The 30 highest-paid players in the NFL

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Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The NFL’s offseason was highlighted by the end of Deflategate, the Rams’ move to Los Angeles, and major trades at the top of the draft. Lost amongst those stories were the large number of players who signed enormous contracts.

In the NFL, the standard for large contracts is to forgo long-term security in exchange for huge signing bonuses up front. As a result, many of the players who will earn the most money this year signed new contracts since the end of the 2015 season.

This year’s list of the highest-paid players includes 15 quarterbacks, four defensive linemen, and just one Manning.

Here are the 30 players who will make at least $16 million this season.


28t. Dez Bryant — $16,000,000

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Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

Team: Dallas Cowboys

Position: Wide Receiver

2016 earnings breakdown: $9.0 million salary, $7.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Bryant signed a 5-year, $70 million extension on the eve of the 2015 season, avoiding a potential holdout. The deal was a big win for the Cowboys because it was less than Calvin Johnson was being paid, it didn’t have a lot of fully guaranteed money, and it freed up cap space.


28t. Janoris Jenkins — $16,000,000

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Michael Ainsworth/AP

Team: New York Giants

Position: Cornerback

2016 earnings breakdown: $1.4 million salary, $10.0 million signing bonus, $4.6 million in other bonuses

One thing to know: Jenkins moved from the Rams to the Giants this past off-season on a 5-year, $62.5 million contract. The guaranteed portion was the second-highest per year for any cornerback.


28t. Jay Cutler — $16,000,000

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Getty Images

Team: Chicago Bears

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $16.0 million salary

One thing to know: At one point, Cutler’s 7-year, $126.7 million contract was named the worst quarterback contract in the NFL.


27. Tyrann Mathieu — $16,671,407

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Position: Free Safety

2016 earnings breakdown: $1.0 million salary, $15.5 million bonus, $171,407 in other bonuses.

One thing to know: Mathieu’s 5-year, $62.5 million contract is the largest in the NFL for a safety.


26. Ezekiel Elliott — $16,800,066

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Otto Greule Jr./Getty

Team: Dallas Cowboys

Position: Running Back

2016 earnings breakdown: $450,000 salary, $16.4 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Only seven running backs have larger contracts than the 4-year, $25.0 million rookie contract Elliot signed after being drafted fourth overall in this year’s draft.


25. Trent Williams — $16,968,750

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Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Team: Washington Redskins

Position: Left Tackle

2016 earnings breakdown: $6.8 million salary, $10.0 million signing bonus, $218,750 in other bonuses.

One thing to know: The $41.3 million guaranteed on Williams’ 5-year, $68.0 million contract is the fourth largest among non-quarterback offensive players.


23t. Darrelle Revis — $17,000,000

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Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Team: New York Jets

Position: Cornerback

2016 earnings breakdown: $17.0 million salary

One thing to know: Revis has made $118.2 million in his career. That ranks third among active defensive players, behind only Julius Peppers ($156.0 million) and Mario Williams ($120.4 million).


23t. Matthew Stafford — $17,000,000

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Paul Sancya/AP

Team: Detroit Lions

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $17.0 million salary

One thing to know: Stafford has thrown 22 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions under new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.


22. Ben Roethlisberger — $17,750,000

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Justin K. Aller/Getty

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $17.8 million salary

One thing to know: In their last 16 games together, Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have combined for 151 catches, 2,048 yards, and 14 touchdowns.


20t. Eli Manning — $18,000,000

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Getty Images

Team: New York Giants

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $17.5 million salary, $500,000 workout bonus

One thing to know: With the retirement of his brother Peyton Manning, Eli is now the NFL’s leader in career earnings among active players, with $205.8 million banked so far.


20t. Malik Jackson — $18,000,000

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Gary McCullough/AP

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Position: Defensive Tackle

2016 earnings breakdown: $8.0 million salary, $10.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Jackson just sneaks into the list this year with a $10.0 million signing bonus. His total earnings in Year 2 of his 6-year, $85.5 million contract will fall to $13.5 million.


19. Carson Wentz — $18,050,973

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Mitchell Leff/Getty

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $450,000 salary, $17.6 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Wentz is the second-highest-paid rookie, signing a 4-year, $26.7 million rookie contract.


18. David DeCastro — $18,100,000

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Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Position: Guard

2016 earnings breakdown: $2.1 million salary, $16.0 million bonus

One thing to know: DeCastro was originally scheduled to make $8.1 million this season, the final year of his rookie contract. Instead he signed a 5-year, $50 million contract extension, just three months after responding to a question about his future by saying, “I’m making a lot of money this year. What am I worried about?”


17. Jared Goff — $18,968,308

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Ezra Shaw/Getty

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $450,000 salary, $18.5 million signing bonus

One thing to know: The gave up six draft picks for the right to draft Goff, including their first-round pick next season. Based on how the Rams played in Week 1, that could be a top-3 pick.


16. Cordy Glenn — $19,000,000

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Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Team: Buffalo Bills

Position: Left Tackle

2016 earnings breakdown: $3.0 million salary, $16.0 million bonus

One thing to know: Glenn makes the list this year thanks to his new $60.0 million contract and $16.0 million signing bonus. His total earnings next year will fall to $11.0 million.


15. Kirk Cousins — $19,953,000

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Matt Hazlett/Getty

Team: Washington Redskins

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $19.95 million salary

One thing to know: Cousins received the franchise tag from the Redskins, giving him a 1-year, $19.95 million contract with no bonuses. That base salary is the largest in the NFL this season. If he receives the franchise tag again next year, his salary is expected to jump to something in the neighborhood of $24.0 million.


13t. Demaryius Thomas — $20,000,000

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Justin Edmonds/Getty

Team: Denver Broncos

Position: Wide Receiver

2016 earnings breakdown: $13.0 million salary, $7.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Thomas’ $70 million contract ranks fourth among non-quarterback offensive players.


13t. Cam Newton — $20,000,000

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Getty/Thearon W. Henderson

Team: Carolina Panthers

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $13.0 million salary, $7.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Newton’s $103.8 million contract and $60 million guaranteed both rank sixth among quarterbacks.


12. Carson Palmer — $20,250,000

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Gregory Shamus/Getty

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $7.2 million salary, $6.8 million signing bonus, $6.4 million roster bonus

One thing to know: Palmer’s $158.4 million in career earnings ranks fifth among active players.


11. Brock Osweiler — $21,000,000

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David J. Phillip/AP

Team: Houston Texans

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $4.0 million salary, $12.0 million signing bonus, $5.0 million roster bonus

One thing to know: Osweiler had started just seven games in his four-year career before signing a 4-year, $72.0 million contract as a free agent with the Houston Texans


9t. Philip Rivers — $22,000,000

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Team: San Diego Chargers

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $10.5 million salary, $5.5 million signing bonus, and $6.0 million in other bonuses.

One thing to know: Rivers has already made $173.9 million in his career and still has $45.0 million left on his 4-year, $83.3 million contract.


9t. Muhammad Wilkerson — $22,000,000

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Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Team: New York Jets

Position: Defensive End

2016 earnings breakdown: $7.0 million salary, $15.0 million bonus

One thing to know: Wilkerson’s $86.0 million contract is second only to J.J. Watt among defensive ends.


8. Justin Houston — $23,500,000

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Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Position: Outside Linebacker

2016 earnings breakdown: $7.4 million salary, $8.5 million signing bonus. and $7.6 million in other bonuses.

One thing to know: In a perfect example of how quickly large contracts change, Houston signed a 6-year, $101.0 million contract prior to the 2015 season and then had that deal restructured prior to the 2016 season.


7. Von Miller — $25,100,000

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David Zalubowski/AP

Team: Denver Broncos

Position: Outside Linebacker

2016 earnings breakdown: $2.0 million salary, $17.0 million signing bonus, and $6.1 million other bonuses.

One thing to know: Miller signed a 6-year, $114.5 million contract just months after being named the Super Bowl MVP. The total value surpasses Ndamukong Suh’s deal as the largest among defensive players.


6. Fletcher Cox — $27,299,000

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Rich Schultz /Getty Images

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Position: Defensive Tackle

2016 earnings breakdown: $1.3 million salary, $26.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Cox makes this list thanks to his huge $26.0 million signing bonus. Next year, his earnings drop to $4.2 million, before going back up to $12.7 million in 2018. With his contract counting $22.0 million against the cap in 2019, look for Cox to rework his contract in the next two years.


5. Tom Brady — $28,764,705

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Team: New England Patriots

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $764,705 salary, $28.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Brady has said that he wants to play until he is 45(through the 2022 season) and that he wants to play 10 more seasons(through the 2025 season).


3t. Joe Flacco — $29,000,000

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Jared Wickerham/Getty

Team: Baltimore Ravens

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $4.0 million salary, $25.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Flaccoo restructured his last contract, basically turning his 2013 contract into a nine-year, $187 million deal with six years remaining.


3t. Olivier Vernon — $29,000,000

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Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Team: New York Giants

Position: Defensive End

2016 earnings breakdown: $1.8 million salary, $20.0 million signing bonus, and 7.3 million in other bonuses.

One thing to know: Vernon’s $20 million signing bonus was the second-largest among defensive players, behind only Fletcher Cox’s $26.0 million signing bonus.


2. Andrew Luck — $30,000,000

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Andy Lyons/Getty

Team: Indianapolis Colts

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $12.0 million salary, $18.0 million signing bonus

One thing to know: Andrew Luck’s new 5-year contract is the largest in NFL history in terms of total value ($140.0 million) and guaranteed value ($89.0 million).


1. Drew Brees — $31,250,000

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Sean Gardner/Getty

Team: New Orleans Saints

Position: Quarterback

2016 earnings breakdown: $1.0 million salary, $30.0 million signing bonus, and $250,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Brees was in the last year of his contract and was set to take up an enormous $30 million in salary cap space. He recently extended his contract, lowering his salary-cap hit to $17.3 million, thanks to a $30 million signing bonus.


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Ronald Martinez/Getty

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