Special Report

Every Position in Football's Highest Paid Player

With the NFL season just around the corner, all 32 teams are in the process of finalizing their rosters. This often means signing key players to long-term big money deals. Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James was the latest to get one of those deals when he signed a four-year, $76.4 million contract extension. He is now the highest-paid safety in NFL history. (Of course top-earning athletes don’t get to keep all they bring in. Here’s a list of the best-paid athletes and what they owed in taxes.) 

With the NFL generating more revenue than ever before, players are eager to get a piece of the profits. NFL athletes at virtually every position have signed mega-deals, paying them tens of millions of dollars per year.

To determine the highest paid player at every position, 24/7 Tempo used data from Spotrac, the largest online sports team and player contract resource on the internet, to review the total earnings of NFL players under contract for the 2022 season.

An NFL player’s income is highly dependent on his position. As the most important players on the field, starting quarterbacks tend to outearn their teammates; seven of the 11 top paid NFL players for 2022 are QBs. Many high-end pass rushers like outside linebackers, defensive ends, and edge players also rank among the top earners – as do a number of left tackles, who are paid handsomely to stop those pass rushers from getting to the QB’s blind side.

Many of the players on this list received massive multi-million dollar signing bonuses up front, and will earn much less for the 2023 season. For instance, Derwin James’ contract is worth just over $19 million per year but for 2022 he will take home $24.5 million – $20.5 million as a signing bonus and about $4 million in salary – while the rest of the money is doled out over the following seasons.

Click here to see every position in football’s highest paid player

While $24.5 million is certainly a sizable income, there are other players on this list earning upwards of $30 million in 2022 on their contract alone, and that’s exclusive of any endorsement deals they may have. Such high salaries elevate these players to being some of the highest paid athletes not just in the NFL, but in the world. These are the world’s richest athletes.

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