Sports

The NFL Team Paying Its Players the Most

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Football salaries have risen significantly over the last few years as the country's most popular sports league. This should be no surprise, considering the Super Bowl is widely regarded as the most-watched sporting event of the year. Between names like Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson, big contracts are becoming the norm in the NFL. The thing about the NFL is that big-name contracts don’t necessarily reflect on the teams these players play for. This is especially true when you look at Patrick Mahomes, who has the biggest contract in the NFL, but the Kansas City Chiefs are only the sixth-highest NFL team in terms of payroll. With this in mind, let’s look at data from Sportracto see the rest of the NFL teams that make this list in descending order. 

Why Are We Covering This? 

Los+Angeles+Chargers | Washington Football Team vs. Los Angeles Chargers, August 27, 2021(cropped)
Source: Washington Football Team vs. Los Angeles Chargers, August 27, 2021(cropped) by All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA / BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Football is far and away America’s most popular sport.

As it turns out, football is big business. Huge attendance is partially responsible for driving salaries for NFL teams, not only the demand for regular season games but also the playoffs and the Super Bowl. One of the biggest reasons to cover football is that the Super Bowl is the most expensive piece of television real estate every year. We regularly cover the dozens of public and private companies on 24/7 Wall St. participating in the Super Bowl commercial extravaganza. On top of this, football games also drive big business for their cities, creating more jobs, which in turn leads to more economic growth.

15. Jacksonville Jaguars 

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have a fantastic quarterback to rely on.
  • Total team salary: $249,636,507

Led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Jacksonville Jaguars started the 2023 season with an 8-3 record. However, when Lawrence suffered an injury in week 13, the Jaguars lost five out of their last six games, eliminating any chance of a playoff run. Still, the Jaguars have what it takes with Josh Allen, Evan Engram, and Ross Matiscik to play alongside Lawrence and improve on their 2023 record. 

14. Houston Texans

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The Houston Texas have shown promise behind CJ Stroud.
  • Total team salary: $250,104,141

In their 22nd NFL season, the Houston Texans finished with a 10-7 regular-season record and a second-round playoff loss. The good news is that the team has Pro Bowl quarterback C.J. Stroud leading the way, who is already showing signs of superstardom. Will Anderson Jr. was also named Defensive Rookie of the Year, so expect him to take the reins of the defensive line this season. 

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for another winning season in 2024.
  • Total team salary: $251,784,618

With a 10-7 record during the 2023 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers hope that head coach Mike Tomlin’s 17th season will lead to a Super Bowl title. Led by Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt, and Miles Killebrew, the Steelers certainly have a strong group of players but it’ll take a better performance in 2023 to set themselves up for success in the postseason. 

12. Seattle Seahawks

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The Seattle Seahawks need to find the same glory they had 10 years ago.
  • Total team salary: $253,827,556

After a string of winning seasons and Super Bowl appearances a decade ago, the Seattle Seahawks are far from the Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll era. In 2024, the team will need to follow the lead of Leonard Williams, Julian Love, and Geno Smith if it hopes to improve on the 9-8 record the team has finished each of its last two seasons. 

11. Chicago Bears

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The Chicago Bears need to find the right core before they will win again.
  • Total team salary: $256,661,922

The Chicago Bears have had an interesting offseason after dumping quarterback Justin Fields in favor of the number one draft pick, Caleb Williams. There is no question the Bears hope to have a better 2024 with many changing faces on the coaching side as well. Whether head coach Matt Eberflus can lead the team to a winning season will impact his job in 2025. 

10. Dallas Cowboys

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“America’s Team” is poised and ready to make a Super Bowl run.
  • Total team salary: $258,650,575

The Dallas Cowboys 12-5 record season record looked incredibly promising. “America’s Team” was well positioned to make a deep playoff run but was surprised by the Packers in the Wild Card Playoffs. After a disappointing exit to the season, Dak Prescott, Micah Parsons, and CeeDee Lamb are still the right core group of players to move the team into the second round of the playoffs. 

9. Indianapolis Colts

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The Indianapolis Colts are hoping for an improved 2024 season.
  • Total team salary: $259,581,266

With a 9-8 record in 2023, the Indianapolis Colts are far from the Peyton Manning days. The good news is that the Colts improved their 2022 4-12 record by going 9-8 in 2023. While they did not qualify for the playoffs, there is no question the team is angling to make a wild card run this year. Led by Quenton Nelson, Michael Pittman, and DeForest Buckner, the team is hopeful this is their year. 

8. Baltimore Ravens

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The Baltimore Ravens hope to make it to the promised land in 2024.
  • Total team salary: $260,086,654

The 2023 Baltimore Ravens showed why the team deserves its high-paying lineup. Just missed the Super Bowl with an AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs, the Ravens, led by superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson, Kyle Hamilton, Justin Madubuike, and Roquan Smith. There is little question about whether the Ravens will look to equal their 13-4 regular season record in 2024 and take down the Chiefs for a Super Bowl appearance. 

7. New York Giants 

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The New York Giants are hoping 2024 is a better year for the team as a whole.
  • Total team salary: $261,354,512

With a 6-11 record, the New York Giants are not quite the superpower they have been in the past. Unfortunately, the team missed the playoffs as the offensive line suffered multiple injuries. Even though the Giants allowed the second-highest number of sacks in a single season, they are still poised to make a run for the playoffs in 2023. 

6. Kansas City Chiefs

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It won’t be surprising to see the Kansas City Chiefs make another Super Bowl.
  • Total team salary: $263,539,597

After an outstanding year in 2023 with the Kansas City Chiefs bringing home another Super Bowl title, the team is poised to earn every penny of its payroll. Behind the incredible playmaking of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, and Nick Bolton, the Chiefs are already looking ready to try for their 5th Super Bowl appearance in 6 seasons in 2024. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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If Joe Burrow stays healthy, the Cincinnati Bengals are a serious threat.
  • Total team salary: $264,470,034

Behind Joe Burrow's talent, the 2023 Bengals looked strong after making it to the Super Bowl the previous year. Unfortunately, the Bengals had a rough start, only made worse when star quarterback Joe Burrow was knocked out for the season with a wrist injury. The good news is that Burrow is back in action in 2024, and the Bengals look determined to win the AFC North. 

4. Los Angeles Rams

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The Los Angeles Rams are missing their star defender in 2024.
  • Total team salary: $276,440,375

In 2023, the Los Angeles Rams had a 10-7 record, which wasn’t impressive, but the team went 7-1 in its last eight games. Behind the work of QB Matthew Stafford and head coach Sean McVay, the Rams have plenty of talent. After winning the 2021 season Super Bowl, the 2023 squad was the final year for Pro Bowler Aaron Donald. His retirement is a definite blow to the defensive line for the Rams in 2024. 

3. San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers are hoping to repeat last year’s incredible season.
  • Total team salary: $281,245,156

The 2023 San Francisco 49ers undoubtedly justified the NFL’s third-highest payroll after making it to the Super Bowl. While the team unfortunately lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, it was no surprise that it made it to the promised land. Going 12-5 during the regular season, the team has 9 Pro Bowlers and big names like Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, Nick Bosa, and George Kittle. 

2. Atlanta Falcons

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The Atlanta Falcons have a big payroll and must deliver on its promise.
  • Total team salary: $283,238,563

Behind the team’s 58th season in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons have the league's second-highest payroll. Unfortunately, the team finished the 2023 season 7-10 and failed to make the playoffs. As a result, the team fired its head coach and will look to make vast improvements in 2024, behind the Pro Bowl efforts of Chris Lindstrom and Jessie Bates. 

1. Cleveland Browns

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It’s surprising to see the Cleveland Browns have the highest payroll.
  • Total team salary: $295,207,140

When it comes to the NFL team with the highest payroll, the Cleveland Browns are a surprising number one. While the Browns improved in 2023 with an 11-6 record and made it to the second round of the playoffs, a $295 million dollar payroll is not what you expect from the Browns. Still, behind the work of Joe Flacco toward the end of the season and Deshaun Watson, the Cinderella Browns will look to be back in action in 2024.

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