Comparing contract structures across the big three
It is no secret that the NFL is king in North America. When compared to Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, the gap in popularity the NFL has gained over the last three decades is staggering.
In 2021, the first round of the NFL Draft drew in more television viewers than any game of the previous NBA Finals, and also more than five of the six previous World Series games.
In 2022, 88 of the top 100 viewed television shows were NFL games. It's a landslide. But despite its chokehold on the attention spans of the viewing audience, the players on the field do not have the same contractual protections as their professional athlete counterparts.
MLB only deals in fully guaranteed contracts, and the overwhelming majority of NBA contracts are fully guaranteed, despite their respective sports having a longer participation window and lower risk for serious injury.
Out of the nearly 2,000 players who were under contract at some point in 2022, only 112 players had fully guaranteed contracts. As a whole the NFL is most profitable league in the world, generating a revenue of 17.19 billion dollars (with a capital B) in 2022, and have five of the ten most valuable franchises in North America.
So why is there a severe disconnect between the .06% of fully guaranteed deals and the league’s insane popularity and their ability to just print money?