We’re not just talking about millions of dollars here, people. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars. Here are the names that have the most money attached.
Tom Brady – Quarterback
Tom Brady has been playing for incredible twenty-plus years. That many years is an eye-popping figure for any player who isn't a kicker, and to have a quarterback not only play but dominate as Brady does? People call Brady the GOAT – the greatest of all time – and few can offer a second opinion.
He has seven Super Bowl rings, which is the most anybody has ever earned, and he's also earned around three hundred and thirty-three million bucks. This is despite often taking pay cuts so his teams could afford blue-chip players in other positions.
Aaron Rodgers – Quarterback
Tom Brady might be the most successful quarterback ever, but many say Rodgers is the most skilled from a pure passing perspective. He makes eye-popping throws on the reg, even if he only has one ring to show for it. He's been with the Green Bay Packers since his first year.
The Packers have treated him well, with around 263 million dollars in lifetime earnings. Quarterbacks are the highest-paying position by a long shot, and at one point, Rodgers was the highest-paid player by yearly salary in the league.
Drew Brees – Quarterback
Football is a tough sport to play for a long time, but if you have the tenacity, you can bring home a bundle. Drew Brees proved this by standing in the league for almost twenty years, first with the Chargers but quickly moving to the Saints, where he found great success.
He has a Super Bowl ring from 2009 and a big pile of cash in the amount of two hundred and seventy million dollars. He's retired now, sitting back in his chair made of money inside his house, made of money, on his island made of money.
Ben Roethlisberger – Quarterback
Big Ben was a soldier in the pocket. He was incredibly hard to bring down, and he had the arm strength to send his team to the big game several times, winning twice. He got the Steelers to the playoffs ten times and has a 13-8 record in the playoffs.
He was elected to six Pro Bowls, even though he's never been named a first-team All-Pro, meaning he was never the best quarterback in a year, statistically. Still, his bank statement doesn't care since Ben earned around $267 million before he called his career over in 2021.
Matt Ryan – Quarterback
Despite having to live with the most agonizing defeat in Super Bowl history, Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons were still a near-perennial powerhouse, regularly making it to the playoffs. He's been named NFL MVP, made it to four Pro Bowls, and was even named one All-Pro.
He gained the moniker Matty Ice for standing tall during big moments, and his few misses due to injury made him into a workhouse, but it seems like Ryan is reaching the end of his career. Still, he earned around two hundred and sixty-seven million dollars during his time on the field.
Eli Manning – Quarterback
As the younger of two Manning brothers that are on this list, Eli is a strange duck. He petered out of the league in 2019, but during his fifteen years with the New York Giants, he won a pair of Super Bowls, both against Tom Brady and the Patriots. This includes the season where the Patriots had, otherwise, gone undefeated.
Thanks, Eli. Things weren't as rosy near the end of his career, but he still cashed in around 252 million dollars. He and his brother Peyton now run something called the Manningcast, during which they watch the Monday Night Football game.
Peyton Manning – Quarterback
Peyton, the older Manning of the NFL, was in the league for a little longer than his younger brother, but he still won a pair of his own Super Bowls. One was with the Indianapolis Colts, and the second was with the Denver Broncos. He was able to sock away about two hundred and forty-eight mil.
Not as much as his younger brother by just about two percentage points, but he is still a hefty bag. Now the "Manningcast" show that he hosts with brother Eli is bringing in more, and they also have some fun guests like Snoop Dogg, David Letterman, and Condoleezza Rice.
Philip Rivers – Quarterback
Rivers is an exciting name on this list. Yes, he's one of the most highly-paid players in the league's history, with a nice $243 million in his account, but he's never won a Super Bowl. He's never even BEEN to a Super Bowl.
He was an eight-time Pro Bowler but has never been named to the All-Pro team. He was with the Chargers for almost his entire career, with a twilight season on the Colts in 2020. He was part of the stellar 2004 quarterback draft, which produced Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, but he couldn't get to the same heights as his fellow draftees.
Matthew Stafford – Quarterback
Few players have earned as much as Stafford has in as little time. Compared to a lot of the big earners on this list, he's a wee lad. He joined the league in 2009 on the Detroit Lions, right after their 0-16 season.
He won a Super Bowl in his first year on the Los Angeles Rams after failure on the Detroit Lions (0-3 until he left the team). Still, he's a great quarterback and earned every penny of his almost two hundred and forty million dollars. And that number could continue to grow.
Alex Smith – Quarterback
Just because one has success on the field doesn't mean one earns a ton. The reverse is true – a huge salary doesn't always mean a player is showing out on the field. Alex Smith is a great example of that idea. He netted about hundred and eighty-nine million dollars before calling it quits in 2020.
However, despite all that moolah, Smith spent time on three different teams and never got anywhere near the big game. He has a 2-5 record in the playoffs, and his injury history got him out of the league a little sooner than he would have liked.
Russell Wilson — Quarterback
Letting Russ cook might not be the best thing around these days, but he's still got a good chance for the Hall of Fame thanks to his work with the Seattle Seahawks. He led the team to two consecutive Super Bowls, winning the first by a wide margin over the Denver Broncos.
The next year, they lost to the Patriots. He and the Seahawks were always contenders, and his hard work has earned him about a hundred and eighty million dollars, even if he isn't on his first team anymore.
Larry Fitzgerald – Wide Receiver
A lot of the names on this list are quarterbacks, but not all of them. Larry Fitzgerald was a generational talent who spent his entire career on the Arizona Cardinals, getting to eleven Pro Bowls and a single All-Pro team. He led the league in touchdowns twice and total receptions once.
He missed eight games during his long career, which meant his one hundred and eighty million dollar payday was well worth it. Despite his incredible skills, Fitzgerald never won a Super Bowl and, in fact, only played in a single championship contest.
Carson Palmer — Quarterback
With receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Chad Johnson catching his passes, Carson Palmer has got to have a ring or two, right? Not so, unfortunately. This long-running quarterback retired in 2017 after fourteen seasons with a dismal 1-3 record in the playoffs – meaning he got to the playoffs three times and won one game.
However, wins are a team stat. Palmer's earned salary totaled about a hundred and sixty-five million bucks. He was selected for the Pro Bowl three times and moved around a bunch of times, spending the bulk of his career with the Arizona Cardinals.
Joe Flacco — Quarterback
Flacco has made about a hundred and seventy-one million bucks slinging the rock and has the accolades that are worth it. He won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, and the Ravens were often at the top of the AFC heap during his time with the team.
He's moved around a little since then, going to the Broncos before a neck injury knocked him out of the season. Then it was to the New York Jets, the Eagles, and the Jets again in 2021. He was noted as having one of the strongest arms in the NFL during his heyday.
Ndamukong Suh – Defensive Tackle
While the guys in the trenches might not make the headlines, they're critical to the team, be they offensive or defensive players. Ndamukong Suh is both! He's the highest-paid player in defensive history, having earned something like a hundred and sixty-six million bucks since he started playing in 2010 with the Detroit Lions.
He's jumped around, spending time on the Miami Dolphins, the Los Angeles Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a member of the Buccaneers when they won Super Bowl LV. However, he's been heavily criticized for aggressive, dirty play.
Julius Peppers – Defensive End
Julius Peppers spent seventeen years in the NFL, which is a long time for a lot of players, let alone a defensive one.
As a defensive end, he set the edge and hunted down ball carriers with a powerful hunger. He spent most of his time on the Carolina Panthers but was also on the Chicago Bears and their rivals, the Green Bay Packers. He made the Pro Bowl on all three teams and earned about a hundred and sixty-five million simultaneously.
Kirk Cousins — Quarterback
QB Kirk Cousins started his career with the Washington...team, where he shouted, "you like dat?!" as he walked into his post-game press conference on October twenty-fifth after leading a thrilling comeback.
He spent six seasons with the Washington team before being picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, whom he has fleeced to add to his total of about $161 million, all said. As of 2022, he's still playing, so he might creep up in the standings of highest-paid players before he hangs up his cleats for good.
Von Miller – Outside Linebacker
Born Vonnie B'VSean Miller, Von Miller has been lighting up opposing offenses since he started playing in 2011. He started with the Broncos and spent ten full years there, but since has been hopping around, landing with the Los Angeles Rams in time to help them win a Super Bowl in 2022.
After that, he moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He's a premium talent that opponents always have to think about in the days leading up to the games, and he's raked in about $144 million while doing so.
Julio Jones – Wide Receiver
As soon as he joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2011, Julia Jones let others know that he was elite. He was named first and second-team All-Pro a grand total of five times, he's been elected to seven Pro Bowls, he's led the NFL in receiving yards twice...but he's never won a Super Bowl.
That's gotta hurt. He's moved around a little bit now, and he's taking more rest days to ensure a lingering knee issue stays in control. Still, he's gathered a pretty big bag at around a hundred and forty million bucks.
Trent Williams – Offensive Tackle
A bad offensive line means bad QB play, and bad QB play means a bad team. Traditionally. Trent Williams is a great way to make that clear. He was in Washington for about ten years and has since moved to the San Francisco 49ers, where he was made the highest-paid offensive line player in the NFL.
He's made first-team All-Pro in 2021, second-team All-Pro in 2015, and a total of ten Pro Bowls, an incredible number. He's yet to get a ring for his big finger, but he's crying all the way to the bank, having earned about 140 million dollars for his stellar play.
Ryan Tannehill – Quarterback
Ryan Tannehill has spent seven seasons as the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, keeping them in the fight for as long as possible despite being in the same division as the titanic New England Patriots.
He never took them to the Super Bowl, but he still earned his paycheck. Ahead of the 2019 season, he jumped ship to join the Tennessee Titans, giving the floundering franchise a spark of life. He's made a total of about a hundred and forty million big ones. It might not be in the top ten, but it's certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Brett Favre — Quarterback
After a year on the Atlanta Falcons, the "Gunslinger" himself joined the Green Bay Packers and started making history. His relationship with the team isn't perfect (similar to his off-field difficulties).
After the Packers, he spent a year playing for the Jets and then turned traitor to his old team by playing for the Vikings before retiring for the final time after the 2010 season. For all his hard work, his many injuries, and his many, MANY interceptions, he's earned around $138 million. His middle name is Lorenzo, by the way.
Cam Newton — Quarterback
After ten years with the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton had led them to the Super Bowl (losing to the Patriots, which is a running theme in this article), earned MVP honors for his 2015 season, set the season record for quarterback rushing touchdowns, and led the Panthers to numerous playoff berths and division titles.
Of course, he doesn't have a ring yet, but who knows? Meanwhile, he's earned something like a hundred and thirty-three million dollars, with which he buys many wonderful hats and fancy outfits.
Sam Bradford — Quarterback
A journeyman quarterback might never get to settle in a specific place for too long, but they can rack up an impressive earning record.
He started with the St. Louis Rams for five seasons, jumped to the Philly Eagles for a year, spent a pair of seasons in Minnesota with the Vikings, and then was in Arizona with the Cardinals for the 2018 season. He collected a pretty sweet $130 million, which he probably got partly for flipping a bunch of houses he lived in.
Calais Campbell – Defensive End
From the Cardinals to the Jaguars to the Ravens, Calais Campbell has been spreading his talent all over the league. He's earned All-Pro honors three times, made it to the Pro Bowl six times, landed on the NFL's 2010 All-Decade Team, and was even named the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the year.
At six-foot-eight and over three hundred pounds, he's a terrifying defensive end for any opponent. He hasn't been able to hold the Lombardi Trophy, but he can hold lots and lots of money – around a hundred and twenty-eight million dollars.
Tony Romo — Quarterback
Nowadays, most people know him as a commentator for football games on CBS, but plenty still remembers him as the Dallas Cowboys franchise quarterback. He played with them for fourteen years and never played with another team.
Thanks to his loyalty, he earned about a hundred and twenty-seven million. He's likely earning a pretty penny working for CBS, but that's still a lot of money. Despite years of stellar play, he never won a Super Bowl or even reached one. However, he has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times.
Darrelle Revis – Cornerback
Few cornerbacks in the football game have been as dominant as Revis, who would put opposing receivers on "Revis Island" and never let them leave until the clock said zero. He would eventually go on to trademark the term.
In addition, he was a Super Bowl champ for Super Bowl XLIX, was named to seven Pro Bowls, earned four first-team All-Pro honors, and, of course, made tons of money. About a hundred and twenty-five million bucks. As long as he shops around, he can actually buy his own island with all that money. But the taxes would be rough.
Joe Thomas – Offensive Tackle
The sad fact is that the Browns have been so irrelevant that most good players want off for a chance to get a ring with another team while the bad players are released. There is one exception.
Joe Thomas is one of the most storied offensive linemen in the game, and his position – left tackle – is one of the most important on the field. He is regarded as one of the best offensive linemen of all time. He was a six-time first-team All-Pro and got to ten Pro Bowls. He also earned about $110 million.
Jay Cutler — Quarterback
If you need any proof that salary doesn't always directly translate to success, here's Jay Cutler. He was on the Denver Broncos for three seasons before being traded to the Chicago Bears, where he stayed for eight seasons, throwing lots of interceptions to the Green Bay Packers and generally not doing too well. After that, he spent a year in Miami as a stop-gap QB and then hung up the helmet.
Still, even a sort-of-okay quarterback is worth a pretty penny, and Cutler raked in about a hundred and twenty-eight million by the time he was done.
Gerald McCoy – Defensive Tackle
With three All-Pro nods and six different Pro Bowl selections, it's clear that Gerald McCoy demands a high price. How high?
Well, he's currently made about a hundred and twenty-six million dollars playing defensive tackle around the league. He spent most of his time – and earned most of his money – with the Tampa Bay Bucs, a total of nine years. After that, he's been on the Panthers, the Cowboys, and the Raiders. His performance has taken a step back in recent years, but he still puts in good work and earns every cent.
Mario Williams – Defensive End
Super Mario Williams was the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, and while he didn't exactly put up the numbers people were hoping for, he was a perfectly reasonable pick. As a defensive end, he could shut down or shut up opposing offenses, and he was paid pretty well for it, too.
He played for a few different teams, mostly the Houston Texans and the Buffalo Bills, and he earned about $132 million before he retired in 2016. However, he saw only a single game of postseason action (obviously, it was a loss).
Michael Vick – Quarterback
Vick could have been a lot higher on this list if not for his...off-field antics. You know what we're talking about. If you don't, you can find it elsewhere. One of the most controversial players in the NFL, he was an incredible force behind the O-line, able to dazzle with his arm strength, foot speed, and command of the field.
Still, his two periods in the league earned him around one hundred and sixteen million dollars as he played with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. So stick with the birds, Vick, because you shouldn't get too close to other animals.
Calvin Johnson – Wide Receiver
Calvin Johnson played for the Detroit Lions for his entire career, being drafted in 2007 and retiring in 2015.
He could have kept playing for a while and earned a lot more since he often led the league in receiving yards and was an All-Pro pick three years in a row, but he stepped away before something destroyed his health. Smart move. Before that, however, he had racked up about one hundred and ten million bucks.
Derek Carr – Quarterback
Having only played for a single team (though that team did move to Las Vegas out of Oakland), Derek Carr looked poised to rake in cash for quite some time. He's been to three Pro Bowls and has led the black and silver to several playoff berths – a success they had been missing for a long time.
However, a 2022 season saw him missing a lot of throws and not living up to expectations, leading to him getting benched in favor of Jarrett Stidham. Still, none of that changes Carr’s hundred and thirty-five million dollar net worth.
Dak Prescott – Quarterback
Dak got thrown right into the fire when it came to leading the Dallas Cowboys when starter Tony Romo – also on this list – went down with an injury during the 2016 preseason. He balled out, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and a Pro Bowl berth that year.
Despite several injuries that sometimes kept him out, he continued to put up big numbers. Still, he's expected to have control of the team for some time, meaning he's worth the big bucks – currently, he sits at about a hundred and thirty-one million earned, and that's just since 2016!
J.J. Watt – Defensive End
If you went up against the Houston Texans from 2011 to 2020, you had to worry about J.J. Watt. He's one of the most destructive defensive players, holding the Texan's franchise record for both sacks and forced fumbles.
In 2021 he moved to the Arizona Cardinals, but near the end of the 2022 season, he announced his retirement from football. It might have to do with having his heart shocked back into rhythm on September twenty-ninth. Finally, after twelve seasons of play, he's ready to sit back with the approximately one hundred and thirty million dollars he's made on the field.
Carson Wentz – Quarterback
He almost led the Eagles to a Super Bowl being replaced by Nick Foles in the 2017 postseason, but amazingly, Wentz hasn't done much since then. Sure, he's won a few games, gone to the playoffs, and earned a few rewards, but he hasn't reached the heights of that season again.
So, after five years with the Eagles, he moved to the Colts and is now on the Washington Commanders. But, of course, being a Super Bowl-winning QB will command a high price even if you aren't a blue-chip player, which means that Wentz has earned about one hundred and twenty-nine million dollars.
Aaron Donald – Defensive Tackle
Since his draft in 2014, Aaron Donald has been a standout talent for St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. Besides his rookie year, he's been named as part of the first-team All-Pro squad, and he's not nominated to the Pro Bowl.
He was Defensive Rookie of the Year in his rookie year and has also won Defensive Player thrice. All this to say, he's certainly worth what the Rams are paying him – about one hundred and twenty-nine million dollars total.
Jimmy Garoppolo – Quarterback
Jimmy G spent five years as the backup quarterback behind Tom Brady for the Patriots, garnering a ring after Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 and LI in 2017. After standing in for the old man for a few games, he showed enough skill to be traded to the 49ers ahead of the 2017 year, where he's been ever since.
He was the backup to starter Trey Lance, and he would get a little bit of playing time before he went down with an injury. All told, he's brought in about $125 million.
Khalil Mack – Outside Linebacker
After making a name for himself in Oakland, Mack was traded to the Chicago Bears in an eye-watering trade.
The deal he signed after the trade made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. After that, he was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2022, but the money is still there – just currently, he's earned in the area of a hundred and twenty-seven million bucks. Is it worth it? He's good, but that's quite the paycheck for just one guy. Then again, he HAS been All-Pro four times between the first and second team.
Jason Peters – Offensive Tackle
When it comes to highly-paid players, there is one thing that is a pretty good indication you wouldn’t be on the list. That is if you're undrafted. If you're undrafted, there's almost always a clear reason. Jason Peters might be the only undrafted player on this list, and he's pretty high on the list, too.
He won a ring with the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, and he's been named to the First-team All-Pro twice. He's made about $119 million since he started, and that's after starting at the bottom.
A.J. Green – Wide Receiver
Few wide receivers were so widely feared and respected as A.J. Green during his time on the field. In 2012, he was the first rookie wide receiver to make it to the Pro Bowl in eight years. He's earned seven total Pro Bowls, a pair of second-team All-Pro honors, and has set plenty of records.
He's still playing with the Arizona Cardinals, but between his first year in the league and now, he's cashed out for around one hundred and nineteen million dollars. He's hoping for a Super Bowl one of these years, but he hasn't made it there yet.
Chandler Jones – Defensive End
It's been said the three highest-paid positions on any football team will traditionally be the quarterback, the left tackle, and the defensive end. Chandler Jones falls into that final camp and commands a total bill of around one hundred and sixteen million dollars.
That's because he's a two-time first-team All-Pro player, has been sent to four different Pro Bowls, was the NFL sacks leader in 2017, and was part of the New England Patriots when they won Super Bowl XLIX. All that just for being good and getting to the quarterback or locking down the edge.
Fletcher Cox – Defensive Tackle
Several of the names on this list have jumped from team to team, and for a good reason – moving to a different team usually means a bonus in your paycheck. But not Fletcher Cox. He's never moved off the Philadelphia Eagles, despite having plenty of opportunities to do so.
He started with them after being drafted in 2012, and he's been sent to six Pro Bowls and made several All-Pro honors. He's got a ring thanks to the Eagles winning the big game in Super Bowl LII, and he's got a pretty good bundle stashed away – somewhere around $115 million. Not bad.
Robert Quinn – Defensive End
Defensive ends are highly paid because they can easily disrupt an opponent's offense. And if an opponent can't score, winning games becomes much easier. Robert Quinn loves to push past offensive tackles and go in for a sack, and he's done it for many teams – the Rams, the Dolphins, the Cowboys, the Bears, and the Eagles.
He's earned somewhere in the realm of one hundred and twelve million dollars doing it, so he must be pretty good. He's missed getting to a Super Bowl, but he's made All-Pro a couple of times and the Pro Bowl thrice.
Tyron Smith – Left Tackle
Why do left tackles demand so much cash? Well, left tackles are directly opposed to the defense's best rusher and protect their QBs blindside since most quarterbacks are right-handed and can't see pressure coming from that side.
Tyron Smith does this important job with aplomb and has earned himself around a hundred and twelve million for doing so. Plus, he's never stepped off the Dallas Cowboys to do it. Many teams are willing to shell out big money for a left tackle since they're often so critical to the game.
DeAndre Hopkins – Wide Receiver
Every once in a while, an incredible talent comes around that is, unfortunately, squandered. DeAndre Hopkins is one of those talents. He's made the All-Pro team three times since his start in 2013 – and that's just the first team.
He's also made the second team twice. However, poor quarterback play from the Houston Texans kept him nowhere near winning a Super Bowl. So he shifted from the Texans to the Arizona Cardinals, who had the funds to afford him but couldn't field a playoff-worthy team with regularity. Still, he's netted around one hundred and eleven million bucks for catching balls.
David Bakhtiari – Left Tackle
David Bakhtiari has been the starting left tackle for the team since he was drafted in 2013. He's made the All-Pro team five times (twice first team, three times second team) and has hit the field in three Pro Bowls.
His team has made it to the NFC Championship game several times, but he's never seen a Super Bowl. For protecting Aaron Rodgers, Bakhtiari has earned around a hundred and ten million dollars.
Cameron Jordan – Defensive End
Spend enough time with a single team, and you will start making big money. That's because they have to match or beat other teams that want to poach you, and other teams will generally offer more to attract the players they need.
Thus, Cameron Jordan, a defensive end for the New Orleans Saints, has earned about one hundred and eight million dollars during his eleven years on the team. He's a defensive end, which means he's holding down the pocket and going after the quarterback from the defensive side of the line of scrimmage, and he's getting paid to do it well.
Patrick Peterson – Cornerback
The correct defensive player can make all the difference on a team, and Patrick Peterson has been that player for a pair of teams. He's played for the Arizona Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings, and he's making amazing money for someone playing in the cornerback position – somewhere in the realm of a hundred and seven million dollars.
Of course, getting selected for eight different Pro Bowls has a big price tag. He hasn't won a Super Bowl just yet, but there's always hope, no matter how slim it might be.
Joey Bosa – Outside Linebacker
Joey Bosa is one of the younger names on this list, and he's one of the highest-earning outside linebackers, without a doubt. That's what being Defensive Rookie of the Year does for you.
He's also earned a quartet of Pro Bowl honors on his way to helping his team...not make it to the Super Bowl. Don't worry. We're sure he will get there one of these days. Some team that needs an outside linebacker to complete the squad will call him up and get him a ring.
Jason Pierre-Paul – Defensive End
Jason Pierre-Paul has been rocking quarterbacks and ball carriers for more than ten years after getting drafted by the New York Giants in 2010. He got snagged by the Tampa Bay Bucs for a few years, and now he's playing with the Baltimore Ravens.
He's been on a pair of Super Bowl-winning teams (XLVI and LV), and one more thing – he had to have his right index finger amputated after getting it blown off with a firework. That's certainly unique. Still, he can buy plenty of new fingers with about $104 million.
DeMarcus Lawrence – Defensive End
Sometimes you need to add a hunter to your team. In the 2014 draft, the Dallas Cowboys got a hunter in DeMarcus Lawrence. He's played defensive end with his first team for nine years, racking up a huge collection of sacks, tackles, and takeaways – a total of seventeen fumbles.
He's made it onto the second-team All-Pro twice and has been selected for a trio of Pro Bowls once he got established. By sticking with his team and playing well, Lawrence has made somewhere in the realm of one hundred and two million dollars.
Justin Houston – Defensive End
You don't have to be a superstar to earn the big bucks. That's not to say that Justin Houston isn't darn good at his job of chasing down people and then hitting them (please don't hurt us), but he's far from a name the casual fan might recognize.
Still, playing with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Baltimore Ravens, he's been named to four Pro Bowls and reached the first-team All-Pro squad once in 2014. He's also earned a pretty good payout for all his hard work, getting around one hundred and one million dollars.
Andy Dalton — Quarterback
Players that started earlier will earn less. That's because of inflation, a smaller team cap, and many other reasons. For example, Andy Dalton didn't start decades ago, and he's still a quarterback, but he's still made a bit less than some of the other QBs on this list. But he's still in the nine-digit club, making about one hundred and one million dollars after more than ten years in the league.
He's also accumulated three different Pro Bowl appearances while slinging it for the Cincinnati Bengals. Nowadays, he's playing backup, which still commands a respectable salary.
Cameron Heyward – Defensive Tackle
We're sure he just looks mean. Cameron Heyward earns a mean stack of cash by playing defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he certainly deserves it – getting named the best defensive tackle in the league three years out of twelve.
The second best one makes it obvious you will make a lot of money anywhere. Heyward also has five Pro Bowls but has yet to make a Super Bowl appearance. However, the Steelers treat him right and have given him just a hair under a hundred million dollars since he was drafted by the team in 2011.
Stephon Gilmore – Cornerback
Stephon Gilmore was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2012 and has played with four teams, including the New England Patriots, when they won Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams.
He was also the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time first-team All-Pro, and has gone to five Pro Bowls. Gilmore is worth the ninety-eight million dollars teams have paid him over the last decade and change.
Lane Johnson – Right Tackle
The right tackle on the offensive line might not be as critical as the left tackle, but a good one is still worth his weight in gold. Enter Lane Johnson, who has played for the Philadelphia Eagles since he was drafted in 2013 and is perhaps the highest-paid right tackle in the league at about ninety-eight million dollars.
And Lane Johnson is good, too – he made first-team All-Pro in 2017 and second-team All-Pro in 2021. In addition, he's been to the Pro Bowl four times and has been a Super Bowl champion since he was with the team when they won Super Bowl LII.
Deshaun Watson — Quarterback
Deshaun Watson might be making a lot of money – he was drafted in 2017 and has made about ninety-eight million dollars since then – but he isn't making a lot of friends.
To say he's made some costly mistakes with his off-field time is putting it mildly, and he would certainly be much higher on the earnings list if he had kept his head in the game and off...well, you can find out all the sordid details elsewhere. He was the best QB the Texans had for some time, but that all came crashing down. So now he's playing for the Browns.
Amari Cooper – Wide Receiver
Having a good wide receiver can make or break your team. If you don't, opposing defenses know they can focus on the run and load the box. If you do, you can stretch the defense and pick them apart.
Amari Cooper is one of the best around, and he's brought down around ninety-seven million dollars, almost six hundred receptions, and more than fifty touchdowns since he was drafted in 2015. He's also gone to the Pro Bowl four times, and we all know how much that helps your worth.
Mike Evans – Wide Receiver
Mike Evans might be the best wide receiver in the league. He's put up monster numbers with the Tampa bay Bucs, the team that drafted him back in 2014.
In just nine years in the league, he's had almost seven hundred catches, more than ten thousand yards receiving, and more than eighty touchdowns. Thanks to Super Bowl LV, he was a champ with the Bucs, and he's spent time at four Pro Bowls. Yet, despite all this dominance, he's received a mere ninety-five million dollars up to this point.
Leonard Williams – Defensive End
Getting to the quarterback means stopping the offense. Every team knows this, which is why high-end defensive ends have so much demand.
Williams has been on two different teams, but he hasn't had to move around too much – he was drafted by the New York Jets and is now a player for the New York Giants. He made it to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and has scooped up a total of ninety-four million big ones during his time in the league. Not a bad gig if you can get it (not many people can get it).
Duane Brown – Left Tackle
Duane Brown is one of the few left tackles to last a long career. He was drafted in 2008 with the Houston Texans and has jumped around a little bit, currently playing for the Jets.
Yes, that's right, he's still playing. And there's a good reason: he's made an All-Pro team three times and stepped on the Pro Bowl field five times. In addition, he's earned somewhere in the realm of ninety-two million dollars.
Devin McCourty – Free Safety
As the highest-earning safety on the list, Devin McCourty is a bit of an outlier. Sure, the safety position is important, but many people can take the spot. However, Devin McCourty is one of the best.
He's helped his team, the New England Patriots, to three Super Bowl titles (XLIX, LI, and LIII), has made three second-team All-Pro squads and has gone to the Pro Bowl twice. He also has the most postseason starts ever for a defensive player. He was drafted in 2010 and hasn't changed teams, earning about ninety-three million dollars from New England.
Bobby Wagner – Inside Linebacker
There aren't a lot of inside linebackers on this list, but if any of them deserve a big payday, Bobby Wagner does. As a member of the Legion of Boom, while he was on the Seattle Seahawks, Wagner delivered bone-rattling hits on the reg.
He's racked up an impressive fifteen hundred total tackles, thirty sacks, more than sixty pass deflections, and plenty of other highlight moments. He's a Super Bowl XLVIII champ, a six-time first-team All-Pro, and has been to eight Pro Bowls. How much has he earned? About ninety-two million. Nothing eye-popping, but still more than most people make in their lives.
DeSean Jackson – Wide Receiver
Let's talk speed. DeSean Jackson was electric when the Philadelphia Eagles first drafted him in 2008. Since then, he's been with five other teams (not counting returning to the Eagles for a few years) and can still beat most people in a footrace.
He's made a couple of Pro Bowl appearances, was named a second-team All-Pro in 2009, and has earned about ninety-two million dollars. His forty-yard dash time in the combine was 4.35 seconds, but it's all too likely that he got faster with time. Nevertheless, he's still fast, even if he has started to feel his age a little.
Keenan Allen – Wide Receiver
Keenan Allen is primarily a slot receiver, a player that tends to be a little shorter, quicker with agility, and knows his routes a little better, but he's played plenty of sidelines, and wide-out snaps, too. This guy can do it all. And he can do it all well, having made it to the Pro Bowl five times.
He was also the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2017 after missing all but the first few minutes of the 2016 season with an ACL tear. He's earned around ninety-one million for his skills.
Brandin Cooks – Wide Receiver
The Saints, Patriots, Rams, and the Texans. Brandin Cooks has been all over the place, and he's always shown up willing to play. He's never been selected to a Pro Bowl, never won a Super Bowl, and has a four-two record in the postseason.
Still, he's caught plenty of balls and even holds a record for the longest touchdown reception with the Saints at ninety-eight yards. So maybe he's not getting into the Hall of Fame – that doesn't matter, he's doing his job well. He's also earning a little more than ninety million dollars while doing it, which is a nice bonus.
Melvin Ingram – Outside Linebacker
With three Pro Bowl appearances to his name, Melvin Ingram knows how to play his part on a team. Any team. He was with the San Diego Chargers from 2012 until they moved to Los Angeles.
In 2021 he was on the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs, and then he moved to the Miami Dolphins in 2022. Is he making front-page news? No. But generally, that's a good thing. He's a journeyman linebacker who will do whatever it takes to keep the ball where it is, and he's earning a little under ninety million dollars.
Jake Matthews – Left Tackle
A member of the storied Matthews family of football players, Jake is a left tackle worth his salt. He made it to the Pro Bowl in 2018, playing for the Atlanta Falcons, the team he drafted and still plays for. He's still rocking and locking down the line at left tackle, where you have to be solid.
He currently holds the longest active streak of consecutive games played by a left tackle, and his new contract reflects that. He's currently made a little under ninety million dollars and is due to make more.
Brandon Graham – Defensive End
Maybe you don't know the name Brandon Graham, but he's responsible for one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history. During Super Bowl LII, his Philadelphia Eagles – the only team he's played for since he was drafted in 2010 – were ahead of the New England Patriots, but Tom Brady was driving.
It was Brandon Graham who got the pivotal strip sack that put an end to the Patriot's chances. Graham has been earning big with the Eagles, a total of about eighty-nine million, and he's garnered a second-team All-Pro berth and a Pro Bowl spot while raking in cash.
Ronnie Stanley – Tackle
Keeping a quarterback healthy is a top priority for a football team, so offensive tackles like Ronnie Stanley can earn so much in so little time. The Baltimore Ravens drafted Stanley in the 2016 draft, and since then, he's done a lot to prove that he's worth a big paycheck.
His 2019 year, in particular, was a big part of his contract negotiations, with him getting first-team All-Pro status and getting into the Pro Bowl. However, he has a long contract ahead of him, which means the approximately eighty-eight million he's earned will increase by a lot.
Myles Garrett – Defensive End
Three-time all-pro honor winner Myles Garret earned a 4.04 GPA in high school, which is higher than what's usually possible.
This combo has meant that since he joined the Cleveland Browns in 2017, he's earned about eighty-seven million big ones coming off the edge and rushing the quarterback of opposing teams. So stay in school, kids. He's one of the younger names on this list, so he'll probably be moving up the ranks of highest-paid before it's all said and done.
Darius Slay – Cornerback
After slumming it with the Detroit Lions for a few years, Darius Slay started to get noticed. In 2017 he snagged a whopping eight interceptions, which tied for the most in the league. He also had twenty-six defender passes.
This and more earned him a spot on the first-team All-Pro squad, and he also had a Pro Bowl spot during that year and four more in the following years. He plays for the Philadelphia Eagles now, and he's bound to keep rising in the ranks of highest-paid players, but at the moment, he has earned a total of almost eighty-seven million dollars.
Nick Foles – Quarterback
The tale of Nick Foles is an odd one. Not only does he have a Super Bowl ring from Super Bowl LII, but he was also named the Super Bowl MVP. He led the Eagles to victory over the dangerous Patriots. So what has he done since then? A whole lot of nothing.
He's been on many different teams (the Rams, the Chiefs, the Jaguars, the Bears, and the Colts) but it's starting to seem more like that season was the outlier than the norm. Still, a Super Bowl MVP isn't cheap, and Nick Foles has earned about eighty-six million dollars since his rookie year.
Brandon Scherff – Guard
A guard is the second or fourth member of the offensive line, tasked with blocking for runs and keeping rushers away from the quarterback during pass plays. Brandon Scherff is considered one of the best guards in the NFL, with five Pro Bowl appearances and a first-team All-Pro spot.
He started with the Washington team but is now part of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He hasn't even played for ten years, so he has time to rise up the ranks of the highest-paid players. So far, he's made almost eighty-six million dollars.
Davante Adams – Wide Receiver
Davante Adams is now seen as one of the best receivers playing in the league. His route running is impeccable, and he has the athletic skills to go up and get a circus catch on the sideline. After eight years playing for the Green Bay Packers, he moved to the Los Angeles Raiders to play with his college buddy Derek Carr.
He's been on a pair of first-team All-Pro teams and has gone to six Pro Bowls. He's still playing and still stunning fans and defenses, which means he's likely to make a lot more than the paltry eighty-five million he has.
Josh Allen – Quarterback
Josh Allen might be the youngest person on this list, having been drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2018. The reason he's on the list? He's been leading the Bills to one victory after the next, and he might be their guy for a long time.
He got the Bills so close to winning it all in but lost in the divisional round to the Chiefs in overtime, a game many pointed to as evidence that overtime rules should be changed. Despite being still at half a decade in the league, Allen has made about eighty-five million.
Jerry Hughes – Defensive End
Jerry Hughes is here to mess up quarterbacks from the Colts to the Bills to the Texans. While he's never won a ring and has no Pro Bowl appearances, he's still the kind of guy that could very well be a big boon to a team that needs someone to come screaming off the edge to attack the ball.
He's been playing for over a decade, and while he might not be an elite talent, steady work at any position will be worth something eventually. Unfortunately, Hughes is sitting pretty on about eighty-four million dollars.
Tyrann Mathieu – Free Safety
Do you know what a honey badger is? It's a furious mammal that is legendary for its ferocity. Tyrann Mathieu earned the nickname "Honey Badger."
For safety, that's a really good thing. Mathieu has been on four teams, and every time he's proved why he's worth the big bucks (for safeties, anyway). He was on the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs during the 2019 season, he's been on three first-team All-Pro squads, and he's part of the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team – meaning he's one of the best safeties of the decade. Of course, he's also brought in a little over eighty-four million dollars.