The 2017 NFL Draft is upon us, which means the fates of franchises will be forever be altered by some of the choices made today. Heading into Round 1, Texas A&M‘s Myles Garrett is expected to be the top overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. The defensive end is a fearsome pass-rusher and while he may not be as safe as some other No. 1 options in the past, he does have the ceiling of a perennial All-Pro.
So how much money will Garrett command should he be the first name called on Draft day? Well, since the NFL instituted a rookie wage scale in 2013, player salaries have sharply declined for draftees. Gone are the days when the Sam Bradfords of the world would score $50 million guaranteed before they ever take a single pro snap. Exhibit A: Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Jared Goff, will earn approximately $27,946,656 over his rookie deal with the Los Angeles Rams (something the Rams may already be regretting), including a $18,515,839 signing bonus.
“But Goff is a quarterback and Garrett is a D-End!” you cry out to no one in particular because you’re alone in a dark room right now arguing with the Internet.
This is true, and there is a monetary difference when evaluating QBs and pass-rushers. Signal-callers are simply more valuable overall. For example, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney signed a four-year deal worth $22,272,998 and a $14,518,544 signing bonus. That’s more than a $5 million difference, though it’s important to note that the NFL salary cap in 2013 was $123.6 million while 2017’s will be a whopping $167 million (2016’s was $155.27 million). On the open market, quarterbacks will almost always be paid more because of the scarcity at the position. Just this offseason, the Chicago Bears gave QB Mike Glennon a three-year, $45 million deal while the San Diego Chargers re-signed DE Melvin Ingram to a one-year deal worth $14.5 million.
At the top of the draft, however, it’s all about numbers. Given the $12 million bump in cap space this year, expect Garrett (or whoever goes No. 1 overall) to receive a deal with a total value just north of $30 million and a signing bonus right around $20 million.
So even though players are no longer negotiating untapped deals before they ever step foot on an NFL field, it’s clear that the top picks are still being compensated very well. The whole thing makes me lament being an uncoordinated, un-athletic wimpy writer.