Manziel could afford to buy, having grown up on the money before signing a four-year, $8.2 million contract with the Browns in 2015. But the average NFL player earns significantly less coming out of the university.
Before Wyatt Teller became an All-Pro guard for the Browns, he was just a fifth-round pick trying to make the Buffalo team. After being drafted from Virginia Tech in 2018, he signed a four-year contract worth $2.7 million with a signing bonus of $250,000. He moved into an apartment in Hamburg, New York, about 10 minutes from the Orchard Park training facility, and looked set to stay with the Bills, starting the final seven games of the season. Then, 10 days before the start of the 2019 season, he was traded to the Browns.
“I was living in Virginia at the time, and neither of us had ever been to Cleveland, so we had no idea where anything was,” said his wife, Carly, who had just started dating Teller at the time.
Teller added, “I was so focused on learning the playbook that I didn’t have time to look for an apartment. She was like, ‘What can I do for you? ?’ So I kicked him.”
Carly remembers calling the Browns’ offices and asking, “Where do people live in Cleveland, Ohio?” She quickly found him an apartment in Olmsted Falls, near the Berea training center. Most of Teller’s neighbors were of retirement age.
“I think I could get in my truck and be at the facility in 10 minutes,” said Teller, who now lives with Carly in a home in Westlake.
“I still can’t hear the end of it,” Carly said. “I still hear we’re 20 minutes away now.”
The story of the Tellers is typical. Cleveland’s sports teams are (understandably) tight-lipped about their athletes’ housing situation, but renting is common, especially with the Browns and Guardians, MLB’s youngest team. A Guardians source says Jose Ramirez may be the only player to own a home in Cleveland. Manager Terry Francona, who is finishing his 10th season with the club, rents an apartment two blocks from Progressive Field and walks or scooters to work. Most Guardians rent apartments near Crocker Park, with a few others downtown or in Tremont. Many of them choose to buy homes in Arizona to be closer to the Guardians’ Goodyear compound.
The NBA offers a little more security. Thompson bought his lakeside home in Bratenahl for $1.9 million in 2015 after signing a five-year extension. (The house, which was often featured on E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” sold for $2.5 million shortly. after being listed.) Kevin Love also lives in Bratenahl, in a $1.25 million home he bought in 2015 and could sell once his contract ends after this season. Current jumpers such as Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Donovan Mitchell are all signed for at least four more seasons on guaranteed contracts, making buying more convenient, but few are staying long-term. Anderson Varejao still lives in Cleveland and LeBron James has a mansion in Bath where he will one day have to take a bath, but most former Cavaliers move to warmer climes after their careers end.
The NFL is a renter’s paradise, as the average career lasts 3.3 years, or nearly two-thirds of a team’s roster. runs after two years, and few contracts are fully guaranteed outside of Deshaun Watson’s five-year, $230 million deal with the Browns. Most of the Browns live on the West Side in places like Westlake, Strongsville, Avon and Columbia Station, where Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. both owned homes. OBJ’s home went on the market in April for $3.3 million and would have found a taker in Juneeven if the house has not yet closed.
That’s no problem for Beckham, who earned $82 million during his NFL career and who signed a five-year, $29 million deal with Nike in 2017. But the average player can’t afford to own homes in multiple cities.
“It’s funny, but a lot of my friends think as soon as you get drafted you’re a millionaire,” said Teller, who signed a four-year, $56.8 million extension last November. “It took me three years to become a millionaire. They see this contract (extension) and think you have all this money right now.
“Careers in the NFL are short. You dream of playing for 10 years or even three years, since that’s when you retire. You hope to earn money outside of football, but you You only have a short time to make money. We’re blessed, but for a lot of guys it’s hard.”