Frankly, I was more than a little surprised that wide receiver Tori Gurley decided to remain on the Green Bay Packers practice squad instead of signing to the 53-man roster on the Minnesota Vikings. Many people dream of being on a NFL team (which practice squad players technically aren’t as they are unrestricted free agents), and Gurley just might be giving up his only chance to be a real NFL player. From a Packers fan standpoint, most were quick to laugh as the Vikings, who are notorious for stealing players from NFC North rivals such as Ryan Longwell, Darren Sharper, Bernard Berrian and Devin Aromashshodu, couldn’t even get a practice squad player playing wide receiver on the NFL’s deepest and most talent wide receiving corps to sign with them.
But I have to admit; it’s a pretty smart move by Gurley, who is essentially betting on the winning team. From an economic standpoint, Gurley is probably going to make more money as Packers practice squad member than as a Minnesota Viking.
Signing with the Vikings: the minimum salary for a player with no vested years (such as a rookie like Gurley) is $375,000 and realistically Gurley would have gotten the cookie cutter rookie pick-up 3-year contract from the Vikings. Pro-rated for the three remaining games of the regular season means that aside from signing bonus money (which would likely be negligible for a late season rookie pick-up if there is one at all) would equate to $70,311. Keep in mind the Vikings are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, so $70,311 is all Gurley can make on the Vikings this year. Also keep in mind while it is technically a 3-year contract, most likely none of the money is guaranteed, so there’s a very good chance that Gurley could be cut next year and see no more money from the Vikings.
Staying with the Packers: the minimum salary for a player on the practice squad is $83,000, which equates to $5,200 a week. Just to the end of the regular season Gurley stands to make $15,600, which is a difference of $54,711. But, the Packers are already locked into the playoffs and while Gurley will not be receiving a paycheck for the first week of the playoffs (as the Packers have clinched a playoff bye), Gurley should make more money:
If the Packers win the divisional game: $36,600 total
- If the Packers lose the divisional game: $34,600 total
If the Packers win the conference game: $74,600 total
- If the Packers lose the conference game: $71,100 total
If the Packers win the Super Bowl: $157,600 total
- If the Packers lose the Super Bowl: $116,600 total
Gurley has also confirmed that the Packers have given him a raise in order to keep him on the practice squad, and while it’s unlikely that the Packers matched the Vikings, Gurley probably got a raise somewhere near the range of $12,500 per week (or $37,500 for the rest of the season), which is what quarterback Graham Harrell got for signing to the practice squad. So you in essence could add another $21,900 to the previous totals.
So as long as the Packers win the divisional game, Gurley stands to make more money than he would have as a Viking. And even if the Packers were to lose the divisional game, Gurley would stand to make $56,500, or only $13,811 less than signing with the Vikings.
Keeping with just the economics, should the Packers win the Super Bowl, Gurley would also be entitled to a Super Bowl ring, just as John Kuhn has a Super Bowl ring for being on the practice squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2005 season. While the exact price of a Super Bowl ring is unknown, estimates put last year’s ring at around $30,000, and as the tradition is that every year’s ring is even more expensive that the previous years, chances are good that it could be way more than that.
Ex-Packers head coach Mike Holmgren famously put a pile of cash on a table to show his team how much money they could make by winning the 1996 Super Bowl. Many people forget that NFL player contracts only pay them for the regular season, and while $100,000 might not be much of a big deal for star players like Aaron Rodgers or Charles Woodson, for late round rookies and practice squad players, winning the Super Bowl can be more than they made the entire regular season. So while Tori Gurley might never make it into the NFL, chances are very good that he’s going to be seeing more green at the end of the season.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.