What does guaranteed money mean in NFL contracts?

  • What money is guaranteed?
  • Why guaranteed money is important
  • What is a salary guarantee?

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Figuring out the fine details of NFL contracts can be tricky, but once you know the basics, it makes it much easier to understand what teams can and cannot do with their money. It's easy to look at the raw contract numbers without really understanding the implications of a deal a player just signed.

The salary cap number is a huge factor in terms of how it affects a team's total cap space. However, guaranteed money is arguably more important in terms of how it relates to the team.

There are an endless number of ways that teams can free up salary cap space each year. Some frequently used options include releasing players, extending contracts, re-negotiating contracts, asking a player to take a pay cut, or taking on voidable years.

But when it comes to guaranteed money, there's only so much an NFL team can do in terms of moving cap numbers around. Here's what you need to know.

What is guaranteed money in an NFL contract?

Guaranteed money is the portion of a player's contract that is guaranteed to be paid to them, with no exceptions. This means that whether a player is cut, released, or injured, they will still earn all of the guaranteed money agreed upon when they signed their contract.

Why is guaranteed money important in the NFL?

Guaranteed money acts as financial security for players and it plays a key factor in contract negotiations. The total yearly value of a player's contract doesn't mean much if it's not incentivied by guarantees., Without guaranteed money, teams can trade and cut players with virtually no consequence.

Guaranteed money is meant to protect the player in the event of an injury or if the team attempts to move on from them before their agreed-upon contract expires. This guaranteed money forces teams to pay a dead cap hit if they attempt to move on from a player before all guarantees are paid.

High-profile, established NFL players can ask for higher percentages of guaranteed money in their contract negotiations, which increases their financial security.

What is a salary guarantee in the NFL?

Guaranteed money can come in various forms in the NFL. These include guaranteed salaries, signing bonuses, and roster bonuses. A guaranteed salary is the number of a player's total base salary that is assured. Teams must pay this number whether the player is injured, demoted, or no longer on the roster.