team, a team can have the following:
- Any number of prospects have yet to play in at least nine games in a season.
- Up to four prospects who have played no more than two NFL seasons.
- Up to six prospects with no limitations on experience.
Furthermore, four players can be protected each week, so they can’t be signed by another team off their practice squad. However, any unprotected player may be signed to a 53-man roster at any time.
How much do NFL Practice Squad Players get paid?
Players on NFL practice squads earn a minimum of $11,500 per week or $207,000 for an entire season.
However, that minimum is for players who have accrued less than two seasons. That number increased to $15,400 per week or $277,200 for 18 weeks if the player has accrued two or more seasons.
A player earns a prorated minimum compensation with that player’s experience factored in if that player is moved from the squad to the active roster.
Is there a pathway to NFL glory from that practice squad?
Not every NFL player can have a picturesque career like Patrick Mahomes or Trevor Lawrence; some of the all-time greats have been made to grind from the ground up via the scout team of their parent franchises. There has been a severe impact on players who began their careers on the scout team or worked with teams for a long time before finding their way to the 53-man roster.
For instance, the likes of Arian Foster, Brandon Marshall, Danny Amendola, Jason Peters, and Kurt Warner made it out of the scout team, and they’ve ended up future Hall of Famers or, at the very least, perennial Pro Bowlers.
The NFL is the most demanding professional American football league to get into, and the squad is a terrific way to prove your talents and play on the biggest stage.