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How much Louis Rees-Zammit could earn in the NFL after quitting rugby with shock announcement

Ryan Smart

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How much Louis Rees-Zammit could earn in the NFL after quitting rugby with shock announcement

Louis Rees-Zammit could potentially be in for a huge payday following his decision to quit rugby union and attempt to move into NFL.

The Wales international, who has collected 33 caps for his country, made the major announcement earlier on Tuesday.

Rees-Zammit will therefore not be available for the upcoming Six Nations tournament, with Wales coach Warren Gatland revealing he was informed about the 22-year-old's decision an hour before he named his squad.

The wing will also depart Gallagher Premiership side Gloucester to pursue his NFL dream - although told Gatland he would return to rugby union should that dream not work out.

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Rees-Zammit said in a statement posted on his social media channels: "I believe that this is the right time for me to realise another professional goal of playing American football in the US. Those opportunities don't come around very often."


He will now enter the NFL's International Player Pathway (IPP), which provides opportunities for elite athletes to earn a spot on an NFL roster.

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Two rugby union players have previously quit the sport to attempt NFL, with former England winger Christian Wade securing a contract with the Buffalo Bills after joining the IPP programme back in 2019.

He spent three years with the franchise before being cut from the roster in 2022, and moved back into rugby with French side Racing 92 in 2022.

Rees-Zammit, therefore, is not guaranteed to secure an NFL roster spot - but should he do so, the 22-year-old could earn big money. However, there are some hurdles to jump over.

As per the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement (via Statista), players earn a minimum salary of $750,000 (around £591,000) per annum if they are a member of a franchise's main roster.

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However, players are paid less if they are placed on an injury reserve list, while players named as part of a practice squad earn a minimum of $216,000 a year, or a minimum of $289,800 if they have over two years of experience.

Rees-Zammit will earn an initial £50,000 by joining the IPP, but that will of course sky-rocket if he is named in a practice squad.

Explaining the difference in wages between rugby union and NFL, Wade explained in a 2021 interview that he actually took a pay cut during his first two seasons in the NFL - but did end up earning considerably more once part of the main roster.

Christian Wade was signed to the Buffalo Bills for three years. (Credit: Getty)
Christian Wade was signed to the Buffalo Bills for three years. (Credit: Getty)
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He told The Telegraph: "My first contract with Wasps was around £17,000 a year and in my last season I was on £250,000-plus.

"In the NFL, you're either in the practice squad or the 53-man roster.

I'd been with the Buffalo Bills since April 2019, but injured my shoulder before the first season started. So for the first two years, I was in the practice squad (paid $150,000 a year).

"If you make the 53-man roster the minimum you get paid [in 2021], I believe, is $600,000 a year now. But this last year I was on injury reserve, so was getting paid just over $400,000 a year.

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"And I still had my Adidas sponsorship I've had throughout my career, which provided equipment."

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: NFL, Rugby Union, Wales, American Football

Ryan Smart
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