NFL Players’ Salary: What Your Favorite Player Could Be Earning

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If you look at the contracts of some of the highest-paid NFL players, it’s easy to think that all players make that amount. While the sport is lucrative, the pay varies depending on the team a player is in and their level. You should also remember that the NFL is a highly physical contact sport and its career lifespan averages 3.3 years, so the big payout comes in a very short time. 

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That said, what’s the NFL players’ salary? In this post, we’ll share all the details.

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NFL Players’ Salary

NFL Players’ Salary: What Your Favorite Player Could Be Earning
An NFL game. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

How much an NFL player gets is firstly determined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which determines among other things salary caps. The salary cap regulates the amount of money players get. 

For example, it puts a ceiling on the maximum amount of money a player can earn and a floor which is the least amount a player can take home. 

In 2023, the salary cap was $224.8 million which was a rise from the previous year, which was $208.2 million. Joe Burrows is the highest-paid player in the NFL with a five-year deal worth $275 million, which means his annual income is around $55 million. 

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Guaranteed and Non-guaranteed Contracts

Explaining guaranteed contract. Video Credit: ESPN

One of the most interesting features of the NFL payment structure is its guaranteed and non-guaranteed contracts. When a player’s contract is guaranteed, it means he’ll earn the money attached to their contract. 

For a non-guaranteed contract, a player doesn’t earn all the money but many use this to avoid penalties for walking away from the agreement. They also use it to negotiate better pay.

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That said, teams also benefit from this system because they don’t have to pay the full amount when a player’s contract is ended due to serious injuries. The NFL is physical and players are in danger of getting career-ending injuries.

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NFL’s Players Average Salary

On average, an NFL player’s salary will be $2.8 million. One reason for this is the size of an NFL team. Each of them operates with 53 players which leads to a huge budget. That said, the average annual earning of a player is $860,000. 

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Minimum Salary

Just as we have those who rake in big money, some players earn little, per NFL standards.  This typically depends on their years of experience, with rookies earning less than experienced players. 

The CBA is currently in use and is effective until 2030. It stipulates the following: 

  • A player in their first year will get $705,000.
  • A player in their second year will get $825,000.
  • In their third year, they’ll earn $895,000.
  • In the fourth year, they’ll take $965,000.
  • A player in the fifth year and more can earn a minimum of $1 million. 

While the possibilities of earning big exist in the NFL, most players won’t get close to the salary cap on the upper end. This happens because of the constant attention huge deals get compared to the average. That said, the average income might also be higher than that of other jobs which makes it attractive but if you factor in the average lifespan of an NFL player, everything evens out.

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