Total contract values in the NBA have ridiculously skyrocketed specially in the summer of this year. Imagine Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov, both who were mere role players in Cleveland’s first championship, inking $38M and $64M from the Bucks and Lakers respectively. It’s still nowhere near Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s salary of $103.8M for 5 years, but for a typical NFL role player, it would take a miracle to land that amount.

For one, the rise is highly attributable to the lucrative television deals that the NBA got. This enabled them to hand out $24M to every team in the league to lure free agents.

Here are the main reasons why NBA players outduel their NFL counterparts in terms of salary. Majority of the points here are inspired by SB Nation.


NBA players edge NFL players in league revenue partition.

The NBA and the NFL have slightly different provisions in its revenue distribution. NBA players are close to securing half of all league revenue before expenses, while the NFL first identifies the income source and other expenses before allocating it.

If the NBA’s total league revenue amounts to $7 billion, then that’s around $3.5 billion for its players. NFL players are expected to receive $6 billion, given that their league will generate revenue projections of around $13 billion. But that’s still a million of dollars lost for them in terms of ratio.

NFL’s plentiful roster spots

Here’s what turns the tide in favor of NBA players. Though NFL players, as a whole, get twice as much money as NBA players, that money is distributed across four times.

As per SB Nation, the fastest growing online sports media brand:

“There are 32 NFL teams with 53 roster spots each, making for 1,696 NFL players at any given moment. There are 30 NBA teams with 15 roster spots each, making for 450 NBA players.”

You need not be a math geek to know what it means for NFL players. If that projected $13 billion (or higher) salary is crowded by 1,696 athletic people, that somehow decreases the relevance and paycheck of each of them (specially guys coming off the bench).

That pretty much explains Tom Brady’s bargain contract of $60M over the next four seasons: to be able to keep other key players on the team within the stringent budget.

Varieties of players are less in the NBA.

Yeah, you have ferocious dunkers, pure shooters, versatile wings, and big men who thrive outside the paint in the NBA.

But what about the NFL?

Athletic football players come in different body types suited for that position. There goes that humongous 300-pound field player who anchors the defensive end. If you’re not endowed with the ceiling but possess commendable athleticism and quickness, you can be the next running back on the rise. The point here is that there are innumerable positions and roles in the NFL that need a particular fit.

Meanwhile, in the NBA, only few small men are showered with the spotlight. If you don’t have eyes on your back, dazzling speed, or a freak vertical leap, it’s impossible to mimic the success currently enjoyed by Isaiah Thomas.

There’s no complacency allowed for the prototypical forwards and centers too. If you don’t have elite basketball skills, that muscular frame or leaping ability can all go for naught.

Given the fact that NBA teams are more selective and particular with their players, the ‘chosen ones’ get to enjoy a higher salary in limited roster spots.

With all the bludgeoning NFL players receive, they are bound for shorter careers.

We can never forget the gruesome injury Paul George suffered after hitting a basket stanchion, but that’s not within an NBA game. If we talk about physicality, NFL is the more rugged sport with all the bumps, knocks, and crashes its players have to endure.

What’s the relevance of that?

Since salaries tend to rise as players reach their peak, some NFL players may never enjoy that as they end their careers after all those injuries. Since the salary cap structure takes into account the years of service, NFL players who frequently went down have less chance to go on.

As mentioned earlier, NBA teams have their own predetermined standards with athletes (e.g., tall, hefty, extremely athletic, etc.). The very reason why mediocre NBA ballers were able to stay is due to the limited pool of targeted talent available. That’s not the case for NFL –where all guys set their eyes on the roster spot prize.

And the above mentioned reasons are the bases why NBA players ace their NFL brothers.  But if it’s a decent, above par football shirt you’re looking for next, Wagadoo houses some of that at a reasonable price.