Alabama Football: NFL Draft dollars for Tide players in Saban era


Let’s review the NFL Draft dollars in rookie contracts earned by former Alabama football players during the Saban era.

How do Alabama football players measure success? The standards for individual success among college football programs varies by the opportunity. Playing on a national championship team is not a success point many players can achieve.

All college players should value a degree. The odds of having a financially secure future through professional sports are poor. In 2012, the NCAA disclosed only 1.7 percent of college football players play professionally. Those numbers are diluted even more by the shortness of NFL careers. According to the NFL Players Association, the average length of an NFL career is 3.3 years. Clearly, when measuring success for a college football player, a degree should be valued highly.

For Alabama football players and the relatively few other upper echelon programs, individual success can be measured by being on a championship team. The bonds built by players in a championship season can last a lifetime.

The success measurement of NFL money applies to less than 300 drafted players each year. In the Nick Saban era of Alabama football, 77 former Tide players have been drafted. The Crimson Tide failed to gain a drafted player in 2008, but 2009-2018, Tide draft numbers exploded.

2011 NFL CBA made big changes

Before exploring the details of the 2018 rookie contracts, let’s review NFL rookie contract changes going back to 2011. In the 2011 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), NFL owners reined in runaway rookie dollars. Draft busts like Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell motivated the owners to radically change rookie compensation. What was the impact of the 2011 CBA?

In 2010, the No. 1 pick, Sam Bradford received a $78 million contract. In 2011, the No. 1 pick, Cam Newton received a $22 million contract. And the impact was spread throughout the Draft. In 2010, former Oklahoma players received contracts in excess of $213 million. Former Alabama football players led the way in 2011 with $53 million in total rookie contracts.

A quick reminder of NFL rookie contracts

The NFL dictates not just team salary caps but also how much money can be spent in each draft. Each pick has a designated amount of money for the total contract and for the signing bonus. Inside the total contract, varying by draft rounds and picks, are salary guarantees.

The guarantees are as not absolute as the word suggests. It is more technically accurate that the only guaranteed money is the signing bonus. Some salary money is mostly guaranteed, as in protecting injured players. The higher a player is drafted, the more guarantees are generous.

The Alabama Football, 2018 NFL Rookie Contracts

All the contract numbers in this post are provided by

  • Minkah Fitzpatrick – $16.49 million with a $10.04 million signing bonus
  • Da’Ron Payne – $14.42 million with a $8.57 million signing bonus
  • Rashaan Evans – $11.57 million with a $6.5 million signing bonus
  • Calvin Ridley – $10.9 million with a $6 million signing bonus
  • Ronnie Harrison – $3.37 million with a $803K signing bonus
  • Da’Shawn Hand – $3.09 million with a $682K signing bonus
  • Anthony Averett – $3.07 million with a $661K signing bonus
  • JK Scott – $2.63 million with a $218K signing bonus
  • Shaun Dion Hamilton – $2.57 million with a $153K signing bonus
  • Bradley Bozeman – $2.53 million with a $118K signing bonus
  • Bo Scarbrough – $2.5 million with a $86K signing bonus
  • Josh Frazier – $2.40 million with a $73K signing bonus

In total, the 12 former Alabama football players gained contracts for $75 million-plus. Add the 2018 haul to the 2009-2017 Alabama football, NFL rookie contracts, and the total is $548 million-plus. Add in the contract extensions (beyond the rookie deals) since 2009 and the total is fast approaching a BILLION dollars.

Next: 5 Best Moments of 2017 Season

Several more former Alabama football players were not drafted but have free agent contracts. The road is tough for an undrafted free agent but they still have a chance to achieve their NFL dreams.