Despite Guarantees, Not All First-Round Contracts The Same

    • Each NFL rookie drafted receives a four-year contract.
    • The No. 1 pick receives a $41.4 million contract and a $27.3 million signing bonus.

Unlike past editions, no one was totally sure who the No. 1 pick would be heading into Thursday night’s NFL Draft. One thing, however, was predetermined: All first-round picks will get a four-year contract and guaranteed signing bonuses.

When the Jacksonville Jaguars picked Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker with the first-overall pick, Walker knew instantly that he had just landed a four-year, $41.4 million deal and a $27.3 million signing bonus.

But not all first-round picks are the same. Sliding in the draft can cost a player tens of millions of dollars when it comes to his rookie deal. The difference in contract value at the top, middle, and bottom of the first round is significant.

  • No. 2 overall pick: $39.6M, $25.9M signing bonus
  • No. 16 overall pick: $16.4M, $9.1M signing bonus
  • No. 32 overall pick: $12.4M, $6.2M signing bonus

Players and teams can negotiate for a fifth-year option upon completion of their third season. When a fifth-year option is picked up, the fourth-year salary is guaranteed. This could be the first year most of the draftees have had that guarantee. 

Drafting Deals

No matter when players are ultimately selected, they will all have opportunities to make additional money — sometimes millions — through endorsement deals. 

Before Trevor Lawrence became the No.1 overall pick in last year’s draft, the former Clemson star quarterback signed a deal with Gatorade worth up to $2 million per year and landed other deals with crypto exchange Blockfolio and Adidas.