Traditionally the salaries of NFL coaches are only released when a coach is hired and are pretty guarded from public knowledge. However, these numbers are sometimes released in instances, such as when the highest paid coaches make national lists such as Forbes' highest paid. NFL coach earnings are based on contracts that can be signed for multi-year spans.
Head Coaches and Experience
Professional Sports Representation President and founder Bob LaMonte, who represents eight different coaches, told Sports Business Daily that the average is $3.25 million annually for a head coach. The highest coaching salaries are reserved for head coaches with high winning percentages or Super Bowl wins. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has the highest contract of all NFL coaches at $7.5 million. The $7.5 million annual salary, though, does not include other income, such as money paid for endorsements, commercials and speaking engagements. Also at the top of the NFL salary list are Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who make $7 million each.
The average salaries for first-time and new head coaches is considerably less – around $2 million per year, LaMonte said. Coaches with little prior head coaching or NFL experience tend to have salaries at the low end of the spectrum and can earn contracts worth more money as they tally winning records. For example, Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who has a current contract through 2011, earns about $2 million annually, according to the Arizona Republic.
Offensive and Defensive Coordinators
Beginning with the first million dollar contract for a defensive coordinator in the early 2000s – Marvin Lewis when he joined the Redskins in 2003 -- now many NFL coordinators make seven-figure salaries, according to the Los Angeles Times. Many teams employ a coordinator making $1 million annually or more.
Other Assistant Coaches
Other coaches on NFL teams typically earn less than $1 million annually, sometimes far less depending on the team and coach's experience. Exact figures for those staff members do not have to be released to the public.
Other Salary Information
The path to an NFL coaching job is different for each coach -- most have college degrees in sports-related fields and have football backgrounds, as players and by coaching at other levels. Most coaches in the NFL got to the professional level by being good at their jobs -- winning many games and championships for other teams, usually at the college level. Winning coaches are examples of this, according to data collected by the Kansas City Star. Carolina Panthers coach John Fox, who in 2010 is in the last year of his contract, will earn $6 million. Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith is in the final two years of his contract and will make $11 million, $5.5 million each year.