When an NFL Draft prospect doesn't hear his name called on the big day, it hurts. It hurts their psyche, their aspirations, but it also motivates them. It certainly hurts their wallets, despite the fact that former undrafted rookie free agents account for a surprisingly large portion of the NFL demographic.
On paper, it might not seem like there's that big of a pay gap between rookies who were drafted and NFL rookies who were not. Comparing late-round rookies to UDFAs, there isn't much of a gap to speak of, if they both make their respective roster.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1775393-breaking-down-denver-s-20... It's all about the signing bonus. That's where the differences in pay lie.
The signing bonus a highly sought after UDFA receives might be close to $20,000 — on the high side. Punter Riley Dixon, Denver's seventh round pick in 2016, received $80.009 to sign.
If an undrafted rookie manages to make a team's final 53-man roster, they're slotted to make the league minimum — $465K for 2017. But they each face a long road to hoe in order to make a final roster out of training camp, like Chris Harris, Jr., C.J. Anderson, and Juwan Thompson did, among others.
Usually, the team expects those with the highest signing bonuses to truly compete for a roster spot, or at the very least, the practice squad. Analyzing the signing bonuses of this year's UDFA crop, let's take a look at which rookies Denver has high hopes for.
|Jamal Carter||S||Miami (FL)||$20,000|
|Erik Austell||OT||Charleston Southern||$5,000|
As you can see, Jamal Carter was highly sought after, not only by the Broncos, but around the league. The same goes for Orion Stewart and Tyrique Jarrett. Carter will also receive a $10,000 salary this year.
Although nothing is guaranteed, this gives you a snapshot into what the Broncos are willing to offer undrafted rookies to come in and compete in training camp for a roster spot. I can see an opportunity for many of these guys, but especially Carter, Stewart and Jarrett.
The Broncos have a long-standing tradition when it comes to undrafted rookies making the final roster. Denver has mined two Pro Bowlers out of the group (Harris, Anderson), with at least one UDFA making the final roster in 12 of the last 13 seasons.
The Broncos had a streak of 11 years with an undrafted rookie making the roster out of camp. The streak was broken in 2015 but picked up again last year with nose tackle Kyle Peko earning a (short lived) spot on the 53.
It's also worth noting that last year, Denver carried 18 players on the roster — at various points in the season — who were former undrafted rookie free agents.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.