Michael Sam’s Contract: How Much Will The NFL’s First Openly Gay Player Make In Salary?

 @gptweet
on May 15 2014 4:54 PM
Michael Sam St. Louis Rams
Michael Sam was picked in the seventh round of the NFL Draft and lost millions in the process. Reuters

St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam slid to the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft and as a result the league’s first openly gay player lost out on millions in potential salary.

Based off numbers compiled by Spotrac and assuming he makes the Rams roster this summer, Sam could sign a three-year deal for roughly $2.2 million, which includes a signing bonus of $45,000 and total cash compensation of ten times the bonus, or $450,000 in the first year.

But Sam will actually make a little less in his first year. OutSports broke down Sam’s possible deal, reporting he will make $420,000 in this first year should he make the Rams. Then he’ll be paid $495,000 in the second year, and $570,000 in the third.

Sam would also take home a percentage of his jersey sales, which is a huge boon considering his jersey is already second among rookies behind only Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel.

Still, even if he does make the Rams roster, Sam won’t be able to re-negotiate his deal. It’s a similar situation to that of Seattle Seahawks quarterback and Super Bowl victor Russell Wilson, who was drafted in the third round in 2012 and will make $817,000 in salary and bonuses next season.

Following the NFL player lockout and the signing of the new collective bargaining agreement three years ago, the league instituted the rookie salary pay scale and cap with first-round choices guaranteed much larger deals than those who fall to the final round like Sam did.

The new system was put in place to limit the amount of guaranteed money new players can receive in their rookie deals, as owners no longer wanted to pay top draft picks $50 million in guarantees like St. Louis gave to former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford in 2010, or the $41.7 million the Detroit Lions promised Matthew Stafford in 2009.

The days of exorbitant bonuses before a player takes a snap in the NFL are long gone, and the pay range from the No. 1 pick to the last at No. 256 is more than $22 million.

By comparison to Sam, this year’s top overall selection Jadeveon Clowney went to the Houston Texans and the rookie pay scale will allow him to sign a $22 million contract, including a guaranteed $14 million signing bonus.

Thankfully for Sam he has another source of income. The 24-year-old signed his first endorsement deal with Visa before the draft. While the terms and compensation are unknown, it could be only the start of his future as a spokesperson. 

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