If Michael Sam makes the roster for the St. Louis Rams this season, he will be paid a minimum salary of $420,000. This excludes a signing bonus and any other contract bonuses negotiated between the player and club, the NFL said. His contract can't be renegotiated until after three years and he would not receive any salary until the regular season starts and he was on the roster.
If Sam were to play for the three years of the contract, his minimum salary would to $495,000 in the second year and $570,000 in the third. Sam would also get a share of his jersey sales under a formula agreed to by the league and players' union; it's hard to say how much that would be.
Sam's salary is low when compared to stars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who make close to $20 million a season, but is a result of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement that sought to lower rookie contracts by imposing a wage scale. For example, Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is entering the third year of his rookie contract and is quite a bargain — he made $526,217 last season and will make $662,434 this coming season. His jersey is the most popular in the league and he has earned millions for the NFL's coffers.
Sam has already signed an endorsement deal with Visa and his visibility as the NFL's first openly gay player will make him quite marketable. His first job, though, is to make an NFL roster.