More Than Just a Game: How Much Do NFL Players Truly Earn?

In almost every top-tier sport, professional athletes get paid hefty compensation for their performance. However, how much a professional athlete earns varies based on the sports type, amongst other factors. If you are a fan of the NFL or aspiring to be an NFL player someday, but you’re wondering how much NFL players earn, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will review how much NFL players receive per season based on the 2023 NFL draft players. So, suppose you’re wondering how you can play football professionally. In that case, this article will give you an insight into the potential financial gains and recognition gratification to expect.

How Much Do NFL Players Earn?

The salary of NFL players varies based on several factors, which we will discuss later in this article. But on average, an NFL player receives about $2,000,000 a year.

Also, NFL players may receive additional incentives like signing a contract, endorsements, etc., which will boost their pay. Some of the highest-paid NFL players include Justin Herbert, earning $53.2 million; Deshaun Watson, earning $230 million; Cooper Kupp, earning $75 million; and so on.

Most teams pay weekly, while others do so at the end of the NFL season. Also, players’ salaries may include conditions such as being drafted to play, missed games due to injuries, and so on. And in most cases, players who perform well during the game receive bonuses.

Factors that Influence How Much an NFL Player Earns

The team an NFL player is playing for is one of the major factors that influences the pay. Different teams’ salaries fluctuate, although they keep the pay within the collective bargaining agreement.

But aside from this discrepancy, several other factors influence a player’s pay. Below, we highlight some factors influencing a professional NFL player’s salary.


The NFL is made up of up to 24 different playing positions. And the player’s position in the NFL can influence how much they make. The responsibility of players at different positions varies.

The more responsibility a player has, the higher the pay. For example, wide receivers and quarterbacks receive higher salaries than tight ends and fullbacks.


Another major factor influencing how much an NFL player receives is their experience level. The number of active years a player has played in the NFL can help increase the salary.

For example, if a player has played for the same team for years, it’s common for them to negotiate higher pay if they renew a contract.


One of the most important factors influencing an NFL player’s pay is their performance. NFL teams always seek high-performing NFL players, making them extremely valuable.

So, if a player has an exceptional playing history, chances are high that they will receive a high salary. Particularly when players meet the coaches’ or managers’ expectations, they will remain on the roster, which ensures a good wage.


Many people often ignore the impact a player’s health can have on their pay. But, a player’s health can significantly impact their performance, ultimately impacting their income.

When a player is injured or gets to be inactive for long periods for health reasons, they may not get paid during that period.


Age is also a factor that comes into consideration when NFL teams write up a contract for their players. The reason is that the NFL is a physical sport, and it can get significantly challenging to keep up with the physical demands of the sport as one age.

For this reason, most NFL teams only sign players within an age bracket. Once a player is getting close to the end of the age bracket, NFL teams feel reluctant to renew the contract and would prefer to sign a much younger player.

Other Compensations NFL Players Receive

Now that we have a broad idea of some of the factors influencing the pay of NFL players, let’s talk about the types of compensation they receive. Aside from their basic salaries, some NFL players get paid in several other ways, such as:

Signing bonuses

The signing bonus is what players receive when they get signed into a new team. This bonus is a form of incentive to lure players, especially high-performing players, to sign a contract with a new team. Most teams may choose to pay the signing bonus all at once or divide payment throughout the contract.

Roster bonuses

A roster bonus is what players get when they are on the active team for the season. Some teams pay players this bonus per game, while others pay players at the end of the season. Most teams use the roster bonus to motivate players about their fitness.

Workout bonuses

Some teams have a workout bonus, which rewards players for attending off-season workouts. They will receive this bonus if they meet the specified number of workouts in their contract.

Option bonuses

Another common bonus NFL players get is the option bonus, which is a similar signing bonus. But the option bonus is paid to players after signing them. Often, teams pay players the option bonus after a year or more from the date of signing.


Some teams may choose to establish a monetary incentive for players if they can achieve a specific milestone during a season. This milestone could be the number of games to win or goals to score or block.

Postseason pay

Aside from the base salary the team pays players, some teams that make it to the postseason offer their players postseason pay. In most cases, the pay is the same for players in the postseason.


Finally, NFL players can also earn more money through endorsement. The endorsement could be to promote a product or event to their millions of fans.


In summary, NFL players earn quite a considerable amount of money. However, how much they make varies based on a number of factors, as elaborated in this article. So, if you have a passion for becoming an NFL player, know it can be lucrative.

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