Drafts and Taxes: How the 2015 NFL Draft Affects a Player’s Income

By  | 

The 2015 NFL draft is a huge event for football followers. Free agency and trading isn’t as big in this sport as it is in others, so many National Football League franchises build their roster during the draft each year. With seven rounds of selections, teams can turn around bad luck quickly with smart drafting.

Draft Rules and Jock Taxes

Each year, the rules of the draft allow the worst teams of the previous year to improve their chances for future wins by picking the best prospects. As for the new NFL players, their first paycheck will be affected by the tax regulations of their team’s home state. On top of that, they might be subject to jock taxes in the states they play away games in. So where’s the best state for a player to go to maximize post-tax earnings?

The Home Team Advantage

Among the top three picks of the 2015 NFL draft, two teams will play at least half of their season in a state with no state income tax: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who pick first overall, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who pick third. Both teams play in Florida, but the Jags have an advantage: They share a division with the Houston Texans, meaning that they’ll play at least nine games per year in a state with no state income tax.

Unfortunately for Florida State’s Jameis Winston or University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, both top quarterback prospects, the Jaguars are likely not in the market for a quarterback. The Jags drafted quarterback Blake Bortles just a year ago with the third overall pick.

High-Tax State Blues

Things could take a quick turn for these two prospects if they slip down the draft board, however. The New York Jets are set to draft sixth overall, and they could very well be in the market for a quarterback, with just Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fold. New York has the highest total taxes in the country, and although the Jets have the chance to play in Florida at least once to face the Miami Dolphins, this benefit is canceled out by sharing a division with the Buffalo Bills, another New York team.

Although finding the proper mixture of states to play in can impact each player’s take-home pay, the best way for a player to maximize earnings is to end up with the right football fit. The savings that a player like Winston could earn by playing in Florida for the Buccaneers during his first few seasons could quickly be offset if he doesn’t earn a big second contract. If the New York Jets are a great fit instead, any concern over extra taxes might be superseded by the possibility of earning a major deal a few years down the line.