The NFL is the most popular sport in America and its dominance is highlighted by the TV deal it announced in 2021, with CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN/ABC and Amazon, paying a total of $113 billion over 11 years.
The media rights deal represents an 80% increase over the previous contract and is worth $321 million per team, each year. Throw in merchandising, licensing, sponsorship, ticket sales and corporate deals, and the league is making some serious money. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated that he’s targeting a staggering $25 billion in revenue by 2027.
A lot of that money of course, ends up in players pockets, with the top players regularly earning multi-million dollar playing contracts. With sponsorship deals on top of that, elite NFL players are among the highest paid people on the planet. So, who are the richest NFL players of all time?
Russell Wilson, QB
Net Worth: $165 Million
Current Salary: $22 Million
Super Bowl winner Russell Wilson’s base NFL salary of $35 million made him the highest-paid quarterback in history at the time. His many endorsements include Amazon, Bose, Mercedes Benz, Nike, Microsoft, Duracell, Levi’s and Pepsi, earning him an estimated $14 million a year.
The Denver Broncos player is still only 33 and will be in line for another lucrative pay day should he help the Bronco’s to a winning season, after missing the playoffs every year since their Super Bowl victory back in 2015.
Drew Brees, QB
Net Worth: $170 Million
Current Salary: $22 Million
Former NFL quarterback Brees, is recognised as one of the most talented quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He won the Super Bowl with New Orleans Saints in 2010 and is responsible for re-writing the NFL record books.
A record 54 consecutive games throwing a touchdown pass, first player in history to 7000 completions, first player to surpass 80,000 passing yards, 571 touchdown passes and a career completion percentage of 67.7% are just some of the incredible stats that put him in the argument for the best QB of all time.
In 2012, Brees signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the Saints, which at the time, was the most guaranteed money in the history of the NFL. Now retired, his current endorsements with companies such as Nike, Microsoft, Wrangler, PepsiCo and Proctor & Gamble, earn him an estimated $16 million a year.
Aaron Rodgers, QB
Net Worth: $200 Million
Current Salary: $50 Million
In 2013, the Packers and Rodgers agreed to a 5-year, $110 million contract extension, making him the highest paid player in NFL history.
In 2018, he signed a 4-year $134 million contract to continue with the Packers, with $103 million guaranteed.
In 2022 the veteran QB signed a new 4-year $200 million contract extension that includes a guaranteed $153 million.
If Rodgers sees out that four-year deal, his total NFL career earnings will be $463 million, making him the first player to top the $400 million career earnings in salary alone. Estimated total career earnings, including endorsements will be an estimated $600 million.
Rodgers is still at the top of his game, and in the NFL odds, Green Bay and Rodgers are again among the favorites to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy this season.
Tom Brady, QB
Net Worth: $250 Million
Current Salary: $30 Million
Legendary QB Tom Brady, has won a record seven Super Bowls and a record five Super Bowl MVP awards, as well as three NFL MVP’s. Despite his incredible record of success, Brady has never been one of the highest paid players in the NFL, instead, he accepted lower salary deals in order to help the Patriots build a strong roster of players.
When Tom finally retires, he will have earned over $250 million from salary, and an estimated $150 million from endorsements during his illustrious career. As with many former NFL players, his earnings won’t stop when he retires. Brady recently signed a recent record-breaking $375 million contract with Fox sports.
If Brady picks up ring number 8 this season, expect his net worth to go even higher.
Peyton Manning, QB
Net Worth: $300 Million
Current Salary: $20 Million
During his playing career, Peyton Manning was one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, and is considered to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He is the NFL record holder for most consecutive seasons with over 4,000 yards passing and most total seasons with 4,000 or more yards passing in a career.
Manning is also a 13-time Pro-Bowl selection, five-time AP NFL Most Valuable Player. Now retired, Peyton makes more money through endorsements than he ever did as a player, with lucrative endorsement deals with a wide variety of big-name companies, including Sony, ESPN, Master Card, Reebok and Gatorade.
To put the huge sums on this list in context, NFL salaries currently average around $2.7 million a year, with the highest paid position – as this list proves – being the QB. With short career spans and career ending injuries a constant threat, they deserve every cent.