How Much Are NFL Football Players Paid?

A look at the average salaries of NFL football players by position.

How Much Are NFL Football Players Paid?


Football is one of the most popular sports in America, and the National Football League (NFL) is the pinnacle of professional football. NFL players are some of the highest-paid athletes in the world, with a median salary of $2 million and an average salary of $3.2 million per year.

However, not all NFL players are paid equally. In fact, there is a wide range of salaries among NFL players, with some of the league’s biggest stars earning tens of millions of dollars per year while other players earn less than $1 million.

Here is a look at how much NFL football players are paid, both at the top and bottom of the league’s pay scale.

What Do NFL Players Make?

The base salary for an NFL player is $1.1 million per year. However, the average NFL player salary is $2.7 million per year. NFL players also receive signing bonuses, performance bonuses, and other additional compensation.

Minimum Salary

The NFL minimum salary for the 2017 season is $480,000 for rookies and $685,000 for veterans. Players on the opening day roster of the previous season with more than two credited seasons are eligible for veteran minimum salaries. The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement sets a salary floor of 89 percent of all player’s cap numbers from the previous year and a ceiling of 123 percent.

Average Salary

The average NFL player salary in 2020 is $2 million, a slight increase from 2019. The median salary for all players is $860,000, meaning 50% of players earn more than this amount and 50% earn less.

Top NFL salaries are typically earned by quarterbacks, linebackers and defensive ends. In 2020, the highest-paid NFL player is Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has a base salary of $35 million and a signing bonus of $65 million.

Highest-Paid Players

The average NFL salary has been on the rise in recent years and is now over $2 million per year. However, some players are still paid significantly more than others. In fact, the highest-paid NFL player currently makes over $30 million per year. Who are these highly-paid players? Read on to find out.

1. Russell Wilson – $35 million per year
2. Ben Roethlisberger – $34 million per year
3. Eli Manning – $33 million per year
4. Aaron Rodgers – $33.5 million per year
5. Kirk Cousins – $28 million per year

How Are NFL Players Paid?

NFL players are paid a salary, which is determined by the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. In addition to their salaries, players also receive signing bonuses and performance-based bonuses.

Signing Bonus

A signing bonus is a sum of money paid to a professional athlete by a team as an incentive to sign a contract with that team. Signing bonuses are typically given to first-round draft picks and other high-profile free agents. They are sometimes given to players who agree to sign “team-friendly” contracts, which are contracts that pay the player less money than he would be able to get on the open market.

Signing bonuses are paid out in a lump sum, and are not subject to state or federal taxes. They are, however, counted against the team’s salary cap.

In recent years, signing bonuses have become less common in the NFL, as teams have sought to limit their exposure to risk by using fully guaranteed contracts instead.

Salary Cap

In the NFL, there is a salary cap that is set by the league each year. This means that each team can only spend a certain amount of money on their players’ salaries. The salary cap for the 2020 season is $198.2 million.

NFL teams must stay under the salary cap at all times. If they go over the salary cap, they can be fined by the league.

The salary cap applies to all players on a team’s roster, including those who are on injured reserve and those who are not active for games.

How Do NFL Players’ Salaries Compare to Other Athletes?


In 2019-20, the average NBA player will earn a salary of $7.7 million, up from $6.4 million in 2018-19. The NBA’s top earners will make $38.9 million or more, while the league’s minimum wage will increase to $582,180.

The NBA’s highest-paid player is LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, who will earn $85.5 million in 2019-20. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is second with an annual salary of $79.5 million, followed by Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets ($65.4 million), Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets ($47.1 million), and Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder ($38.5 million).


In 2019, the average MLB salary was $4 million. The average salary for a player on an active roster was $3.2 million. Forty-three percent of players make less than $1 million a year, while only 2% make more than $20 million a year. The median salary in MLB is $2.5 million.

The highest-paid player in MLB is Mike Trout, who makes $34.1 million a year. The Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder has been the league’s MVP three times and is a seven-time All-Star. He signed a 12-year, $430 million extension with the team in 2019 that will keep him with the Angels through 2030.

The next highest-paid player is Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who makes $35 million a year. Strasburg signed a seven-year, $245 million extension with the Nationals in 2016 that will keep him with the team through 2023.

Rounding out the top five are Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw ($33 million), Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward ($32 million), and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey ($22 million).


NHL players’ average annual salary is $2.9 million, which is less than half of what NFL players earn on average.

NHL players’ salaries have been limited by a salary cap, which was instituted in 2005. The salary cap is currently $81.5 million per team.

NHL player salaries have been rising steadily since the salary cap was instituted. The average player salary was $1.8 million in 2005-06, and it has risen to $2.9 million in 2016-17.

The highest-paid NHL player is Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who has an annual salary of $10.5 million.


In light of these facts, NFL football players are paid quite handsomely for their services. The median salary for an NFL player is $860,000, and the average salary is $2 million. However, the true earnings of an NFL football player can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as position, experience, and performance.

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