Let’s face it—NFL contracts often make literally no sense whatsoever. Unless you are: a.) a top draft pick; b.) you sign a convoluted, but salary-cap-friendly deal (see: Drew Brees); or c.) the franchise that signed you has no clue what it’s doing (see: Kirk Cousins), much of the money isn’t guaranteed.
Long-term security is often exchanged for major up-front paydays or signing bonuses, and some contracts even void themselves if players reach certain benchmarks for games played or snaps taken. In fact, NFL contracts are so complex, difficult to decipher, and predicated on rich, old white dudes exploiting minorities, that they might resemble Donald Trump’s tax returns. (Zing!)
Loopholes and unguaranteed earnings notwithstanding, these guys are paid. Seriously. The minimum NFL salary for 2017 will be $465,000—16% more than the President—and it’s set to increase by another $15K each year. And those are just the scrubs. The average NFL player salary is around $1.9 million, not including incentives, signing bonuses, endorsements, or any other means of income.
Last summer, when NBA teams were handing out absurdly high contracts to seemingly random players—like the famously mediocre Mike Conley landing the most lucrative contract in league history—Broncos Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward tweeted, “We getting peanuts compared to these NBA and MLB cats!” Friendly reminder that T.J. Ward earned over 100 times more than the average school teacher in 2016.
But who am I to judge? These guys earn it—they put their health and general well-being on the line every time they take the field, and we all gladly do our part in helping foot the bill by downing 11 Bud Lights before 6pm every Sunday from September to February.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you think they’re overpaid or underpaid—everyone wants to know who is the most paid in football. Let’s take a look at the highest-paid players in the NFL, ranked by salary per season. Spoiler alert: They’re all quarterbacks.