After the 2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL rookie contracts have been fairly straightforward. The goal was to create easily-negotiable contracts that didn’t reward rookie player too much, protecting the team from being devastated for their draft mistakes, but still allowed rookie players to cash in, since they’re typically signing four-year deals—which is longer than the average NFL career.
And while the rule of thumb with rookie contracts is that they’re fairly cheap, that’s not exactly the case with a top-five pick.
The Detroit Lions, of course, drafted Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah third overall, and the rookie signed his contract earlier this week. Since it’s been a few years since the Lions have had a top-five pick, let’s look into the details of Okudah’s contract, and what it means for the Lions.
The first significant figure is Okudah’s signing bonus—a whopping $21.9 million. That’s cash immediately in Okudah’s pocket, but the cap hit of that is spread out over the four years of his deal—around $5.5 million a year.
His base salaries are someone modest for all four seasons, gradually increasing from $610,000 in 2020 to $1.01 million in Year 4.
The figure that everyone seems to care most about is the cap hit. Despite being on a rookie deal, Okudah’s cap figures are pretty significant. In Year 1, he’ll count $6.1 million against the cap, which is the eighth highest cap hit on the team. That jumps to $7.6 million next year (seventh on team), then $9.1 million (fifth) and finally $10.7 million in the final year of his deal (second).
As it relates to the cornerback position, Okudah’s four-year, $33.5 million contract already puts him in the middle of the crowd. Here’s where the contract ranks compared to other cornerbacks based on different metrics:
- Average per year: $8.38M (22nd)
- Signing Bonus: $21.9M (first)
- Contract value: $33.5 million (13th)
And here are those cap hits related to other NFL cornerbacks:
- 2020: $6.1M (26th)
- 2021: $7.6M (28th)
- 2022: $9.1M (11th)
- 2023: $10.7M (fifth)*
*Note: There are only 11 cornerbacks signed through 2023 right now