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Salary for Football Defensive Backs

Updated on July 14, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Defensive backs refer to players who are positioned on the defensive team behind the line of scrimmage. These players include safeties, who represent the last line of defensive, and cornerbacks, who defend receivers and tackle offensive players. (REFERENCE 1) Their salaries are determined by the National Football League in negotiations with the NFL Players Union.


For 2012, the cornerback with the highest base salary, according to Spotrac, was Namdi Asomugha who played for the Philadelphia Eagles to earn $11,000,000. His total salary for the five years starting in 2011 was $60,000,000, with an average $12,000,000 per year. Among several of the lowest paid players at $390,000 for the year was Will Hill of the New York Giants. He only had a one year contract for that amount and becomes a restricted free agent after the season. Cornerback salaries for the year averaged about $1,113,602.


The safety with the highest base salary was Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens. He had a six-year contract that began in 2007 totaling $44,400,000, with an average salary of $7,400,000 per year. Among the many players earning the lowest salary of $390,000 for the year was Sean Richardson of the Green Bay Packers. His three-year contract started in 2012 and totaled $1,445,000, with an average salary of $481,667 per year. The average salary for all safeties was $1,218,142 per year.


The Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated in August 2011 defines the minimum salaries for all players, including cornerbacks and safeties, until the year 2020. Salaries vary by the number of credited seasons and the year. For example, in 2012, a rookie earns an annual minimum of $273,000 with no experience, $343,000 with three credited seasons and $418,000 with 10 or more seasons. In 2020, minimum annual salaries jump to $510,000 for no experience, $463,000 with three credited seasons and $538,000 with 10 or more seasons. A credited season is defined as a season in which a player is on full-pay status for a total of three or more regular season games.


The Collective Bargaining Agreement also specifies the benefits and conditions under which defensive backs and all other team members play. If a player travels and does not receive meals by his club, he is entitled to daily reimbursement in 2012 for breakfast at $19, lunch at $29 and dinner at $47. In 2020, those amounts jump to $31 for breakfast, $41 for lunch and $59 for dinner. During the regular season, starting with the first regular season game, players must receive at least four days per month off. Injured players may be required to undergo medical treatment during his day off. For each game played during the off-season in 2012, players receive $22,000 for the Division Playoff, $40,000 for the Conference Championship and $88,000 for winning the Super Bowl or $44,000 for losing it. In 2020, those amounts jump to $33,000 for the Playoffs, $59,000 for the Championship, $130,000 for winning the Super Bowl and $65,000 for losing.


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    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I suspect it makes up a little for being injured all the time, Tammy.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I pretty much knew the salary was going to be high when I saw your topic. It is a sport that pays very well and all for the love of entertainment. I guess if people stopped going to the events, then the business would drop the high pay scale and lower ticket prices; but, we all know that's not going to happen.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      I never understood why football players make so much. I guess if I took one tackle I would probably appreciate their salaries a little more. Great look at this industry!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Wow! No wonder all those kids in high school wish to become professional football players. Amazing salaries! With all of the latest information about the dangers and long term effects of head trauma (concussions) there IS a price to be paid. Voted useful and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Now I'm nauseous! Ridiculous money and it will only get more ridiculous. Sigh! Welcome to the United States! Great job of research!


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