How NFL Contracts Work

NFL contracts have four main components; 1. signing bonus money, 2. other forms of guaranteed money, 3. incentive clauses and 4. salary. Signing bonuses, which is money paid up front to a player, some of which is guaranteed, are now generally slotted, meaning that high first round picks get the most money and then each pick thereafter is a slot "down" in money until the last pick of the 7th round of the NFL Draft. Below is a chart demonstrating the average "guaranteed money" per round in the 2013 NFL Draft. All rookie contracts must be four years in length, with the Club having the option of a 5th year for any rookie drafted in the 1st round.

Any draft eligible player who goes "undrafted" is free to negotiate an Undrafted Free Agent (UFA) contract with any team immediately following the NFL Draft. UFA signing bonus money ranges from around $500 to $20,000 and each team has a cap it may spend on UFAs. All rookie UFA contracts must be three years in length.

AVERAGE GUARANTEED DOLLARS BY NFL DRAFT ROUND

1st Round
 
2nd Round
 
3rd Round
 
4th Round
 
5th Round
 
6th Round
 
7th Round
 

INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF THE 2011 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT:

  • Each Club may carry 53 men on its active roster during the regular season but may only dress 46 men.
  • Each Club may carry a 10 man practice squad during the season at the following minimum weekly salaries: 2015 ($6,600), 2016 ($6,900), 2017 ($7,200), 2018 ($7,600)
  • Minimum annual salary for rookie active roster members is as follows: 2015 ($435,000), 2016 ($450,000), 2017 ($465,000), 2018 ($480,000).
  • Minimum annual salary for rookie inactive roster members is as follows: 2015 ($318,000), 2016 ($333,000), 2017 ($348,000), 2018 ($363,000).
  • First year voluntary workout program per diems: 2015-16 ($195/day), 2017-18 ($215/day)
  • First year weekly pay for training camp: 2015-16 ($1000), 2017-18 ($1,075)

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