Each NFL team may keep up to (8) eight members on its "practice squad" in addition to the 53-member main roster. They consist mostly of rookies who were cut in training camps and borderline NFL-caliber players. Both rookies and young veterans are eligible for the practice squad. However, a player cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons, or if he has accrued a year of NFL experience (six or more games on a club's 53-man active roster or official Injured Reserve list.) If the player was on the active list for fewer than 9 games during their "only Accrued Season(s)", he maintains his eligibility for the practice squad. Games in which a player is listed as the third-string quarterback (a designation that has been abolished as of 2011) do not count as being on the active list.
Practice squad players practice alongside regular roster players during the week, but they are not allowed to play in actual games. They can be paid considerably less than active squad players: The minimum salary from 2008 to 2010 is $5,200 per week (2008-2010) for 17 weeks, or $88,400 per season, in comparison to the NFL minimum rookie salary of $285,000. Some practice squad players are paid considerably more, however. In 2006, the New England Patriots paid third-year player Billy Yates the full $425,000 he would have earned on the active roster.
Players can be promoted to the active roster of their current team or to that of any other team. They have free agent status and can sign with any team they wish without compensation to the original team, if they are released from the practice squad. Additionally, the NFL has a program through which foreign players may be assigned to teams' practice squads, called the International Practice Squad Program.