Thursday, February 8th, 2024

Tannehill tops list of highest NFL earners

Gridiron

Tannehill tops list of highest NFL earners

Gridiron NFL

For all the massive contract numbers bandied about in the NFL media, it isn’t necessarily the biggest stars earning the most for their time on the field.

While those still on their rookie deals can only dream of the riches that await them, and those already being rewarded for their contribution to playoff and Super Bowl runs, the name at the top of the highest earners per game this past season may surprise you.

Patrick Mahomes may have inked the highest value contract, but it stretches over a decade and actually comes in at less, at $45,000,000 per annum, than peers like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson. Indeed, Mahomes was only eighth on nfl.com’s list of highest paid players at the start of the season and, by reaching the Super Bowl (again), has stretched that annual salary over more games than any of his rivals. Ignoring any bonuses that may have been built into his deal, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this means the Chiefs QB would pocket ‘only’ $2.1m per appearance in 2023. It isn’t that simple, however.

With the likes of signing bonuses, roster bonuses and workout bonuses already muddying the waters when it comes to deciphering the true value of salaries, the fact that each player has a ‘base salary’ which is divided over the 18 weeks of the regular season complicates further. Consider the revelation that Mahomes’ base salary isn’t the $45m everyone quotes, but rather a mere $1,325,556 (or $73,642 per week) for the 2023 season.

Of course, Mahomes was at the helm for each of the Chiefs games so far this season, but not every player is fortunate to make a weekly appearance on the field, whether due to squad rotation or injuries. As a result, the earnings per game list skews much differently.

A quarterback does take top spot, but it is erstwhile Titans signal-caller Ryan Tannehill leading the way, having received $2.7m for each game he played in the 2023 season ($27m base salary and 10 appearances).

Falcons DT Grady Jarrett and Colts OT Braden Smith are second and third, respectively, with Cams Heyward (Steelers) and Robinson (Jaguars) completing the top five. Not everyone in the top ten missed great chunks of time, however, with Detroit QB Jared Goff (seventh, $1.2m), Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt (eighth, $1.2m) and Bears wideout D.J. Moore (ninth, $1.2m) all featuring in 17 games.

Tannehill’s salary was the highest in the ranking, but he spent almost half the season keeping the Titans bench warm after erstwhile head coach Mike Vrabel blooded rookie Will Levis under center. Jarrett, meanwhile, played in just eight games — fewer than any other player in the ranking — before suffering a torn ACL in October. With a base salary of $16.5m, he received just under $2.1m for each game he played. Smith’s loyalty to Indianapolis earns him a base salary of $16m, which was divided over 10 games for the purpose of this study, which was carried out by CasinospotFR.

Despite having the lowest base salary in the ranking, Robinson placed fifth overall having seen his season delayed and interrupted by suspension and injury before returning to the field in Week 17. His base salary of $12.4m thus equated to $1,4m for each of the 10 games he played. Amari Cooper came in a six, the Browns receiver splitting a $20m base salary over 15 games.

“It is fascinating to see how much some of these players are earning, even when they aren’t playing every game,” a spokesperson for CasinospotFR commented. “It will be interesting to monitor players’ earnings in the 2024 season to see whether any new players appear in the ranking.”