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2021 NFL Draft: How Much Trevor Lawrence and Other Top Picks Are Likely to Earn on Their Rookie Contracts

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The National Football League welcomed 32 new players into its ranks Thursday night when the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft took place in Cleveland. And while a number of quarterbacks jockeyed to be among the top picks, they were also competing for something else: a bigger payday.

In the NFL, the spot you're drafted can have a drastic impact on your earning power your first few years in the league. Dropping a few spots can cost a player several millions of dollars thanks to the NFL's rookie wage scale, which predetermines the salaries for each year's rookies based on the league-wide salary cap.

For 2021, the player selected first overall is projected by Spotrac to receive nearly $37 million in his first contract, including a $24.2 million signing bonus. This year's No. 1 overall pick was 21-year-old Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, who is headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

On the other side of the spectrum, 32nd pick Joe Tryon's four-year deal with Tampa Bay is is projected to be worth around a third of that at $11.2 million, including a $5.5 million signing bonus.

Each player drafted in the first round receives a four-year contract. They aren't eligible to renegotiate their deals until after their third contracted year.

"Unfortunately, [draft positioning] means a lot," Michael Bapis, managing director at Vios Advisors at Rockefeller Capital tells CNBC Make It. "If you're at the top of the draft, it's very important. But if you're not in one of the top one or two rounds, then ultimately you're going to have to play [well] to get paid."

Unlike decades past, there's not much wiggle room for negotiations for top draft picks. Thanks to a change in the league's collective bargaining agreement in 2011, gone are the days when a top-five pick can negotiate a $72 million contract before ever setting foot on an NFL field.

And even after a rookie signs their contract, that doesn't mean all the money is going into their bank account. The only money they are guaranteed is their signing bonus. If they are cut by their team or are otherwise unable to perform, there is a very real possibility that they will not receive their salary.

"I think the public sees the big number and thinks the player gets it right away, but that's probably the biggest misconception," Bapis says. "You sign for that amount, but you can always be released."

Here are what this year's draft picks stand to earn, from pick No. 1 to No. 32, according to Spotrac projections as of Thursday afternoon. The total contract value includes the signing bonus, which is typically paid out within days of the players officially signing.

Pick No. 1: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Total contract value: $36.9 million
  • Signing bonus: $24.2 million

Pick No. 2: Zach Wilson, New York Jets

  • Total contract value: $35.2 million
  • Signing bonus: $22.9 million

Pick No. 3: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

  • Total contract value: $34.2 million
  • Signing bonus: $22.2 million

Pick No. 4: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

  • Total contract value: $32.9 million
  • Signing bonus: $21.3 million

Pick No. 5: Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

  • Total contract value: $30.9 million
  • Signing bonus: $19.8 million

Pick No. 6: Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

  • Total contract value: $27.1 million
  • Signing bonus: $17.1 million

Pick No. 7: Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions

  • Total contract value: $24.1 million
  • Signing bonus: $14.9 million

Pick No. 8: Jaycee Horn, Carolina Panthers

  • Total contract value: $21.2 million
  • Signing bonus: $12.7 million

Pick No. 9: Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos

  • Total contract value: $21 million
  • Signing bonus: $12.6 million

Pick No. 10: DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Total contract value: $20.2 million
  • Signing bonus: $12 million

Pick No. 11: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

  • Total contract value: $18.9 million
  • Signing bonus: $11.1 million

Pick No. 12: Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

  • Total contract value: $17.1 million
  • Signing bonus: $9.8 million

Pick No. 13: Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

  • Total contract value: $16.7 million
  • Signing bonus: $9.5 million

Pick No. 14: Alijah Vera-Tucker, New York Jets

  • Total contract value: $15.9 million
  • Signing bonus: $8.9 million

Pick No. 15: Mac Jones, New England Patriots

  • Total contract value: $15.6 million
  • Signing bonus: $8.7 million

Pick No. 16: Zaven Collins, Arizona Cardinals

  • Total contract value: $14.7 million
  • Signing bonus: $8.1 million

Pick No. 17: Alex Leatherwood, Las Vegas Raiders

  • Total contract value: $14.4 million
  • Signing bonus: $7.8 million

Pick No. 18: Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins

  • Total contract value: $14 million
  • Signing bonus: $7.6 million

Pick No. 19: Jamin Davis, Washington Football Team

  • Total contract value: $13.8 million
  • Signing bonus: $7.4 million

Pick No. 20: Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

  • Total contract value: $13.7 million
  • Signing bonus: $7.35 million

Pick No. 21: Kwity Paye, Indiannapolis Colts

  • Total contract value: $13.66 million
  • Signing bonus: $7.3 million

Pick No. 22: Caleb Farley, Tennessee Titans

  • Total contract value: $13.5 million
  • Signing bonus: $7.2 million

Pick No. 23: Christian Darrisaw, Minnesota Vikings

  • Total contract value: $13.4 million
  • Signing bonus: $7.1 million

Pick No. 24: Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Total contract value: $13.1 million
  • Signing bonus: $6.9 million

Pick No. 25: Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Total contract value: $12.9 million
  • Signing bonus: $6.8 million

Pick No. 26: Grew Newsome, Cleveland Browns

  • Total contract value: $12.8 million
  • Signing bonus: $6.6 million

Pick No. 27: Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens

  • Total contract value: $12.6 million
  • Signing bonus: $6.53 million

Pick No. 28: Payton Turner, New Orleans Saints

  • Total contract value: $12.5 million
  • Signing bonus: $6.5 million

Pick No. 29: Eric Stokes, Green Bay Packers

  • Total contract value: $11.9 million
  • Signing bonus: $6.1 million

Pick No. 30: Greg Rousseau, Buffalo Bills

  • Total contract value: $11.6 million
  • Signing bonus: $5.8 million

Pick No. 31: Jayson Oweh, Baltimore Ravens

  • Total contract value: $11.4 million
  • Signing bonus: $5.6 million

Pick No. 32: Joe Tryon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Total contract value: $11.2 million
  • Signing bonus: $5.5 million

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