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 $65,000 annually for each of the years 2011-2013. $80,000 for each of the years 2014-2017, and $95,000 for 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 in owner 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.


About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on April 23, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. This may be completely off the wall but I went to see ortho. Dr. yesterday about my r. shoulder & he says the only way to help is a complete transplant is there any help anywhere.

  2. Thank you for all of your interesting, researched articles. My husband, Henry “Model T” Ford was one of the first few black players to play pro ball back in the 50’s. He got cut from the Steelers for dating a white girl… me! We’ve been married for 53 years. The NFL doesn’t do anything for players that played way back then, which I think is wrong. Often they’re the most deserving of benefits due to age and circumstances. Because of his discharge from the team prior to playing long enough,… and age, he’s not eligible for any benefits. Life isn’t always fair, and this is one of those times. It saddens me. At age 81, he’s an officer in the NFL Alumni San Francisco Chapter and does a lot of wonderful charitable things for free. The younger players most often won’t do public appearances without being paid.

    I don’t know if you saw the book, Gridiron Gauntlet by Andy Piascik, which has a chapter in there about Henry.

    Thanks for listening… and if you have any response, I’d like to hear it… otherwise, continued success to you in our daily endeavors. Warmest regards,

    Rochelle Ford

  3. Seems to me the current players and our Union did a nice job of taking care of themselves. However, unlike other major Sports, our Union did very little to share the wealth among the former players. Our Union should sit down with Major League Baseball and see how an efficient, well run, thoughtful, and a fair Union operates!

  4. seems like they fail to remember who laid the ground work for what they have now. they don’t even leave the bread crumbs .

  5. Let’s face up to it fellow Pre-1993 Players! Things are never going to be set right for us until we come together and do it OURSELVES, and we can.

    We are going to have to realize, at some point, that going to others, be it the League or the Union and Post-1993 Players, crying, complaining, and begging isn’t going to get done what really should be done. We must accept the fact that whenever someone GIVES us money there will always be “strings attached.” Many times the string becomes a rope and you find that you have actually been lynched with what was disguised as a “life-line.”

    Watch for a “game changing” announcement over thE next couple of weeks and then lets get on with “Doing For Self.”

  6. Interesting information concerning the players who are currently going to be able to take advantage of the NFL opportunity. However, as many have stated, what is there in the CBA that will assist the “EARLY” players. Many are in the group described by Mrs. Ford. Many are in the following decades groups, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Did the current players make any considerations for us. Bob Grant, I am really curious as to your thoughts. Seems to me that even if we were able to bring all the ex-players together in one group what kind of strength would we have to be able to bring about an exchange of ideas that would bring benefit to each of us. I’d be curious to see if the owners would even talk with us! David Long. Cardinals 1966-1968, Saints 1969-1972.

  7. Jeff- Thanks once again for this timely information. One thing that was overlooked are the perks today’s players enjoy that can extend one’s career by many years like the rule changes. No more clipping on the line of scrimmage by O linemen,vicious headslaps by D linemen, clothesline tackles, crackback blocking by WR’s, bump and run muggings by DB’s on receivers, flying wedges on kickoffs, etc. How many players had their careers terminated playing within these rules. Also, how many of us would relish the opportunity of participating in Summer 2-a-days where the wearing of pads is restricted to a few practices and days off are mandatory. Players today are certainly enjoying the fruits of our labors!

  8. there is help from the NFL PLAYER”S CARE PLAN if your vested . Call Dana at 954-639-4584. I had it done last year. Thanks Ron Pritchard NFL 1969-1977

  9. Eyzola Robinson

    Hi my name is Eyzola Robinson, wife of recently passed Jerry w. Robinson(San Diego Chargers 1962-65, Jets 1965. I would like to thank you Mr Nixon for all the information that you give. I agree with Mr. Grant until the former players who paved the way for those young players of today, get together and form a unified group that works for a common goal nothing will be accomplish but talk. I watch my husband leave bitter about the way he felt the former players were treated. When he died he thought the family had a an insurance policy with the Nfl but we were told that he did not.. So in death he was miss treated. So those of you who are fighting to gain respect keep fighting and i will pray

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