Scott Tolzien understands how difficult it is to latch onto an active roster spot as a backup quarterback in today's NFL.
At the same time, his current opportunity on the Green Bay Packers’ eight-man practice squad isn’t anything to scoff at, either.
That’s why the 26-year-old quarterback opted to stay on the Packers’ scout team two weeks ago despite receiving overtures from the Cleveland Browns to join their 53-man roster amidst their quarterback issues.
The Packers made it worth the 26-year-old quarterback’s while, too. According to the NFL Players Association website, they increased his weekly practice-squad compensation from the league minimum of $6,000 to $32,058, which equates to the weekly minimum for a second-year player on an active roster ($554,999).
A two-year starter at the University of Wisconsin, the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Tolzien spent his first two professional seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before signing onto the Packers’ practice squad shortly after training camp.
“You always consider it because that’s a roster spot,” Tolzien said. “When you think of the NFL and how many quarterback spots there are, there’s very few total spots when you think about it. It’s a small fraternity. You consider, obviously, when you get an opportunity like that, but you’re also weighing all your options and trying to look through all aspects from coaching staff to players.
“There’s just a million pieces to the puzzle, but I like it here. I like the direction that I’m going and that the team is going. I’m glad to be a part of it and happy to be here.”
The process of increasing a practice-squad player’s compensation is nothing new. NFL teams are allowed to pay players more than the weekly $6,000 minimum to remain on the practice squad, but whatever extra pay they give a player counts again the salary cap.
That’s not an issue for the Packers, who came into the season with roughly $13 million in available cap room. They’ve also done it in the past to hold onto quarterback Graham Harrell, and receivers Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley.
In the two months he’s been with the Packers, Tolzien has worked extensively with quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, and veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Seneca Wallace, on honing his skill set.
With only three practice days to throw each week, he’s also started one-on-one with McAdoo prior to game days, throwing upwards of 50 footballs and sometimes utilizing Wallace as his receiver.
“It’s been huge because there’s no substitute for experience in the NFL,” Tolzien said. “It’s a good feeling to know that there’s some stability here and that’s great as a developmental role that I’m in right now to have that stability. Just to focus on getting better each day through Seneca, through Aaron, and through my coaches. I have a great resource in those guys. It would be ridiculous not to utilize that resource every day and that’s what I’m focused on.”