On the eve of the NFL Draft, players and agents are starting to jockey for position to be one of the top picks in the draft and cash in with a lucrative contract. This is immensely important because if a player slips in the draft, they stand to lose millions.
Last year’s top pick, Jameis Winston, signed a contract worth $25.4 million, while the 17th pick in the draft received a deal worth just $9.8 million. In addition, only players among the top 19 picks received contracts that were fully guaranteed. Running back Todd Gurley, who was coming off a major knee injury, was the lone exception in that group.
Things really drop in the second round, where the average contract was worth about $4.8 million over four years ($1.2 million per year), according to Spotrac.com, but with only half of that guaranteed. The value of third-round contracts drops to $3.1 million, but takes an even bigger hit in guaranteed value, with the average contract worth just $682,000 in guaranteed money.
Once a player falls past the third round, most draft picks will sign a 4-year deal in the $2.3-2.4 million range. The only major difference late in the draft is the signing bonus, ranging from $300,000-500,000 in the fourth round to slightly more than $50,000 in the seventh round.