NFL: 10 players with the most career earnings 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Dallas Cowboys
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Dallas Cowboys
Modified 21 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

With the 2021 NFL Draft now just nine days away, there will be plenty of soon-to-be-rookie talent dreaming of making the big bucks in the NFL.

But it's worth noting that only a few college stars get to earn the entire sum offered to them when they sign on the dotted line with NFL franchises. That is because some players don't cut it in the long run others get plagued by injuries, which means most players fail to see out their contracts.

Ten highest-earning players in NFL history:

There have been plenty of players who have earned some serious money in the NFL. But only a select few have gone on to make over $100 million. On that note, let's have a look at the ten highest-paid players in NFL history.

Note: Contract data has been taken from

#10 Alex Smith, QB ($189.7 million)

Washington Football Team v Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Football Team v Philadelphia Eagles

Former San Francisco and Washington quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement from professional football on April 19.

Alex Smith rebounded from a horrific broken leg sustained in Washington's 2018 clash against the Houston Texans to help his team get back to the NFL playoffs in 2020.

During a 16-year career, Smith, a 3x Pro Bowler, earned himself a tidy $189.7 million, including a career-high $40 million in 2018 alone.

#9 Matthew Stafford, QB ($226.5 million)

He might now be the new signal-caller for Sean McVay's excellent Los Angeles Rams outfit. But Matthew Stafford has also earned his reputation and dollars while operating in the famed blue of the Detroit Lions.

During his 12-year career, Stafford has raked in an astonishing $226.5 million, including $51.1 million in 2017.

Now a Ram, Stafford will hope to add some more playoff appearances and perhaps another trip to the Pro Bowl to his illustrious resume.

#8 Aaron Rodgers, QB ($240.9 million)

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams vs Green Bay Packers
Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams vs Green Bay Packers

It's barely a surprise to see the 16-year veteran and 2020 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers make this list at number eight.

Rodgers, a Super Bowl winner with his current team, the Green Bay Packers, in 2011, has appeared in nine Pro Bowls. He is well worth the $240.9 million he has earned in his impressive career to date.

#7 Philip Rivers, QB ($243.9 million)

Indianapolis Colts vs Las Vegas Raiders
Indianapolis Colts vs Las Vegas Raiders

After a Hall of Fame-caliber career that saw Philip Rivers achieve just about everything in the game besides winning a Super Bowl, the former Charger announced his retirement from the NFL after playing one season with the Colts.

During his 17-year NFL career, where he played as a QB, Rivers earned himself a lucrative $243.9 million.

The Decatur, Alabama, native is not yet done and could earn a few more laurels and bucks in the next few years.

#6 Matt Ryan, QB ($244 million)

New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan signed a 5-year, $150 million contract extension with a $46.5 million signing bonus in 2018. That was the most lucrative contract ever penned in the NFL at that time (before Patrick Mahomes re-signed with the Chiefs).

It's easy to see why the Falcons rate their signal-caller so highly: Matt Ryan has appeared in four Pro Bowls during his 13-year career to date.

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Published 20 Apr 2021
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