Baker Mayfield has been a member of the Cleveland Browns for less than a day, but as the first overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, the financial terms of his first contract are already largely decided.
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The NFL’s current collective-bargaining agreement effectively determines what rookies will earn based on when they’re selected in the draft. Each year, the NFL sets a “total rookie compensation pool” that establishes what each draft pick can earn based on calculations tied to the league’s salary cap.
Based on this system, Mayfield will sign a contract worth an estimated $32.7 million over four years, with a $21.9 million signing bonus, according to Spotrac, which tracks salaries in top pro sports leagues. Saquon Barkley, the Penn State running back who is joining the New York Giants as the second overall pick, will sign a $31.2 million deal with a $20.8 million signing bonus. Full salary projections for this year’s draft can be viewed here.
Compensation gradually declines as the draft progresses. Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 32nd and last player taken in the first round, can expect a 4-year, $9.5 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus.
The first pick of the draft’s second round, on Friday night, will sign a 4-year deal worth roughly $7.5 million. The 256th and final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft – known in league circles as “Mr. Irrelevant” – will earn an estimated $2.48 million over four years and a signing bonus of roughly $69,000.
Of the NFL’s 32 teams, the Cleveland Browns are projected to spend the most money on rookie players during the 2018 season. Based on the number and location of their draft picks, the Browns have an estimated team draft pool of $17 million. The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are expected to spend the least, with a draft pool estimated at just $4.39 million.
All first-round draft picks are signed to 4-year contracts that include an option for a fifth season at higher pay. Players drafted in later rounds are limited to 4-year deals.