It is the Chiefs who are tipped to once again lift the Vince Lombardi and retain their title, while second favourites the Baltimore Ravens are in the hunt to continue their 100% win percentage in Super Bowl appearances.
The 2019/20 season concluded before the Covid-19 pandemic, but nonetheless it has taken it’s toll on the game without a ball being kicked- the NFL draft moved on to a virtual format, along with no fans in all but six stadiums and 68 players opting out of playing altogether this season.
So, in times of such economic uncertainty, which of the league’s superstars are raking in the big bucks this season and beyond? Here are the top ten earners in the NFL (Spoiler alert: yes, they are all quarterbacks…)
10: Ryan Tannehill (QB, Tennessee Titans)
Average annual salary: $29.5 million
Tannehill joined the Titans back in 2019, after being a permanent fixture as starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins for six years.
The Texas native initially played second fiddle to Marcus Mariota, but got his big break in Tennessee six games into last season after a 2-4 opening of the campaign.
Mike Vrabel’s faith was restored as the quarterback led the Titans to the wildcard pick, defeating the New England Patriots on the way but eventually losing out to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
After being lauded with the Comeback Player of the Year gong and his first Pro Bowl appearance, Tannehill will look to remain the go-to guy for the Titans with a $118 million four-year contract extension signed in March.
9: Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta Falcons)
Average annual salary: $30 million
For a short while, Matt Ryan was the best paid player in the the league’s history.
He bagged a $150 million five-year extension to his contract in 2018 and made $30 million a year, but Aaron Rodgers pipped the Falcons talisman months later after signing his own bumper deal.
Ryan has been the mainstay for the Falcons for over a decade, with 2016 bringing with it MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards, along with four Pro Bowl appearances over 12 seasons.
8: Dak Prescott- (QB, Dallas Cowboys)
Average annual salary: $31.5 million
Contracts and Dak Prescott are filling the headlines at the moment.
Prescott is coming off the best season he’s had in his five years at starting quarterback in Dallas, completing thirty touchdown passes and over 4,900 yards. Nevertheless, the exclusive franchise tag will be employed for Dak Prescott this season, with the 27 year old set to bag $31.5 million. Talks with the Cowboys hierarchy broke down in the off season regarding a contract extension, and the reduction in salary cap in wake of the coronavirus pandemic set to complicate the issue further upon the season’s conclusion.
Facing injustice in the boardroom and tackling injustice off it, Dak donated $1 million to social justice causes in recent months, all while in his own tragic circumstances of losing his older brother. The everyman has captured the imagination of the league and will have many a neutral cheering him on this campaign.
7: Carson Wentz (QB, Philadelphia Eagles)
Average annual salary: $32 million
Carson Wentz already has a ring to his name in his short four-year career in Philly.
The Eagles won their first Super Bowl in 2017, but Wentz missed the historic occasion with an ACL injury. He was able to guide the team to a 11-2 record before the heartbreaking setback, and was a shoe-in for an unprecedented MVP title in his sophomore campaign in the league.
All of the franchise’s core wide receivers on the treatment table at the end of last season adds to the mystique around Wentz, with the fans and pundits alike unable to truly gauge the quarterback’s true capabilities. Wentz, who was in the Class of 2016 with Dak Prescott, signed a bumper extension in 2019 that guaranteed $107 million over six years.
6: Kirk Cousins (QB, Minnesota Vikings)
Average annual salary: $33 million
Cousins was another NFL record breaker when he agreed an $84 million, three year deal in 2018. It was the largest guaranteed pay-out in league history and a two-year extension (worth $66 million) has since been agreed this year.
The complex situation the contract leaves the franchise in however, is that it has paid little dividends thus far. The Illinios man’s impressive 26 touchdown haul will unfortunately be eclipsed by not progressing in the playoffs and the mass exodus it has caused in the team due to the salary cap.
The influx of talent from Minnesota’s draft class includes LSU graduate Justin Jefferson, looking to replace wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
5: Jared Goff (QB, LA Rams)
Average annual salary: $33.5 million
Goff set the league alight after being selected by the Rams as the #1 pick in the 2016 draft, taking the side to the Super Bowl and attaining two personal Pro Bowl appearances to boot. Last season? Not so much.
The playoffs were absent from The Dome for the first time in coach Sean McVay’s tenure in LA, combined with the quarterback’s worst statistical output (22 touchdowns) for the Rams.
The $134 million extension to Goff’s contract last year is far from premature for the young talent, who sees the upcoming campaign as the ‘bounce-back’ season.
4: Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)
Average annual salary: $33.5 million
The veteran signed a four-year extension to his contract to take his playing time with the Packers to potentially 18 years. The eye-watering $133 million paid out can’t be said to be unwarranted, however.
You name it, Rodgers has it under his belt in his time at Green Bay. Super Bowl. Super Bowl MVP. MVP’s and Pro Bowl’s. Last season was the first time Rodgers missed out on being ranked the top 10 players in the league.
Rodgers maintained the lowest interception rate in the league (0.7%), along with his second consecutive season of 6:1 or greater touchdown to interception ratio and a Pro Bowl appearance. Outstanding.
3: Ben Roethlisberger (QB, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Average annual salary: $34 million
Another franchise linchpin but this time in Pennsylvania, Ben Roethlisberger is another ever-present fixture for the Steelers.
The two-time Super Bowl champion missed almost all of last season with an elbow issue, and recently confessed of his ‘nervousness’ before taking to the field on Monday (14th) against the New York Giants.
Nonetheless, Roethlisberger signed a two-year $68 million extension off the back of a 2018 season where he lead the league in passing yards.
2: Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks)
Average annual salary: $35 million
Wilson has been based in Seattle for the best part of a decade now, and has been nothing less than instrumental in the side’s resurgence in that time.
His contract very much represents this. He was the highest paid player by some margin back in 2019, banking a $140 million contract extension before the beginning of last season.
The 31-year-old nabbed his seventh Pro Bowl selection and had the most game winning drives in wake of putting pen to paper, showing Wilson has much more to give to his beloved Seahawks and the NFL.
1: Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs)
Average annual salary: $45 million
Frankly, it’s the contract to end all contracts.
Mahomes signed a 10 (yes, ten) year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs worth $503 million after leading the Missouri side to only their second Super Bowl triumph.
Along with the championship win, the youngster built on his momentum from the last outing and matched the 4,000+ passing yards, 65%+ pass completion percentage and 105+ passer rating in 2018.
The future of the franchise? Mahomes is the future of the league.