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Highest-paid NFL Players of All Time

From Brady, Brees, and Big Ben to Peyton and Eli, who are the highest-paid NFL players in history? You have questions about salary and earnings, Boardroom has answers.

For the 2021 season, answering the question as to who was the highest-paid NFL player was a matter of interpretation. If you’re going by both total contract value or average annual value, Patrick Mahomes dominated the competition. Meanwhile, the single highest salary belonged to Dak Prescott, whose signing bonus structure landed him an incredible single-season windfall of $75 million.

This year, quarterbacks are dominating the cash compensation rankings thanks to a flurry of new deals signed by the likes of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Kyler Murray. But it all got us thinking — who tops the list of the NFL’s highest-paid players in history?

So, who does round out the rest of the list of the biggest earners in the history of the Association? You have questions, Boardroom has answers — check out the master list of highest-paid NFL players of all time.

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Highest-paid NFL Players in History

All dollar figures via Spotrac. Reflects total cash salary compensation through the 2021 NFL season.

1. Buccaneers QB Tom Brady: $302,962,392
2. QB Drew Brees: $269,710,422
  • Career: 2001-20
  • NFL seasons: 20
3. QB Ben Roethlisberger: $267,286,864
  • Career: 2004-21
  • NFL seasons: 18
4. Colts QB Matt Ryan: $267,007,749
5. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: $263,608,010
6. QB Eli Manning: $252,280,004
  • Career: 2004-19
  • NFL seasons: 16
7. QB Peyton Manning: $248,732,000
  • Career: 1998-15
  • NFL seasons: 18
8. QB Philip Rivers: $243,944,322
  • Career: 2004-20
  • NFL seasons: 17
9. Rams QB Matthew Stafford: $239,306,037
  • Career: 2009-present
  • NFL seasons: 13
10. QB Alex Smith: $189,725,000
  • Career: 2005-20
  • NFL seasons: 16
11. Broncos QB Russell Wilson: $181,362,520
12. WR Larry Fitzgerald: $180,757,239
  • Career: 2004-20
  • NFL seasons: 17
13. QB Carson Palmer: $164,973,786
  • Career: 2003-17
  • NFL seasons: 15
14. Jets QB Joe Flacco: $171,074,999
  • Career: 2008-present
  • NFL seasons: 14
15. DT Ndamukong Suh: $166,165,157
  • Career: 2010-present
  • NFL seasons: 12
16. DE Julius Peppers: $164,973,786
  • Career: 2002-18
  • NFL seasons: 17
17. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins: $161,669,486
  • Career: 2012-present
  • NFL seasons: 10
18. Bills OLB Von Miller: $144,475,534
  • Career: 2011-present
  • NFL seasons: 11
19. Buccaneers WR Julio Jones: $140,640,527
  • Career: 2011-present
  • NFL seasons: 11
20. 49ers OT Trent Williams: $140,617,449
  • Career: 2010-present
  • NFL seasons: 12
21. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill: $139,975,979
  • Career: 2012-present
  • NFL seasons: 10
22. QB Brett Favre: $137,829,000
  • Career: 1991-2010
  • NFL seasons: 20
23. QB Cam Newton: $133,545,071
  • Career: 2011-present
  • NFL seasons: 11
24. QB Sam Bradford: $130,022,863
  • Career: 2010-18
  • NFL seasons: 9
25. Ravens DE Calais Campbell: $128,091,393
  • Career: 2008-present
  • NFL seasons: 14

Other Notable Career NFL Earners

26. Cowboys QB Tony Romo: $127,422,458
34. QB Michael Vick: $115,952,908
36. DE J.J. Watt: $115,248,000
38. Lions WR Calvin Johnson: $112,216,086
42. Colts QB Andrew Luck: $109,107,998
48. RB Adrian Peterson: $103,215,972
49. CB Champ Bailey: $102,807,025
55. QB Donovan McNabb: $99,689,735
57. OLB Dwight Freeney: $98,394,175
59. CB/SS Charles Woodson: $97,899,369
62. Rams DT Aaron Donald: $97,114,238
66. Ravens LB Ray Lewis: $95,725,000
87. CB Richard Sherman: $83,860,115
89. OLB Clay Matthews: $83,505,252
92. WR Isaac Bruce: $50,716,865

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