Each year the NFL minimum salaries increase by $15,000, up to $450,000 for a rookie in 2016. A player’s minimum salary is determined by his years of experience (YOE), ranging from 0 to 10 or more. The chart below shows the minimum (P5) salaries a team can contract a player to based on Years of Experience (credited seasons).
Veteran Minimum Benefits
When qualified, a player with four (4) or more years of NFL experience can earn his total minimum salary, but have a cap figure that reflects two years of experience – or in 2016, $600,000. The contract must be for only one year, and must not contain combined bonus money (signing, roster, workout) that exceeds $80,000.
For instance, let’s pretend Matt Cassel resigns with the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 on a 1 year, minimum salary contract. With 10+ years of experience, he’ll be slotted for a $985,000 base salary. With four or more years of experience (11), and a 1 year contract, Cassel qualifies for the cap hit benefit. His 2016 cap figure with the Cowboys would be $600,000
Had he received a bonus (signing, roster, workout) up to the maximum $80,000, he would have received a total $1.065M contract, with a $985,000 base salary, an $80,000 signing bonus, and a cap figure of $680,000 (600+80).
With plenty of veterans being released, or not signed back thus far in 2016, the use of the Minimum Salary Benefit Rule becomes useful both for older players looking for jobs, and teams looking to minimize their cap dollars.
The majority of Reserve/Futures contracts, as well as nearly all Un-drafted Free Agent signings this summer will include a minimum salary base contract. In the 2016 season that would include a salary of $450,000 in 2016, $540,000 in 2017, and if applicable $630,000 in 2018.
Restricted Free Agent Tenders
Most restricted free agents will be offered 1-year tenders this offseason rather than long-term extensions. Each year these tenders rise according to CBA regulation. In 2016, teams will have the right to tender their RFA as:
1st Round: $3.635M
2nd Round: $2.553M
3rd Round: $1.671M