NFL rookies must make the final 53-man roster before they receive regular-season game checks in accordance with the contracts that they initially signed. NFL rookies are paid their first game checks in September.
That said, there are some pretty major exceptions to consider. Many contracts – especially those for top talent, like first-round draft picks – often include lucrative signing bonuses that are paid almost immediately after signing.
As an example, take a look at the Bryce Young rookie contract. The former Alabama quarterback and No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft received a signing bonus of $24.6 million.
Young received his entire signing bonus right away, which explains why many college athletes are eager to depart the NCAA model and become an overnight millionaire. From a salary cap perspective, though, Young’s bonus is spread out over the four years of his base contract.
Not everyone receives such a lucrative contract. As an example, look at the Brock Purdy contract. Because Purdy was the literal last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, he ultimately signed a contract that dealt him a signing bonus of $77,008.
The other main exception to when rookies are paid – depending on how you want to define the term “paid” – is the summer per diem. While players are attending summer functions like training camp, the team often affords them a daily allowance to spend on food and entertainment.
For rookies, that might be in the range of about $850 per week. Veterans often receive much more, in excess of $3,000 per week.
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