In the National Football League (NFL), rookie contracts have become a highly publicized and debated topic over the years. Teams are tasked with balancing the need to secure talented young players with the financial burden of paying them, while players hope to receive fair compensation for their skills and potential.
Historically, before the NFL implemented a rookie wage scale in 2011, some of the biggest rookie contracts were signed by quarterbacks, who are typically the most valuable and sought-after players in the league.
The wage scale for rookies in the NFL
Now, there is a scale based on a player’s draft position. While it still allows for significant earnings for top picks, it has significantly reduced the amount of money that rookies can earn.
This has also led to more draft picks signing their contracts earlier and with less drama than in the past.
The top five biggest rookie contracts in NFL history
The largest rookie contract ever signed was by quarterback Sam Bradford in 2010, who was selected first overall by the St. Louis Rams.
Bradford signed a six-year deal worth 78 million dollars, with 50m dollars of it guaranteed. This was a staggering amount of money for a rookie at the time and set a precedent for future first-round draft picks.
Matt Stafford is the second highest paid NFL rookie, as he put pen to paper on a 72m dollar deal back in 2009, when he was selected by the Detroit Lions with the first overall pick.
One year earlier, the Atlanta Falcons offered number one draft pick Matt Ryan a 70m dollar deal, while Ndamukong Suh signed a 68m dollar deal with the Detroit Lions ahead of his rookie year and Calvin Johnson penned a 64m dollar contract with the Detroit Lions after being selected second overall in the 2007 NFL Draft.
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