I’m getting a lot of questions about how much to spend on players who choose to opt out of the 2020 fall football season. Rather than answer every question individually, I thought I’d break it all out in a blog post.

Understand that these are best guesses based on what I’ve heard of the packages so far. These numbers are liable to move as more and more opt out and the market comes to balance.

First half of first round (1-20): Based on what scouts have told me, these are the players that probably can safely opt out. That means their market probably doesn’t slide much.

  • Estimated stipend/marketing guarantee and per diem: Depending on how close they are to No. 1, you’re looking at $7,000-$8,000 per month through the draft and a marketing guarantee that’s in the $150,000-$300,000 range.
  • Also: Training of player’s choice (probably about $30,000 all in, maybe $10,000 higher if he starts training now), rental car, housing, etc.

Late first to early second (21-50): These are the names you’re seeing populate multiple mock drafts in the 15-32 range. Some of these players will slide, but they seem safe to fall no farther than the end of Day 2.

  • Estimated stipend/marketing guarantee and per diem: I’ve heard of some hefty marketing guarantees for players in this range already, but it’s risky. I’d say you’re safest in the $50,000-$30,000 range. As far as stipend, probably around $5,000/month through the draft should get it done.
  • Also: Same as above on training and other amenities.

Late second to end of third: This is a tricky area, because players will think they can opt out and maybe slide into first-round territory, when really they’re in danger of sliding into Day 3. If you’re an agent, that’s not an easy message to convey.

  • Estimated stipend/marketing guarantee and per diem: You’re in trouble if you overpay on per diem for eight months here. My guess is you want to stay in the same range that you would have paid for four months ($20,000-$25,000), but spread it over eight. You probably want to stay south of $4,000/month here. Marketing guarantee would have to be no more than $10,000-$15,000, depending on how high you have to go on the per diem. You’ll get that back on the trading card deal anyway, presuming he doesn’t have a marketing guy.
  • Also: Same as above on training and other amenities, but maybe you can get away with a slightly smaller package for a player at a non-sexy position (interior o-line, inside linebacker, maybe safety). But probably not.

Bubble Day 3/ to end of fifth round: This is where you’re hoping you can show the player a nice training package and that’s enough. Stipends have to be in the $1,500/month area, no more than $2,000/month through the draft. These are the players that are really in danger of falling out of the draft if they’re not playing.

  • Estimated stipend/marketing guarantee and per diem: You have to have a Day 3 mindset for these players. Stipend/MG has to be $10,000 or less. Per diem can’t be over $1,500/month thru draft or you’re really gambling.
  • Also: This is where you push your trainer who’ll make you a deal, or maybe who is really aching to train a guy who could go Day 2. If you’re lucky, you stash the kid at a trainer who’s not in the Sun Belt, which also saves you money. The problem is that it’s gonna be hard to talk him out of the blue-chip training facilities, and if you have to go $30,000 to train him, you gotta make cuts elsewhere. This is where the middle-class agencies are hitting the rocks these days.

I wouldn’t recommend signing anyone rated below third round who’s opting out. Anyone below here is more likely to fall out of the draft than to “fall upward.” It’s out of sight, out of mind in the NFL.

We’ll discuss this more in this week’s Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.