When you think of the top paid NFL players, quarterbacks are usually the first people that come to mind, and rightly so. But, according to a recent Forbes report, those that sack the quarterback (defensive ends) are also getting some monetary love as they hold four of the top ten highest paid NFL positions, including the number one spot.*
Rounding out this year’s highest paid players are:
Dwight Freeney ($19 million) - Freeney’s devastating pass rush and patented spin technique has the Indianapolis Colts paying him $14 million this season, and along with an additional $5 million in outside sponsorships, he has earned the title as the highest paid player in the league.
Elvis Dumervil ($18.9 million) – Despite missing the entire 2010 season due to an injury, Bronco defensive end, Elvis Dumervil, is still worth his weight in gold as he proved by logging 9.5 sacks in 2011. So, offenses will be scheming to counter his pass rush until at least 2015 when his $61 million contract runs out.
Peyton Manning ($18 million) – The Denver Broncos are rolling the dice on an incentive-based contract with quarterback, Peyton Manning, that could have them paying out as much as $96 million in five years if Manning can stay healthy.
Sam Bradford ($15.6 million) – Timing is everything for quarterbacks on game day and draft day as Bradford proved in 2010 when he barely bypassed the new NFL wage scale that would limit the amount of money paid to rookies. Bradford’s six-year deal with the St. Louis Rams has him earning $78 million.
Philip Rivers ($15.3 million) – The San Diego Chargers are hoping Rivers comes out of his 2011 slump where he had an 88.7 passer rating, which was down from his 100+ status of years prior. If not, look for the Chargers to offload him in four years.
Not far behind the top five were Minnesota’s defensive end, Jared Allen ($15.2 million); Kansas City’s defensive end, Tamba Hali ($14.5 million); Philadelphia’s quarterback, Michael Vick ($13.9 million); Redskins’ Offensive Tackle, Trent Williams ($13.4 million); and Arizona’s wide receiver, Larry Fitgerald ($13.25 million).
Incidentally, the minimum yearly salary any player can make in the NFL is $390,000, which is quite impressive in the “real world,” but seems like a pittance when compared to $19 million.