Boehringer on Vikings practice squad. What does that mean?

With Germany’s Mortiz Boehringer having now been moved to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad after enduring a whirlwind, breathtaking six-month introduction into the world of professional football, it might be a good idea to examine what this actually means.

Being on the practice squad of an NFL team does not mean a player has been relegated to the hinterlands of football. It is in fact, a close step from being on the team. He still gets a paycheck for instance.

So although some might interpret being on the practice squad as having failed, it is far from it. Just ask the hundreds of players who were released outright.

In the case of Boehringer, one of the feel-good stories of the year in football, the Vikings obviously feel that he has potential and can be developed. He could end up a starter although he may never reach the level needed to make the 53 man roster.

As a player on the practice squad, he does not dress for games and isn’t listed on the team’s active roster. The job of the practice squad is to continue to develop and help the team prepare for games by playing on scout team which simulates a future opponent’s style of play.

The league dictates the minimum salary for a practice squad player though no maximum salary exists.

Practice Squad Rules

  • Each NFL team can place 10 players from training camp onto a practice squad in September before the start of the regular season. A player is eligible for the practice squad if he has no accrued seasons — six or more games on an active roster — in the NFL, has one prior accrued season on an active roster for no more than eight games or was on a team’s practice squad for the previous two seasons and the team’s active roster never dipped below 53 players. These rules, while complicated, have a great influence on whether a player ends up on an NFL team’s active roster, potentially garnering a higher paycheck.

Minimum Practice Squad Salary

  • As of 2016, the minimum salary for a practice squad player was $6,900 per week, according to the SB Nation website. Over a 17-week NFL season, this equates to a salary of $117,300. Teams are free to pay a practice squad player more than the league minimum, though the majority of teams choose not to pay more. A practice squad player also usually receives a small signing bonus of a couple thousand dollars, according to football information website Arrowhead Pride.

Practice Squad Promotions

  • Injuries or impressive play over the course of the season may force a practice squad player’s promotion to an NFL active roster. Signing a player from the practice squad to an NFL active roster requires a team to pay the player at least the league minimum salary, broken down into the weeks the player is on the active roster. As of 2014, the minimum NFL player salary comes to $450,000 for a 17-week season, according to the Spotrac website, or approximately $26,470 weekly. While on the active roster, a practice squad player must receive at least this minimum amount.

Earning a Living

  • Some practice squad players, like New York Giants running back Derrick Ward, rise from the practice squad to become everyday NFL players and earn large contracts. Other players, including New Orleans Saints tight end Tyler Lorenzen, struggle to stay with a team long enough to earn enough to pay the bills. According to NFL.com, Lorenzen’s practice squad earnings from 2009 totaled just north 0f $30,000. Pay can be sporadic for practice squad players because NFL teams take no penalty for cutting them loose.

Boehringer’s NFL journey continues

Boehringer has proven to be a hard worker and what is known as a “character” player. The Vikings had their eye on him in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft but also realized how raw he was. They likely did not expect him to crack the roster on his first try. And they are giving him a chance.

As Jeanna Thomas points out in SB Nation, Boehringer’s journey is far from over:

“Boehringer’s NFL story isn’t over yet, though. On the practice squad, he can develop his skills and perhaps even find his way to the 53-man roster one day. With that combination of size and speed, he’s not someone to count out yet.”

Link to original ehow article.

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