The NFL's Top Earners of All Time, Ranked

By Kate B.
Gettyimages 1175335102
Photo Courtesy: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

As one of the most popular and well-attended professional sports leagues in the U.S., the National Football League (NFL) is a money-making machine. But, more so than other popular sports, football goes hand-in-hand with physical risk, and a player’s longevity is not guaranteed.

When an NFL team makes a high offer, you can bet they expect the player on the receiving end to be worth every penny. Take a look at the standout athletes who are the highest-paid NFL players of all time.

Advertisement

37. Kirk Cousins (QB) | $100.6 million

Drafted by Washington in 2012, one-time Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins set several franchise records as the team’s quarterback. But after a two-year struggle to come to an agreement over his contract, Cousins moved on.

Gettyimages 1179439380 1
Photo Courtesy: Elsa/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

In 2018, the free agent signed an impressive $84 million dollar contract with the Minnesota Vikings — but, perhaps more impressively, that record-setting three-year contract was fully guaranteed. For the 2019 season, Cousins’ combined earnings, bonuses and endorsements land him seventh place in a roundup of highest-paid NFL players of the year.

36. Adrian Peterson (RB) | $101.8 million

Named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007, Adrian Peterson’s 13-season career has had its ups and downs. The ups include being a seven-time Pro Bowler, and earning a whopping $20.5 million — including a $12 million signing bonus — while playing for the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.

Gettyimages 1052188292
Photo Courtesy: Patrick Smith/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

And the downs? The running back missed the 2014 season when he was indicted on charges of negligent injury to a child. After his suspension, Peterson hopped teams several times, before landing with Washington in 2018. In March 2019, he re-upped his two-year contract, nabbing $8 million in the process.

35. Champ Bailey (CB) | $102.8 million

Champ Bailey played in the NFL for an impressive 15 seasons — and, in 12 of those seasons, he was a Pro Bowler. That skill and longevity allowed him to amass some impressive earnings, including $16.5 million (thanks to a $3 million roster bonus) in 2010 alone.

Gettyimages 1165972868 1
Photo Courtesy: Joe Robbins/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Those earnings came from a seven-year, $63 million deal with the Denver Broncos — the team Bailey would play for during the bulk of his career. But after Denver lost Super Bowl XLVIII, Bailey was released. In 2014, several months after that loss, the cornerback announced his retirement from the NFL. In 2019, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Advertisement

34. Calais Campbell (DE) | $103.1 million

Defensive end Calais Campbell was drafted in 2008 by the Arizona Cardinals, playing for the team until 2016. Since 2017, he has worn a Jacksonville Jaguars uniform, but his highest single-season earnings were still with the Cardinals.

Gettyimages 1175626032
Photo Courtesy: Tim Warner/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

In 2012, he nabbed $17 million, including a $16 million signing bonus. Despite the Jaguars’ rough 2018 season, Campbell went to his fourth Pro Bowl. Back in 2017, Campbell signed a four-year $60 million contract with Jacksonville — with a $30 million guaranteed. And, despite the team’s rough 2018 season, Campbell saw his fourth Pro Bowl.

33.Julio Jones (WR) | $103.1 million

Julio Jones, wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, signed an impressive three-year extension in September 2019 that totaled a cool $66 million. That means Jones is making $22 million a year — a figure that makes him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.

Qh 9knv Rxn0cccc736lvjwfi4jgpz2l0jkz9x32wupy7ljh1gykh54lgrm0lgebt9jmumdyqghigqhxs7bp0huj Joz 3 Hixzsx2hcajqiay1zap9ysh G4ffcux4zqtstspunlej2yaneoa
Photo Courtesy: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Jones’ career average of 96.1 receiving yards per game is the highest in NFL history, so it’s no wonder he’s been invited to six Pro Bowls. In 2016, Jones helped lead the Falcons to Super Bowl LI, and he posted the most receiving yards in the league in both 2015 and 2018.

32. Trent Williams (LT) | $104.9 million

Drafted by Washington in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Trent Williams has played every season since then with the team — until now. Williams didn’t report for the 2019 season and has chosen to hold out, hoping to be traded in the wake of reported dissatisfaction with the team’s medical staff.

Llby655oag11k8e5u3pnjxpctfi8ewozsy3ui3eefcpqpkhds6qe Ijarsfvzmcs9mnkmw80bhot0pvkbcowjrp Mjdni2jdd4gt Qcspmvfmlbncgh4ugy2l4nniu0uym47p3kn5hsrc6xrlw
Photo Courtesy: Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

As one of the best and highest-paid tackles in the league, Williams has played in seven Pro Bowls, despite dealing with a knee injury in 2017. Last season, he was #57 on the NFL’s ranking of Top 100 Players of 2018.

Advertisement

31. Joe Haden (CB) | $107.5 million

After being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2010, Joe Haden made a name for himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Upon signing Haden, the Browns offered him a five-year $50 million contract — with $26 million guaranteed.

Mhc7q3mmxpxwjqxudxa9q0cadxka8wz9ggyb 1ftlep5zedapor6r3op0zs Tplikvernd Xk2cbckzpnv6llqbx7welgk0nly1h8tereqn1a3mheppzdfegi2x6s98c Trrpqv5rzpedbryta
Photo Courtesy: Joe Sargent/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

With two Pro Bowls and seven seasons with the Browns under his belt, Haden refused to take a pay cut and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers for three years for $27 million. In 2019, he signed a two-year extension with the Steelers for $22 million, making his overall career salary the highest of any active cornerback.

30. Von Miller (OLB) | $108.5 million

Outside linebacker Von Miller has played for the Denver Broncos since he was drafted in 2011. According to Business Insider, both the total value of Miller’s contract and his signing bonus are the third-largest for a defensive player.

Ocmtdhgjvyitdfkyxgwqiunrg Sdpqtd4do02ajw3bdmz8i4urkqt50dhn907is5panjyl2wuqdnysfvtypwfkfephq9xbae Iexogrzay6f2lb2cc Ukwhjisle8civumusj9kpmvnu7tojzw
Photo Courtesy: Dustin Bradford/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

During Super Bowl 50, Miller helped lead the Broncos to victory over the heavily-favored Carolina Panthers. In the last quarter, he forced a fumble, ending any shot the Panthers had at nabbing the win and earning him the title of Super Bowl MVP. In 2018, he became the fifth-fastest player in NFL history to reach 100 career sacks.

29. Russell Wilson (QB) | $109.4 million

After signing a multi-year extension, Russell Wilson became the highest-paid NFL player in the 2019 season. This season alone, he is earning an impressive $35 million — thanks to a $30 million signing bonus.

Pqwr 1koovd Wdkrgedysrn C Kkayjmetcchcjt7jcbzbcmm5o Mf Hjxkhx5dqsqjldy4zae N0p0rudl9m5zqcolt2oa8 Pxs4euffc8lpnkur06a Ugc7o Dzybkspyodb Zgqrrm Qaa
Photo Courtesy: Norm Hall/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback has five Pro Bowls and one championship title to his name, clinching Super Bowl XLVIII. Wilson also holds the record for most wins by an NFL quarterback through seven seasons, with a total of 75 victories. Having played only seven seasons in the NFL so far, Wilson is in his prime, and experts expect his earnings to continue to skyrocket.

Advertisement

28. Jason Peters (OT) | $111.7 million

At 37 years old, Jason Peters is considered "old" by sports standards — and especially by NFL standards. Nonetheless, the 15-season vet has no intention of retiring, and he signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the 2019 season.

B0d3pkw6egemhhp7i1ru9s8twep3pyklqqoyks3xmzabrowesbysdaseg6dc02tqn0prlkwppheofhqyabvx8pk6wemz Ilsgsl Zgaacgzpe Htljz01virk0rhth9isuezj 9otkvssipixg
Photo Courtesy: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

With nine Pro Bowls under his belt, it was only a matter of time until Peters added a Super Bowl victory to his list of accolades. Unfortunately, during the 2017 season, he tore both his ACL and MCL. Regardless, the Eagles went on to win Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots, earning a benched Peters his first ring.

27. Terrell Suggs (LB) | $112.2 million

Terrell Suggs is 36 years old and has played in the NFL for 17 seasons. Like Jason Peters, Suggs doesn’t show any signs of slowing down soon. For most of his lengthy career, he played with the Baltimore Ravens, but, in 2018, Suggs became a free agent and signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

Ra3ov0zkme9x1pjgolhwpugzwqmzvzepgmbgxwxbek0nvds49v0rrvmrakl2knbovpl4qkliqf3curw2kihckagw2hde061f2axj5qzjrmxmqhroz Sopifnwr3ykvij Hzqz56nvsq5iqffiw
Photo Courtesy: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The linebacker is a seven-time Pro Bowl competitor and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the year in 2011. Eventually, Suggs nabbed a championship title with the Ravens in 2013, winning Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers.

26. Calvin Johnson (WR) | $113.8 million

Although he didn’t win any championship titles during his nine-season career, Calvin Johnson was selected for six Pro Bowls and was a three-time All-Pro player. In 2013, just two years before he retired, Johnson made a career high annual salary of $25 million for the season.

Ohdrwbxmdgupqfgcmkzvgti Zg5hnjco 6tbuoql29hhbrqszol0nzt98 Iqqzrstaymcssw3pjoatpbxz0keiccnct Zz5lhgllguu1h0mvyi8y4arlodgamvunmyxhsxbidwo2jwagefzh2a
Photo Courtesy: Gregory Shamus/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The wide receiver stunned Detroit Lions fans — and the NFL — when he announced his retirement at age 30. Johnson announced that he was simply "in pain" and valued his health more than the $67.7 million contract that he walked away from to retire early.

Advertisement

25. Gerald McCoy (DT) | $118.1 million

A six-time Pro Bowler during eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gerald McCoy now plays defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers. His contract is only for one year, but it nabbed him $8 million on the heels of the Bucs dropping him.

Giv5nmuzejl8jdsv8xil15gzbtuphl4 Uiojuqplgikwq9zdmuxlmwui8duuboz1fw74jw0y046tabgcqymbv3u5nptp06hawriosjdpofb3antbawmfio7sbjl4t6boi27eo6q Efc6bml7ka
Photo Courtesy: Michael Reaves/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

When McCoy and the Panthers played the Bucs for the first time in the 2019 season, he assured reporters that it was just another game — no ill will at all. However, ESPN reported that McCoy was "initially frustrated [when] the Bucs gave his No. 93 [jersey] to free agent Ndamukong Suh," especially since the team wasted no time in doing so.

24. Mario Williams (DE) | $120.4 million

Mario Williams went strong for 11 seasons, playing defensive end for the Houston Texans, the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. Business Insider notes that Williams was the number one overall draft pick back in 2006 when the NFL didn’t restrict the amount of a rookie’s contract.

Gettyimages 488747182
Photo Courtesy: Tom Szczerbowski/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

His initial deal with the Texans was a six-year contract that garnered Williams a cool $54 million. Later in his career — while playing for the Bills — the four-time Pro Bowler received a career high of $25 million for the 2012 season alone.

23. Cam Newton (QB) | $121.4 million million

Cam Newton has played for the Carolina Panthers since being drafted in 2011 as the team’s first overall pick. Within a one-year span, Newton nabbed a national championship title, received the Heisman Trophy, was drafted by the Panthers and won the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award — obviously a record-breaking year.

Mc1udsj8fozfovo5dazuunsj1jhsmy7 Vh8sjkintj Ydqbm4klj4bvlby80eivexny1dxgapfsn3wg0kzdxy3 Vaqnfubmgcozvdwpsl84yiap3nc Hbpjeswj0q3owtrgvpxe3zye7azqoda
Photo Courtesy: Jacob Kupferman/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

During a 2019 preseason game against the New England Patriots, Newton was injured and left Gillette Stadium in a walking boot. After some frustrating losses, the quarterback admitted the severity of his injury and is taking time to heal. His current multi-year contract with the Panthers ends in 2020.

Advertisement

22. Jay Cutler (QB) | $122.2 million

Although Jay Cutler was only a one-time Pro Bowler, he made significant contributions as a quarterback to several teams, including the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins. After some highs and lows with the Bears, the franchise bought out the remainder of Cutler’s contract for $2 million, releasing him to retire from the NFL.

Eqgbjuwzfrdldefhwblhk5xvkdf3ln4ika Y Yc9zvkh43xzds Hqwfkci6ao 0t8hxi Atqokamsrfs Mqqpkzrgzr5kfvvoku C6saqwexbrntc Ewgqotwewhvswjl8qwh5vi9bybtouy2w
Photo Courtesy: Tom Szczerbowski/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

In retirement, Cutler became a sportscaster but returned to the NFL to play for the Dolphins for a year in 2017 after the team’s quarterback suffered a season-ending injury. Thanks to that additional season, Cutler nabbed an extra $10 million, putting his earnings just ahead of Cam Newton’s.

21. Joe Thomas (OT) | $122.9 million

For 11 seasons, Joe Thomas played offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns — the team that drafted him third overall in 2007. Regarded as one of the best offensive linemen of all time, Thomas is also one of the highest-earning players. In 2011, he made a career high of $19 million for the season.

Bgz 74mte2 Xvi4t Dmkm 1yqsibshyzgq Vkix Eui3hl3wuevfl1ztc 6hafkx4oz8qgq3aezbqzzlc8dws6bw 1kc Vam9r1nzkkaiz9i7pthevjhkcnl50obhxcxyw 7w Rt4 Llew36w
Photo Courtesy: Jason Miller/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Notably, this 10-time Pro Bowler didn’t miss a single play in his career until his final season in the NFL when he sustained an injury. His 10,363 consecutive snaps played is the longest streak in NFL history.

20. Darrelle Revis (CB) | $124.2 million

Considered one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history, Darrelle Revis is probably most often associated with the New York Jets, but he also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New England Patriots and Kansas City. Clearly, he wasn’t afraid to be a free agent — and that risk paid off in high earnings.

Ojzfz6dkk2iw3htt3dfzbejrmxk8dnbs7i5gvxxpzzb3j5p93hw1guk6szitmkzsbftw9yw Qov9xfuigfodtyd1cxlybh0u0jhya Tl Mh9nbu7ml00fnjswsjda 0hej Krtc7jd5xkkyupa
Photo Courtesy: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Despite being primarily known as a Jet, Revis won his championship title with the New England Patriots at Super Bowl XLIX. His spot on the field — where he shut down countless opposing receivers — was nicknamed "Revis Island," a phrase that the cornerback went on to trademark.

Advertisement

19. Michael Vick (QB) | $124.8 million

Although four-time Pro Bowler Michael Vick never nabbed a championship title, he still made waves. Drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, Vick also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

2vfdghxvqjxyyviron7gyoyxi Gdd6hvu8byczytlkfqkklcbvugxmzg5xi9nv3jfyhjp0do1i Ycidwjikw1grfsy Pi34uitzt7 Zfb0p14ogssivvbavmpdwvdbnbcjhsulojo9f55bokja
Photo Courtesy: Jared Wickerham/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Currently, he holds the record for the most career rushing yards by a quarterback. His single-season earnings peaked early in his career when he earned $27.5 million for the 2005 season. Many analysts note that some of his best potential years were marred by his involvement with — and subsequent imprisonment for — an illegal dog-fighting ring.

18. Tony Romo (QB) | $127.4 million

Quarterback Tony Romo played for the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2016. Although he began his career as a holder, Romo became Dallas’ starting QB by the 2006 season and was a four-time Pro Bowler. His highest single-season earnings came in at a whopping $26.5 million, thanks to a $25 million signing bonus, for the 2013 season.

T Zpffwbnkoynihcsrp3eroykqshm5bwqgqhxkatken6c6vlsbo6hikqdn Xgm Rt 1p1wupsi7jwtcbhifn8pxs55twqisvuluxrtpatahd88l6fjka1nmuvrfhxu2h8xraunicvtfjy1wo1q
Photo Courtesy: Dylan Buell/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Despite holding several Cowboys franchise records — most passing touchdowns, most passing yards, etc. — he never clinched a championship title. In retirement, Romo has found new ways to involve himself with sports, both as a broadcaster and as an amatuer golfer.

17. Sam Bradford (QB) | $130.0 million

Drafted in 2010 by the St. Louis Rams, Sam Bradford was one of the last rookies who didn’t have restrictions on how much he could be paid. His six-year deal climbed to $78 million — and didn’t end there.

Frjuiotpl5b40qhop5effnjyekkjx62ga6dpnw 2d8qxh9 N68fiy1xixa5ietqigmslr7vypwgnhftgii7kvotmi1 Yibwpxg S6s9obrn6woa Wbehf1q8kec51wolbkbzqjah0pob9g9fvw
Photo Courtesy: Jennifer Stewart/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

With $50 million in guarantees and a maximum value of $86 million, the six-year deal became the largest NFL contract in history offered to a rookie. Bradford went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals — the latter dropping him after just three games in 2018.

Advertisement

16. Brett Favre (QB) | $137.8 million

Perhaps surprisingly, Brett Favre’s highest single-season earnings came in at a (comparatively) slim $16 million in 2010. However, Favre stuck around and played the game for a whopping 20 seasons, making his career earnings roughly $137.8 million.

9eaekgyyharhcqfkhfxefe9uzmleetvrbfinlzurw4sviim 5llcxryhiffcyuinw1tnhi8h B4dqqnp8qvsdcqcfned 5vp4 Ojgyj9hkes4j8jfvpje7kfuftyayo7e08zlzif 1viqpiivg
Photo Courtesy: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The 11-time Pro Bowler also won a championship title at Super Bowl XXXI leading the Green Bay Packers. When he retired, Favre held all-time records in passing yards, passing touchdowns and quarterback wins, but these records have been surpassed by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning since then.

15. Ndamukong Suh (DT) | $148.0 million

Five-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh has played in the NFL for 10 seasons, accepting playing deals with the Detroit Lions, the Miami Dolphins, the Los Angeles Rams and, most recently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Back in 2015, Suh nabbed a six-year contract with the Dolphins that totaled a whopping $114.4 million.

Aaw8ph5vgopjhhpu3290uzduy2duiejihijyk4nhwwj4ubh6xsly V0btynlljipucugte Olc Sjnepdwuowq9zeb0gj4hf32fvin8zgpu Cmtggeqpiqqmsfjvj7 U0sov4wvsdntht2ygdg
Photo Courtesy: Elsa/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

However, as Business Insider so succinctly put it, that contract was "mostly a sham." In the end, Suh made roughly $60 million before being released halfway into his contract. Nonetheless, it made Suh the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

14. Alex Smith (QB) | $161.5 million

Quarterback Alex Smith has an impressive track record, leading his team to the playoffs five times in seven years. After being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2005, he made a name with the Bay Area team before later signing for several seasons with Kansas City.

Wzqloy2mfmkjzl0edmqlkkzc5mjl V2tkfzejvhvptfzv0ashnl73fmi8k0hqlll0vdfg0kmgzjdkrlk0qnbhfve4jm8agfbvxipuqk7pvfu7axplt6hviiyaq31rkkcs7nwxksfocwag Kurq
Photo Courtesy: Rob Carr/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

In 2018, Smith signed an impressive deal with Washington, earning him his highest single-season earnings ever at $40 million, due in part to a $27 million signing bonus. Unfortunately, a career-altering injury that same year left him with a long road to recovery.

Advertisement

13. Julius Peppers (LB) | $165.0 million

With 17 seasons and nine Pro Bowls under his belt, Julius Peppers retired in 2019. The linebacker hit a career high in terms of highest single-season earnings in 2010, garnering $20.2 million, with a $6.5 million signing bonus.

Enkwe4sa 1fwzwsi Bb6kylk0belyalathbd7pm3hbslg8yluppn2lromwwn2txdb3m0lxxbxizj61qcdaa1laawdep2cqbatxawh0n5whxm Sifjrwovblqggk3neiff0mo2r Qsxn E9uj5w
Photo Courtesy: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Despite playing in only 12 games his first season, Peppers was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002 after racking up 12 sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception. After being drafted by the Carolina Panthers, Peppers played for the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers before returning to the Panthers for his final seasons.

12. Joe Flacco (QB) | $166.3 million

Joe Flacco was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 and played with the team for a decade. In 2013, his single-season earnings hit a career high of $30 million — thanks to a $29 million signing bonus. The total six-year contract came to $120.6 million — a record high for a QB at the time.

7ihnkdoor4z9l Z7eflzs24ntn9paui165vormo Ncpsdasln30v8mjagltkkatfkc9sfk2ng8ubrtibuyuwmiliwnky Jbducn Ydyeutvjlwtm4j Xukcpvkwq2ks0v0xl2gxiwntbclfw
Photo Courtesy: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

This huge financial gain came on the heels of the quarterback’s victory at Super Bowl XLVII, where the Ravens edged out the San Francisco 49ers. As of 2019, Flacco plays for the Denver Broncos, following a hip injury that ended his Ravens run.

11. Carson Palmer (QB) | $174.1 million

Snatched up by the Cincinnati Bengals as the first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, Carson Palmer led his team to the franchise’s first winning season and playoff appearance in 15 years. During his tenure with the Bengals, he had two Pro Bowl appearances.

D8ngww7xcpgqs3wdxyneaecyi9s4gagc34nwibm I Dgf86oyr Bybzcqdnpjkba5sl57t41enzj1k6wo Bldgvwzuoks7u Du9fmvlghixskpkkrm2tlus4jgayiyyxhlow406yrgqslqnqta
Photo Courtesy: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

After eight seasons in Cincinnati, Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders but moved to the Arizona Cardinals soon after that. In 2016, he signed a $24.35 million one-year extension with Arizona but ultimately suffered several injuries. In 2018, he announced his retirement.

Advertisement

10. Larry Fitzgerald (WR) | $174.5 million

Over the course of 15 seasons, Larry Fitzgerald had an impressive 11 Pro Bowl appearances. Drafted third overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2004 NFL Draft, the wide receiver is still playing for the franchise. Notably, he’s the only non-QB in this list’s top ten.

Rhfurfewpmnvzv8bmzk1qmp Uyeyn0x2nrjv Dax4p3kosne0ehvf48 Vt6itwrzdis3iikduf14fxy6f3irs Pynbhqjknpjpxlkklov182cclxsvoornafdocdsjuhdxawtapd4wsypwjnvq
Photo Courtesy: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

As of September 2019, Fitzgerald is second in career receiving yards and career receptions. In 2012, he reached the highest single-season earnings of his career, nabbing $26.3 million — including a $15 million option bonus.

9. Matt Stafford (QB) | $197.8 million

Thanks to an impressive signing bonus, Matt Stafford earned a career high of $51.1 million for the 2017 season alone. Prior to 2017, the quarterback signed a five-year $135 million contract, making his average annual salary — around $27 million — the highest in the NFL at the time.

O5y2fhyn1qg9qy6ayp3rsbphcbucpgns5xvqcix6 Bxh1knih5b8hjtvwdbwqbww9zk6l2mrfuq6nm0ae5j8xa Bkuyllw5ndqmil0tobtuhbrbxspoc2dklvzkdg8lxjj0zumgveanophaefw
Photo Courtesy: Leon Halip/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Since 2009, he has played for the Detroit Lions, where he became the fourth QB in the history of the NFL to throw for more than 5,000 yards in a single season. Additionally, Stafford holds the record for most comeback wins in a season with eight in 2016.

8. Philip Rivers (QB) | $218.9 million

Across 16 seasons, Philip Rivers has been invited to eight Pro Bowls. Despite being drafted by the New York Giants in 2004, Rivers was traded for Eli Manning to the San Diego Chargers prior to the start of the season.

L6xk7dhfsvc7fexrknucyy1x5hyqfhlomjo0zty3bmxlvnolbqhd4kw4fgjwdgk1v23fszqcmpiagyyzqucebq3ooac1lhlj8somb9yiwshagwwvfiz6pf0kfxydxk61ipxpbh2bduu5p3uaaa
Photo Courtesy: Michael Reaves/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

In 2015, the (relocated) Los Angeles Chargers offered Rivers a jaw-dropping contract that totaled $83.25 million. But the real kicker? The guaranteed money totals a whopping $65 million. Business Insider writes that this will "likely push his career earnings close to $220 million."

Advertisement

7. Aaron Rodgers (QB) | $219.0 million

Before the 2018 season kicked off, Aaron Rodgers signed a four-year contract extension that totaled $134 million. With this contract, he nabbed his highest single-season earnings at $66.9 million.

5r7bn0jac4ypdycxxsoehfwug4qro5r5azwgnj Yecspgim91a1uuvwwzqkttxv2mids Cfn4eg7chmz5 Kxneyc Xjc1cxbdei58u7xlzoqp1pn9qjsrxcbcvauopho Qrgdn6qzqqp B8oxq
Photo Courtesy: Quinn Harris/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers have the quarterback through the 2023 season, and his total career earnings could eventually reach around $313 million, according to Business Insider. During Super Bowl XLV, Rodgers led the Packers to victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, earning the distinction of Super Bowl MVP.

6. Matt Ryan (QB) | $223.5 million

Despite having no championship titles under his belt, Matt Ryan has raked in an impressive amount of dough throughout his career. His five-year, $103.8 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons was set to expire after the 2018 season, but, luckily, he signed one heck of an extension.

Qdmqqckfr4rkxaq9vyii1s1v6ugrs3fopcse5mcmtl5zz Cmlvvbpp9cxczjzgnq2yuavavq3n94a1hzen3kfw3rsgtcoblf39nee 9scz8kecmcr Cvmx10x5djxrz29ncwufo Urtxfawi5a
Photo Courtesy: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The five-year deal comes in at $150 million — with a $46.5 million signing bonus and a $100 million guarantee. Until the Aaron Rodgers deal a few months later, it was the largest deal ever in NFL history.

5. Ben Roethlisberger (QB) | $232.3 million

During his career, Ben Roethlisberger has led the Pittsburgh Steelers to an impressive three Super Bowl appearances. In his second season with the Steelers, he became the youngest QB to win a championship title when the Seattle Seahawks fell in Super Bowl XL.

Audtchlyhiv6aittegvzxymne0wiyotdwzi5pz9c5gujenu9o4a87jel Dtxqfn9kqtevhihqefr7fndfml7 Plsbv2mvp67ynjtji9xdxsskg8jpe3gxzaew3lxojyiutgooc5xyvkhoxbfsg
Photo Courtesy: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Before the 2015 season, Roethlisberger signed an $87.4 million deal, earning him more than $35 million in a single year. While that offer doesn’t stack up to today’s contracts, that money will certainly pay off his Apple Watch-related fine.

Advertisement

4. Tom Brady (QB) | $235.2 million

Over 20 seasons, Tom Brady has become the face of the New England Patriots. And for good reason. The quarterback has an impressive 14 Pro Bowl appearances and six championship titles to his name. However, Brady has also sacrificed his paycheck for the good of his team.

Kqzaniabrw89nf9aqioa3qqsvcxdbgcaxd70d1xneyvffwdjaitdemlanxilarvbilmcyf 6zd1cafsmlrqt5ifcin1w9igdnod0r0h9evhllq8bpjbeur8fjcvyorrbl5sxiixkohbj2tp7eq
Photo Courtesy: Billie Weiss/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Although he may be the most decorated quarterback in the NFL, Business Insider estimates that he has given up between $60 and $100 million in potential earnings to allow the New England-based franchise room to restructure its roster. In short, this team-player move has seriously deflated his total career earnings.

3. Drew Brees (QB) | $244.7 million

Quarterback Drew Brees has racked up a championship title and 12 Pro Bowl invites over the course of his 19-season career. After playing with the San Diego Chargers for several seasons, Brees hit his stride with the New Orleans Saints, starting in 2006.

Ikwvpno Xhauwi3ryuekzoamq9ajigtye23rx W0j6z7nuepmxbjottaqpwk W51eteunzwl4vbx Brvynjvvycqiogxryh23h6wm Lpkkrpp Er5q5gze71c1yxo6a5yi4mxyachpgvmau1g
Photo Courtesy: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

At Super Bowl XLIV, Brees led the Saints to victory over the Indianapolis Colts, becoming the game’s MVP. Even after almost two decades, Brees doesn’t seem ready to retire. For the 2019 season alone, the 40-year-old’s annual salary is an estimated $25 million, making him one of the year’s top earners.

2. Peyton Manning (QB) | $248.7 million

Peyton Manning’s 18-season career led to 14 Pro Bowl invites and two championship titles — once with the Indianapolis Colts at Super Bowl XLI and once with the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl 50. Manning was also named NFL MVP five times throughout his career.

N6q3crsjm9wruvir1jdckx6vr0dj Jtpetwxokhjdsxioor5eg2ajpx3z0kmssklrdtuaror25yhz7do3syjymhisp8g6daglsjhuhgslmjvml623beau9uycpc Wxcaigilhejllm3mljanvw
Photo Courtesy: Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

His highest single-season earnings came in 2004 — thanks to a $34.5 million signing bonus — and totaled $35 million. When Manning won the Super Bowl in 2015, he collected his final paycheck — a $4 million bonus — and retired, leaving $19 million on his contract with the Broncos.

Advertisement

1. Eli Manning (QB) | $252.3 million

Over the course of 16 seasons, Eli Manning has garnered four Pro Bowl invites and nabbed two championship titles — Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, both with the New York Giants. In both Super Bowls, Manning beat fellow QB Tom Brady, so perhaps it’s not surprising he also beats Brady in terms of earnings.

Cpcpf5fy0xuut9q60nuhpokh6qadr30guhtj Jukth1swndsb3qayh0lqc6esuyicij5t6b6uql5oeenth0fwmryjekxarz Dgxtpyghlqtrwmx Mrqx7g4t8yibrj6w1gmd6sqr Ger8qryq
Photo Courtesy: Michael Reaves/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Although Manning has been benched this 2019 season in favor of rookie Daniel Jones, he’s still making a pretty penny. The Giants are forking over a cool $17 million, making Manning the highest-paid player in NFL history.

Honorable Mention: Andrew Luck

Ahead of the 2011 NFL Draft — which the quarterback ended up not participating in — the Kansas City Star named Andrew Luck one of “the most-hyped amateurs in recent sports memory.” Selected first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, Luck went on to lead the Indianapolis Colts to several playoff appearances and division titles.

Gettyimages 1162377877 1
Photo Courtesy: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

In 2016, Luck signed a five-year, $140 million extension to stay with the Colts through 2021. As you can imagine, that deal was record-setting at the time. After a shoulder injury, he was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2018, but the comeback didn’t last long. In 2019, the four-time Pro Bowler announced his retirement from the NFL due to issues related to his past injury. Considered one of the best professional athletes to retire during his prime, Luck takes our pick for Honorable Mention.

Note: This list was compiled using data gathered from Business Insider and Spotrac, using figures from October 2019.