Ross Ventrone, followed in his brother Ray's footsteps. He played safety for the Villanova football team, then graduated and landed in camp with the New England Patriots. He spent the entire 2010 season on their practice squad and opened camp with them again this summer.
Then they cut him.
That didn't last very long, however, because Bill Belichek brought him right back and in order to show him their appreciation, they're cutting him some big checks. According to Mac's Football Blog, Ventrone will earn $8,820 per week for his services on the practice squad, an amount that could add up to just less than $150,000 if he stays on the team for an entire 17-week season.
Practice squad salaries count against the NFL's salary cap, so teams are often hesitant to pay their practice players a lot more than the minimum ($5,700 per week). For most teams, a practice squad player is a warm body that has some talent and motivation.
That is certainly true for the Patriots, who pay everyone else on their practice squad the league minimum. Though, according to ESPN, they have a history of paying a select few practice squad players more:
As McIntyre notes, the Patriots have annually been a team that pays some practice squad players more than the minimum. In some cases, the Patriots have paid practice squad players a full salary as if they were on the regular roster.
Ross's brother, Ray Ventrone was briefly on the Patriot's 53-man roster a few years ago before catching on with the Cleveland Browns. He makes most of his plays on special teams these days, he recorded 19 tackles in 2010 and is a back-up at strong safety.