With the compensatory draft picks announced I finally updated my estimates for the NFL Rookie Pool money. The rookie pool is the amount of money teams should spend on their rookie draft picks. This year, because of the large rise in the salary cap, the salary freeze on signing bonuses should end for the first time since the new CBA came into existence. Because this is the first time this will happen please be advised that these numbers are based on my interpretation of how the rookie salaries work and unlike last years estimates are not really tested just yet. By next year I would imagine I will have a better idea of estimating these numbers. If these numbers are far off I would expect it to be that the higher picks will earn more money than I have listed.
The main number of importance for everyone is the year one salary cap allocation since that impacts teams’ immediately. Based on my estimates the regular portion of the draft should count for about $10.879 million more in year one cap dollars than the 2013 draft class. It is also important to not get confused and think that the year one pool represents the salary cap space needed to sign rookies. Rosters are already set at 51 players and each draft pick will either replace a player currently in the top 51 (who must count for at least $420,000) or just have their bonus money count towards the cap. The cap space required column in the chart gives a worst case estimate for what teams will actually require in cap room to sign their rookies for training camp. If you click on a team name it will take you direct to their cap breakdown page.
The team with the largest rookie pool should be the St. Louis Rams who have 12 picks in the upcoming draft including two first round selections. My estimates have their class cost at $11.36 million with $6.3 million in cap room needed to sign their rookies. They should have enough to sign their players as we have them estimated with $7.9 million in cap room. The Browns, Texans, and Jaguars are the other teams whose year one pool should be above $9 million. The Lions are the only team I have estimated to not have enough cap room to sign their rookies as of today.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.