When the 2023 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 27 in Kansas City, it will mark a turning point in the lives of the next generation of football players. The NFL franchise that calls a prospect’s name not only influences the trajectory of their career, but the order in which they’re selected can also have an impact on their bank accounts.
Therefore, it’s not a surprise to realize that being selected first overall gives a draft prospect the opportunity to sign the biggest contract in comparison to the other 31 selections of the first round.
UPDATE: The Carolina Panthers selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
How is an NFL rookie’s wage scale determined?
The contract bargaining abilities and flexibility in payment structure for rookies are particularly limited following the 2011 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and this statement rings especially true for those drafted in the first round. For example, all rookie agreements are in total four years in length, and extensions can only be negotiated following the third year.
When it comes to the NFL’s rookie wage scale the structure is pretty straightforward: the top overall selection is eligible to get the biggest deal, with a scaled-back dollar amount for each subsequent pick thereafter.
So as an incoming draft prospect, it pays both literally, and figuratively, to not fall to the middle or the bottom of the first round. Last year, the annual base pay for first-round rookies was $660,000 annually.
What will the salary be for this year’s No. 1 overall pick?
According to sports contract monitoring site Spotrac, the projected salary for the NFL’s 2023 No. 1 pick is $41,217,000 in total value, with an estimated signing bonus of $26,976,000 and a 2023 cap of $7,494,000.
Last year’s top overall draft pick, Travon Walker of the Jacksonville Jaguars, signed a four-year, $37.3 million contract with a base salary of $705,000 in year one.