Highest paid NFL players of 2021 and all time
Find out the highest-paid NFL players, from the current top earners to those who have made the most money ever.
Who are the highest-paid NFL players in 2021?
1. Patrick Mahomes
The highest-paid NFL player in 2021 is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes signed a record-breaking 10-year deal with the Chiefs in 2020 worth up to $503m, and earns an average of $45m per season.
The deal was by far the biggest ever in NFL history, both in terms of length and salary.
The largest contract signed prior to this one was Matt Ryan’s extension with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, which was worth $150m over just five years.
Mahomes’ contract is also just the second in NFL history lasting 10 years or more, after Michael Vick’s 10-year, $130m deal with Atlanta in 2005.
Overall, it is just the third ever in the NFL lasting six years or more.
2. Dak Prescott
The second highest-paid player in the NHL right now is Dak Prescott, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
Prescott penned a four-year, $160m contract with Dallas in March 2021, with an average yearly salary of $40m. As part of the deal, Prescott earned a signing bonus of $66m.
The contract is the richest in Dallas history, exceeding the $100m-plus contracts of Tony Romo, DeMarcus Lawrence and Amari Cooper.
3. Deshaun Watson
Next on the list is Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans.
The quarterback signed a four-year extension worth $156m in 2020, meaning he will earn an average of $39m per season until 2025.
Watson’s place in the NFL is currently uncertain, though, amid a series of sexual assault lawsuits filed against him.
4. Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is the fourth highest-earning player in the NFL in 2021.
His four-year, $140m extension was signed in 2019, and is set to take him through to 2024 with an average salary of $35m.
T5. Jared Goff
Jared Goff, quarterback for the Detroit Lions, comes in at joint-fifth on the list of highest-paid NFL players in 2021.
Goff was rewarded for taking the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl in 2019 with a four-year extension worth $134m.
When he was traded to the Lions in March 2021, the Lions took on the contract, which is worth $33.5m annually.
T5. Aaron Rodgers
Also earning $33.5m annually is Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers signed a four-year extension worth $134m in 2018, including a $57.5m signing bonus.
Who are the highest-paid NFL players of all time?
The highest-paid NFL player of all time is Drew Brees, who earned a total of $269m over the course of his 20-year career.
The most that Brees earned in a single season during his time in the NFL was his $40m salary in 2012, which was mostly made up of a $37m signing bonus.
The second highest-paid player of all time is Tom Brady, who has earned $263m over 21 years in the NFL.
Brady’s most lucrative season in the league was 2016, when he raked in $28.8m, including a $28m signing bonus.
With Brady set to play another season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021, he is set to take top spot from Brees soon.
Ben Roethlisberger, current quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is the third highest-paid NFL star ever, with total earnings of $253m.
Roethlisberger earned his biggest annual paycheque in 2015, taking home $35.3m including a $31m signing bonus.
Big Ben is set for one final season with the Steelers in 2021 before retirement, and has taken a big pay cut to make that happen.
Fourth on this list is Eli Manning, with $252m in career earnings over his 16-year professional career.
Manning’s biggest financial year also came in 2015, when he earned $37m, mostly made up of a $31m signing bonus.
When Manning retired in 2019, he was the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time.
He ranks just above his brother Peyton Manning, who racked up $248m over 18 years in the NFL.
Peyton’s best year in the league came in 2004, when he took home $35m, including a $34.5m bonus.
His final earnings in the NFL was a $4m cheque for winning Super Bowl 50 in 2016 with the Denver Broncos.
Manning forfeited the final year of his contract in Denver, which would have been worth another $19m.