When a player is not on a team’s Active or Inactive List, the team can reduce that player’s salary due to his services being unavailable (i.e. on a team’s Injured Reserve list). Many young players, typically late-round draft picks, will sign what are referred to as Split Contracts to reduce the financial burden to teams when a player isn’t able to take the field.
The CBA also sets a minimum for the amount a player can earn under a Split Contract—the split figure is included with an asterisk in Paragraph 5 of the standard NFL Player Contract.
The minimum split salaries from 2017 through 2020 are charted below by Credited Seasons (Amounts in thousands):
(NFL CBA – Art. 26, Sec. 1 (b), 146)
Young, unproven players are far from the only players who receive Split Contracts. A veteran with durability concerns may also be asked to agree to a split in his P5 Salary.
If a veteran player has four or more Accrued Seasons and makes a team’s week one roster, his full salary is guaranteed for the rest of the season whether his contracts includes a split salary or not. Any player signed during the season is not subject to this exception.
Despite this, Split Contracts provide veterans, who teams may not have signed without the availability of such deals, a chance to prove that they can stay healthy and perform at a high level. Teams are fans of the split because of the relief, in both cash and cap, these contracts provide.