It pays to be a quarterback.

The NFL rewards players at its most prestigious position with fame, endorsements, and lots and lots of money.

It seems like a new quarterback contract with nine figures of guaranteed money is coming out each week. And, as the revenue for the league continues to increase, the numbers in these contracts are just going to keep getting higher, salary cap or no salary cap.

And while most of the top contracts in history have come at the quarterback position, some players at other positions have done well for themselves, too. 

Below, we take a look at the top earners in NFL history. Money talks, and these guys have had a lot said to them over the years (all contract data via Spotrac).

Largest NFL Contracts

1.  Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (10 years, $450M)

Signing Year: 2020; AAV: $45,000,000; Signing Age: 24

Mahomes laps the field in these rankings with the enormous 10-year pact he signed with the Chiefs prior to the 2020-21 season. It was the perfect confluence of events for Mahomes; he was the consensus best quarterback in the league at age 24 coming off a monster season that ended in a championship win. Mahomes earned so much in this deal, he was able to become a minority stakeholder in another team in town – the Kansas City Royals.

T-2. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (5 years, $275M)

Signing Year: 2023; AAV: $55,000,000; Signing Age: 26

After helping turn the woeful franchise into a perennial contender in the AFC (including a Super Bowl appearance during the 2021 season), the Bengals rewarded the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by making him the highest-paid player in NFL history on a per-year basis. The extension included $219.01 million in guaranteed money.

T-2. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (5 years, $275M)

Signing Year: 2024; AAV: $55,000,000; Signing Age: 24

Perhaps it’s fitting that Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, matched the record for highest average annual value in a contract that was held by the player who went No. 1 overall a year before him. This extension included $200 million guaranteed and a $37.5 million signing bonus.

4. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (5 years, $262.5M)

Signing Year: 2023; AAV: $52,500,000; Signing Age: 25

At the time of this deal, Herbert had become the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL by average salary. That is until the Bengals’ deal with Burrow surpassed that number just over a month later. Herbert will receive $218.7 million in guarantees in his new deal.

Herbert, 25, was a first-round pick (sixth overall) by the Chargers in 2020. He’s been a full-time starter ever since, throwing for 17,223 yards and 114 touchdowns with only 42 interceptions through his first four seasons.

5. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (5 years, $260M)

Signing Year: 2023; AAV: $52,000,000; Signing Age: 26

Jackson’s free-agent deal is not worth as much as Mahomes’ in totality, but he became the highest-paid player per year (at the time) after re-signing with the team that drafted him 32nd overall back in 2018. Jackson was four years removed from his MVP-winning season in 2019 and he hadn’t posted a 1,000-yard rushing season since 2020 at the time of the signing. The Ravens, however, wouldn’t let talks break down with their 26-year-old dual-threat franchise quarterback when there were clubs falling over themselves for the chance to even sit at the negotiating table with such a player.

6. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (6 years, $258.034M)

Signing Year: 2021; AAV: $43,005,667; Signing Age: 25

Allen didn’t quite get the Mahomes deal, but he came close in terms of average annual value. The Bills were met with some derision after taking Allen with the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but the team had the last laugh as he developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

7. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (5 years, $255M)

Signing Year: 2023; AAV: $51,000,000; Signing Age: 24

Hurts took the Eagles to the Super Bowl and cashed in during the following offseason. His contract has the largest AAV ever, and he edged out the next player on the list for the biggest contract by a player not drafted in the first round.

8. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos (5 years, $242.588M)

Signing Year: 2022; AAV: $48,517,647; Signing Age: 33

The Broncos had been searching for a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired and finally found their man in the Seattle Seahawks legend. After spending a lot of capital to acquire him, it was only a matter of time before the team paid him his money, and he agreed to a new deal a week before the 2022-23 season began. He spent only two seasons with the Broncos.

9. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (5 years, $230.5M)

Signing Year: 2024; AAV: $46,100,000; Signing Age: 24

There was a lot of debate about whether the Cardinals would commit to Kyler Murray, but the team ponied up to keep their franchise quarterback. Murray clearly cared about his standing on the highest-paid players’ list, since he exceeded the contract of Deshaun Watson by a mere $500,000.

The Rest:

  • 10. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns ($230M)
  • 11. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($212M)
  • 12. Kirk Cousins, Atlanta Falcons ($180M)
  • 13. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers ($170M)
  • T-14. Daniel Jones, New York Giants ($160M)
  • T-14. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams ($160M)
  • T-14. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys ($160M)

Largest NFL Contracts (Non-QBs)

1. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers (5 years, $170M)

Signing Year: 2023; AAV: $34,000,000 Signing Age: 25

Timing is everything, and Bosa picked a good year to get an extension.

Coming off a Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2022-23 in which he had 18.5 sacks, Bosa sat out all of training camp and the preseason in hopes of a new deal. His insistence on a new deal paid off as he immediately got the largest contract and highest AAV for a defensive player in NFL history.

2. Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs (5 years, $158.75M)

Signing Year: 2024; AAV: $31,750,000; Signing Age: 29

Despite all the talk about whether they’d be able to re-sign him, the Chiefs did find a way to lock up their star defensive lineman to the second-richest total contract for a non-QB in NFL history.

Jones reached double-digit sack totals in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his career in 2022 and 2023 with 15.5 and 10.5, respectively. And during the team’s playoff run to back-to-back titles in those years, Jones totaled 2.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, three tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

T-3. Brian Burns, New York Giants (5 years, $141M)

Signing Year: 2024; AAV: $28,200,000; Signing Age: 25

The Burns saga finally ended when the edge was traded from the Carolina Panthers to the Giants in the 2024 offseason. New York then inked Burns to a one of the largest contract extensions of all time for a non-QB.

Burns addressed arguably the biggest need on the Giants roster after totaling 46 sacks over five seasons in Carolina. And his 54 tackles for loss since the 2020 season rank sixth in the NFL over that span.

T-3.  Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers (6 years, $141M)

Signing Year: 2018; AAV: $23,500,000; Signing Age: 27

The Chicago Bears saw Mack as the difference maker for their team in 2018. They spent a lot of draft capital to get him, sending two first-rounders, a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder to the then-Oakland Raiders for Mack, a second-rounder and a conditional fifth-rounder.

The Bears invested a lot of real capital in Mack, too, giving him the largest deal for a defensive player and non-QB in league history at that time. And while Mack was the force on defense, the Bears hoped for a couple of years, the offense was never good enough to compliment his unit, and the Bears traded Mack to the Chargers prior to the 2022-23 season.

T-5. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (4 years, $140M)

Signing Year: 2024; AAV: $35,000,000; Signing Age: 25

Jefferson was limited by injury to 10 games in 2023, but that didn’t prevent him from surpassing 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth straight season to open his Vikings’ career. The following offseason, they reached a contract extension that included $110 million guaranteed and made him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. The deal also included $88.743M at signing, the highest non-QB guarantee at signing in NFL history.

T-5. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders (5 years, $140M)

Signing Year: 2022; AAV: $28,000,000; Signing Age: 29

The Raiders didn’t view the Mack trade as a cautionary tale of giving up assets to sign a non-quarterback to a lucrative deal, as the team sent first- and second-round picks to the Green Bay Packers for Aaron Rodgers’ top wide receiver and signed him to a deal that pays $28 million per year.

7. Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers (6 years, $138.060M)

Signing Year: 2021; AAV: $23,010,000; Signing Age: 32

Left tackle is a premium position, and Williams is an elite player. It makes sense that the 49ers were willing to give him the most money ever for an offensive lineman, even if he did sign it at the age of 32.

8. Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers (5 years, $135M)

Signing Year: 2020; AAV: $27,000,000; Signing Age: 25

When the Chargers acquired the previously mentioned Mack, they did it to pair him with the owner of the second-most lucrative deal for a pass rusher. Bosa earned his five-year contract extension with elite production throughout his tenure with the Chargers, which started with an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award after he was selected third overall in 2016.

9. Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns (5 years, $125M)

Signing Year: 2021; AAV: $25,000,000; Signing Age: 24

Garrett was the first overall pick the year after Bosa went third, and his team was quite happy with his early production as well. The Browns were so thrilled with the defensive end that they gave him close to as much as Bosa got to be the face of their defense for a long time. In comparison, Aaron Donald’s new contract totals $95 million over three years, but it has a higher AAV of around $31.7 million.

The Rest of the Top 15:

  • 10. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($120.01M)
  • T-11. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins ($120M)
  • T-11. Von Miller, Buffalo Bills ($120M)
  • 13. Andrew Thomas, New York Giants ($117.5M)
  • 14. T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers ($112.011M)
  • 15. Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions ($112M)

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