Who Is the Lowest-Paid Player in the NFL?

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed the biggest deal in NFL history, a 10-year contract valued at $450 million. He and other star athletes bring home huge paychecks. But, what happens to Mr. Irrelevant? That’s the title given to the last player chosen in the annual NFL draft. In 2020, Giants linebacker Tae Crowder received the honors as the final 255th pick.

Although picked last, he still managed to secure a four-year contract that promises an average base salary of $610,000. The Giants rookie is not the lowest-paid player in the NFL. Those bragging rights belong to a little-known tight end from the Seattle Seahawks.

What the collective bargaining agreement means to players

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In 2020, NFL players marginally approved a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The 2020 season saw two teams, one from each conference, added to the playoff schedule. In 2021, owners have the ability to expand their regular-season schedule from 16 to 17 games. The approved CBA is in effect until 2030. For the next 11 years, this will be the governing document for all player negotiations, contract regulations, and rules of play.

In 2021, players are beginning to receive a larger portion of NFL revenue. According to an NFLPA memo, players see an additional $70.5 million in combined revenue because of the playoff expansion. In 2021, they’re receiving a guaranteed 48% of all revenue in addition to a “media kicker” for secured TV contracts.

The NFL’s minimum player salary for 2020

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One of the stipulations in the CBA is that all NFL active roster players must receive a one-year contract with a minimum salary of $610,000. This is a $100,000 jump from the last CBA, which stated that $510,000 was the threshold for some of the lowest-paid NFL players.

There are still a large number of players receiving less because they are working under old contracts. Some sit at $570,000 while others have existing contracts valued at $495,000. These terms won’t be renegotiated under their contract comes up for renewal. But, they are still not at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to paydays.

The free agent who’s the lowest-paid NFL player

The lowest-paid NFL player for the 2019-20 season was none other than Seattle Seahawks’ tight end Tyrone Swoopes. The 25-year old free agent was drafted in 2017 and has been signed and waived nine times from the Seahawks’ practice squad.

According to 7Up Sports, Swoopes was the lowest on the list, receiving a paltry salary of just $378,000. By NFL standards, this doesn’t amount to much considering the toll the sport takes on the athlete’s body. To the average Joe, it’s not chump change, and earning $24,000 per game is not a bad deal.

The player earning the highest annual base salary was Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. He brings in $27.5 million annually because of a two-year contract extension worth $66 million. According to ESPN, his overall deal for a three-year time span is valued at $96 million.

Ironically, one of the highest-paid players in the NFL also hails from the Seattle Seahawks. Famed quarterback Russell Wilson pulls in a cool $35 million a year, with a four-year contract extension valued at $140 million. It appears the Seahawks’ owner Jody Allen likes to be at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to players salaries.