If you want to be a wealthy professional athlete, you could do a lot worse than an NFL quarterback. This might not be a groundbreaking revelation, but it’s still true. QBs get to be the face of their team. They score cool endorsement deals and are featured in national TV campaigns. And because they’re such an important position on the field, they’re paid incredibly well.
In fact, the top 12 highest-paid players are all quarterbacks. Several have signed massive contract extensions over the past few seasons, and we’ll see more join their ranks in the coming years.
For now, these are the 12 richest deals in the NFL, ranked by average annual value per Over the Cap.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers — $50.272 million
The reigning two-time MVP is the only NFL player to make at least $50 million this season, and…well, for good reason. Rodgers is one of the best to ever play, and he’s routinely led the Packers to very good regular-season records. Of course, it hasn’t translated to playoff success — Green Bay has only reached the Super Bowl once during Rodgers’ career, and it’s been more than a decade since that victory.
Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos — $49 million
This offseason, the Broncos made a major move to acquire Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks. It’s the first time Wilson has played with another franchise, coincidentally against the team he beat to win his only Super Bowl. The Broncos have struggled at quarterback the past few years but believe Wilson could be the signal caller that gets them back on track. They rewarded him with a $165 million contract shortly before the season began.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals — $46.1 million
Murray signed a massive contract extension this offseason, but the deal made waves thanks to one particular clause within the contract language. The Cardinals essentially had a homework assignment for Murray: spend a certain amount of time every week studying game film, and don’t get distracted by things such as video games or television. The team removed that clause after the contract details leaked, but it still wasn’t a great look. If Murray can lead the team to the Super Bowl, though, all will be forgiven — winning has a funny way of making people overlook problems.
Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns — $46 million
The Browns traded for Watson in the midst of multiple sexual misconduct allegations and lawsuits, then promptly handed him a fully guaranteed $230 million deal. This season — which includes a suspension that will keep him out most of the year — his base salary will only be $1.035 million, but he received a $44.965 million signing bonus, which makes him one of the highest-paid players in the league.
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Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs — $45 million
Just two years ago, Mahomes signed a record-setting deal that could pay him north of half a billion dollars. While that doesn’t make him the richest quarterback in the league this season, he’ll average $45 million for the next eight years. That’s a pretty good tradeoff. Mahomes lost his top receiver in Tyreek Hill this summer, but through two weeks he’s looked just fine running Kansas City’s offense.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills — $43 million
Allen and Mahomes had a duel for the ages in last year’s postseason, so perhaps it’s only fitting that they’re making about the same amount of money this year. The Bills bring weighty expectations this season and are a trendy championship pick. That hype is largely due to Allen who has a big arm and can do a lot of damage as a rusher, too.
Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders — $40.474 million
Carr has had to deal with a tumultuous past 12 months. His coach, Jon Gruden, was fired after emails surfaced of him using offensive and derogatory language. His receiver, Henry Ruggs III, was released after being charged with driving under the influence resulting in death and reckless driving. Yet Carr led the Raiders to the playoffs for just the second time in his career. This season, he’s joined by Davante Adams, his former Fresno State teammate and one of the top receivers in the league.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys — $40 million
Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury that prematurely ended his 2020 season, but that didn’t stop the Cowboys from signing him to a $160 million contract extension with a record-high $66 million signing bonus. The 2021 season resulted in an NFC East title and playoff berth, but 2022 has started off poorly. Prescott suffered a thumb injury in the opening game of the season — a 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and will miss six to eight weeks as he recovers.
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams — $40 million
Before 2021, Stafford had never won a postseason game. The Detroit Lions traded him to the Rams, and he promptly led them to first place in the NFC West and ultimately a Super Bowl victory. This offseason, Stafford signed a $160 million extension to stay in Los Angeles and made an appearance in an AT&T commercial campaign that aired way too often.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings — $35 million
Another quarterback with NFC North ties, Cousins has a much shorter contract than everyone else on this list. He signed a one-year, fully guaranteed extension this offseason. It’s a bit of a prove-it year for Cousins, who only has one playoff win since joining the Vikings in 2018. If he brings the team back to the postseason, he just may score a longer deal next summer.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions — $33.5 million
Behind Goff, the Rams reached the Super Bowl in 2018. But declining production in the following years caused Los Angeles to seek other options. And in 2021, the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford, sending Goff to the Detroit Lions in return. While Stafford saw immediate success with a Super Bowl victory, Goff and the Lions started 0-10-1. The good news is they finished 3-3 to end the season and have a young, exciting offensive core. There should be better days on the horizon.
Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders — $32 million
Goff and Wentz were taken No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2016 NFL Draft, though both have moved on from their original teams. Wentz, who was playing like an MVP pre-injury the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl, never found that mojo again and moved from the Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts. He spent just one season in Indy before joining the Washington Commanders. Wentz is getting a fresh start in Washington, and as a fellow NFC East player, he’ll also get two cracks each season at his former team in Philadelphia.
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