SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Even if a player doesn’t get signed for multi-millions in the NFL draft, a player can still make some respectable money.
The minimum player salary for rookie in 2023 is $750,000 a year. That league minimum salary is what most unrestricted free agents, or players who don’t get drafted, make. It is also what a lot of players drafted in the later rounds make.
The salary increases to $870,000 for players with one year of experience and $940,000 for players with two years of experience.
Generally contracts for drafted rookies are set at four years. First-round rookies can extend that to the contract for a fifth year.
A player’s rookie salary includes a signing bonus, the base salary, as well as guarantees, workout per diems and other incentives.
Undrafted rookies receive three-year contracts.
Augustana’s C. J. Ham is one example of a undrafted player moving to a more lucrative contract. Ham was not drafted in 2016. The running back made the Minnesota Vikings roster in 2016. His playing time increased each year.
In 2023, Ham will earn a base salary of $1,100,000, a signing bonus of $2,300,000 and a workout bonus of $100,000, while carrying a cap hit of $2,716,666 and a dead cap value of $5,150,001, according to Spotrac.
An even larger contract was signed by Trey Pipkins, a University of Sioux Falls graduate and right tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers drafted him in the third round in 2019. Pipkins signed this year a three-year contract worth about $21.7 million.
There is a minimum of 256 players drafted in the seven rounds.
Let’s say a player doesn’t make the team. An NFL team has 53 players on its active roster, so there is a chance the drafted or undrafted rookie won’t make the team.
A rookie who is cut from the team is waived. That means another NFL team can sign the player.
If no team signs that rookie, the rookie “clears waivers” and could be assigned to the original team’s practice squad.
A practice team player practices with the team but doesn’t not play in games. A practice squad player could be placed on the active player roster before a game.
The weekly salary for a practice squad member is $12,000.
Two former South Dakota State University players help to illustrate how the NFL draft can work.
Los Angeles Ram and former South Dakota State University player Christian Rozeboom was not drafted in 2020.
Rozeboom originally signed with the Rams practice squad. He went to the Chiefs practice squad in September of 2021. In November of 2021, he returned to the Rams practice squad. Later, he got a contract. He has a base contract of $940,000 for 2023, according to various sports industry sites.
Rozeboom played in all 17 games for the Rams in 2022. He had eight tackles but played mostly on special teams.
SDSU quarterback Chris Oladokun was drafted in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 241st pick in 2022. He was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad in August of 2022. Oladokun is listed as having a future contract practice squad member for the Chiefs in 2023.
If a player moves to the active player roster, the player gets a pro-rated share of the NFL minimum salary of $750,000.
A player can be moved from the practice squad to the active roster for a maximum of three games in the same year before the player must be added to the active roster. The team needs to waive the player’s contract before the player can be reassigned to the practice squad.
Once back on the practice squad, the player earns the $12,000 per week.
A player gets a full season of practice squad weekly pay for being on the squad for six weeks of the regular season. At $12,000 a week for 18 weeks, that’s $216,000.