5 components of an NFL contract that may surprise you

Posted · 7 Comments

Although I have negotiated hundreds of NFL contracts, I still pay attention to the standard language. Most players and even some agents just focus on the numbers and skim over the boiler plate sentences. So I thought it would be fun to share some interesting components of a standard NFL player contract.

First let me explain that the NFL standard contract comes in a legal form and consists of 25 paragraphs. It’s actually relatively short and has some blank spaces for the yearly base salaries in paragraph 5 and three signature areas for the player, agent and team executive.

Drew Brees signs the mega contract where most of the action was in the addendum.

Depending on the amount of bonuses and/or incentives involved the addendum can get up to 10 or 20 pages or more. The addendum is where the action is. This is the open battlefield where agents and teams can go to war. However, over the years, the agent community has let the teams get the better of us in the addendum language, especially as it relates to bonuses, signing bonus forfeitures and workmen’s compensation. However, the agents are winning the war on the numbers within the confines of the salary cap and improving on the big contracts with guarantee language. As language in the standard part of the contract is collectively bargained, the language in the add on addendum, usually dealing with guaranteed money and bonuses and how they could be forfeited, is not.

The standard contract which every single player in the league has, cannot be altered.

Here are a few interesting components of an NFL contract that may surprise you:

1) Paragraph 4. Publicity and NFLPA Group Licensing Program

“Player will cooperate with the news media, and will participate upon request in reasonable activities to promote the Club and the League.”

“Player hereby grants to Club and the League, separately and together, the right and authority to use, and to authorize others to use solely as described below, his name, nickname, initials, likeness, image, picture, photograph, animation, persona, autograph/ signature (including facsimiles thereof), voice, biographical information and/or any and all other identifying characteristics (collectively, “Publicity Rights”), for any and all uses or purposes that publicize and promote NFL Football, the League or any of its member clubs…”

2) Paragraph 6. Payment (Have you ever wondered how a player is paid?)

“Player will be paid 100% of his yearly salary under this contract in equal weekly or biweekly installments over the course of the applicable regular season period, commencing with the first regular season game played by Club in each season.”

For example; if a player has a base salary of $3,400,000 then that player could potentially be paid gross weekly installments of $200,000 ($3,400,000 / 17 weeks). So when a player gets his check for $120,000 after deductions and impulsively stops by the car dealership and buys a third car you may have an understanding of why. He’s potentially got 16 more coming.

3) Paragraph 15. Integrity of the game

“Player therefore acknowledges his awareness that if he accepts a bribe or agrees to throw or fix an NFL game; fails to promptly report a bribe offer or an attempt to throw or fix an NFL game; bets on an NFL game; knowingly associates with gamblers or gambling activity; uses or provides other players with stimulants or other drugs for the purpose of attempting to enhance on-field performance; or is guilty of any other form of conduct reasonably judged by the League Commissioner to be detrimental to the League…The commissioner will have the right…to fine player…to suspend player…or to terminate this contract.”

I think the NFL has done a great job in educating players on gambling activities and the players have done a great job in keeping shady types from influencing the game.


7 Responses to "5 components of an NFL contract that may surprise you"
  1. leon joe crooks says:

    In the ordeal with Adrian Peterson can Adrian retire and then come out of retirement and nothave to go back to the Vikings since he wants out this might be a way out for Adrian peterson

    • Jake P says:

      That is a great question. Here is what it means. Adrian Peterson has a 6 year deal with the Vikings. He has 3 more years left with them. The Vikings don’t want to trade him so either Adrian plays for them and make his money or He sits on the bench and the Vikings will fine him to the point where he wont collect a check. Now he has received his 36 Million Guarantee Already so if he says hey I am going to retire then the Vikings will say no problem and under NFL contract since he did not finish his contract Adrian has to give back the $36 million the Vikings have gave him. At the end of the day there is no way out.

  2. John says:

    This is a great article. I have one question though. When there is a new contract signing and say 60 million is guarenteed. What does that actually mean? If after they sign that they end up getting hurt or released, do they still get the 60 million before the contract is up?

    • myth buster says:

      The signing bonus is paid to the player immediately upon signing the contract or on such date as the player agrees to receive it. It can be delivered in multiple payments if the player wants it so, but for the purposes of the contract, it is considered a lump sum.

      Concerning guaranteed salary and bonuses, the team would be obligated to pay a lump sum upon separation of any guaranteed compensation not yet paid, unless the player is terminated for a breach of contract (e.g. throwing a game, being convicted of a felony, etc.) or retires prior to completion of the contract. Signing bonuses may also be subject to clawback if the player retires prior to the end of the contract for reasons other than a football injury rendering him unable to play.

  3. keith henry says:

    Are players allowed to invest or do anything productive without the league making any profit

  4. C L says:

    If a player is on the last year of their contract and gets suspended for the season, pending a reinstatement appeal, ala Josh Gordon, will his contract expire after his suspension is up or is it frozen for the season?

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