The NFL’s 25 highest-paid players

Listing the NFL’s highest-paid players is an inexact science. Patrick Mahomes’ record contract with the Chiefs, for example, makes him the league’s highest-paid player … in terms of average annual salary and total dollars attached to the deal.

Some argue total guaranteed money at signing is the only number that matters in an NFL contract, and Mahomes does not lead the league in that category. No current NFL contract features more guaranteed money at signing than the $94.5 million the Falcons promised Matt Ryan in 2018.

MORE: The full details of Patrick Mahomes’ record contract

For the purpose of this list, though, Sporting News will stick with average annual salary as the determining factor in ranking the NFL’s highest-paid players and use total guaranteed money at signing as the tiebreaker. The list, as always, is subject to change.

Tip of the cap to our friends over at Overthecap.com for the contract figures.

  • 1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

    • Average annual salary: $45 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $63.082 million

    The Chiefs in 2020 signed Mahomes to a 10-year contract extension that will pay him $450 million, a record deal in the NFL.

  • 2. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

    • Average annual salary: $35 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $70 million

    Wilson is in the second season of his current contract with the Seahawks, which was extended with a four-year, $140 million deal in 2019. He is signed through 2023.

  • 3. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

    • Average annual salary: $34 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $37.5 million

    Roethlisberger is in the second season of his current contract with the Steelers, which was extended with a two-year, $68 million deal in 2019. He is signed through 2021.

  • 4. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

    • Average annual salary: $33.5 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $78.7 million

    Rodgers is in the third season of his current contract with the Packers, which was extended with a four-year, $134 million deal in 2018. He is signed through 2023.

  • 5. Jared Goff, QB, Rams

    • Average annual salary: $33.5 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $57.043 million

    Goff is in the second season of his current contract with the Rams, which was extended with a four-year, $134 million deal in 2019. He is signed through 2024.

  • 6. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings

    • Average annual salary: $33 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $61 million

    Cousins is in the first season of his current contract with the Vikings, which was extended with a two-year, $66 million deal in 2020. He is signed through 2022.

  • 7. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

    • Average annual salary: $32 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $66.471 million

    Wentz is in the second season of his current contract with the Eagles, which was extended with a four-year, $128 million deal in 2019. He is signed through 2024.

  • 8. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

    • Average annual salary: $31.41 million (franchise tag)
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $31.41 million

    The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Prescott in 2020, and the quarterback signed the tender in late June to guarantee his full 2020 salary.

  • 9. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons

    • Average annual salary: $30 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $94.5 million

    Ryan is in the third season of his current contract with the Falcons, which was extended with a five-year, $150 million deal in 2018. He is signed through 2023.

  • 10. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans

    • Average annual salary: $29.5 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $62 million

    Tannehill is in the first season of his current contract with the Titans, which was extended with a four-year, $118 million deal in 2020.

  • 11. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers

    • Average annual salary: $27.5 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $48.7 million

    Garoppolo is in the third season of the five-year, $137.5 million contract he signed with the 49ers in 2018 after he was traded by the Patriots.

  • 12. Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers

    • Average annual salary: $27 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $78 million

    Los Angeles not only made Bosa the highest-paid NFL defender in terms of average money per year with his five year-deal, but no defensive player has ever been guaranteed more at signing.

  • 13. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

    • Average annual salary: $27 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $60.5 million

    Stafford is in the fourth year of his current contract with the Lions, which was extended with a five-year, $135 million deal in 2017.

  • T14. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns

    • Average annual salary: $25 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $50 million

    Garrett is entering the first year of his new contract with the Browns after cashing in with a five-year deal worth up to $125 million.

  • T14. Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers

    • Average annual salary: $25 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $50 million

    Brady signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers in 2020 NFL free agency. The full $50 million is guaranteed, not including $9 million in available incentives.

  • 16. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders

    • Average annual salary: $25million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $40 million

    Carr is in the fourth year of his current contract with the Raiders, which was extended with a five-year, $125.025 million deal in 2017.

  • T17. Drew Brees, QB, Saints

    • Average annual salary: $25 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $25 million

    Brees signed a two-year contract extension with the Saints in 2020 that gave him a $23 million signing bonus. The 2022 and 2023 seasons are void years so New Orleans can prorate that signing bonus; he is under contract through 2021.

  • T17: Philip Rivers, QB, Colts

    • Average annual salary: $25 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $25 million

    Rivers signed a one-year contract with the Colts in 2020 NFL free agency. The full $25 million is guaranteed and includes a $12 million signing bonus.

  • 19. Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Bears

    • Average annual salary: $23.5 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $60 million

    Mack is in the third season of his current contract with the Bears, which was extended with a six-year, $141 million deal after he was traded by the Raiders in 2018. He is signed through 2024.

  • 20. Alex Smith, QB, Redskins

    • Average annual salary: $23.5 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $55 million

    Smith is in the third season of his current contract with the Redskins, which was extended with a four-year, $94 million deal after he was traded by the Chiefs in 2018. He is signed through 2022.

  • 21. Aaron Donald, DL, Rams

    • Average annual salary: $22.5 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $50 million

    Donald is in the third season of the six-year, $135 million contract extension he signed with the Rams in 2018. He is signed through 2024.

  • 22. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

    • Average annual salary: $22 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $64 million

    Jones is in the second season of the three-year, $66 million contract extension he signed with the Falcons in 2019. The extension takes affect next season, and he is signed through 2023.

  • 23. Laremy Tunsil, LT, Texans

    • Average annual salary: $22 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $40 million

    Tunsil signed a three-year contract extension with the Texans in 2020 worth $66 million in new money.

  • 24. Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys

    • Average annual salary: $21 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $48 million

    Lawrence is in the second season of a five-year, $105 million contract he signed with the Cowboys in 2019 after having the franchise tag placed on him for the second year in a row.

  • 25. DeForest Buckner, DT, Colts

    • Average annual salary: $21 million
    • Total guaranteed at signing: $39.378 million

    Buckner signed a four-year, $84 million contract extension with the Colts after he was traded from the 49ers in 2020.

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