When it comes to compensation, the Super Bowl doesn’t care if you’re
a two-time MVP or a third-string rookie. Postseason games work on a
fixed-payout system that rewards every winning player equally. That
means NFL superstars like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
will be working for peanuts this Sunday in Arizona. But for
lesser-paid players like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson,
it’s a chance at a nice raise.
Russell Wilson is among the lowest-paid QBs in the NFL. Yes, he won the Super Bowl last year, but rookies have mandatory four-year contracts, and Wilson is only in his third year. His base salary and a prorated signing bonus bring his 2014 total to $817,302, or $51,081 for each of the 16 games he played in the regular season, according to Spotrac.
Tom Brady is a veteran QB who’s now in his 15th year in the league. He’s won the Super Bowl three times, earned NFL MVP honors twice, and has a salary to match. A recent restructuring makes exact figures difficult to come by, but Brady earned about $14.8 million, or about $925,000 per game, during the 2014 regular season.
When the Seahawks face the Patriots on Sunday, each player on the winning team gets $97,000. Combined with the $24,000 and $44,000 from the first two playoff games, a Super Bowl win would bring a player’s total postseason haul to $165,000, or $55,000 per game. For most NFL players, the extra money amounts to a substantial raise. In 2011, the median salary was about $770,000, or about $48,000 per game during a regular season, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. And many young players earn the league minimum–$420,000 in 2014.
For a player with a salary the size of Wilson’s,
the playoffs can be a significant boost.
Wilson’s average playoff game bonus is more
than he makes in a regular-season matchup,
and the total from the extra three games
boosts his overall salary nearly 20 percent.
For a top earner like Brady, though, the playoffs are a significant pay cut. He goes from $925,000 per game to an average of $55,000 if the Patriots win the Super Bowl; a 95 percent decrease in per-game pay from the regular season. Overall, about $2.6 million less than three regular-season games.
1 - Players on teams that won their division get $2,000 more in the Wild Card round.
SOURCES: National Football League, Spotrac.com, Bloomberg reporting
Photos: Jared Wickerham & Christian Petersen/Getty Images