How Do NFL Rookie Contracts Work?

2023 NFL Draft - Round 1
2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 / David Eulitt/GettyImages

One word: NFL rookie contracts. One problem: how do they work? It's simple. You get them at your local NFL team headquarters, in the basement of the team facilities. You just go downstairs, get the key from David and Boom! You negotiate your deal and you're all set.

Every year the first pick in the draft signs a four-year deal and then every subsequent pick makes a little less. Players and teams can renegotiate deals after the third year and first round picks have a team option for a fifth year. If the team doesn't pick up your option, that's a bad sign.

We broke down approximately how much the players would make by round before the Draft. It looks like the money might have dropped a bit since then with Bryce Young, the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, who has yet to sign with the Carolina Panthers, looking at a deal worth around $38 million. He'll count for about $7 million of the Panthers' cap this year and should get a signing bonus around $24 million.

The most interesting thing about rookie deals is that they are all four-year deals. Extension negotiations begin after the third year. First-round picks also come with a fifth-year option which the teams can exercise after the third year. Basically, if a team drafts a good player early, they've got them locked up for five years. If your first round pick doesn't get that fifth year, that's a bad job by your front office.