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How it works: NFL Practice Squad rules, eligibility, salary, and more

Who’s eligible and how many players can be signed?

Baltimore Ravens v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Tomorrow is cutdown day in the NFL, and that means around 1,184 players around the league will be getting released. Most teams will be cutting some players that would make other teams, and players they want to keep and develop. There are already several NFL cuts already being reported today.

The rules for NFL practice squads have changed over the past few years, expanding the number from 8 to 10, allowing 2 players with 2 years experience to be signed, and then expanding that number to 4 players.

Also, a player must now have a minimum of six games - up from the current three games - on a practice squad in order for that season to count as one of the player's three permissible seasons of practice squad service.

Practice squad basics

  • Each NFL team can have up to 10 players on its practice squad.
  • Practice squad players ... practice with the team. They do not play in games.
  • Practice squad players are paid per week and can be released at any point during the season.
  • Practice squad players are free to sign with other NFL teams, but they have to be signed to the 53-man active roster of the acquiring team. A practice squad player cannot be signed to another practice squad unless he is first released.
  • A practice squad player can not sign with his team's upcoming opponent, unless he does so six days before the upcoming game or 10 days if his team is currently on a bye week.
  • If a practice squad player is signed to the active roster, he will receive a minimum of three weekly paychecks, even if he is released before spending three weeks with the new team.
  • In order to be signed to a practice squad after being released, a player must first clear waivers, and is subject to waiver claims by other teams


NFL practice squad players make a minimum of $8,000 per week that they are on the practice squad.

If a player remains on the practice squad for an entire regular season (at a minimum salary of $8,000 per week), he would earn a minimum of $136,000 over the full regular season if he keeps his spot on the practice squad. If a team makes the playoffs, these payments continue for as long as the team is in the playoffs.

Practice squad players can be paid any amount by teams as an incentive to not sign to another team’s roster. The contracts do count towards the team’s salary cap