With the season still very young, NFL franchises across the US are quickly learning what is working and where tactics can be tweaked. But who is bringing home the big bucks, and are they justifying those huge salaries?
1. Russell Wilson: Seattle Seahawks
There are a number of ways to crunch the numbers, but our list relies solely on average salary. With guaranteed bonuses, plus add ons and earnings from endorsements and other media work, the schedule may change but in terms of that average salary mark, Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson sits at the very top.
Back in April 2019, it was reported that Wilson had just put pen to paper on a new deal that would take his average annual salary to a staggering $35 million. The contract is a reward for a long-serving player who was pivotal in Seattle’s only Super Bowl success to date. Wilson joined the franchise back in 2012 and a year later, he was part of the squad that swamped the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.
They’ve yet to repeat that success but at the age of 30, Russell Wilson is at his peak and clearly, Seattle’s owners feel he is the man to drive them to glory again in 2019.
2. Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh Steelers
It will come as no surprise to learn that, of the top 12 earners in the NFL for 2019, every single player is a Quarterback. We have to go right down to number 13 to find Bears linebacker Khalil Mack who, presumably, isn’t too upset with his average annual salary of $23.5 million.
But back to the top and slotting in just behind Russell Wilson is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger. At the age of 37, he’s reaching veteran status but with an average deal worth $34 million, the franchise clearly feels there is plenty more to come.
Picked up by the Steelers in Round One of the 2004 draft, he’s been loyal to the fans at Heinz Field ever since and that long service saw Roethlisberger take his place in the squad that won Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008. Named as Offensive Rookie of the Year in that 2004 debut season, Roethlisberger has also claimed six Pro Bowls and Steelers fans will be hoping that there’s more to come.
3. Aaron Rodgers: Green Bay Packers
Like all of the franchises on this top five list, the Packers are among the outsiders in published football betting markets for Super Bowl Glory in 2020. It’s an interesting point when you consider that Tom Brady of the Patriots, who are favourites again this season, doesn’t even make it into the Top 20.
The lower-ranked sides are throwing a lot of money at players in the hope of breaking through, but will this strategy pay dividends? With an average salary of $33.5 million, Packers are hoping that Aaron Rodgers is the man who can help his franchise cause an upset. As with Wilson and Roethlisberger, Rodgers has past glories to fall back on as he turned in an MVP performance in the Packers’ Super Bowl triumph of 2010. Hopes for a repeat may be forlorn ones but if Green Bay can spring a surprise, Aaron Rodgers will be an influential figure.
4. Carson Wentz: Philadelphia Eagles
While the players on this list are hitting the salary stratosphere, many others have some considerable way to go before they can make it onto future schedules. It was shown at the start of 2019 that the minimum salary for a starting rookie is $480,000. As for an overall average, this fluctuates but in recent seasons the figures have been coming in at just over $2.1 million.
Helping to boost that average is the Eagles’ Carson Wentz who is number four on our list with a deal worth $32 million. Philadelphia are ranked fifth by the sportsbooks in the race for Super Bowl glory and, as the starting QB, Wentz is the man charged with getting them to Miami Gardens in 2020. At 26 years of age, he’s the youngest man on this list but, having already driven the Eagles to Super Bowl success in 2017, many would say that he’s worth every cent.
5. Matt Ryan: Atlanta Falcons
With guaranteed bonuses, a player such as Russell Wilson can take his annual salary to something in excess of $100 million. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan can also hit this seven-figure mark and it all begins with an average annual contract worth $30 million.
Ryan may be the only player on this list who has yet to win the Super Bowl but the QB has claimed many accolades in his career. Drafted by Atlanta in 2008, he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in his first season. Four Pro Bowl titles have come his way while Matt Ryan enjoyed the pinnacle of individual achievement when he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player of 2016.
Only the Super Bowl eludes him so, could this be the year when Matt Ryan boosts that significant salary with football’s ultimate prize?