The NFL’s Top 10 Highest-Paid Players in 2023

The National Football League (NFL) is American Football’s premier competition. It is the most popular sport in terms of broadcasting, which helps it generate a staggering $16 billion in revenue annually. A significant chunk of that $16 billion is awarded to the players in the form of mega contracts, with the top ten highest-paid players in the NFL taking home an eye-watering $508 million in 2023 alone. Who are those biggest earners? Keep reading to find out.

Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens – $81.5 million

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the favorites with the top NFL betting sites to win the Super Bowl this year, and Lamar Jackson is one of the reasons why. The 26-year-old dual-threat quarterback signed a $260 million contract in May 2023, of which $185 million is guaranteed. Jackson also helped himself to a record $72.5 million signing bonus.

Finance specialists Forbes states Jackson will earn $80 million from his on-field activities and a further $1.5 million from his business ventures away from the NFL; the latter includes his personal clothing brand, Era 8.

Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs – $60.5 million

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes still holds the record for the largest-ever NFL contract thanks to putting pen to paper on a ten-year, $450 million contract in 2020. Mahomes’ $40.5 million annual salary ranks him eighth in the NFL for average annual value. Still, the potential G.O.A.T. of the NFL is one of the most marketable players in the league, especially now Tom Brady has retired.

Mahomes is the unofficial face of the NFL and has companies throwing themselves at him to represent their brands. The 28-year-old has almost 20 long-term off-field deals that will see him earn an additional $20 million this season alone.

Nick Bosa – San Francisco 49ers – $52 million

It is usually quarterbacks or other offensive team players that are rewarded with huge contracts, but defensive end Nick Bosa recently signed a massive deal with the San Francisco 49ers. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year signed a $170 million five-year extension, which, when you include the guaranteed amount and bonuses, Bosa will take home $51 million from playing in 2023 plus an estimated $1 million from endorsement deals.

Aaron Rodgers – New York Jets – $47.9 million

Aaron Rodgers maybe 39, but he still has incredible earning potential. Rodgers left the Green Bay Packers, his home for 18 years, for the New York Jets. The four-time MVP reportedly took a pay cut of $35 million over two years to sign for the Jets, yet he’ll still collect $47.9 million in 2023. $36.9 million comes from his contract, with a further $11 million landing in his bank account from his many endorsement deals.

If Rodgers recovers from the ACL injury he sustained on the opening game of the season and sees out his Jets contract, he will have earned $418 million during his NFL career, the most of any player in the sport’s history.

Daniel Jones – New York Giants – $47.5 million

In 2022, Daniel Jones showed why the New York Giants drafted him sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft; Jones played some of the best football of his career. Jones enjoyed career-best figures in passes attempted (472), passes completed (317), passing yards (3,205), and passer rating (92.5). The New York Giants rewarded Jones with a four-year $160 million contract extension, which is worth $46 million this season. Add another $1.5 million in off-the-field earnings, and Jones’ take-home pay in 2023 is $47.5 million.

Unfortunately for Jones, the 2023 campaign has been plagued by injury, including a season-ending ACL tear on Week 8. 

DeShaun Watson – Cleveland Browns – $46.5 million

DeShaun Watson is a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns whose off-the-field problems have been public. Of all the players in this top ten list, Watson earns the least from endorsement deals because of those non-playing issues. In 2020, Watson pulled in $8 million from sponsorships, but he lost all his endorsement deals when more than 20 women accused him of sexual harassment or assault in 2021. He still collects $500,000 from licensing agreements.

Watson signed a $230 million five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns in 2022 after sitting out their entire 2021 campaign.

Joe Burrow – Cleveland Browns – $45 million

Joe Burrow has only been a professional player for three years, but he is already one of the NFL’s highest earners. His recent signing of a contract that guarantees him $219 million means the star quarterback’s on-field earnings tip the scales at $41 million in 2023. Add another $4 million from the likes of Bose and Guinness, and Burrow is coining it in.

Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys – $44 million

Dak Prescott signed a four-year, $160 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021, which included a $66 million signing bonus. Prescott will earn $31 million on the field in 2023, plus $11 million from the 15 major sponsors he’s accumulated during his career. Prescott was awarded the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award in February 2023 for his philanthropy and impact on the community.

Kyler Murray – Arizona Cardinals – $42.5 million

The Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray as the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, heaping pressure on the young quarterback’s shoulders. Murray hit the ground running in a less-than-stellar team, and the Cardinals rewarded Murray with a five-year, $230.5 million contract extension. Murray will collect $39 million from playing in 2023, plus $3.5 million from his endorsement and investments.

Russell Wilson – Denver Broncos – $41 million

Russell Wilson moved from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos in 2022 and signed a five-year, $245 million contract extension despite being 34 years old. His Broncos career did not get off to the best of starts, but the $28 million he will collect in 2023 will help numb the pain. Wilson will also collect around $13 million from endorsements and investments this year.

Conclusion

The NFL is a massive business that generates approximately $16 billion in revenue annually. Teams want to attract the best players, and as they say in business, money talks. The largest salaries and endorsement deals are usually reserved for quarterbacks. Still, occasionally, other positions find themselves on the road to riches, as is evident with Nick Bosa and his $52 million earnings in 2023.