How do NFL players get paid? Per game or per week? (2024)

The NFL works on a system of pay caps for each team which affects how general managers pick and choose who stays on the roster and who gets cut. Players’ contracts have different clauses that GMs can use to entice players to their teams, or use to cut a player to get under the salary cap. These can affect the players’ pay during the year.

The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to set a minimum salary cap number for 2023 at $224.8 million for each of the 32 teams. This is $16.6 million more than last year’s cap of $208.2 million.

NFL players don’t get paid as if they work a nine-to-five job, which they clearly don’t. They earn a weekly salary but only during the season with conditions set on whether they play and how they perform. Like other workers they get bonuses that are paid outside the regular schedule of payments. In order to understand how NFL players get paid, a look at different parts of their contracts is needed.


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Base Salary

Every NFL player who is on a team’s roster during the year will earn a base salary divided up into 18 installments. That covers the 17-game schedule and the bye week which make up the season. If a player gets cut during the season, the bulk of the money they expected to earn gets lost unless they have a guarantee.


Base salary can be non-guaranteed or guaranteed depending on various clauses and conditions. There are three types of guaranteed money that teams can use when drawing up a contract: injury, skill and cap.

Injury guarantee

This is the best-known form of guaranteed money, which is activated when a player is cut from the team but is unable to play ball or pass a physical. The player is entitled to the money in his contract that is protected against injury.

Skill guarantees and cap guarantees

These two guarantees usually go hand in hand. A skill guarantee protects a player from being cut in the event the team feels the player’s skills don’t meet the team’s needs. A cap guarantee protects the player from being released so that the team can get cap space to sign a free agent, or re-sign another player.

Full guarantee

Combining all three: injury, skill and cap guarantees, forms a full guarantee. Full guarantees are used in almost every NFL contract and the player is entitled the money from full guarantees when they sign the contract.

Signing bonus

Players receive a signing bonus upon signing their contract with a team and it is fully guaranteed. The player usually receives payment in the first year after signing with a team. The team can pay the player the whole amount at once or spread the payments out over the length of the contract to reserve cap space. This is known as a “pro-rated bonus” and a team can spread the payment out over a maximum of five years. However if the team cuts the player it must pay the full amount outstanding, reducing their cap space.

nearly $45M signing bonus?

keeps all $45M

$46M salary for 2022?

keeps $45.65M

remaining fully guaranteed $184M?

keeps all $184M

6 game suspension?

equal to DeAndre Hopkins for "trace" amount of a PED in 1 test

games missed?

NFL gave CLE the #1 easiest schedule weeks 1-6

— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 1, 2022

Roster bonus

This bonus is paid out to a player for being on the roster at a certain date or being on the active roster during the year.

The most common form is to specify that the player will be on the roster on a certain date. This protects the player from being released before that specific date, unless the team is willing to pay out.

The other form is paid out to the player if they are on the active roster as opposed to the 53-man roster, also known as a “per-game roster”. The player is paid 1/16th of the bonus for each week they are on the active roster.

Workout bonus

This is money agreed upon for attending a stipulated percentage of offseason workouts paid at a flat rate. Players with four or more cumulative seasons get five guaranteed absences without being penalized.

Options bonus

This is like a signing bonus but is activated at a later date; it is guaranteed money later in a player’s contract. This bonus can be pro-rated over the length of the contract for up to five years.

Details on Justin Tucker's four-year extension, per source:

Signing bonus/Option Bonus $11.5M
Guaranteed: $ 17.5M
New $ 24 million
$6M Average per year -- which still makes him the NFL's highest paid kicker

— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 8, 2022


Teams also pay players incentives to hit certain goals set in the contract like passing or receiving yards. These incentives come in two forms: Likely To Be Earned (LTBE) and Not Likely To Be Earned (NLTBE). These incentives are based on what the player did in the previous season.

For example, if a player received the incentive for say rushing 1,000 yards and he has the same threshold in the upcoming season it is considered LTBE. This would count toward the team’s cap in the season it was set. Whereas NLTBE incentives count against the next season’s cap.

How do NFL players get paid? Per game or per week? (2024)


How do NFL players get paid? Per game or per week? ›

According to reports, salaries are deposited into their bank accounts at the start of every week, however, the exact days when they get paid could vary. The base salaries for each player are divided into 18 installments which cover the 17-game schedule and the bye week.

Do NFL players get paid per game? ›

Every NFL player who is on a team's roster during the year will earn a base salary divided up into 18 installments. That covers the 17-game schedule and the bye week which make up the season.

Do NFL football players get paid weekly? ›

With lucrative television contracts and record ratings inflating ad revenue, the NFL is poised to cash in yet again during these playoffs. The players . . . not so much. NFL players are generally paid weekly during the regular season with their annual salaries spread across 18 weeks.

How are NFL players paid during the playoffs? ›

For the 2023-24 NFL playoffs, players are paid either $41,500 (wild-card teams) or $46,500 (division winners) for wild-card games, $46,500 for the divisional round, and $69,000 for conference championships. Players on first-round bye teams receive $41,500 for the wild-card round despite not playing in a game.

How much does an average football player make per week? ›

By 2019, the average annual salary for a Premier League player had soared to over £3 million, a stark comparison to the average Briton's yearly earnings of £35,000 as of 2023. Premier League player on the list earns an impressive £297,500 per week, while the typical individual brings in an average of £717 weekly.

Do football players get paid each game? ›

Most NFL players receive their paychecks on a weekly basis during the 17-week regular season, which means they get paid for each game they play. Some players may also have bonuses or incentives built into their contracts that could be paid out at different times throughout the season or after the season ends.

How much do NFL games make per game? ›

With the average NFL stadium seating 70,000 fans, a single match can generate $7 million, assuming a $100 ticket price. This amount is substantial but significantly less than the revenue generated from TV broadcasting.

What does Brock Purdy get if he wins the Super Bowl? ›

Per, Purdy — along with the rest of his teammates — stands to make $164,000 in bonus money if the 49ers win the 2024 Super Bowl.

How much is Patrick Mahomes' bonus for winning the Super Bowl? ›

How much money does Patrick Mahomes get for winning the Super Bowl? Mahomes' contract contains significant incentives, including an additional $1.25 million for clinching the Super Bowl victory, contingent upon his participation in at least 50% of the game's offensive snaps.

What is the NFL minimum salary? ›

The NFL league minimum for a rookie salary is $795,000 for the 2024 season. Because of the current collective bargaining agreement, the minimum salary increases based on the number of years a player has been in the NFL.

How much do football refs get paid? ›

Breakdown of NFL referees' salaries

While the NFL season is relatively short, the job's demands make it seem like a full-time role. Regular season pay: NFL referees earn an average salary ranging from $205,000 to $250,000 per year, which includes their base salary and game fees.

What is the average NFL paycheck? ›

Nfl Player Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$40,000$3,333
75th Percentile$34,000$2,833
25th Percentile$28,500$2,375

How many hours a week do NFL players put in? ›

During the NFL's regular season, it's not unusual for players to work about 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week. This includes practice, meetings, film sessions, and travel. During the offseason, players may have less structured schedules, but typically still put in about five to six hours a day, six days a week.

How much does an NFL official make per game? ›

Although the official figures are not usually revealed publicly, after the last agreement between the league and the NFL Referees Association it was known that in the 2019 season, referees received earnings of $205,000 on average. This equates to around $12,000 per game, a pretty significant figure.

Do NFL Waterboys get paid? ›

NFL waterboys actually make a fairly decent salary. Typically speaking individuals earn around $35,000 per year. Those who have been in the game for an extended period of time, however, can earn significantly more, with some even reported to be starting well above $50,000.

Do NFL players get paid if they miss a game? ›

For every preseason game missed, a player is penalized the amount of one week's salary (which is 1/18th of the season's earnings).

What is the lowest salary in the NFL? ›

This Share
  • The NFL league minimum for a rookie salary is $795,000 for the 2024 season.
  • Because of the current collective bargaining agreement, the minimum salary increases based on the number of years a player has been in the NFL.
  • The minimum salary for NFL players with one year of experience is $915,000.
Apr 29, 2024

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