What is the average NFL player salary?

How 215,000 Meals Are Made For Super Bowl LIV
How 215,000 Meals Are Made For Super Bowl LIV

What is the average NFL player salary?

While the kind of money that players in the NFL make is definitely well above minimum wage, you might be surprised to know that it’s not as much as you think.

What is the average NFL player salary?

As is the case in just about any top tier professional sport, the athletes who play it are well compensated. On the other hand, they don’t necessarily make the kind of big bucks you might think and moreover, don’t always enjoy the lengthy careers that would insure a greater accumulation of money. Such is the case with the NFL, but rather than take our word for it, let’s break it down for you.

A Dream you can take to the bank

The National Football League (NFL) regular season commences on the weekend following the first Monday of September. It finishes at the beginning of January, after which that season’s playoffs tournament starts. It consists of 272 games, with each of the NFL’s 32 teams playing 17 games during 18 weeks with one “bye” week off.

Participating in the NFL, isn’t just a goal for many high school and college players, but rather the ultimate dream. The financial compensation can be substantial and the fame that comes with it can be pleasing to say the least. Of course, the ‘work’ is physically demanding – brutal actually – but the average player retires before 40-years-old, at which point they can enjoy the spoils of their success and of course a rather large pension to boot. Yet, what kind of figures are we talking? Let’s take a look at how salaries work in the NFL from the top to the bottom. Needless to say, even the lowest paid players in the league aren’t being paid peanuts.

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An Analytical Look at NFL Salaries

Whenever searching for the average salary for a player in the NFL, the amount you’re likely to see is usually over $2 million a year, however, this number doesn’t actually reflect the reality, because averages are misrepresented by the astonishingly high wages earned by high-profile quarterbacks and other star players. To further explain this paradox, let’s take a look at a group of 10 players. If one of them is a star quarterback earning $20 million a year, the other nine players only make $50,000 a year, each. The average salary for this group is then $2,045,000. The more reasonable value is the median salary – the middle value of a set of numbers. In the case of our example group, the median salary is $50,000.

In this sense, the median wage for all NFL players is roughly $860,000, which it has to be said is far below the $2 million mark that is commonly referenced. A rising first-year rookie has a minimum pay of $435,000. The most publicly exposed are the stunningly high earnings of top quarterbacks. A few of them have contracts paying higher than $25 to $30 million per year. The average salary for all quarterbacks is $5,766,000, but the median income is $1,100,000. Defensive ends come in behind the quarterbacks with large salary contracts. Defensive ends have an average income of $2,625,000 and a median salary of $847,300. Incidentally, some of the lowest paid players in the league on average are running backs. Constantly battered and bruised, rushers generally don’t last more than three years in the league, which further highlights the disparity between their average wage of $1,012,000, with a median salary of $630,000 and the kinds of figures we mentioned above. Consider for a moment, that NFL kickers – who last the longest in the league with 7-years on average – are paid an annual salary of $1,792,000 per year, with a median age of $1,000,000.

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“Show me the money” effect

Interestingly, the salaries of NFL players do increase to a certain extent by the age of 26. This of course, is directly tied to shelf life. As even a casual fan of football knows, the game is rough at best and outright war at worst. With that in mind, one can imagine that by the time players get to the aforementioned age, longevity becomes an issue. Those who have proven themselves to be exceptional athletes and can still continue to face the brutality week in and out, are compensated accordingly. To be fair, paying a player well who has proven not only his worth, but his ability to carry on is simply the right thing to do.

The NFL’s Highest Paid Players

So, we’ve taken a look at how salaries work, as well as how they vary from position to position, but let’s be honest it’s always interesting – if that’s the word – to take a look at the guys in the league who are truly high earners. Indeed, it can put into perspective the vast divide between the ‘average’ salary we’ve already covered and the kind of cash that the big boys take home. What makes these figures even more eye-opening is when you consider what top tier players made ten years ago. None the less, here’s a look at the league’s highest paid players:

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