Quarterbacks get paid the most out of any position in the NFL and make up the five highest career earnings among all active players. There are very, very wealthy men in the NFL. Most of them play the quarterback position obviously.
Player earnings are interesting to look at, actually, as there are multiple strategies to try and leverage the earnings to be as high as possible. Some players might prefer take shorter deals as that allows them to cash in more frequently when the market resets.
Kirk Cousins is a good example of this as he’s taken short term deals for a while now to allow him to cash in more and more. Then there are cases of other players simply being in the NFL for a long time and being able to cash in that way.
Highest career earnings among active NFL players?
5. Kirk Cousins – $201,669,486
The fifth highest earning player is Kirk Cousins, who has spent time with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings during his career which began in 2012. He was a fourth round pick that year and has been one of the more consistent starters in the NFL over the last decade.
He seems to be the epitome of an average QB but has been able to find homes in multiple places as a starter. He’ll be 35 this year and it seems as if the Vikings are going to move off of him at some point.
4. Russell Wilson – $238,362,520
Russell Wilson was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos before the 2022 season and instantly inked an extension that is paying him nearly $50 million per season. Wilson was also one of the QBs taken in the 2012 draft.
The 75th overall pick has built a borderline Hall of Fame career but did crash back down to earth in 2022. We’ll see if Wilson can rebound in 2023.
3. Matt Ryan – $291,713,631
Matt Ryan’s time in the NFL might be coming to an end, but the long-time Falcons’ starter has earned nearly $300 million in the NFL. Before the 2022 season, he was shipped from the Falcons to the Colts, but his time with Indianapolis was a disaster to say the least.
It doesn’t feel like Ryan is going to be a starter come week one of 2023, and it might be in his best interest to retire if he does not want to take a backup job.
2. Matthew Stafford – $300,806,037
The Matthew Stafford was taken first overall back in the 2009 NFL draft and spend the first chunk of his career in Detroit as a Lion. He was traded to the Rams in 2021 and won a Super Bowl in his first season.
I personally think that Stafford is a Hall of Famer, but others may disagree. Stafford has out-earned his Matt-counterpart by about $9 million even though he’s been in the league for one less year.
He’s one of two active players with career earnings over $300,000,000
1. Aaron Rodgers – $305,608,010
The richest active player in the NFL is Aaron Rodgers, who has out-earned Matthew Stafford by about $5 million. Rodgers did sign the richest quarterback contract in NFL history last offseason and became the first quarterback to eclipse the $50 million per year threshold.
We’ll see what his darkness retreat ends up doing to his decision. My gut tells me that he either retires or wants to stay with the Green Bay Packers.