The National Football League is setting new records for salaries and contracts, and whilst it may still be small fry compared to pay-outs to other disciplines in American sport, the money is certainly worth playing for. The quarterbacks are the players that command the biggest money, but the complicated contract system of payment over a number of years with only a certain amount of that being guaranteed, makes it hard to compare like for like players. That being said, the bonuses that players can earn for performing well or staying with a club for a certain amount of time are worth having. There is definitely plenty of incentive for aspiring football players who want to earn big money, to try for the NFL.
10. Kirk Cousins
Kirk signed a three year $84 million contract in 2018 with an average annual salary of $28 million according to Spotrac. It is a fully guaranteed contract according to Overthecap and included a $3 million signing fee. Just in case this isn’t enough, he has the possibility of earning a further $6 million in bonuses. This deal took him to the highest paid quarterback of the time.
Cousins retains an air of humility about him, despite his phenomenal success, still not quite believing his luck. However, this has given him the momentum to improve and to make sure that he lives up to the faith that others have shown in him. His guaranteed contract means that the Vikings certainly have a lot of faith in him and his ability to perform. In fact, he is an essential part of the team and he is a very popular figure, known as a determined player but an all-round nice guy with none of the off-pitch drama that can cause negative press. He started out in college football, like many NFL players, and was signed by the Washington Redskins in 2012 where he started his professional career.
9. Drew Brees
Drew Brees is a highly successful quarterback and his skill is reflected in his salary of over $24 million which he signed in 2018. This includes $13.5 million guaranteed payment as well as the potential for hefty bonuses. He started playing professional football in 2001, having excelled at the sport at school, starting out with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers had a record 2002 season, during which Brees started in all 16 games. By 2004 they had their first AFC West win in ten seasons, and Brees found himself selected for the Pro Bowl. He was also given the title of NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He achieved the accolade of sportsman of the year in 2010 and holds records that no other NFL quarterbacks have surpassed, according to Whatnetworth.
He played a further season for the Chargers, signing for the Saints in 2006. During 2007 he broke records including the most pass completions in a single season, making 440. In 2012 he signed a five-year contract with the Saints worth $100 million. He proved his worth when in 2016 he broke another record by throwing a 98-yard touchdown pass in a match against the Oakland Raiders.
8. Andrew Luck
In 2016 Luck signed a six-year deal worth $142 million with at least $47 million of that guaranteed. Luck’s new contract made him the highest paid player to date in the NFL’s history at the time. He will stay with the Colts until 2021, and because of the guaranteed sum will be financially set up even if he suffers from the injury. This is a concern for Luck, has had a bad 2015 season, plagued by injury, including a lacerated kidney.
He has certainly proved to be beneficial for the team who won only two games in the 2011 season before Luck joined, and since his arrival has made the playoffs during his first three seasons with the club. However, the Colts took a longer-term view, eradicating the 2015 performance. They preferred to focus on his 2012-2014 seasons which had been so exceptional. They have seen the rise of the Colts as a team over the seasons that Luck was with them. The owner of the Colts, Jim Irsay was delighted to have secured Luck to keep their team successful and Luck believes he has a great opportunity with the Colts and is excited about playing for them.
7. Alec Ogletree
Linebacker Alec Ogletree signed a deal for $42.75 million for four years in 2017. This nets him an average salary of $10.68 million according to 247sports. Ogletree was seconded to the Giants after a deal with the Los Angeles Rams. he will be expected to earn his money at the Giants, after a lackluster season with the Rams. the Giants are certainly in need of a man of his caliber as the quarterback. They hope his signing will signal a boost for the club as he brings skill and experience to the table as well as an exceptional tackling ability and lightning speed.
He excelled at college football and has made solid progress ever since, being picked for the 2013 PWFA all-rookie team. There is no doubt that Ogletree is a consummate athlete with incredible speed on the football pitch. He needs to watch his behavior off the field if he is to focus on his career, as he has suffered penalties from violations of team rules. He has also been involved with some ugly rivalry with the fellow player, Odell Beckham. He should be able to rein himself in, he has after all been the recipient of an honor for sportsmanship and determination.
6. Nate Solder
Solder signed a $66.4 million three-year deal in 2018 with an average salary of $15.5 million. His position of offensive tackle is undisputed. He was drafted to the NFL in 2011 by the New England Patriots, who went on to win the Super Bowl twice whilst Solder was a team member. He played in every game of the 2012 season and was the leading player of snaps on offense. He made 1,234 which was the record of any offensive player that season. Once again, he played every game in the 2014 season despite having battled testicular cancer. He had the accolade of being voted as the captain by his teammates for the 2015 season.
Solder was a college footballer at the University of Colorado where he studied biology. He undertook some major charity work whilst at college and continues to do that today. He has also suffered the trauma of having a son who is battling cancer. He signed a new contract with the Giants in 2018, and this deal made him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL league. After seven seasons with the New York Patriots, Solder brought pedigree and experience to the Giants and is determined as always to improve his game.
5. Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy will earn $137.5 million over five years, for the San Francisco 49ers where he plays quarterback. He played college football before being recruited by the NFL for the New England Patriots in 2014. He was already breaking records and winning accolades at college, and it looked as if he had a glittering career in front of him, which indeed he has. He started the 2016 season as the lead quarterback. He suffered some injury disruptions and was the subject of rumors surrounding possible trades with other clubs, but stayed with the Patriots for the 2017 season nevertheless.
At the end of the season, he was traded to the San Francisco 49rs and had a solid start to his career with the new club. He began to break records in the San Francisco club and with Jimmy on board the 49ers scored 62% of their offensive drives as opposed to 29% without his participation. He was fortunate to have a contract based on performance and with the 49ers’ success, he gained bonuses for wins and for participation in the Super Bowl. From his 2018 deal with the 49ers, Garoppolo is guaranteed $90 million which is the highest total to date in NFL history. Unfortunately he has been placed on the injured reserve and may miss the entire season.
4. Marcell Dareus
Marcell signed a $96.6 million deal and is only halfway through his contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He began his career in 2011 with the Buffalo Bulls, having excelled at the University of Alabama and won prizes for his football performance. With the Buffalo Bills, he signed a four-year $20 million deal and was named for the Pro Bowl in 2013, despite having suffered the trauma of the murder of his brother. Amazingly he performed a personal record 46 tackles during that difficult season.
By 2015 Dareus had some more personal issues when he was suspended for substance abuse. He still managed to secure the six-year contract that he maintains to this day, later in 2015. He is assured of $60 million within the confines of that contract, which to date is the highest earnings for a non-quarterback in the NFL. He was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017. He has been named to two Pro Bowls and taken the Jaguars to the playoffs, but his personal life still remains controversial. Allegations have been made against the star and rumors circulate about drug use. However, Marcell remains one of the highest paid and most successful NFL players of 2018.
3. Jarvis Landry
After playing football at college, Jarvis Landry was recruited to the Miami Dolphins in 2014 where he began his NFL career. He finished his rookie season with great success, and his 84 catches set a new record for the Dolphins. He continued in this stellar style in the 2015 season and was recruited to the 2016 Pro Bowl. He set an NFL record for 192 receptions in two seasons, only to have it taken from him in 2017, but he still managed to make the list of top 100 NFL players in 2016.
By 2017 he had established himself as a true star of the game and records were being set and smashed by Landry. He finished the 2017 season with the NFL record for the most receptions, with 112. In 2017 he also took a foray into television, appearing in the documentary, ‘All or nothing, A Season with the Los Angeles Rams’, according to Bigblueview. He signed a franchise tag with them in February 2018. The next month he went to the Cleveland Browns and in April signed a five-year deal with the club, netting a $75.5 million extension, with $47 million of that guaranteed for Landry himself. This made him the sixth highest paid receiver at the current time.
2. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan has earned the nickname Matty Ice and plays quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, a team he joined from college in 2008, having distinguished himself as a college player and winning ACC player of the year for 2007. By 2009 he had been voted as Offensive Captain by his teammates. He did suffer some injury that season, and his absence was noted by less impressive performances. As soon as he was back, even though not fully, recovered the team took off again.
He started in all 16 games of his rookie season, taking the Falcons to new heights of success and earning himself the title of NFL Offensive Rookie of the year. More accolades followed when he was named as the NFL’s most valuable player. He took his team to the Super Bowl where they were sadly defeated. He was invited to the 2011 Pro Bowl and was named as the 52nd best player in the NFL for 2011. In 2018 he signed a $150 million contract spanning five years. Of that $100 million is guaranteed. This made him the first NFL player to hit the $30 million a year mark.
1. Sam Bradford
Sam plays quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals having started his NFL career in 2009. He could have joined for the 2009 season but decided to stay on at college for his junior year. This made him the hottest prospect for the following season. However, his desire to play for the NFL got the better of him and he joined in October 2009. His first club was the St Louis Rams where he started his stellar career. In his rookie season he had the most completions for a rookie ever seen in NFL history, and not surprisingly won NFL Offensive Rookie of the year.
In 2010 he signed a $78 million deal over six years, of which $50 was guaranteed. The deal had a potential value of $86 million, which was the highest contract offered to a rookie at that time. His 2010 and 2011 seasons were not outstanding because he was dogged by injury, but 2012 produced career bests for him. However, by 2013 injury was his nemesis again and he missed the entire 2014 season. In 2015 he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he surpassed his previous personal bests. He then moved to the Minnesota Vikings. His most recent contract with the Arizona Cardinals, guarantees him $15 million a year, with a potential of $20 million.