Signing a second contract in the NFL can be an indication a player has earned their place in the league. While extensive analysis is conducted on college players in the build up to the draft, there’s no verified method to determine whether a prospect is going to stick around long term or not. It’s why the draft still has elements of risk, due to the differing nature of college football vs the NFL, but also why the second contract means a bit more.
By the time a player gets to his next contract, he’s contributed four years to the league. Teams make their decision based on four years of extensive film study as to whether the player should be extended, or agree to terms with a different team. We wanted to look at the percentage of eligible players during the last 10 years that signed second contracts from a team’s perspective.
We initially took a list of all draft picks from 2008-2017, the justification being that players selected in the 2008 NFL Draft are eligible for extensions in 2012, 10 years ago, and those selected in the 2017 NFL Draft will have signed their second deals last summer.
Combining this with a dataset of contracts signed in the league from 2012 to the present helped aggregate the number of contracts each player signed during the time period.
We can then use this to calculate each team’s second contract conversion percentage.
The Green Bay Packers appear to be the best team at drafting players who earn second contracts in the league. Although, there doesn’t appear to be much to split any of the teams. This might support the fact that this isn’t the best metric to measure the success of players or teams in the league. A second contract has layers to it, be it a large, multi-year deal on the back of exceptional performance on the previous rookie deal down to a one-year practice squad deal for a team looking for either sporadic role players or development players.
This might also explain why the percentage of second contracts is so high. An important factor this analysis doesn’t include is the “quality” of the second contract. The conversion of higher draft picks to a second contract is exceptionally high because teams initially invested in raw talent, and the next contract will continue to do so—even if it’s for fewer years and money.