Rookies hoping to make it in the NFL fall into three unique categories. We explain the difference.
NFL dreams are beginning to unfold and become true for several HBCU players after this weekend’s NFL Draft. With rookie minicamps coming up players will have their opportunity but not all opportunities are equal.
This year there were four HBCU players drafted, and they represent the highest level of priority that a team places on a rookie. That’s super obvious right? But how even is the playing field between undrafted free agents and players who receive a camp invite?
The biggest thing that separates an undrafted free agent from a player on a tryout is the opportunity to make a team. Undrafted free agents have signed contracts which represents a second tier of investment by the respective team. In the rookie pecking order they are more of a priority than a camp invite.
There aren’t enough picks in the draft to select all of the players who will ultimately make final rosters league wide. Roughly thirty percent of the league consists of undrafted free agents. So while a player like Markquese Bell wasn’t drafted he was viewed as a priority by the Dallas Cowboys which is why he was signed a UFA contract.
Cowboys have agreed to terms with undrafted rookie S Markquese Bell from Florida A&M. NFC East rival Eagles came in late with a very strong offer, source said, but Bell chose Dallas. Where he wanted to be. Had a 30 visit here.
There are even opportunities for UFAs to have leverage in their situations. Undrafted players who are still a priority to teams can decide which team they’d like to go to if they have more than one suitor. Bell for instance had an offer from Philadelphia but ultimately chose Dallas.
There are no contracts given out to players who are invited to a camp tryout. These players already come in as longshot chances because teams passed over the opportunity to sign them twice. Once in the draft and once as a free agent.
The rookie minicamps will feature a mix of 40-60 players who are draft picks, undrafted free agents and other tryout players. The players there on a try out will need to do something impressive and do it quickly to stand out. The minicamps are only running for two to three-days. No two teams will conduct transactions the same way but generally 15-20 guys might get invited to camp and a couple of the invites might sign free agent deals when it’s over.
No one is guaranteed a roster spot in the NFL but the UFA is more likely to survive rookie minicamp and make it to the preseason over camp invitees. But the ultimate win is to make the regular season 53 man roster. During the offseason teams can carry up to 90 players.
All players at minicamp receive team-provided food, lodging and a per diem. During preseason training camp according to the NFL collective bargaining agreement, first year players receive $1,700 per week and veterans receive $2,900 per week in per diem.
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