The NFL can be cruel to those attempting to earn a job as a player in that professional league.
While the NFL can be incredibly lucrative, with a minimum annual salary of $660,000 for a rookie on an active roster, landing one of those coveted roster slots is incredibly difficult.
A number of former West Virginia football players found that out earlier this week when NFL teams had to make cuts to get down to the allotted 53-man active roster.
Twenty-two ex-Mountaineers went to training camps with various NFL teams in late July. Half of those made it to active rosters on Sept. 1, and one of those 11 had to find a new home after being waived on Aug. 31.
Quarterback Will Grier was drafted in the third round by the Carolina Panthers in 2019, and he spent two seasons with that club. Carolina cut him on Tuesday, but Grier wasn’t on the open market for long, as the Dallas Cowboys picked him up off waivers on Wednesday. He is one of three quarterbacks currently on the Cowboys’ roster, along with Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush.
Grier was one of 12 former Mountaineers to get cut by NFL clubs recently. Others released were:
- Michael Brown, offensive lineman, New Orleans
- Rasul Douglas, defensive back, Houston
- Karl Joseph, defensive back, Las Vegas
- Colton McKivitz, offensive lineman, San Francisco
- Adam Pankey, offensive lineman, Miami
- Kenny Robinson, defensive back, Carolina
- David Sills, wide receiver, New York Giants
- T.J. Simmons, wide receiver, Tampa Bay
- Darius Stills, defensive lineman, Las Vegas
- Kevin White, wide receiver, New Orleans
- Daryl Worley, defensive back, Arizona
Grier was the only former Mountaineer subsequently picked up off waivers after being cut. Those others who were released now are free to sign with any team, either to active rosters or the 16-man practice squads.
After initially being released, Douglas, Sills and White each were signed to the practice squads of their original teams, the Cardinals, Giants and Saints, respectively. In addition, Joseph was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad. Most of the NFL clubs have not yet filled all 16 available slots on their practice squads, so others still could be picked up.
Practice squad players don’t earn as much as members of the active roster, but they still do pretty well financially, though their job is week to week over the course of the season. Those with two or less years in the NFL receive a weekly check of $9,200 this season, while those with more than two years of NFL experience are paid $14,000 per week. As many as two practice squad players can be promoted to a team’s active roster for each game, so, in many cases, because of injuries, illness, etc., those on the practice squad will be moved up to the active roster over the course of the 17-game season.
With Grier picked up by Dallas, there are now 11 former Mountaineers on active NFL rosters:
- Tavon Austin, wide receiver, Jacksonville
- Yodny Cajuste, offensive lineman, New England
- Tony Fields, linebacker, Cleveland (the only member of WVU’s 2020 team currently on an active NFL roster)
- Mark Glowinski, offensive lineman, Indianapolis
- Will Grier, quarterback, Dallas
- Nick Kwiatkoski, linebacker, Las Vegas
- David Long, linebacker, Tennessee
- Geno Smith, quarterback, Seattle
- Quinton Spain, offensive lineman, Cincinnati
- Trevon Wesco, tight end, New York Jets
- Kyzir White, linebacker, Los Angeles Chargers