NFL rookie contracts can be similar to base pay in the NFL but, it’s the signing bonus that adds the wealth in most cases. 


When fans watch the NFL Draft, they wonder how much money the rookie players who are getting drafted will make when they sign their first professional football contract. There are many factors that determine how much an NFL player will make after they get drafted.

Factors that determine how much money Rookies make

Round that selection was made

Players that were drafted in the first round will make the most money of all seven rounds in the draft. The higher a player is drafted in the first round, the higher the amount of signing bonus the player receives. The signing bonus money is the large amount of money that you usually hear attached to a player signing. The base salary of the drafted players is usually similar, especially for the first few rounds. Signing bonuses can be paid upfront or divided amongst game checks throughout the length of the contract. For instance, first overall pick quarterback Trevor Lawrence will receive a signing bonus of close to $25 million.

Length of Contract

Rookie contracts last for four years, but first-round draft picks receive a fifth-year option on their contract. That fifth-year option, if picked up by the team, becomes guaranteed money for the player. The undrafted free agent rookies that are signed after the NFL draft is concluded, receive contracts for three years. The fifth-year option is determined by the player’s play during his first four years in the league, including Pro Bowl appearances and postseason wins.


How much the player makes depends on the signing bonus, roster bonus, reporting bonus, workout bonus, rookie incentives and a guaranteed base salary.


Rookie incentives are much different than veteran incentives would be on their contracts. Rookie incentives depend on the actual amount of playing time that a player gets. This incentive is also based on when a player is drafted. First and second-round draft picks can have an incentive of up to forty-five percent of the time played, while late-round and undrafted free agent rookies may just get up to fifteen percent of the time of play incentives.

Base Pay

The current base pay for a rookie in the NFL is about $600,000. But, beginning this year, NFL teams won’t be giving their players game checks for sixteen weeks of the year but, instead, they will divide that money through thirty-six weeks. So, on average a rookie will receive a weekly paycheck of about $16,000 or so.

Published 03 May 2021, 03:42 IST


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