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5 highest paid defensive players in NFL history ft. Aaron Donald 

Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald
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Adam Hulse

As the NFL salary cap continues to increase almost every year, superstar players have been demanding bigger contracts. This has resulted in record-setting deals being inked almost every offseason when the time comes for elite players to sign new contracts.

While quarterbacks often dominate the salary market, they aren't the only players to sign massive contracts. Defensive players have been trending higher on average salaries, especially defensive linemen, and EDGE players. Here are the five highest paid defensive players in NFL history by AAV.


#5 (tied) - Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders - $23.5 million

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby

Maxx Crosby signed a contract extension with the Las Vegas Raiders during the 2022 offseason. The deal will keep him under team control until the conclusion of the 2026 season and is worth $94 million over four years, including more than $53 million in guaranteed money.

"It was the universe. It was supposed to happen." "Raider for life" Maxx Crosby speaking with gratitude after his contract extension that'll mean a really good Vegas life for his family, including his beloved pit bulls. @JesseNews3LV news3lv.com https://t.co/lSzzznPfj4

The Raiders have decided to focus on elite edge rushers by also signing Chandler Jones during the free agency period in the 2022 NFL offseason worth $17 million dollars in AAV.


#5 (tied) - Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers - $23.5 million

Chicago Bears EDGE Khalil Mack
Chicago Bears EDGE Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack signed a six-year contract with the Chicago Bears worth $141 million, the largest ever for a defensive player at the time he received it. He still has three years remaining on his contract but will play it out with the Los Angeles Chargers after being traded during the 2022 offseason.

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While Mack is one of the highest paid defensive players of all time, he's, amazingly, not even the highest paid defensive player on the Chargers' roster. The Chargers, like the Raiders, are putting a premium on edge rushers ahead of the 2022 NFL season.


Also Checkout:- Aaron Donald's Contract


#4 - Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns - $25 million

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett

Myles Garrett signed a huge contract with the Cleveland Browns worth $125 million over five years. The deal includes a massive $100 million dollars in guaranteed money.

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The Browns have committed to improving their defense in recent years, using many draft picks on that side of the ball and handing out large contracts. They recently made Denzel Ward one of the highest paid cornerbacks of all time during the 2022 offseason.


#3 - Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers - $27 million

Los Angeles Chargers EDGE Joey Bosa
Los Angeles Chargers EDGE Joey Bosa

Joey Bosa combined with newly acquired edge rusher Khalil Mack for the Los Angeles Chargers to make up the most expensive pass rush duo in NFL history, worth more than $50 millon dollars by AAV. The Chargers also signed cornerback JC Jackson during the 2022 offseason, fully committing to improving their defense.

Mindfulness⚡️Gratitude⚡️Compassion Really enjoyed this conversation with Joey Bosa on his contract extension and growth personally and professionally from 2016 to now. https://t.co/KzYJMHmeqR

Bosa's contract with the Chargers is worth $135 million dollars over five seasons, including $102 million dollars in guaranteed money. His deal expires at the conclusion of the 2025 season.


#2 - TJ Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers - $28 million

Pittsburgh Steelers EDGE TJ Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers EDGE TJ Watt

Applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks has long been a staple of the Pittsburgh Steelers' iconic style of defense. This is why they gave a massive contract to TJ Watt, the most productive edge rusher in the NFL.

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Watt signed a four-year contract with the Steelers worth more than $112 million, including $80 million in guaranteed money. He was the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL prior to the 2022 offseason.


#1 - Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams - $31.67 million

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald set a new standard across the league when he renegotiated his contract with the Los Angeles Rams during the 2022 offseason. While he didn't add more years to his current deal, he received a $40 million raise to complete a record-setting contract.

"The voided years in Aaron Donald's contract are fake" ~@RapSheetJUST LIKE THE SALARY CAP #PMSLive https://t.co/aUmCQbS8Py

Aaron Donald is now the highest paid defensive player and also the highest paid non-quarterback in NFL history. He is the first non-quarterback ever with an AAV that exceeds $30 million.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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