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New England Patriots have top-paid NFL practice squad

NFL teams began assembling their eight-man practice squads last week, and if you're on the New England Patriots squad, your wallet might be a little fatter than others.

The Patriots are one NFL team that consistently goes above and beyond the minimum practice squad rate of $5,700 per week. In recent seasons, the Pats have paid their entire practice squad weekly rates above the minimum salary at certain points.

That trend continues in 2012 as the NFL Players Association base salary information shows that Patriots offensive linemen Thomas Austin and Matt Kopa are both earning $8,820 per week, which over a 17-week season would amount to a $149,940 salary.

The reason for paying more? Some teams will make exceptions for players who might have drawn interest from other clubs or as a way to reward players for their practice performance.

For example, the New York Jets tight end Hayden Smith is earning $6,875 per week, or $116,875 over a full season.

Clearly, the Jets like Smith, a former rugby player. A source with knowledge of his contract confirmed that Smith received a $98,000 base salary guarantee as part of his three-year, $1.454 million contract he signed in April. The contract was later terminated when he cleared waivers last week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Markus White is currently the NFL's highest-paid player on a practice squad, earning $17,647 per week, or $300,000 over the season.

White, a seventh-round draft pick in 2011 by the Washington Redskins, appeared in two games last season and each of the Redskins' four preseason games this season.

Read into it what you will, but the Buccaneers closed out the preseason against the Redskins and host Robert Griffin III & Co. in Week 4 of the regular season.

Another defensive player earning well above the minimum rate is Denver Broncos defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, who is earning $12,500 per week or $212,500 for the season. Siliga was working with the first-team defense at one point during organized team activities.

This is not the first time he has been paid an increased rate while on the practice squad. Siliga was paid $22,058 per week, the same as if he were on the Broncos' 53-man roster, during the final four weeks of the 2011 season.

Here are the rest of the practice squad players earning an increased rate this week:

» Baltimore Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes - $7,000 per week ($119,000 over a full season)

» Minnesota Vikings running back Jordan Todman - $10,000 per week ($170,000)

» New Orleans Saints wide receiver Andy Tanner - $7,000 per week ($119,000)

» Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver B.J. Cunningham - $6,000 per week ($102,000)

» Seattle Seahawks quarterback Josh Portis - $6,700 per week ($113,900)

Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.

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