The ten highest paid NFL players earn over $19 million per year. They’re also all quarterbacks. Three of these players are still in the playoffs as of 1/19/17. The fourth quarterback still in play as of that date, Tom Brady, comes in at #27 on the list of top NFL earners. Brady makes just over half of what the highest paid player Eli Manning makes. Manning earns $24.2 million a year in salary, not including endorsement income, which often runs into the tens of millions for a star player.
The other three highest paid NFL players still in the playoffs are Ben Roethlisberger with $23.9 million, Matt Ryan with $23.7 million and Aaron Rodgers with $19.2 million. Tom Brady by contrast makes just $13.7 million a year. Highest paid player Eli Manning’s team, the New York Giants, did make the playoffs for the 2016 season. However the Green Bay Packers easily knocked them out of the running during the Wild Card round.
1. Eli Manning: $24,200,000
Eli Manning is the #1 highest paid NFL player. His 2016 salary comes to $24.2 million. Manning played college ball at the University of Mississippi and was drafted in 2004. He was the first overall draft pick in that year, chosen by the San Diego Chargers but quickly traded to the New York Giants. Manning, younger brother of star Denver Broncos player Peyton Manning, holds the Giants’ record for the most touchdown passes, most completed passes and most passing yards. He led his team to victory in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. In both games the Giants defeated the New England Patriots.
2. Ben Roethlisberger: $23,950,000
The second highest paid NFL player is Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback fro the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger, also known as “Big Ben,” was a first round draft pick in 2004. Shortly thereafter he was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The 34 year-old commands a salary of $23.9 million. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champ, taking wins in both Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII. He’s also a five time Prow Bowl player and tied for the most passing yards in the NFL in 2014.
3. Matt Ryan: $23,750,000
Matt Ryan’s annual salary of $23.7 million makes him the third highest paid NFL player. The 31 year old was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 as their third overall pick. The player has never yet won a Super Bowl, so 2017 could be his first win. He led the Falcons to a win in the Atlantic Division championship in 2007. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 and he took the Manning Award the same year. In the 2016 regular season he broke the team record of 503 passing yards.
4. Joe Flacco: $22,550,000
Joe Flacco, the fourth highest paid NFL player for the 2016 season, earns $22.5 million a year in salary. The Baltimore Ravens quarterback was a first round draft pick for the Ravens in 2008. Quickly named Rookie of the Year, he went on to lead his team to victory in Super Bowl XLVII, taking the Super Bowl MVP award that same year. Though Flacco is traditionally known for his superior post-season performance, he never got to show that quality in 2017. The Ravens never made the playoffs, bumped out of the running by a disappointing loss to the Steelers in the final week of the regular season.
5. Matthew Stafford: $22,500,000
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford is the #5 highest paid NFL player for 2016-2017 with $22.5 million in salary. The Lions picked the 28 year-old first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He’s the first NFL quarterback ever to throw more than 5,000 yards in one season. He’s the fastest player ever to get to the 30,000 passing yards mark, which he did in 109 games. Stafford played in the Pro Bowl in 2014. In 2011 he won the Comeback Player of the Year Award, winning two games after trailing by 20 points in each. The comeback kid failed to pull out a victory in the 2017 playoffs however, leading the Lions to a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round.
6. Tony Romo: $20,835,000
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is the sixth highest paid NFL player with $20.8 million a year. The four time Pro Bowl player has never yet won a Super Bowl at age 36 and his chances seem to be fading fast. Passed over in the 2003 NFL Draft, Romo signed with the Cowboys as a free agent. His distinguished play over the next few years won him the spot of starting QB in 2006, which he has held ever since. His bid for a Super Bowl win in 2017 ended with a loss to the Packers in the playoffs’ Divisional round.
7. Kirk Cousins: $19,953,000
28 year-old Kirk Cousins fills the #7 spot on the highest paid NFL players list. The quarterback’s rookie year was 2012, when he was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins. Named starting QB a year later, Cousins has made a career total of 1,556 passing attempts with 1,025 completions, giving him a 65.9% average. He has never won a championship and his 2017 bid ended in the regular season with a loss in the final week to the New York Giants.
8. Cam Newton: $19,500,000
Carolina Panthers 2015 golden boy Cam Newton was the first overall pick by his team in 2011. Named starting quarterback later that year, he’s now the eight highest paid NFL player with $19.5 million a year. Newton has played in three Pro Bowls and was named MVP for 2015. He also won the Heisman Trophy in 2010 and the Manning Award that same year. He has thrown over 21,000 career passing yards with a 58.4% completion rate. He did not repeat his stellar 2015 performance, shut out of the 2017 playoffs by a regular season loss.
9. Aaron Rodgers: $19,250,000
The ninth highest paid NFL player is Aaron Rodgers with $19.2 million. The Green Bay Packers selected Rodgers in the first round of 2005. Named starting QB in 2008, Rodgers has occupied that spot to the present day. The player won Super Bowl XLV, named MVP of that game. He was also named league MVP in 2011 and 2014. A six-time Pro Bowler, he has thrown over 36,000 passing yards with a 65% completion rate. As of 1/19/17, his team has an excellent shot at a 2017 Super Bowl win.
10. Russell Wilson: $18,542,000
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson takes the #10 highest paid NFL player spot with $18.5 million in salary. Wilson led the Seahawks to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. The two-time NFL champ and three time Pro Bowl player was drafted in the third round in 2012. Before playing football he began his sports career as a minor-league baseball player. His team was bumped out of the playoffs by the Falcons in the Divisional round.