According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the minimum weekly payment for each practice squad player in 2017 is $7,200. This means that if a player is on the practice squad for all 17 weeks of the regular season, they will earn $122,400. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, seven of the Patriots 10 practice squad players are earning the minimum.
Teams pay practice squad players more- generally up to their active roster minimum salary- if they are concerned that they might sign with another team. The Patriots paid Geneo Grissom $36,176 per week to stay on the practice squad to start this season, which was the equivalent of his active roster salary of $615,000. Sometimes the Patriots stash a player on the practice squad for a week with the hope of promoting them, simply from a numbers perspective due to roster limitations.
“The practice squad is the depth that you can't carry on your roster,” Belichick told 98.5 The Sports Hub back in August. “We want to keep as many good players as we can.”
And so the Patriots have decided to pay three players more than the practice squad minimum to keep them around, according to Reiss.
CB Ryan Lewis: $465,000 ($27,353/week)
The Patriots signed Lewis on September 13th after RB D.J. Foster signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The 5’11, 192 pound Lewis runs an incredible 4.37s 40 yard dash with an outstanding 6.87s three cone and 10’8 broad jump. He was only a one year starter at the University of Pittsburgh and is a work in progress. He was unable to make the Arizona Cardinals roster as an undrafted rookie.
DL Angelo Blackson: $255,000 ($15,000/week)
The Patriots signed Blackson on September 5th. The 6’4, 320-pound Auburn product was a fourth round pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2015 NFL Draft and played in 29 games over his first two seasons, including two starts in 2016. He played 495 defensive snaps and 216 special teams snaps over those two years, giving Belichick and the Patriots a lot of film to evaluate. He’s a pure run-stopper that could be promoted if there is another injury on the defensive line.
QB Taylor Heinicke: $255,000 ($15,000/week)
The Patriots signed Heinicke on September 23rd after releasing WR Demarcus Ayers (who had previously been earning more than the practice squad minimum). Heinicke spent his first two seasons in the NFL as a depth option for the Minnesota Vikings, but the 6’1, 200 pound quarterback runs an incredible 4.60s 40 yard dash and 6.96s three cone, and has an excellent 10’3 broad jump.