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Who is the lowest paid player in the NFL? Is there a minimum salary in American football?

While Tyrone Swoopes was the lowest paid player in the NFL in 2021, looking at the low end of league earners in 2022 isn’t as transparent.

While Tyrone Swoopes was the lowest paid player in the NFL in 2021, looking at the low end of league earners in 2022 isn’t as transparent.
Charles LeClaireUSA TODAY Sports

2023 NFL Draft live online

In professional sports, a salary cap is a wage cap that imposes a limit on the total amount of money a team can spend on their players’ salaries. It serves as both a per-player limit and a total limit, or either.

In the NFL, that cap is a hard one that forbids teams from going above it, and the salary floor is also a hard floor. Contract cancellations, loss of draft picks and fines of up to $5 million are all penalties inflicted if caps are violated.

NFL Salary Cap 2023

The NFL salary cap increases every year, with the 2023 floor set at $224.8 million. That’s a significant increase from last year’s cap which was $208 million. Since 2012, the addition has been at least $10 million per year.

How much is the average NFL player paid?

The average NFL salary is around $2.7 million.

The NFL Players Association has negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in 2017, and since then, that number has been set to increase over time.

Since NFL teams require a 53-man minimum roster, massive amounts of money go towards a player budget. While quarterbacks- the highest-paid members of a team- typically earn multi-year contracts for millions of dollars a year, the median salary of an NFL player is $860,000 per year.

In 2022, quarterbacks are set to make an average of over $7 million, while wide receivers are set to average $2.8 million.

The money gets bigger and bigger as you filter through the pick of the litter. The top-10 QBs average $49.4 million, in comparison to the $24.8 million average for the top-10 WRs.

Lowest average salary in the NFL?

Special teams are at the bottom of the salary list, averaging $2.775 million. Second-lowest paid players are the running backs, to many’s surprise.

The NFL’s minimum player salary

As per the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement established in March 2020, NFL players’ minimum salary measured up to $660,000 in the 2021 season, which went up from $610,000 in 2020. The minimum salary is slated to rise to $750,000 in 2023. The salary went up $45k from last year.

Since 2011, salaries have risen by nearly $300,000 in 10 years, according to Statistica.

Now, the minimum salary relies on how many years of service an NFL player has, and is imposed by the CBA. So if a player kicked off his rookie season in 2021, he’s bound to make a minimum of $660,000.

Once a player hits four years in the league, his minimum salary becomes $900,000. However, all things considered, the player has to perform up to par to get a merit-based raise. If not, he might have to wait until his seventh season to get to the million-dollar mark (a number that currently sits at $1.075 million).

Who is the lowest-paid NFL player in 2022?

While Tyrone Swoopes won the title of the lowest-paid NFL player in 2021, looking at the low end of league earners isn’t as simple. NFL players face different minimum values that depend on their contract and designation as active or inactive players.

As stated in the most recent CBA, the minimum salaries for the upcoming 2022 season are as follows:

YearsMinimum salary for a player
on an Active/Inactive list
Minimum salary for a player not on an Active/Inactive list

There are two types of practice squad players who are eligible for a fixed rate weekly payment: those who have no accrued NFL seasons, made the active list in less than nine regular season games per accrued season, or one of four selected players to have unlimited number of appearances during a maximum of two accrued seasons.

Practice squad players who do not meet these qualifications are still eligible for a weekly payment, but a minimum one that exceeds the fixed rate.

These payments are delivered weekly as long as a player remains on the practice squad, including the postseason:

  • Practice Squad players who fall within one of three parameters for a fixed amount: Fixed weekly salary of $11,500
  • Practice Squad players who do not fall within one of the three parameters for a fixed amount: Minimum weekly payment of $15,400; maximum weekly payment of $19,900


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