Over the upcoming days, the Las Vegas Raiders will be carefully handpicking the members of their practice squad, a crucial decision that often goes unnoticed by the casual fan but can truly impact a team’s entire season.
Although it may seem insignificant from an outsider’s perspective, the practice squad proved to be a saving grace for the Raiders throughout the previous season. With a multitude of injuries striking key players higher up on the depth chart, the team heavily relied on their practice squad to fill crucial gaps and maintain their competitive edge.
The practice squad is really an extension of the roster to us because based on the rules the way they are now and the ability to elevate players at a given time based on how many times you’ve done it, and so on, and so forth,” Raiders Coach Josh McDaniels said when he spoke to the media after Las Vegas’ preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday. “The practice squad can absolutely be an extension of our roster, which is the way we used it last year. There were a number of guys who were on the practice squad who came up and played very meaningful snaps for us.
“There’s a lot that goes into that. We’d love for our practice squad to be filled with guys who we feel have the traits and the skills that we think will eventually lead them to the roster, whether that be through injury or just development. We have a lot of guys who can fit into that category, there’s no question about it. The tougher the decisions, the better your football team. I’m hoping the decisions are tougher.”
Let The Games Begin!
Starting at noon ET on Wednesday, teams are granted the opportunity to sign players to their practice squad. This practice squad serves as a safeguard, allowing teams to protect up to four players each week from being snatched away by rival teams. The rules are straightforward: if a team wishes to acquire a player from another team’s practice squad and they do not intend to immediately include them in their active roster within a span of 6-10 days, they must sign the player to their active roster and compensate them with three weeks’ worth of salary. This system ensures that teams can retain promising talent while also deterring unnecessary player poaching.
How The Practice Squad Works?
Squads are comprised of 16 players. Players with zero accrued seasons or players with an accrued season that consists of them being on an active game day roster for fewer than nine games in that season are eligible. Players with no more than two accrued seasons and players with three or more are also eligible, but teams are limited to a combination of up to four of the former and up to six of the latter players, with the six representing “veteran” status.
Two players can get called up to the active roster in game days. The salary for players on the practice squad is determined by their number of accrued seasons in the NFL. Players with two or fewer accrued seasons will earn $12,000 per week, while players with three or more accrued seasons will earn a higher salary ranging from $16,100 to $20,600 per week.
Over the course of a full season, a player on the lower end of the pay scale can make up to $216,000, while players with more accrued seasons can make between $289,800 and $370,800. However, it’s important to note that these figures may vary based on the player’s individual contract and any adjustments made by the team.
Ziegler and McDaniels have been very active in their use of practice squad players using the flexibility to bring players up and down. Be on the lookout for some of the young and older players such as Drake Thomas and Phillips Dorsett Being retained to give the Raiders an advantage on a week-in-and-out basis.