NFL player salaries and benefits under the CBA

Dear Alumni:

I thought it would be interesting to see what the projected salary and benefits would be for an NFL player during the course of the new CBA. The amounts are calculated for a player that was a rookie in 2011 and plays until 2020 – a ten year period. Most, but not all of the benefits are available to vested players (3 credited seasons).

Here they are:

NFL Salary:  $20 Million (2 million annually for 10 years) The average salary for 2012 was $2 million. The median annual salary was $790,000. When factoring in a typical signing bonus, roster bonus and incentives, these numbers can go up well into the $2 to $3 million range. I should also note that the average salary will continue to increase over the course of the new CBA. Here is a link to the average salary by position:Average NFL salaries.


Minimum Salary Benefit: $7 Million for a player earning the minimum salary over the 10 year period of the CBA. This is only the base salary and does not include signing bonuses, roster bonuses or incentives. In the new CBA, the minimum salary for all NFL players was initially increased by $55,000 over the 2010 amounts. The amounts increase another $15,000 for each of the first four years of the CBA. In 2013, rookies will earn$405,000. Players with one year of service earn$480,000; Two years$555,000; Three years$630,000; Four to six years$715,000; Seven to nine years$840,000. For players with 10 years or more of service, the minimum salary is$940,000.


Performance Based Pay Plan:$110 million annually in a mandatory distribution of the funds to players. Players have been paid nearly $700 million cumulatively since the inception of the program, which was implemented as part of the NFL's 2002 CBA. Players earn varying amounts of money under the plan, therefore it is difficult to determine what any individual player would earn over a 10 year period. The average payout would be approximately $42,307 ($110 million ÷ 2,600 players). The top payout in 2012 was $299,465 to Cincinnati Bengals player, Vontaze Burfict an undrafted free agent. Check out this link for more info on the payouts under the 2012 PBP.


Annuity Plan: $525,000 (this amount does not include earned interest that will accrue) This benefit is for players that have at least 4 credited seasons. The amounts are$65,000annually for each of the years 2011-2013.$80,000for each of the years 2014-2017, and$95,000for each year from 2018-2020. For the purposes of this example, a rookie in 2011 would begin receiving the owner contribution to his Annuity from 2015 to 2020. If a player who was already vested in 2010, played until 2020 they would have $800,000 in their Annuity.


Second Career Savings Plan: $256,000 inowner contributions and $85,333 in player contributions, for a total of$341,333. Owners match 2 dollars for every 1 dollar a player contributes – up to the following limits: $24,000 for each of the years 2011-2014, $26,000 for each of the years 2015-2018 and $28,000 for each of the years 2019-20120. ie. A player would need to deduct $12,000 from their salary and put it into the savings plan in order to receive the maximum owner contribution of $24,000 in 2013. 


Severance Pay Plan $200,000 Based on the number of credited seasons a player has earned. For this hypothetical 10 year player, he would receive $15,000 for the 2011 season, $17,500 for each season 2012-2013, $20,000 for each season 2014-2016 and $22,500 for each of the seasons 2017-2020.


Tuition Assistance Plan: $60,000 for reimbursement of expenses for tuition, fees and books incurred within 4 years after the last regular season, or post season game. A player must have at least 5 credited seasons to be eligible for this benefit. A player must receive a grade of "C" or better in order to be reimbursed.


Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account:  $350,000 (can be used to pay for all health and medical related costs – including the cost of annual premiums for staying on the NFL's group insurance policy. A player must have three credited seasons to be eligible for this benefit.


Life Insurance:$1,600,000 Rookies begin with a $600,000 policy that is increased by $200,000 for each credited season up to the maximum of $1,600,000.


Group Licensing Agreement: $120,000 (estimate based on an annual royalty of $12,000 paid equally to all active players for allowing the League to use their images for marketing and promotion of the NFL.) It was first negotiated in the 1993 CBA. The NFLPA's 2012 LM-2 showed that active players receive $31,274,485 in royalties in 2011. Divide that amount by 2,600 players and you get approximately $12,000 annually. Although the GLA money is not considered a benefit, it surely benefits all active players.


Individual Licensing Agreements through NFL Players inc.:  Many active players also take advantage of the individual marketing opportunities offered by the NFLPA. For example, in 2011, Adrian Peterson was paid $200,000 and Adrian Peterson All Day Inc. received $323,704. That's over half a million dollars in total. Here are a few others: Clay Matthews – $477,750, Cam Newton – $329,579, Chad Ochocinco - $263,798, Dez Bryant – $155,144, Andre Johnson – $140,000, Demarcus Ware – $61,871 and Frank Gore – $28,982 The average amount for most active players seems to be around $10,000 to $20,000. Again, this is not listed as a player benefit, but as you can see it obviously benefits the active players.


5 years of Free Medical Insurance after retirement:  $78,725 ($15,745 annually for family coverage) or $28,075 ($5,615 for single coverage) These amounts are based on the average annual cost of medical insurance policy for 2012.


Extended Post-Career Medical and Dental Benefits: After the 5 free years of medical coverage, the NFL is now allowing players who are vested and have a credited season in 2011 to continue coverage under the NFL's group medical insurance program. The NFL is obligated to pay no more than $16 million annually for these benefits under the new CBA. Former players must pay the annual deductible of $600 for individual and $1,200 for a family policy. This goes up to $850 for an individual policy and $1,700 for a family policy for years 2016-2020. The value of this benefit is enormous. Due to the injuries players sustained in the NFL, many are not able to find private insurance on the open market that will cover them. If they can find coverage, it is very expensive due to their pre-existing conditions.

And last, but definitely not least...

NFL Pension Plan:  $201,453 annually at age 65 or $76,920 annually at age 55. For the purposes of this example, the owners would contribute $470 for the players credited season in 2011, $560 for each credited season from 2012-2014, $660 for each credited season from 2015-2017 and $760 for each credited season 2018-2020.


NFL Disability:  Under the terms of the new CBA, for claims filed after September 1, 2011, a player will no longer have to prove that his total disability is related to NFL football to obtain the higher category of disability benefits, as long as his application is filed within 15 years of his last credited season. ("Inactive A" disability effectively replaces "football degenerative") For players who retired more than 15 years ago, and found entitled to disability, they will receive a lower paying benefit even if their disability is totally football related. 

These are the Total and Permanent disability plan annual payments for "Active" players whose applications are approved under the Active and Non-Active Football categories and for "Retired" players whose applications are approved under the Inactive A and B categories. The annual amounts are only for applications received on, or after September 1, 2011.  

Active Football     $250,000  (increased to $265,000 effective Jan.1, 2016)

Active Non-Football  $150,000  (increased to $165,000 effective Jan. 1, 2016)

Inactive A  $120,000  (increased to $135,000 effective Jan.1, 2016)

Inactive B  $50,000  (increased to $60,000 effective January 1, 2016)

Line of Duty Disability: Not less than $2,000 a month and increased by $500 a month every other year beginning in 2013.If a player incurs a substantial disablement arising out of League football activities (but is not totally and permanently disabled), they may be eligible for "Line of Duty" disability benefits. Duration of payments:7-1/2 years.  Application time: Greater of four (4) years or the number of years equal to your Credited Seasons. For example, if you are a player with 10 Credited Seasons, you will be able to apply for Line of Duty benefits at any time up to 10 years after you cease to be an Active Player.

Vested players are also eligible for benefits under the Former Player Life Improvement Plan, the Long Term Care Plan, the 88 Plan and the Neuro-Cognitive Benefit, but these benefits are not guaranteed after the expiration of the CBA in 2020.

There are other provisions in the CBA that are not classified as benefits, like Termination Pay and Injury Protection, but even so, they are very beneficial to active players.

So there you have it.

Not bad for the player that is fortunate to play the entire length of the 2011-2020 CBA.