How Much Do NFL Draft Picks Make?

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09:47   |   Apr 26, 2019


How Much Do NFL Draft Picks Make?
How Much Do NFL Draft Picks Make? thumb How Much Do NFL Draft Picks Make? thumb How Much Do NFL Draft Picks Make? thumb


  • The NFL draft.
  • It's one of television's biggest non-competitive sporting events,
  • with ratings that beat out NBA playoff games.
  • The annual draft is when pro teams fill their rosters with fresh
  • talent, selecting top college players from around the country and
  • from around the world.
  • Eligibility for the draft is simple.
  • A player needs to be at least three years out of high school.
  • Rules don't stipulate that you have to attend college during that
  • time, but most that are drafted are college players.
  • There are some exceptions where players can enter the draft a bit
  • early, but those cases are rare.
  • Every spring, all 32 NFL teams battle it out over the course of three
  • days and seven rounds of selection to fill their teams with a new
  • batch of young players.
  • For the 2018 draft, over 16,000 college football players were draft
  • eligible, but less than 2 percent of them actually made it to the
  • NFL. 255 players were drafted from college and one player instead was
  • playing professional rugby in Australia.
  • But even if you do land one of those highly-coveted spots, not all
  • draft recruits are considered equal when it comes to pay.
  • There are sizeable gaps in pay when you compare first-round talent to
  • seventh-round talent.
  • A player drafted dead last can have a full four year contract worth
  • less than a fraction of a first-round talent signing bonus alone.
  • But even players all chosen the first round can face pretty big pay
  • disparities in the range of millions of dollars.
  • Before the NFL draft became a premier television event, the battle for
  • new players was fought behind closed doors and hotel banquet halls.
  • But in 1936, then-NFL league commissioner Bert Bell decided to
  • formalize the process when he rolled out the NFL draft.
  • To Bell, the draft was a way to even the playing field for teams that
  • continue to have losing records.
  • Similar to today, teams with the worst records would pick first and
  • each round and eventually the teams with winning records, or that had
  • won the NFL championship, would pick last.
  • At that time, there were only nine teams and a total of 81 total
  • draft picks.
  • By 1959, the NFL's popularity was at its highest ever, raking in
  • television ratings of over 45 million people for its championship
  • game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants.
  • That attracted wealthy businessmen to want to get in on the NFL.
  • But when they appealed to the NFL to let them start new teams or buy
  • franchises, they were turned down.
  • That had a lot to do with why the American Football League was
  • founded by Lamar Hunt in that same year.
  • On November 22nd, 1959, the AFL hosted its first ever draft.
  • Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of overlap between the NFL and AFL
  • picks, and the two leagues also poached talent from one another.
  • That's a big reason why, in the 1960s, the NFL and AFL merged.
  • The result was the modern day NFL with its two conferences: the NFC
  • and AFC.
  • And this was also the birth of the Super Bowl era for the NFL and the
  • modern NFL draft.
  • Each year, when the college football season comes to an end in
  • January, the journey to the NFL begins.
  • It's a short four to five month path to the draft night, but there's
  • a lot that goes into transitioning from a college player to an NFL
  • player. A lot more than their collegiate stats.
  • There is training, the NFL combine, the college pro days, visiting NFL
  • teams, and finding the right agents.
  • That all comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
  • According to ESPN, the cost of getting drafted can easily surpass one
  • hundred thousand dollars.
  • While, yes, some players are surefire first round or second round
  • picks, for other college players who aren't guaranteed a top paying
  • contract or any contract at all, those recruiting costs can be
  • staggering.
  • There are seven rounds in the draft with a total of 256 draft picks.
  • And the entire draft doesn't happen all in one night.
  • It gets split up into three days.
  • But the first round is the most important round. It
  • is treated as the opening night for the new NFL season and is one the
  • biggest live events in television.
  • It comes after months and months of mock drafts by sports analysts
  • and commentators deciding who is going to be the top pick.
  • General managers, coaches, and scouts have spent months narrowing
  • down a list of the players that they want to either pick or trade for
  • in the first round.
  • The second and third round are held the next day, and the final four
  • rounds are held on the third and final day of the draft.
  • As for players, the order in which they are picked is key to how much
  • they make.
  • Even if you're drafted in the first round, not all first round picks
  • offer the same amount of cash for college players.
  • Each player has a draft stock, which is sort of an unofficial
  • ranking. It plays a big role in helping teams decide if they want you or not.
  • But your draft stock isn't just based on how well you play.
  • Just take Laremy Tunsil, the offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins.
  • An hour before the start of the 2016 NFL draft, Tunsil was considered
  • a top five pick.
  • But just 13 minutes before the draft, Tunsil's Twitter was hacked and
  • broadcasted a video of him, well, in an unflattering light.
  • Not a good look if you're planning to become a top 5 draft pick.
  • Tunsil's draft stock fell and he was eventually taken by the Miami
  • Dolphins as the 13th overall pick in the first round.
  • While yes, he was still drafted and drafted in the first round, but
  • according to NPR, Tunsil apparently missed out on six to eight
  • million dollars on his contract.
  • That's because what you make is directly tied to the order in which
  • you are picked in a given round.
  • The sooner you are chosen, the bigger the salary.
  • Once draft night comes to a close, it's time to sign on the dotted
  • line for a player's first NFL contract.
  • Up until 2011, because of the way negotiations were run, the league
  • offer pretty flashy and over the top deals for players who weren't
  • always able to deliver on the field.
  • That changed thanks to the NFL's current collective bargaining
  • agreement and new caps on rookie contracts.
  • There are three main components of each rookie contract: timing,
  • salary, and bonus.
  • All drafted rookies require a minimum of four years on the team.
  • Unlike veteran players, new recruits can't renegotiate the terms of
  • their deal during the course of their first contract.
  • The NFL also transitioned to a rookie wage scale to determine player
  • salaries and bonuses.
  • With this new scale, contracts are pretty much based on the order in
  • which you're picked in the draft, leaving little to no room for
  • negotiation. The wage scale always starts with the biggest salary and
  • subsequently scales back from there.
  • Unsurprisingly, the top deal goes to the first pick of the first
  • round of the draft.
  • And with each pick that follows, the contracts get smaller and
  • smaller. Wage calculations are based on the total rookie compensation
  • pool, a number that's pegged to the league salary cap.
  • Here's how that math works.
  • In 2019, the NFL salary cap is set to 188.2 million dollars.
  • That's the total amount of money each team in the NFL is allowed to
  • spend on salaries for both veterans and rookie players.
  • The percentage that goes to rookies or each team's cut of the total
  • compensation pool varies based on the team's cap space.
  • A team's salary cap space depends on the sizes of the contracts it's
  • given to existing players.
  • The bigger the contracts, the smaller the cap space a team has.
  • Just take the Colts.
  • They're the team with the highest cap space in the league as of 2019
  • thanks to little spending in 2018, which gave the team rollover cash,
  • creating over 45 million dollars in cap space.
  • Even though each team's rookie pool will vary based on salary cap, it
  • 's safe to make a few assumptions about what rookies can expect to be paid.
  • 'Over the cap' estimates that the salary minimum for rookies will be
  • 495 thousand dollars in 2019. In
  • the 2018 NFL draft, for example, the Browns gave Baker Mayfield a
  • four-year contract worth over 32 million dollars with a signing bonus
  • of over 20 million dollars and a base salary of 480 thousand dollars.
  • Baker Mayfield's contract dwarfs other rookies.
  • The last player taken in the first round was also a quarterback.
  • The Baltimore Ravens traded with the Philadelphia Eagles to select
  • Lamar Jackson as the 32nd pick in the first round of the draft.
  • While Jackson played in the same division as Baker Mayfield,
  • Jackson's contract was four years and just under 10 million
  • dollars. The very last pick of the final round of the NFL draft —
  • also known as Mr. Irrelevant — that went to wide receiver Trey Quinn, who received a four year, 2.5 million dollar contract.
  • And then there are players who end up on NFL practice squad which is
  • basically a small team of younger players who help pros train throughout the season.
  • Practice Squad members never log any on-the-field time competing
  • themselves unless they're promoted.
  • In 2019, practice squad players are said to be paid 8,000 dollars per
  • week during the regular season.
  • So what happens if your name doesn't get called during the draft?
  • Draft-eligible players who don't get picked during the draft become
  • undrafted free agents.
  • Undrafted free agents can actually land salaries that are similar to
  • players that are picked in the last round of the draft, with a few
  • key caveats.
  • The contract duration is just three years and, unlike drafted
  • rookies, undrafted free agents actually have the freedom to go to
  • whichever team they want.
  • There is no limit to how many undrafted players a team can sign as
  • long as the team doesn't exceed the 90 man off-season roster, which,
  • by the time the regular season comes around, that number gets dropped
  • down to 53 players.
  • But teams can also sign 10 practice squad players to help the team
  • train throughout the season.
  • But things may change for rookies in the future.
  • The current collective bargaining agreement from 2011 is set to
  • expire after the 2020 season, and, according to the NFL Players
  • Association's president Eric Winston, the new CBA will be focusing in
  • part on player contracts, which could lead to another league-wide
  • holdout. Some of the things that NFL players might be fighting for
  • are increased pay minimums for rookie contracts, shorter contract
  • durations, and a larger piece of the NFL's revenue.
  • Players have shown in the past that they're willing to wait it out to
  • get what they want.
  • Back in 2011, there was an NFL lockout that lasted 132 days until
  • both parties agreed on terms.
  • With a new CBA on its way, a lot can change for the NFL and how its
  • players are getting paid.

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The 2019 NFL draft started on Thursday night and runs through Saturday April 27. Over the next three days 32 of the NFL's team battle it out over seven rounds to fill their teams with a new batch of young players. We took a look at the money behind the draft and what rookies like Kyler Murray, Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Daniel Jones, and Dwayne Haskins will make based on draft position.

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How Much Do NFL Draft Picks Make