As has been noted on several occasions in this space, the New England Patriots organization has been at the forefront of going above and beyond when it comes to rewarding practice squad players for their contributions.
Symbolically, they've awarded special black jerseys to players that helped them prepare the previous week and, perhaps more importantly, they've shown a willingness to go compensate practice squad players at above the weekly minimum ($5,700 in 2011) laid out in the collective bargaining agreement.
Last season, several Patriots practice squad players -- Rich Ohrnberger, Javarris James, Darnell Jenkins, Tyrone McKenzie, Steve Maneri and Tony Carter -- were compensated at various increased rates. That has continued this season, with safety Ross Ventrone, tight end Garrett Mills and offensive tackle Thomas Welch have been paid at higher rates.
According to NFLPA documents, defensive end Markell Carter and offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Matt Kopa, three players who have been on the practice squad since the start of the 2011 season, are now being paid at a $149,940 rate, or $8,820 per week. In addition to Mills, McDonald, Carter and Kopa, cornerback Malcolm Williams, a 2011 seventh-round pick who was re-signed to the practice squad this week, is earning currently being paid at a $163,200 rate, or $9,600 per week.
As evidenced by the list of players who earned higher rates in 2010, increasing the player's compensation is not necessarily an indicator that the player is part of the team's long-term plans. But it is a good and relatively inexpensive way of letting players and agents know that there are some financial advantages to joining the Patriots' practice squad over another team's offer.