Top 5 Highest Paid NFL Players

Russell Wilson

The NFL is back and we have a lot to talk about. For starters, who are the current top five highest paid NFL players? Every year it seems they hand out more and more eye-watering contracts. Well, this season was no different as the Cleveland Browns handed Deshaun Watson a contract with guarantees north of $200 million. That begs the question, is anyone earning more than that?

For the sake of clarity, athletes earn money in a variety of different ways. Some have low base salaries with the remainder coming from the paycheck taking the shape of performance-based incentives. Plus, many NFL stars have lucrative sponsorship deals outside of any salary negotiations. For this list of the top five highest paid NFL players, we are just looking at the total amount guaranteed. This means we can rule out some of the greatest NFL players of all time, as we don’t need to calculate for inflation. Instead, we are looking at players in the 2022 NFL season.

Why are we only looking at the guaranteed earnings of NFL players? Well, if you consider that sports stars can have multiple revenue streams, it becomes difficult to calculate who is earning the most. If you want to keep it specifically NFL earnings, players can have huge base salaries with little to no bonuses on top. The guarantees are the only way to confirm exactly how much the highest paid NFL players earn. If you are still not convinced, check out our list of the worst NFL players of all time and you’ll see that huge contracts don’t always guarantee earnings. Now that we have set the record straight, let’s get into the list.

5. Josh Allen

The fifth highest paid NFL player in the 2022 season is Josh Allen, a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills drafted him in 2018 as the seventh pick of the NFL Draft. His NFL career did not start with a bang and he failed to live up to the expectation of a first-round pick. However, in 2020 Allen had his breakthrough season, leading the Bills to the franchise’s first division title and playoff win since 1995; the year before Allen was even born.

Allen set the franchise records for single-season touchdowns and passing yards, earning him second-team All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl appearance. He backed up his previous season by helping the Bills win a consecutive division title in 2021. His convincing performances convinced Buffalo to give Allen a six-year contract worth $258,000,000, with $150 million guaranteed. That means Josh Allen has the second largest value contract in the NFL right now.

It’s all too easy to tout players as the next big thing, but the future is looking bright for Allen. If the Bills maintain the strong start to the new NFL season, you could see him as a future Super Bowl MVP. However, seeing as Allen is already averaging around $43 million for the next six years, we think he will be just fine.

  • Contract Length: 6 years
  • Total Guaranteed: $150,000,000
  • Average Salary: $43,005,667
  • Age: 26
  • Position: QB

4. Aaron Rodgers

If you have been watching football for the past 15 years, Aaron Rodgers is a name you would have heard countless times. Given the man's popularity, it's only fitting that he is surrounded by controversy surrounding. Rodgers ranks tenth on our list of the best quarterbacks of all time and the Green Bay Packers ranked second on our list of best NFL fan bases.

The soon-to-be 39-year-old has achieved some truly incredible feats in his NFL career, including multiple records. He has the lowest interception percentage in a single season with 0.3. Plus, he made 402 consecutive passes without an interception, and he had an incredible 122.5 passer rating season in 2011. Those performances helped him earn $305 million in his career so far.

Rodgers signed a restructured contract extension with the Packers in March 2022, meaning he could earn as much as $450,373,010 in his career. He is guaranteed $150,815,000, fifty million more than they guaranteed at signing. His average salary is over $50 million a year, one of the highest in the NFL. Rodgers has been one of the highest paid NFL players for most of his career, and he deserves it. There are only a handful of better quarterbacks in NFL history who can compete with the likes of Aaron Rodgers.

  • Contract Length: 3 years
  • Total Guaranteed: $150,815,000
  • Average Salary: $50,271,667
  • Age: 38
  • Position: QB

3. Russell Wilson

One of the highest paid NFL players this season is Russell Wilson. Wilson was with the Seattle Seahawks since 2012, where he stayed until March 2022. The Seahawks traded Wilson to the Denver Broncos as part of a lucrative deal, including several players and draft picks. In September of the same year, Wilson signed a five-year contract extension worth just under $250 million.

In his career to date, Wilson has earned $238,362,520. Given the size of the contract he has just signed, Wilson could become one of the highest NFL earners ever with $477 million. His average salary is $48.5 million, with $161 million guaranteed. Why is Wilson earning so much? For starters, he is one of four NFL quarterbacks in history with a passer rating over 100. Plus, he holds the record for most wins as an NFL quarterback across nine seasons with 98.

Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl champion with nine Pro-Bowl appearances and several awards. He won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2020 and the Bart Starr Award in 2022. If you look at the earning stats on Spotrac, Wilson is up there as the player with the third-highest signing bonus and the third-largest contract value. He is also the fourth highest paid NFL player looking at a three-year period.

  • Contract Length: 5 years
  • Total Guaranteed: £161,000,000
  • Average Salary: $48,517,647
  • Age: 33
  • Position: QB

2. Kyler Murray

Unlike many of the worst NFL quarterbacks of all time, Kyler Murray started strongly. He made headlines before he even played for the Cardinals as the first-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. The year before that, they drafted him ninth in the MLB Draft, making him the first player to get drafted in round one of both sports.

Murray did not let the expectations weigh him down, as they named him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019. He led the Arizona Cardinals to their first playoff appearance since 2015, earning two Pro Bowl selections along the way. Murray signed a new five-year deal in July 2022, worth $230.5 million. That means his total guaranteed earnings are $189.5 million and his average salary is $46,100,000. If Kyler Murray was to see out his contract with no further extensions, he would make just under 300 million dollars.

Given that Murray just signed one of the biggest NFL deals ever, he is not a name that comes up on the two or three-year earning records. But his contract is the fourth largest in the NFL and he is the third highest average earner in the league. Given how bright this young man’s career is already looking, it would not surprise us at Bet Station if he makes his way onto our list of the best quarterbacks of all time.

  • Contract Length: 5 years
  • Total Guaranteed: $189,500,000
  • Average Salary: $46,100,000
  • Age: 25
  • Position: QB

1. Deshaun Watson

In typical fashion, the number one highest paid NFL player is the most controversial. The NFL Commissioner banned Deshaun Watson for 11 games following an investigation into sexual misconduct. 24 allegations emerged in 2021, causing the Houston Texans to not use Watson for the entire 2021 season. Even with all the news around Watson, it did not deter the Cleveland Browns from offering one of the most expensive contracts in NFL history.

The Browns gave Watson a five-year deal worth $230 million in March 2022. That means Watson has an average salary of $46 million and they guaranteed him $230,000,000. Given his suspension, we won't see Watson play in the NFL until week 13 of this season, which would be December 4th, 2022. Poetically, if he does make the team on this day, it would be against his former side, the Texans.

Some of you might wonder why is this man so well paid? Well, while we don’t agree with the decision to give Watson hundreds of millions of dollars, he was a skillful player until the allegations surfaced. Watson made three Pro Bowl appearances, was the NFL passing yards leader in 2020 and guided the Texans to consecutive division titles. He holds two NFL records as the highest career completion percentage and most completions with a perfect passer rating.

Here at Bet Station, we believe crime does not pay. But according to the NFL and Cleveland Browns, some crimes pay handsomely.

  • Contract Length: 5 years
  • Total Guaranteed: $230,000,000
  • Average Salary: $46,000,000
  • Age: 27
  • Position: QB

Where is Patrick Mahomes?

If you look at the list of the largest sporting contracts on the planet, second place is Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes signed a record-breaking deal worth $503 million. However, as the contract length is ten years, his average salary is $45 million. Seeing as we were focusing on guarantees, the Kansas City Chiefs only guarantee Mahomes $141,481,905 from his contract. This is not the time or place to get into the details of NFL contracts, but Mahomes is up there with the highest paid NFL players. However, the length of his contract means other players are earning more this year.

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