The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft came to a close Thursday evening and one of the biggest surprises was Kentucky Will Levis still sitting in the green room in Kansas City. Levis had been projected by most prognosticators to go in the top five of the draft, but he slipped all the way out of the first round.
His fall to the second round costs him money in his rookie contract, but it opens the door for him to potentially hit free agency ahead of the three quarterbacks who were selected in the first round. It’s not a lock, but the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement does offer him that potential advantage.
Will Levis salary
Update: The Titans traded up with the Cardinals at No. 33 to select Levis. That slot provides for a $9,830,880 total contract with a $4,149,732 signing bonus. He’ll likely have a $750,000 base salary his rookie year.
The NFL rookie salary pool is settled ahead of the draft each year, which allows us to understand approximately how much each player will earn during the course of their first NFL contract. Over The Cap breaks down every team’s rookie pool and what it means for each rookie contract.
Will Levis’ salary will depend on where he is selected on the second day. The Steelers hold the first pick of the second round and likely will receive a lot of calls from teams that might be interested in the pick. If a team trades up and picks Levis with the first pick of the second round, he would get a deal worth a total of $9,911,128 with a $4,208,092 signing bonus. He would have a $750,000 base salary in his first year, $1,200,506 in his second year, $1,651,012 in his third year, and $2,101,518 in his fourth year.
His potential salary decreases with each subsequent pick. The Lions make a lot of sense with the third pick of the round. If they selected him, his total contract would be worth $9.75 million with a $4.1 million signing bonus. If the Raiders drafted him with the seventh pick of the round, he would get a deal worth $9.2 million with a $3.7 million signing bonus. However, if the Lions or Raiders traded up, his value would be based on the slot where he is picked, not the team moving up to pick him.
Will Levis contract structure
The CBA provides for a four-year contract for all draft picks. Whether you’re the first pick on Thursday or Mr. Irrelevant on Saturday, you sign a four-year contract. First round picks generally get a fully guaranteed contract. The further down the draft you drop after that, the less overall guaranteed money. By dropping to the second round, Levis likely will not receive a fully guaranteed contract.
While first-round picks generally get a fully guaranteed contract, the teams that draft them get a fifth-year option. It’s a solid pay day for the player, but it is a one-year extension that can prevent them from hitting unrestricted free agency as soon as they like. A team can use the fifth year option and then potentially use the franchise tag in years six and seven if they want. If Will Levis is playing well, he shaves off a year because his team would not have a fifth year option.