The NFL’s quarterback market has exploded over the last decade, and with good reason. Quarterback is the most important position in the league and no team wants to get stuck with spotty play from its signal-caller.
It used to be rare to see an NFL team giving out a $100 million contract. That is now standard fare for quarterbacks. That rise is partially related to an increase in overall league revenue, but it is more about the fear of losing a top-tier QB.
The NFL quarterback market has shown no signs of slowing down, either. Each year, new deals seem to one-up the last crop of extensions. Some megadeals, such as the one belonging to Patrick Mahomes, will be tough to beat, but NFL teams still find a way to compete with that top-tier contract.
The 10 highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL have contracts totaling more than $1 billion combined. Sporting News takes an in-depth look at the league’s highest-earning quarterbacks for 2022 and how much they are making in terms of average annual value, guarantees and overall money.
(All salary numbers are via Spotrac.com unless otherwise specified).
Which NFL quarterback has the highest salary?
Before we answer that question, let’s first establish that the best way to compare salaries in the NFL is by using a contract’s average annual value. That’s the most accurate measure of a player’s worth even if not all of the money in the deal is guaranteed.
The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes has the highest average salary at $45 million per year, but he may not hold that distinction for long.
Aaron Rodgers reportedly has agreed to an extension with the Packers that may make him the league’s highest-paid player. He could make $50 million per year on the new deal, but that number has not been confirmed. So it’s still Mahomes for now, but before long it will be Rodgers.
Each of the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks in terms of average annual value is making at least $30 million per year. Three players — Mahomes, the Bills’ Josh Allen and the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott — are making $40 million per year or more and Rodgers will soon join them.
NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks
|Rank||Player||Average annual value|
|1||Patrick Mahomes||$45 million|
|2||Josh Allen||$43 million|
|3||Dak Prescott||$40 million|
|4||Deshaun Watson||$39 million|
|5||Russell Wilson||$35 million|
|T-6||Aaron Rodgers||$33.5 million|
|T-6||Jared Goff||$33.5 million|
|8||Kirk Cousins||$33 million|
|9||Carson Wentz||$32 million|
|10||Matt Ryan||$30 million|
Which NFL quarterback makes the most guaranteed money?
Josh Allen’s contract is smaller than that of Patrick Mahomes, but Allen is making more guaranteed money than the Chiefs quarterback.
Allen is set to make $150 million in guaranteed money over the course of the six-year, $258 million extension he signed with the Bills before the start of the 2021 preseason. He beat Mahomes in that category by about $8.5 million as Buffalo opted to keep Allen under contract for fewer years but give him more cost certainty.
Eight NFL quarterbacks are making at least $100 million in guaranteed money: Allen, Mahomes, Prescott, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan.
NFL quarterback contracts with the most guaranteed money
|1||Josh Allen||$150 million|
|2||Patrick Mahomes||$141.5 million|
|3||Dak Prescott||$126 million|
|4||Deshaun Watson||$110.7 million|
|5||Jared Goff||$110 million|
|6||Carson Wentz||$108 million|
|7||Russell Wilson||$107 million|
|8||Matt Ryan||$100 million|
|9||Aaron Rodgers||$98.7 million|
|10||Matthew Stafford||$92 million|
Which NFL quarterback has the largest overall contract?
Mahomes’ contract is the largest among not only NFL quarterbacks, but also all NFL players. He agreed to a 10-year deal with the Chiefs that is worth $450 million. It dwarfs the NFL’s second-largest contract, which belongs to Josh Allen, by nearly $200 million.
Mahomes and Allen are the only quarterbacks in the $200 million club right now. That may change when Aaron Rodgers signs his new deal. He is expected to reach $200 million in his extension from the Packers.
Just 13 NFL quarterbacks are signed to deals worth more than $100 million, according to OverTheCap.com. Most of the others are on rookie-scale deals or possess high backup price tags. The middle class for quarterbacks is largely gone in terms of total value; only Kirk Cousins is being paid between $40 million and $118 million. The Vikings’ starter is on a deal worth $66 million.
|Rank||Player||Total contract value|
|1||Patrick Mahomes||$450 million|
|2||Josh Allen||$258 million|
|3||Dak Prescott||$160 million|
|4||Deshaun Watson||$156 million|
|5||Matt Ryan||$150 million|
|6||Russell Wilson||$140 million|
|7||Jimmy Garoppolo||$137.5 million|
|8||Matthew Stafford||$135 million|
|T-9||Aaron Rodgers||$134 million|
|T-9||Jared Goff||$134 million|
Which NFL quarterback has the highest career earnings?
No NFL player earned more during his career than Tom Brady. The former Patriots and Buccaneers star played 22 years in the NFL and managed to make $302.6 million despite routinely taking discounts.
While Brady tops the list for now, he won’t hang onto that spot for long. Players like Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers could pass him in 2022.
Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen will rapidly gain on Brady with their current extensions. By 2028, Mahomes will have climbed all the way to No. 1 in terms of career earnings while Allen will be No. 5 overall.
(Career earnings figures via OverTheCap.com).
|1||Tom Brady||$302.6 million|
|2||Drew Brees||$273.9 million|
|3||Matt Ryan||$269.5 million|
|4||Ben Roethlisberger||$266.7 million|
|5||Aaron Rodgers||$264.7 million|
|6||Peyton Manning||$247.7 million|
|7||Philip Rivers||$242.2 million|
|8||Matthew Stafford||$239 million|
|9||Eli Manning||$232.5 million|
|10||Alex Smith||$210 million|