NFL Player Comparisons 2022 – The Highest Paid NFL Player Each Year

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With the new NFL season on the horizon, football is back in the spotlight. There are so many questions football fans have on their minds, from COVID-19 restrictions to the new rules of the game. In this post, however, we’re going to focus on the financial side of football. The question we’re going to answer is who’s the highest paid NFL player.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on the earnings of professional athletes. Endorsement deals of some big NFL stars have fallen through, as evident by the fact that not many footballers have made it to the list of highest-paid athletes in 2020. Nevertheless, their salaries are still measured in millions.

Who Is the Highest-Paid NFL Player in 2020?

Patrick Mahomes II is going to be the world’s highest paid footballer in 2020. He took over the throne from Russell Wilson in July when he signed a contract extension with Kansas City Chiefs. The 24-year-old quarterback is going to stay in Missouri for another decade as per the terms of his new contract.

The deal will see Mahomes get a salary of $45 million each year, which is $10 million more than the NFL’s second highest paid player. In addition to the money he’s going to get from his team, Mahomes is also going to cash in a couple of million from his sponsorship deals.  

For several years already, Mahomes has been sponsored by Adidas, Electronic Arts, Head and Shoulders, and a few other high-profile companies. Since winning the Super Bowl with Chiefs, the QB has signed an endorsement deal with BioSteel, which could rake in another $7 million to his bank account.

The figure, however, is not confirmed by Mahomes himself or any of his representatives. He famously doesn’t like to talk about his endorsement earnings and has never shared exact numbers with the public. However, it is believed that Mahomes is the king of endorsements of American football. It’s estimated that he’s going to get at least $20 million from his endorsement deals this year.    

Highest-Paid Footballers in the Last Decade

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s reasonable to assume that the NFL franchises are going to become more conservative in terms of player contracts. Patrick Mahomes’ record probably isn’t going to be broken until the world gets back on its feet after the pandemic. What this means is that he could remain the highest paid NFL player for another year.

Russell Wilson – Highest-Paid NFL player (2019)

Russell Wilson of Seattle Seahawks was the highest paid footballer in the world in 2019. He’s going to get $53 million in 2020 from his club. Wilson had been the highest paid NFL player from April 2019, when he sealed the deal worth a total of $140 million until Mahomes extended his deal with Chiefs.

The deal is a contract extension Wilson signed with the only NFL club he’s ever played, having joined the Seahawks in 2012. At the age of 31, he still has three years remaining on his contract. Whether he’s going to get another lucrative offer from Seahawks remains to be seen in a few years. Until then, he’s going to receive $19 million per year ($21 in the final year of his contract) plus bonuses.

The figures we’ve mentioned here come only from his deal with Seahawks (salary + bonuses). In addition to that, he also receives a couple of million from endorsements.

Aaron Rodgers – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2018)

Two years ago, the highest-paid player in the league was Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for Green Bay Packers. According to Forbes, he cashed in nearly $67 million from his salary and bonuses that year. That’s more money than what Wilson is going to get from Seahawks in 2020.

Matthew Stafford – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2017)

In 2017, Detroit Lions’ QB was only a year away from free agency, so his club decided to act. Lions offered him an offer he couldn’t refuse – $135 million over five years. By putting his signature on the paper, Stafford became the highest paid NFL player in 2017.

Kirk Cousins – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2016)

In 2016, the highest earner in the NFL was Kirk Cousins. At the time, he was the quarterback for Washington Redskins. Two years later, he moved to Minnesota Vikings, where, in 2020, he has a big-money contract, second only to Patrick Mahomes’ and  Russell Wilson’s contracts.

Ben Roethlisberger – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2015)

In 2015, Ben Roethlisberger made over $45 million from his Pittsburgh Steelers salary and bonuses. That’s more than any other player earned that year. Fast-forward five years and Roethlisberger is still the quarterback for the Steelers, going into his 16th NFL season in the club.

Matt Ryan – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2014)

Matt Ryan has been the QB for Atlanta Falcons since 2008. In 2014, his salary and bonuses brought him more money than any other NFL player earned that year. A fun fact is that he almost won the title of the highest NFL earner once again in 2018, when Falcons extended his contract, increasing his yearly salary to $30 million. However, that happened just a few weeks before Aaron Rodgers signed his deal with Green Bay Packers.  

Drew Brees – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2013)

The legendary quarterback was the highest earning footballer in 2013 when his salary and bonuses added about $50 million to his bank account. Despite being in his 40s, Brees has signed another contract extension with New Orleans Saints earlier this year, which will keep him in the club until 2022. The deal will make him richer for another $50 million.

Drew Brees – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2012)

Saints quarterback was the highest earning NFL player in 2012 as well. Still, Peyton Manning was not far behind. That’s the year when he signed a very lucrative contract with Denver Broncos, which saw him staying in Colorado for three seasons before retiring.

Peyton Manning – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2011)

Before joining Broncos, Peyton Manning played as Indianapolis Colts quarterback for 12 seasons. However, in 2011, after sustaining a serious neck injury, Colts decided not to offer him a contract extension. He went on to free agency, but not before his former team paid him $26.4 million, which was enough for Manning to be the highest paid NFL player of the year.

Peyton Manning – Highest-Paid NFL Player (2010)

Manning won his third MVP award in 2008, while only a year later, he got ahold of his fourth MVP title came. In 2010, he didn’t win any major accolades, but he did cash in just short of $16 million. At the time, that was a huge amount in the football universe, proven by the fact that no other NFL player earned more that year.

Who Is the Highest-Paid Female NFL Player?

In 2015, Jennifer Welter made the history after becoming a coach for the NFL franchise Arizona Cardinals. She became the first woman to coach an NFL team.

Although the rules of the NFL do not ban women from taking part in the game, there still haven’t been any ladies playing for an NFL team. That might change in the future, possibly starting with the introduction of female kickers.

Until then, professional female footballers can compete in women-dominant championships, such as the National Women’s Football Association (NWFA), the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), and so on.

Some of those are professional leagues in the sense that all the players are paid their salaries, rather than playing amateur football. And one of those contracts is pretty lucrative. Santia Deck, who’s become the most paid female NFL player in January 2020, is getting several million dollars each year on her contract with WFA’s Los Angeles team.

Deck is, by far, the most prolifically paid female NFL player in the world. However, most other players do not have multimillion-dollar contracts like her.

Financial NFL Player Rankings – Footballers With Highest Salaries in 2020

According to data from NFL.com, these are the 20 players with the highest salaries in 2020. The figures you see in the table below reflect their earnings from their clubs. Bonuses and endorsements are not taken into account.

1Patrick Mahomes (QB)Kansas City Chiefs$45 million
2Russell Wilson (QB)Seattle Seahawks$35 million
3Ben Roethlisberger (QB)Pittsburgh Steelers$34 million
4Aaron Rodgers (QB)Green Bay Packers$33.5 million
5Jared Goff (QB)Los Angeles Rams$33.5 million
6Kirk Cousins (QB)Minnesota Vikings$33 million
7Carson Wentz (QB)Philadelphia Eagles$32 million
8Dan Prescott (QB)Dallas Cowboys$31.5 million
9Matt Ryan (QB)Atlanta Falcons$30 million
10Ryan Tannehill (QB)Tennessee Titans$29.5 million
11Jacoby Brissett (QB)Indianapolis Colts$27.9 million
12Jimmy Garoppolo (QB)San Francisco 49ers$27.5 million
13Matthew Stafford (QB)Detroit Lions$27 million
14Derek Carr (QB)Las Vegas Raiders$25 million
15Drew Brees (QB)New Orleans Saints$25 million
16Tom Brady (QB)Tampa Bay Buccaneers$25 million
17Phillip Rivers (QB)Indianapolis Colts$25 million
18Alex Smith (QB)Washington$23.5 million
19Khalil Mack (OLB)Chicago Bears$23.5 million
20Aaron Donald (DE)Los Angeles Rams$22.5 million

NFL Player Comparison – 10 Richest Active Players

In the list above, you can see the salaries of top NFL players. However, salary is not the only source of income for these guys. Apart from the guaranteed cash, they’re getting from their clubs, some of them are also going to get a few million dollars from bonuses.

Furthermore, they are also going to get money from endorsement deals they have with big brands. In some cases, endorsements bring the players almost as much money as their salaries. With that in mind, let’s see which ten NFL players are going to cash in the most money in 2020, taking into account all of their sources of income.   

PlayerSalary + Bonuses (2020)EndorsementsTotal Earnings (2020)
Patrick Mahomes$45 million~$20 million$65 million
Kirk Cousins$58 million$2.5 million$60.5 million
Carson Wentz$55.1 million$4 million$59.1 million
Tom Brady$33 million$12 million$45 million
Drew Brees$29.8 million$15 million$44.8 million
Julio Jones$37.5 million$3 million$40.5 million
Grady Jarrett$33 million$0.05 million$33.1 million
Michael Thomas$31.6 million$0.75 million$32.4 million
Aaron Rodgers$21.1 million$9 million$30.1 million
Matt Ryan$24 million$5.5 million$29.5 million

Average NFL Player Salary

The average salary in the NFL is $3.21 million per player according to data from Statista.com. The highest salary at the moment is the one Patrick Mahomes gets from Kansas City Chiefs. When it comes to the lowest NFL salary, it’s $500,000 per year, which is how much a number of players get from their clubs. The reason why this is the case is that the NFL has a rule that regulates the minimum annual salary.  

The franchise that has the highest average salary in the NFL is Atlanta Falcons, with $4.71 million per player. On the other side of the spectrum is Miami Dolphins, the team with the lowest average salary. In 2019-20, Dolphins paid $2.05 million on average per player.   

Richest NFL Player in History

As per research conducted by Business Insider, Eli Manning is the richest NFL player in the history of the game. His career earnings $252.3 million from the club, plus at least a couple of million per year from endorsements.

As the starting quarterback for New York Giants for 15 years, he holds a number of franchise records, including most passing yards, completed passes, and touchdown passes.

Knowing how much money active NFL players are going to earn in the 2020s, Eli Manning’s record is likely to get shattered. If everything goes according to plan, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and probably a few other players will break Manning’s record in the next couple of years.


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