We all know that some NFL stars can earn more in a month than some of us will in our entire lives. But exactly how much do your favorite quarterbacks, defensive ends and offensive guards get for helping to move a ball up and down a playing field? From A.J. Green to Trent Brown, here’s a look at the 2020 earnings of 40 of the richest men currently plying their trade in America’s most lucrative sports league.
40. Patrick Mahomes ($10.8 million)
Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl in half a century in 2020. The franchise subsequently rewarded the quarterback with the most lucrative deal in the history of the National Football League. That’s right: Mahomes was offered a ten-year extension to his contract worth an eye-watering $450 million! Expect to see Mahomes near the top of the 2021 list.
39. Matthew Stafford ($15.5 million)
In 2017 Matthew Stafford smashed NFL contract records when he was offered a five-year deal worth $135 million. The quarterback has spent every single season of his professional football career with the Detroit Lions. And during his long-running spell with the franchise he completed 3,000 successful passes in fewer games than any other player in history.
38. Alex Smith ($16 million)
Alex Smith will have earned $94 million by the time his contract extension with the Washington Football Team ends in 2022. The quarterback was offered such a fruitful deal after helping to guide the Kansas City Chiefs to no fewer than four postseason appearances. Yet soon afterwards, Smith suffered an injury which not only threatened his career but his life as well. Thankfully, he made a full recovery and went on to win Comeback Player of the Year.
37. Aaron Donald ($17 million)
In his first five seasons in the NFL, Aaron Donald achieved two Defensive Player of the Year accolades, four first-team All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowl picks. It’s no surprise, then, that the Los Angeles Rams felt he was worth a $135 million, six-year extension deal in 2018. This made the defensive tackle one of the highest-paid players in his position.
36. Khalil Mack ($17.2 million)
Formerly of the Oakland Raiders, Khalil Mack earned one of the most lucrative deals ever offered to a defensive player when he transferred to the Chicago Bears in 2018. The linebacker will have pocketed at least $90 million by the time the contract extension ends in 2024. Mack has already repaid some of the Bears’ investment, having helped guide them to their first postseason appearance in nearly a decade.
35. A.J. Green ($18.2 million)
A.J. Green has remained with the Cincinnati Bengals ever since he signed with the franchise in the 2011 NFL draft. And the wide receiver sure has been rewarded for his loyalty. Green, who’s made no fewer than four Pro Bowl appearances during his career, bagged just over $18 million in 2020 for just a one-year deal with the Bengals.
34. Robert Quinn ($18.5 million)
Linebacker Robert Quinn began his NFL career in 2011 after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams ahead of the franchise moving to Los Angeles. He went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins before signing with the Chicago Bears in 2020. The franchise offered the itinerant baller a five-year deal worth $70 million.
33. Derek Carr ($19 million)
Back in 2017 Derek Carr became one of the world’s best-paid athletes thanks to a five-year deal with the Oakland Raiders which stood to net him a cool $125 million. You can understand why the franchise was so keen to retain the quarterback’s services. After the team drafted Carr in 2014, he amassed more than 100 touchdowns across his first four seasons in the NFL.
32. Ezekiel Elliott ($19.8 million)
Ezekiel Elliott appears to be a bit of a gambler: in 2019 the running back decided to hold out for a new deal with the Dallas Cowboys. But the risk paid off when he was rewarded with a six-year extension worth an incredible $90 million. This makes Elliott the highest-paid player in his position.
31. Jack Conklin ($20 million)
Jack Conklin was drafted by the Tennessee Titans back in 2016. But the offensive tackle enjoyed his biggest payday four years later when he signed with the Cleveland Browns. That’s right: the Michigan State University graduate inked a three-year deal with the NFL franchise worth a cool $42 million.
30. Trae Waynes ($20 million)
Trae Waynes shocked everyone in 2020 when he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent. The cornerback, who’d previously enjoyed a half-decade as a Minnesota Viking, inked a three-year deal worth $42 million. Waynes has also boosted his coffers with the launch of his own hunting expedition company, Home Grown Outfitters.
29. Arik Armstead ($20 million)
Arik Armstead was handsomely rewarded for guiding the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019. Shortly after, the defensive end was handed a five-year extension worth a mighty $85 million. Admirably, the NFL star is no stranger to paying it forward. In 2019 he founded an initiative to improve educational equality and a year later assisted with northern California’s efforts to cope with the pandemic.
28. Amari Cooper ($20 million)
Amari Cooper played for the Oakland Raiders in his first three seasons in the NFL. But in 2018 he inked a lucrative deal with the Dallas Cowboys worth a whopping $100 million. The wide receiver has been selected three times to the Pro Bowl during his career and has scored no fewer than 38 touchdowns to date.
27. Matt Ryan ($20.5 million)
Matt Ryan signed a record-breaking deal with the Falcons in 2018 that was worth a colossal $150 million. This made the quarterback the first player in NFL history to earn $30 million on average per annum. Ryan was no doubt deemed to be worth such a figure having steered Atlanta to the Super Bowl for only the second time in their history.
26. Trenton Brown ($21.5 million)
In 2019 Trenton Brown was offered a four-year deal by the Oakland Raiders worth $66 million, making him the NFL’s biggest-earning offensive lineman ever! The star had landed such a lucrative contract thanks to a breakthrough season with the New England Patriots. Brown had first impressed as a right tackle but became a genuine star when he was switched by coach Bill Belichick to the left.
25. Aaron Rodgers ($21.6 million)
Aaron Rodgers appears to be just as shrewd in the business world as he is on the football field. In 2019 the Green Bay Packers quarterback teamed up with Byron Roth and Nate Raabe to launch a $50 million capital investment fund. And Rodgers also has a minority stake in another sports team, the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA.
24. Myles Garrett ($21.9 million)
Myles Garrett isn’t the only sporting success in his family. His sister Brea enjoyed an NCAA title win as a member of Texas A&M’s athletics squad and his brother Sean is a one-time NBA star. Garrett can no doubt boast the highest wage packet, though. In 2020 he signed a $125 million five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns.
23. Julio Jones ($22.2 million)
Julio Jones hit the NFL jackpot in 2019 when he was offered a four-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons worth $66 million. This made the wide receiver the highest-paid player in his position in NFL history in terms of guaranteed income. The deal no doubt rewarded Jones’ loyalty: he’s spent every season of his professional football career with the franchise.
22. DeForest Buckner ($23.4 million)
DeForest Buckner set tongues wagging across the NFL in 2020 when he signed for the Indianapolis Colts in a four-year deal worth $84 million. The Pro Bowler had been one of the rising stars of the San Francisco 49ers and had just been crowned the franchise’s MVP. But money talks, and according to reports, the Colts’ offered a significantly higher amount to the hotly-tipped defensive tackle.
21. Laremy Tunsil ($23.9 million)
Laremy Tunsil once lost $7 million of his salary thanks to a misjudged Twitter post. Thankfully for the offensive tackle, he soon managed to recoup that with the $66 million contract extension he signed with the Houston Texans in 2020. Before joining the franchise the year previously, Tunsil had spent three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
20. Teddy Bridgewater ($24 million)
Teddy Bridgewater made quite the impression in his first year in the NFL. He was crowned Rookie of the Year after being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2014. The quarterback later signed with the New Orleans Saints and then in 2020 he landed a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers worth $63 million.
19. Jimmy Garoppolo ($24.7 million)
Following nearly four years as a back-up for Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo got the chance to take center stage in 2017 when he moved from the New England Patriots to the San Francisco 49ers. The quarterback was so impressive in his first five games with the franchise that they offered him a five-year deal worth $137.5 million! This broke records for both the highest total and highest average annual wages.
18. Philip Rivers ($25 million)
Philip Rivers looked set to play out the entirety of his career with the same franchise. But after no fewer than 16 seasons with the Chargers in first San Diego and then Los Angeles, the quarterback surprised everyone in 2020 when he signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts. It was a contract worth $25 million and made for a significant addition to the sum he’d already earned through his football skills. Clearly a man of principle, he’s largely steered clear of making dollars via advertising endorsements.
17. Drew Brees ($25 million)
Drew Brees has racked up more passing yards than any other player in NFL history. He’s also only one Pro Bowl selection away from equalling the all-time record. Little wonder, then, that the New Orleans Saints offered the quarterback a two-year extension worth $50 million in 2020 to retain his considerable talents. Brees is also quite the entrepreneur off the field, too, having invested in several food-based businesses.
16. Ben Roethlisberger ($26 million)
Ben Roethlisberger has been a fixture of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting lineup since 2004. The quarterback helped guide the franchise to victory at the Super Bowl aged just 23. And as you might expect, he’s been showered with lucrative contract extensions ever since. Roethlisberger has invested much of his earnings into the real estate market. In 2011 he bought an Atlanta lake house worth $2.2 million.
15. Byron Jones ($26 million)
Byron Jones reportedly sparked a “crazy bidding war” in 2020 which was eventually won by the Miami Dolphins. The franchise offered the free agent a five-year deal worth a colossal $82.5 million, beating the likes of the Las Vegas Raiders and the New York Giants to his signature. This contract made Jones the NFL’s highest-earning cornerback as a result.
14. Jalen Ramsey ($26.2 million)
In 2020 Jalen Ramsey became the first ever NFL defensive back to land a $100 million-plus deal. The five-year extension he signed with the Los Angeles Rams guaranteed the star almost 75 percent of that figure, too. And he wasted little time in splashing the cash. Just two months after, he purchased a home once owned by America’s Got Talent host Howie Mandel for a cool $9.5 million.
13. Tom Brady ($28.4 million)
Following 20 years with the New England Patriots, NFL superstar Tom Brady stunned the footballing world when he transferred to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The quarterback was offered a guaranteed $50 million in the surprise two-year deal. And he can earn an extra $9 million if he meets various targets, too. Not that Brady particularly needs the money. He’s also amassed a considerable fortune through his lifestyle brand and production company.
12. Frank Clark ($28.4 million)
Following several seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Frank Clark moved to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 for a cool $104 million. The five-year deal would see the defensive end pick up a guaranteed $62.3 million. This made Clark the fourth highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at the time.
11. DeAndre Hopkins ($29 million)
DeAndre Hopkins appears to have a business sense as impressive as his famous dreadlocked hair. In 2020 the wide receiver negotiated a new deal with the Arizona Cardinals that will see him earn $54.5 million across two years. Hopkins also has shares in several startups and even owns a property firm.
10. DeShaun Watson ($29.4 million)
DeShaun Watson is in the middle of a four-year extension deal that will keep him at the Houston Texans until 2025. And according to Forbes magazine, the quarterback should expect to see an even bigger payday when he next enters contract negotiations. Watson will still only be 30, and very much in his prime, when it’s time to talk money again.
9. Ronnie Stanley ($30.9 million)
Ronnie Stanley received $22.5 million just for putting his signature to the lucrative contract extension the Baltimore Ravens waved in front of him in 2020. And the offensive tackle can earn much more over the next five years with the franchise. In fact, Stanley will net himself up to $100 million if he can achieve certain incentives.
8. Jared Goff ($31 million)
In 2019 Jared Goff inked a four-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Rams worth $134 million. That same year the quarterback splashed out a cool $6 million on a brand-new property in the Californian resort of Hermosa Beach. But Goff isn’t averse to donating some of his considerable fortune to charity, either. In 2020 he gave a quarter of a million dollars to a food bank in Los Angeles.
7. Dak Prescott ($31.4 million)
Dak Prescott had quite the successful debut season with the Dallas Cowboys after being drafted in 2016. He was crowned Rookie of the Year by both Pepsi and Associated Press and was selected for the Pro Bowl, too. The quarterback has been in constant contract extension talks since the turn of the ‘20s. But for now, Prescott’s making do with a not-too-shabby $31.4 million per annum.
6. David Bakhtiari ($36.9 million)
David Bakhtiari bagged one of the most lucrative NFL deals of all time in 2020 when he signed a four-year extension contract worth at least $92 million. This instantly made the Green Bay Packer the biggest-earning offensive lineman ever. It also included a record-breaking signing bonus of $30 million, half of which he received just days after scratching his name on the dotted line.
5. Ryan Tannehill ($37.5 million)
After being crowned the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2019, Tennessee Titan Ryan Tannehill was offered a four-year contract extension worth a mighty $118 million. It was quite the change in fortune for the star quarterback. Tannehill’s previous one-year deal had been inked for a relatively slim $2 million.
4. Carson Wentz ($39.4 million)
Carson Wentz might have missed out on guiding the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl victory in 2017 through injury. But he’s still become by far their highest-paid player since. The quarterback signed an extension deal two years later worth a monster $128 million that will see him stay with the franchise until 2024. And he’s guaranteed at least $107 million of that, an NFL record.
3. Kirk Cousins ($40 million)
Kirk Cousins broke new ground in 2018 when he signed with the Minnesota Vikings in a deal that would guarantee him $84 million. The franchise must have been happy they got value for money, as two years later they offered the quarterback a further deal worth an extra $66 million. This made the Cousins not only one of the richest NFL stars, but one of the wealthiest stars in the field of entertainment generally.
2. Joey Bosa ($43 million)
In 2019 Nick Bosa earned a signing bonus worth $22 million from the Los Angeles Chargers. But that was small change compared to the money his brother and teammate were offered just a year later. Yes, in July 2020 defensive end Joey Bosa became the franchise’s first ever player to be given a contract worth a whopping $100 million.
1. Russell Wilson ($53 million)
Russell Wilson became the highest-earning player in the NFL in 2019 when he inked a contract extension with Seattle worth an eye-watering $140 million. The quarterback had previously led the Seahawks to their only victory at the Super Bowl. Wilson’s highly lucrative deal will see him continue to showcase his talents at Lumen Field until at least 2023.