Forbes’ annual list of the highest-paid athletes in the world has been released, and the 2019 money amount is up 5% from last year. With the rise in guaranteed money and contracts in the NFL, it’s no surprise that star football players are at the top of the list.
With that in mind, here are the five highest-paid NFL players in 2019.
5. DeMarcus Lawrence ($46.9 M)
The Dallas Cowboys stud defensive end received a five-year, $105 million extension with $65 million guaranteed this past offseason. This record-breaking deal was the most guaranteed money ever given to a non-quarterback. Lawrence made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons, posting double-digit sacks in 2017 and 2018. At 27, Lawrence is entering the prime of his career. In today’s NFL, a strong pass rush is one of the most important positions on the entire field. With a combination of Lawrence’ age and production, it was a no-brainer for the Cowboys to extend him, making him the fifth highest paid player in the NFL. Interestingly enough, among the $46.9 million that Lawrence made in 2019, only $150,000 was from endorsements.
4. Khalil Mack ($55 M)
Widely regarded as one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL, Mack was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Chicago Bears in the 2018 offseason for two first-round picks. Immediately upon joining the Bears, Mack agreed to a six-year, $141 million extension, making him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. The 2016 Defensive Player of the Year enjoyed a solid season with the Bears in 2018, recording 12.5 sacks and a career-high six forced fumbles. At the age of 28, Mack will be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year contender for years to come.
3. Ben Roethlisberger ($55.5 M)
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger came to an agreement on a two-year extension worth $68 million. Although Roethlisberger had a productive season last year statistically, at the age of 37, it’s fair to believe that his career may come to an end once his extension expires in 2021. In 2019, Roethlisberger brought in a total of $55.5 million, with only $1 million coming from endorsements. A two-time Super Bowl Champion, Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer and Steelers legend. However, making him the third highest player in the NFL at this stage of his career is a head-scratching move.
2. Aaron Rodgers ($89.3 M)
Since becoming the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback in 2008, Aaron Rodgers has consistently been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Rodgers is a two-time league MVP and holds a variety of league records, including best career and season passer ratings. In 2018, Rodgers signed a four-year, $134 million extension with the Packers with a maximum potential value of $180 million. Over $100 million in the contract was guaranteed and at the time, the deal made Rodgers the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. This contract, alongside the $9 million Rodgers brought in from endorsements, gave Rodgers a total 2019 income of $89.3 million. Although the Packers missed the playoffs last season, Rodgers excelled with arguably the weakest supporting cast he’s had in his career. At 35 years old, Rodgers has shown no signs of slowing down and with Tom Brady still dominating the league at age 42, expect Rodgers to play at a high level for the foreseeable future.
1. Russell Wilson ($89.9 M)
After going back and forth with the Seattle Seahawks in contract talks this offseason, Russell Wilson set an April 16. midnight deadline for Seattle to give him a new deal. Fearing they’d lose their franchise guy, the Seahawks and Wilson struck on a four-year, $140 million extension with $107 million guaranteed, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. Similar to Rodgers, Wilson also received $9 million in endorsements in 2019, bringing his total income to almost $90 million. A consensus top-five quarterback in the league, Wilson is a Super Bowl champion and one of the biggest playmakers the position has ever seen. The past few years, Wilson has thrived on a Seahawks team with one of the worst offensive lines in the league. With the Seahawks committing to Wilson for the next four years, expect them to make moves to improve the talent around him to gear up for another Super Bowl run.
Although Wilson is currently the highest paid player in the NFL, expect this to change in the coming seasons. With contracts and guaranteed money on the rise, expect future free agents like Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, and Deshaun Watson to receive deals that surpass Wilson’s.