NFL Player Contracts: Then, Now and in the Future

Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ” by Brook Ward is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

By Jesse Langmacher

Professional football players in the last decade have driven the price of their services sky high. For the work they put in each year I can hardly question the logic. I decided to take a look at how exactly the market has changed over the years.

In 1970 the average player in the NFL earned a salary of $23,000. Today that would equal to $115,000. That is one-twelfth of what the current average sits at. Now that the game is reaching a bigger audience on television, networks are earning more subsequently.

Quarterbacks averaged just over $160,000 in 1980. That was the highest of any position group, with the average player making about $90,000. That jump in salary over ten years is insane. but offers insight into how the market would continue to grow.

In the 1990’s the average took another massive incline. By 1993, the average player was bringing in about $800,000. The only reason I could even fathom is that the popularity of the game continued to grow until the money had to match what the market was doing.

With television contracts and inflation continuing its pattern into the 2000’s, the average starter wages grew upward of $2.4 million. Today the game’s most important position, the quarterbacks, earn an average of around $4 million a season.

When researching the numbers I used sources at Forbes and the New York Times. Going in I knew inflation would be mind boggling, but the jump from the 1990′ to present seemed to be the most noticeable. I fully expect the trend to continue as long as the league stays afloat. If I were to predict I would say that one of the biggest jumps from year to year will probably take place within the next 5-10 years.

What will the numbers say in a few short seasons? Comment your thoughts below. Follow my media plugs Twitter @BroncoDaily and Bronco Daily on Facebook.



  1. Ironically, the spike in salaries at the QB position has not produced higher quality play at that position for many teams, including your Denver Broncos and my Cleveland Browns.


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