In this week’s Training Camp Confidential, we answer the question:
Are NFL players paid to practice during training camp?

01 Aug 2016:   Team stretching    of the Dallas Cowboys during training camp at City of Oxnard Fields in Oxnard, California.   Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Yes, they are paid, but it’s a pittance compared to regular season salaries.

Per league rules, a first-year NFL player receives a weekly rate of $1,000 during training camp. Veterans (more than 1-year NFL experience) receive $1,800 per week. All players have their room & board covered by the team, so there are no expenses for the players, including meals, housing, and transportation (when traveling with the team, including the team charter to-and-from camp).

Next year the weekly rate will skyrocket (tongue planted firmly in cheek) to $1,075 per week for 1st-year players and $1,900 for veterans.

For the rookies who are fresh out of college and trying to make an NFL roster, a total of $3,000 for three weeks in sunny Oxnard, California may seem like pretty good money, especially when all their expenses are covered. But if these young guys can make the 53-man roster, they will see their weekly rates go up markedly.

Let’s use a rookie as an example.

The NFL’s minimum base salary for rookies in 2016 is $450,000.00.  There are 17 weeks in the NFL season (including the bye week). So take the base salary and divide it by 17 to determine the weekly rate. A minimum wage rookie makes $26,470.59 each week of the regular season.

The rates go up for each year a player is in the NFL (e.g., minimum base salary for a 10-year veteran is $985,000 which is $51,941.18 weekly).

If a young player doesn’t make the 53-man roster, there’s still a chance he can be added to an NFL team’s 10-man practice squad. Players on the practice squad receive $6,900 per week; so if they stick on the team for the full 17-weeks of the regular season, they can earn $117,300.