Players in the NFL have always been known to sign huge contracts with lots of money seemingly coming their way, but this is not always the case. NFL players can have a lucrative career, but the promised deals don’t always come to fruition.
Players who make the right change at an early age see the most significant earnings, generating well over $100 million throughout their careers. Here is a list of the highest-earning NFL players of all time.
Quarterbacks are amongst the highest-paid NFL players. Drew Brees, a famous NFL quarterback, has been one of the most highly decorated players for many years, earning $250 million throughout his career. However, Brees’ position as a top earner won’t last long. With his retirement in 2020, players like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger will likely pass his total earnings.
Other players in the NFL who don’t play in the quarterback position, such as Larry Fitzgerald, havs still earned himself a good career wage of $180.7 million, but he doesn’t make the all-time top 10 spot, sitting at 11th place.
Here are the top 5 highest paid NFL players of all time:
Total Earnings: $269.7 million
As their careers come closer to retirement age, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are battling it out for who can break the most significant records when it comes to touchdowns and yards. Brees had a scare in the past with a shoulder injury potentially taking him out of the game. However, after surgery and recovery, Brees began playing for New Orleans, taking them to their first-ever Super Bowl victory in 2009. Since the Super Bowl, Brees has helped the Saints nearly triple their records showing that almost $270 million has been money well spent.
Total Earnings: $263.0 million
Tom Brady could have well already been the highest-earning NFL player of all time, but his love for the New England Patriots has seen him accept below-market contracts time and time again to help his team build a more competitive group of players. As a result, it has been estimated that Tom Brady has sacrificed between $60 million and $100 million throughout his time with the Patriots. Although he hasn’t ever been the highest-paid player in a season, Brady has earned well over the $250 million mark throughout his 19 year-long career. His career is filled with many achievements, such as being top-five in yards, touchdowns, and career completions.
Total Earnings: $253.3 Million
Ben Roethlisberger is one of the leading talents of the Pittsburgh Steelers, first being picked in 2004. While he has flirted with the idea of retirement, Roethlisberger has remained playing, boosting his total earnings as he continues. In 2004, Ben was one of the Steelers’ first-round picks and had stayed loyal to the team. Throughout his time with the Steelers, he has earned over $200 million, with 2015 being his most profitable year, earning a record-breaking extension of $35.5 million.
Total Earnings: $252.3 million
Eli Manning comes from a family of NFL players. In 2019, he was the first quarterback and first NFL player to earn over $250 million, setting an all-time high. In 2004 Eli was the number 1 overall pick signing a contract worth $54 million. His contracts only grew until 2009, seeing Eli sign a contract extension of $97.5 million in later years. In 2015, Eli agreed to an $84 million deal. Combining this with the contract extension overlap of 2 years made him a very high earner indeed.
Total Earnings: $248.7 million
Peyton Manning was the all-time leading touchdown scorer in his 18-year career, so it is no surprise that he is one of the highest-paid NFL players of all time. In 14 of those years, Manning, aka ‘The Sheriff’, made eight-figure sums, with 2004 being his most significant contract of $35 million. After winning the Super Bowl with the Broncos, Manning retired with the career credentials of being a two-time league champion winner and five-time MVP.
Who Has Signed The Biggest NFL Contract in History?
The life of a quarterback seems to be the most lucrative in the NFL, with only three non-QBs finding themselves in the top 10 highest earners of all time. Compared to the days of Eli Manning making a record-breaking signing of $16.25 million, the NFL has come a long way. The record is now held by Kansas City Chiefs Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Patrick signed a 10-year extension to his contract worth $477 million, but his actual payout is $503 million over a period of 12 years.