Jason Peters is one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL, and his 2017 salary reflects that. Peters, a 9x Pro Bowl selection, will earn a base salary of $3.0 million, plus a $8.0 million signing bonus, and a $250,000 workout bonus. Sadly, Peters was lost for the season when he torn his ACL and MCL in Week 7.
Since entering the NFL in 2001 as a second round pick of the San Diego Chargers, Drew Brees has earned
$194,710,422 in his 17-year NFL career. Brees’ contract expires after the 2017 season and speculation has already begun that the team will look to move in a different direction from Brees who will be 39 in 2018.
Gerald McCoy won’t enter free agency until 2022. Until then, he’s locked in a six-year, $95.2 million contract that includes a $2.5 million signing bonus. The Oklahoma graduate, who has been with the Bucs since he was drafted in the first round in 2010, has earned more than $84.61 million. By the time his current contract is up, those earnings will have skyrocketed to nearly $148.55 million.
The Cowboys selected center Travis Frederick with the 31st overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Frederick anchors one of the best lines in the NFL, and was rewarded with a 6-year $56.4 extension when his rookie contract expired in 2016. Frederick is one of many offensive lineman who attended the University of Wisconsin.
There was speculation early in the offseason that the Bills would part ways with Taylor. However, in the end, the two sides renegotiated his contract, saving the team more than $6 million in salary cap space this season. Only $1.0 million of his $30.5 million contract is guaranteed beyond the 2017 season. Taylor is now a member of the Cleveland Browns — where he’s competing with rookie Baker Mayfield for the starting job.
Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was a highly touted prospect when the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2012 draft. However, his career got off to a rocky start, and his poor play resulted in just five games started over his first three seasons. But Dre has bounced back, proving he was just a late bloomer, and was rewarded by the Bengals with a 5-year, $52.5 million contract. 26. Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets: $15,000,000
After registering a career high in sacks (12) in the 2015 season, the Jets signed Wilkerson to a massive 5-year extension worth up to $85 million. But he has been a major disappointment since securing his big payday, totaling just 4.5 sacks in 2016 and 3.5 sacks in 2017. If the Jets aren’t able to trade Wilkerson in the offseason, which seems highly unlikely, there is an out in his contract after 2018.
25. Michael Bennett, Seahawks: $15,531,250
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the Seattle Seahawks are likely in for an offseason full of changes. If the team wants to get younger on the defensive side of the ball, and save some money, they could release defensive lineman Michael Bennett. Bennett, 32, is under contract through 2020, but the Seahawks can get out of their deal without huge financial implications. Bennett, who is well aware of his uncertain future in Seattle, had this to say after their regular season finale, “I probably won’t be back next year. Just seems like it’s a young man’s game. I can see them going younger, with younger players. That’s part of the game.”
On March 7th, the Seahawks traded Bennett (and a seventh-round pick) to the Eagles in exchange for a fifth-round pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson. The highest paid Seahawk is now quarterback Russell Wilson, which makes sense.
24. Von Miller, Broncos: $16,500,000
2011 first-round draft pick Von Miller’s six-year contract, which includes a $17 million signing bonus, will pay him $114.1 million until he becomes a free agent in 2022, should he refuse a 2020 potential out. He’s already earned $55.05 million in his six NFL seasons, a number that will grow to more than $144 million by the end of the 2021 season when his current contract expires.
23. Desmond Trufant, Falcons: $16,526,000
Surprise! You were definitely expecting Matt Ryan or Julio Jones to be the Falcons highest paid player. After earning just over $8 million in his first four NFL seasons, his 2017 salary doubled that total. In April of 2017 the former first round pick out of Washington signed a 5-year extension worth as much as $69 million.
22. Trumaine Johnson, Rams: $16,742,400
Johnson, a third-round pick in 2012, is in his second straight season under the NFL’s franchise tag. The Rams will need to work out a long-term deal with Johnson or risk losing him for nothing in free agency. They could use the franchise tag again in 2018, but it would cost them a whopping $24.1 million, a price tag they’re unlikely to pay.
With the recent acquisitions of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, it’s clear that Johnson will be signing elsewhere this offseason.
21. Corey Davis, Titans: $17,073,864
Davis is the first of five rookies on this year’s list. The fifth pick in the draft received 65% of his four-year, $25.4 million contract before he ever played a down in the NFL.
20. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars: $18,351,067
As the fourth pick in the 2017 draft, Leonard Fournette signed a 4-year contract worth $27,150,842. Before the start of the regular season Fournette made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he called the NFL slower than he imagined and “really easy.” After averaging just 3.9 yards per carry in his rookie season, Fournette might want to reconsider.
19. Solomon Thomas, 49ers: $19,080,903
Defensive end Solomon Thomas was selected one pick before Leonard Fournette in the 2017 draft. Thomas missed most of the 49ers offseason workouts because of league rules that forbid participation until a rookie’s school has finished their academic calendar (Stanford’s school year goes until mid-June). He finished a disappointing rookie season with just 3 sacks.
18. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears: $19,719,490
The Bears paid a hefty price (three extra draft picks) to move up one spot in the 2017 draft to select Trubisky. As with most rookie quarterbacks, Trubisky’s first season in the NFL was a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs. Chicago fans are optimistic, but it’s still way too early to know if Trubisky was worth the investment.
17. Antonio Brown, Steelers: $19,910,000
All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is worth every penny the Pittsburgh Steelers pay him. Over the past three seasons, Brown has averaged 126 catches, 1,639 yards, and 12 touchdowns per 16 games. When he finally decides to hang up his cleats, Brown will be considered one of the best receivers in NFL history.
16. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins: $20,000,000
Suh just finished the third year of his monster 6-year, $114.4 million contract with the Dolphins. Suh has a cap hit of $19.1 million this year, but that jumps to $26.1 million next season. If he continues to play at a high level, the Dolphins will need to restructure the deal. However, if his production on the field doesn’t justify the hefty price tag, he could be looking for a new team next season.
15. Xavier Rhodes, Vikings: $20,026,000
Rhodes made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2016 and the Vikings rewarded him with a six-year, $78 million extension, second only to Josh Norman among cornerbacks. Rhodes follwed up his stellar 2016 performance with another strong year, earning himself Pro Bowl honors for the second consecutive season.
14. Myles Garrett, Browns: $20,723,004
As the top pick in the 2017 draft, Garrett signed a standard 4-year deal worth $30.4 million. That’s not chump change, but it’s a far cry from the $78 million contract signed by Sam Bradford as the top pick of the 2010 NFL Draft under the old CBA rules.
13. Nick Perry, Packers: $20,725,000
After a breakout season in 2016, Perry signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension with the Packers. In case you were wondering, Aaron Rodgers will make $13.7 million this season.
12. Joe Flacco, Ravens: $21,000,000
Flacco’s play on the field might not be elite, but his contract is. He is under contract until 2021 and if he reaches the end of the deal without restructuring, his career earnings will top $210 million. Only one player in NFL history has made more — Peyton Manning ($249 million).
11. Eric Berry, Chiefs: $21,000,000
Chiefs safety Eric Berry serves as an inspiration to the entire NFL community, after battling and beating Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015. On February 28, 2017, Berry signed a six-year, $78 million deal with Chiefs including $40 million in guaranteed and a $20 million dollar signing bonus, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Unfortunately, Berry ruptured his achilles in Week 1 against the Patriots and was lost for the season.
10. Chandler Jones, Cardinals: $22,000,000
The Cardinals locked up talented young pass rusher Chandler Jones in the offseason with a 5-year extension worth $82.5 million, of which $51 million is guaranteed. Little known fact about Jones, his older brother is MMA champion Jon Jones.
9. Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants: $22,250,000
Jason Pierre-Paul’s new 4-year, $62 million contract is one of the NFL’s more incredible stories considering it was not long ago that his career was in jeopardy after he lost multiple fingers on his right hand in a fireworks accident. Since the Giants selected JPP with the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft, he has earned a whopping $56.69 million.
8. Melvin Ingram, $22,750,000
With Joey Bosa on one end, and Melvin Ingram on the other, the Chargers have the best pass rushing duo in the NFL. Ingram’s new 4-year deal pays him $64 million, which is actually somewhat of a bargain for an elite defensive end.
7. Stephon Gilmore, Patriots: $22,968,750
Surprisingly, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, not Tom Brady, is the Patriots highest-paid player this season. Gilmore signed a 5-year, $65 million free-agent contract with the Patriots after spending his first five seasons with the Bills. The Pats can opt out of the deal after the second year and $32 million.
6. Josh Norman, Redskins: $24,000,000
In the 2016 offseason, just months after the Panthers 24-10 Super Bowl loss to the Broncos, the Washington Redskins shocked the NFL community by luring Norman to the Skins with a 5-year deal worth $75 million. At $15 million per season, Norman surpassed Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson ($14 million) and became the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
5. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: $24,000,000
A week before the start of the 2017 season, the Texans signed star wideout DeAndre Hopkins to a 5-year extension worth $81 million, making him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. His production this season justified the massive extension, as Hopkins finished the regular season with 96 catches for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those stats are even more impressive than they seem when you consider Hopkins was catching passes from Tom Savage for half the season.
4. Derek Carr, Raiders: $25,175,000
At one point this summer, Carr was briefly the highest-paid player in the NFL based on average annual salary, signing a new 5-year, $125 million contract worth $25 million per year. The Fresno State graduate has earned a little under $4.34 million during his first three seasons in the NFL, but by the time his current contract expires, he’ll have raked in $130.51 million.
3. Kawann Short, Panthers: $26,000,000
The Panthers rewarded Short this offseason with a five-year, $80.5 million extension. While much of his ranking this year is based on his $20 million signing bonus, he is still the third-highest-paid defensive tackle based on average annual salary, trailing only Ndamukong Suh and Fletcher Cox.
2. Andrew Luck, Colts: $27,000,000
Barring a potential out in 2020, Andrew Luck’s current five-year contract will pay him $122.97 million through the 2021 season. The deal includes a $32 million signing bonus. After five seasons in the league, the 2012 No. 1 overall pick has earned more than $52.1 million. By the time he becomes a free agent in 2022, he’ll have been paid more than $161.23 million.
1. Matthew Stafford, Lions: $51,000,000
Stafford agreed to a new five-year, $135 million contract this offseason, the biggest contract in NFL history. Stafford’s new mega-deal comes with a $50 million signing bonus and guarantees him $92 million. Over the course of his eight NFL seasons, Stafford has already earned $110.78 million. By the time his current contract expires and he enters free agency in 2023, he will have been paid $262.28 million.