In a few weeks, we will all become absorbed in another NFL season of euphoria, despair, exultation, and despondency, according to how well our favorite team fares. Towards that end, the general managers had better judge their talent intelligently because they will pay their twenty-two starters a huge amount of money. What follows is an analysis of each position and what the top player earns per game.
Quarterbacks are the marque attraction and earn $1.562 million per game. The QB’s job is to complete 66% of his passes and set the offensive pace of the game. He must eschew turnovers but when they happen, walk to the bench and renew himself and his team.
Running backs make half of what quarterbacks do, earning $757,500. His report card must show he averaged five yards a carry, pass protected flawlessly when called upon, and caught most passes thrown his way.
Fullbacks make half of running back bucks at $328,000 because they are less skilled than running backs at breaking tackles and catching passes. Their value increases greatly the closer they get to the goal line so they can barrel their way in for touchdowns. There are a lot of fullbacks at home watching to see if the guy they want to replace gets hurt. It’s a tough business.
A tight end makes $625,000 for a Sunday afternoon of work. His performance plan will direct him to ferociously double team on an unsuspecting defensive tackle or fake that and occasionally slip out unnoticed to catch a short pass for a first down.
The two offensive guards and the center will clear the way for the inside running game, the guards from time to time pulling to kick out a defensive end to clear the way for a running back. The center must ensure a perfect snap every time lest the quarterback, God bless him, should get stepped on. The tackles will make three quarters of a million bucks each for their labors while the center must do with just $646,000 in pay.
On the defensive side of the ball, the ends and tackles will each make a shade over $1,000,000 for their day’s work. They must endure the constant pounding of their opponents on the offensive line making a lot less than they do and who resent them every minute for it. Linebackers, more agile than linemen, also out-earn them–by $200,000, their justification being they are there to not only defend against passes but also to cover up missed tackles by the linemen.
There are four guys playing in the secondary. They are called cornerbacks and safeties. The two cornerbacks are responsible for stopping the run and, more importantly, covering deep when the play is a run away from them. They’ll each make a million bucks every Sunday. The other two deep defensive players, the strong safety and the free safety are supposed to stop the short passing game and help stop the run. Those two safeties will average $800,000 for the day.
The safeties and cornerbacks who cover the wide receivers make about the same amount of money as the receivers and oftentimes whoever wins this battle wins the game.
Those responsible for the kicking game, i.e., the kicker, and the punter, will each stop by the bursar’s window on the way out and pocket a quarter of a million bucks each.
It is easy to see why young men aspire to play in the NFL. The rewards are huge. We’ll talk about the inherent dangers next week.