Top rookie quarterbacks are making an insane amount of money on their NFL contracts

For Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye, they've earned generational money in their 20s.
Washington Commanders Rookie Minicamp
Washington Commanders Rookie Minicamp / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Rookie contracts in the NFL are quite large, and for the top three QB picks in Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye, their deals will make your jaw drop. Rookie contracts in the NFL are not random, in fact, explains in nicely:

"Contracts for draft picks are predetermined by a formula that is typically tied to the NFL salary cap. But the cap declined 8% in 2021—the first decline since 2011—following a $4 billion revenue drop in 2020 when games were held under COVID-induced stadium capacity restrictions. The league and players union agreed to amend the usual rookie salary formula to not penalize the 2021 draft class.

The compromise was to “borrow money” against future rookie compensation pools to prevent a decline in rookie contracts. The result was 1% increases in draft pick signing bonuses—the bulk of first-round player contracts—even if the cap was down. The system stayed in place in 2022 when the cap rose 14%, and again in 2023 when the cap jumped 8%."

Kurt Badenhausen

They are not random deals, but the more that the NFL salary cap goes up, the richer the rookie deals are, and obviously, the higher the draft pick, the richer the rookie deal. But what does a top NFL Draft pick even make? Well, the top three picks of the 2024 NFL Draft were all QBs, and we do know how much their rookie contracts are worth:

Caleb Williams - $39.5 million

The rookie contract in the NFL is a standard four years, but for first-round picks, they come with a fifth-year option. For Caleb Williams, his four-year rookie deal is worth nearly $40 million. It actually comes out to $9.875 million per season for the rookie passer. And while that may seem like a lot for someone in their early 20s, well, if Williams is a home-run selection, it'd be a bargain.

Jayden Daniels - $37.7 million

Not even $2 million less is Jayden Daniels, who went second overall to the Washington Commanders. His four-year rookie deal is worth $9.425 million per season. And again, if Daniels ends up being a home-run selection, the Commanders would be getting a bargain, much like the Chicago Bears.

Drake Maye - $36.6 million

Drake Maye was the third overall pick, going to the New England Patriots. He hopes to be the true, long-term successor to Tom Brady. Maye's four-year rookie deal is worth $36.6 million per season, which comes out to $9.15 million per year. And for all of these rookie passers, they likely have a ton of sponsorships and endorsements as well.

So their salaries being what they are in the NFL could even be doubled with their off-field endeavors. The NFL is king; the money that the league brings in is just flat-out insane, and it's why rookie contracts are as rich as they are.