How Players Make a Career in the NFL
By Claire Miles - May 20, 2023

The NFL is one of the most competitive sports leagues in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The best players are highly sought-after, and they’re often expected to make millions of dollars per year in their careers. But how do players create a career in the NFL? And what can you do if you want to try out for a team?

Getty Images/DigitalVision/David Madison

First, you should know that there are a few different ways for players to enter the league. Some players are drafted by teams straight from college or high school, but others may have played professionally before coming into the league. However, most players can’t claim this option—they must be signed as free agents before playing their first game for their new team. You have to be really good at your sport, but you also have to be willing to put in a lot of extra time—and sometimes even more than that—in order to get recognized by scouts. If you want to move up the ranks quickly and make it into the league, you’ll have to work hard and stay focused on your craft.

Once the free agency has begun, teams will likely offer contracts with minimum salaries and maximum salaries based on position and other factors (such as age). If you’re lucky enough to make it onto an NFL team’s 53-man roster, you will have to stay there for 4 years in order for your contract to become guaranteed. In order to get paid more than the minimum salary by your team, though, you’ll need to prove yourself worthy of higher earnings by performing well on the field during games and training camps throughout each offseason season (which lasts six months). The only way an athlete can increase his pay during this time period is by showing his coaches that he takes initiative in his training and is improving his game.