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How much will WSU’s NFL Draftees earn?

Cole Madison and Luke Falk will finally get paid to play football

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. As you are certainly aware, two former Cougar football players realized their dream on Saturday, as Cole Madison and Luke Falk were selected in the NFL Draft. In a surprising development that proves people are dumb, Hercules Mata’afa did not get a call during the draft, and instead signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. I’d expect a couple more WSU alumni to at least get tryouts from NFL teams in the coming weeks.

So now that Falk and Madison are headed to the League, how much money can they expect to make? I like to dive into this on the day after the draft, and it’s always enjoyable to find out which players make how much, especially the guarantees.

The salary cap went up 6% from 2017, so I applied that percentage to what the rookies can expect to make in 2018.

After some extremely preliminary research, it looks like Undrafted Free Agents (UDFAs) who made a 53-man roster in 2017 were paid a base salary of $465,000, so if Hercules Mata’afa or any other undrafted Coug makes a roster, they’ll stand to make roughly $490,000.

Turns out Cole Madison and Luke Falk stand to make the same base salary as any UDFA - and every rookie - in 2018. That’s right. The base salary for every rookie in 2017 was the same, at $465,000. So this year, any rookie who makes an NFL roster could make about $490,000 in salary.

However, there are two sizable differences in rookie contracts. First, players who are picked in the first five or so rounds get much bigger signing bonuses than UDFAs. Second, any player picked in the first two rounds has his first year’s salary guaranteed. Guarantees also come in the second year for guys picked that high, but they decline quite a bit between the top pick in the 2nd Round and the last pick.

The Green Bay Packers picked Madison with the first pick of the 5th Round, No. 138 overall. Since compensatory picks vary from year to year, I’ll use the first pick of 2017’s 5th Round, Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt as a comparison. Butt received a signing bonus of $75,237. If we figure the rookie pool goes up 5-6%, Madison should get a check for about $80k.

Luke Falk went to the Tennessee Titans in the 6th Round, 199th overall. Trivia: Did you know that none other than Tom Brady went 199th overall too??!! I had to do some major research to find that factoid because nobody has mentioned it at all since Falk was selected! Anyway, the Washington Redskins picked Chase Roullier at 199 in 2017. His bonus was $36,795, so Falk should expect about $39,000 before he shows up for his first minicamp.

Here’s hoping these three Cougs, and a couple others, are earning NFL paychecks in 2018.


From the Northwest to the Midwest: Washington State OL Cole Madison taken by Green Bay Packers in fifth round | The Spokesman-Review
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Washington State’s Luke Falk plays waiting game, finally gets swooped up by Tennessee Titans with 199th pick | The Spokesman-Review
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Minnesota Vikings take on Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa as undrafted free agent | The Spokesman-Review
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