Until recently, MLB and the NBA guaranteed the most lucrative salaries in American pro sports. But this week, Patrick Mahomes’s ludicrous new contract worth up to half a billion dollars has blown everybody out of the water.
There are no guarantees in the brutal world of football. All it takes is one injury to ruin your career or one poor decision. Today, we’re going to take a look at the 40 highest-paid NFL players in 2020, focusing on guaranteed pay for this year alone. This means there are a few shocks on this list, but not surprisingly, many of the names are among the best starting quarterbacks.
Some big names and salaries like Christian McCaffrey’s, actually miss out. Meanwhile, the number one name for guaranteed salaries in 2020 may surprise you. Check out the highest-paid players for 2020 via CBS Sports below.
40. Chandler Jones
A Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots in 2014, Jones has enjoyed a great NFL career. As well as winning a ring, Jones also the Pro Bowl four times as well as back-to-back All-Pro appearances. When the Arizona Cardinals had the opportunity to snap him up in 2016, they didn’t think twice. Jones signed a mega-deal to play for the franchise until 2021.
His $82 million pact swells his bank account with a guaranteed $16 million per year excluding bonuses and incentives. With a young quarterback and big ambitions, the Cardinals hope that Jones’s winning mentality will help them push forward and take the next step. The outside linebacker enjoys one of the biggest contracts for his position.
The Redskins made Collins their big-name free agent signing in 2019 because they saw the safety as a massive franchise building block. He was excellent for the New York Giants and made three Pro Bowl appearances during his time in the ‘Big Apple.’ He was a 2016 All-Pro selection so he has the pedigree to be a brilliant player for the now-Washington Football Team.
Collins signed a four-year contract with Washington and will earn him a potential $84 million. Furthermore, his guaranteed annual income is $16 million. This is one of the best salaries in his position but also shows the cost of luring prime players to a franchise as free agents. Collins has it all to prove if he wants to justify such a massive investment. Luckily, he plays in a weak division.
It’s insane but Smith still has one of the highest quarterback salaries out there. The Washington Football team QB suffered a gruesome leg break in 2018 but things got much worse. Doctors said that he might die if they didn’t remove his leg, however, he came through this. But the point remains that his contract is massive. Smith signed a $94 million, four-year extension in 2018 after he departed Kansas City.
However, this wasn’t great value for money because of his injury record. Yes, it wasn’t his fault. But that won’t please Dan Snyder and his accountants. Even though Smith is no longer a guaranteed starter, he still enjoys a massive guaranteed $16 million per year. Nobody can begrudge him that because he almost died, but it is still an insane amount of money considering his output.
Jones played magnificently well for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Patrick Mahomes won all of the headlines because he’s the star quarterback, but the likes of Jones played an invaluable role in helping the Chiefs win for the first time in 50 years. Furthermore, it convinced Kansas to reward him with a significant $80 million four-year deal. Jones was happy with that.
The defensive tackle has one of the highest salaries in the NFL with a guaranteed $16 million per year. Furthermore, as a two-time Pro Bowler, it is clear that Jones is in his prime. The Chiefs are lucky to have him but the question is whether or not they can build a dynasty. However, with players like Jones in their ranks, they will surely be competitive in the near future.
Another Chiefs’ star, Hill enjoys one of the highest wide receiver salaries in football. A glance at his record reveals his quality because he won a Super Bowl and is a five-time Pro Bowler. Furthermore, he is one of Patrick Mahomes’ most dangerous weapons. The Chiefs knew that they were onto a winner with this devastating combination and duly offered Hill a massive contract.
In 2019, he signed the huge three-year, $54 million deal with Kansas that will see him spend his prime in Missouri. ‘Cheetah’ is frighteningly quick and one of the best wideouts in the NFL. His guaranteed $16.2 million annual salaries are atypical for his position but stand as a testament to his quality. However, can he help the Chiefs win another Super Bowl?
Tom Brady receives most of the headlines in Tampa, but make no mistake, Evans is one of the Bucs’ most important players. The wide receiver is a perennial record-breaker and, also, a key cog in Bruce Arians’ offense. They recognized his elite potential when they made him one of the highest-paid wideouts in the NFL in 2018. This came after he put in a breakout year.
A three-time Pro Bowler, the Texas A&M product takes home a guaranteed $16.8 million. Of course, the reality is that he makes much more money than this. Most of the league’s receivers can only look on in envy at Evans because the majority of them earn much lower salaries. But that’s the problem receivers and especially running backs have to deal with.
The Dallas Cowboys have a recent history of shoddy decisions, but making Lawrence the highest-paid defensive end in the league in 2019 wasn’t one of them. It was a smart move from the franchise because of his quality and the necessity to provide consistency for ‘America’s Team.’ So many teams overload their cap with offensive players when a more pragmatic approach is required.
Lawrence signed a five-year, $105 million extension that will see him set up shop in Texas until at least 2024. However, unless the Cowboys improve drastically he will only see a guaranteed $64 million. Still, his bank account will explode by almost $17 million per year thanks to one of the spiciest guaranteed salaries in the sport. Meanwhile, the two-time Pro Bowler must show that he’s worth the investment.
Williams clearly loves the Big Apple because after four seasons with the Jets they traded him to the Giants. As a 2016 Pro Bowler, the Giants believed that it was worth handing the 26-year-old a one-year deal worth $17 million. At 302 lbs, Williams is a massive figure and well-suited to life as an NFL defensive end. He also knows that his value will soar in the near future as he enters his prime.
An All-American at USC, Williams was one of the Jets’ few bright lights over the past number of years. However, he can be a volatile character as he showed by punching Bryan Bryana in 2018. Many coaches secretly enjoying having a player who sometimes resorts to the dark arts because it can make a difference on the playing field. Williams is set to earn big salaries over the next few years.
It feels like Green wasted his career stuck in Cincinnati. The Bengals’ wide receiver was a brilliant player but never had a chance to win a Super Bowl with his ailing franchise. Still, his personal achievements are excellent with seven Pro Bowl appearances. Meanwhile, the Bengals were happy to keep paying him to stay as his contract extensions continuously show.
They guaranteed him almost $18 million to stay in the ‘Queen City.’ However, he played on the franchise tag and it will almost certainly be his last season as a Bengal. But Green was one of the most consistent and dynamic receivers in the NFL for the franchise, so they have to respect him for his loyalty. If he leaves in search of one final payday and potential glory, nobody will blame him for that.
The 31-year-old Denver Broncos outside linebacker is entering the fifth season of a six-year, $114 million extension. He will make about $18 million alone this year in guaranteed pay. Miller is a Broncos great but the pressure is on for him to improve the Broncos following a season-ending injury.
Nobody pushes Miller harder than himself. He really wants the Defensive Player of the Year Award. It would be a great way to cap off the end of his career. The Super Bowl 50 MVP believes it’s a viable target as he approaches the end of his lucrative contract that includes one of the biggest salaries for defensive players. Fans will have to see if he returns to the team at such a high price, as he could become a cut heading into the 2021 league year.
Former Cowboy Quinn secured a lucrative deal with the Chicago Bears as the Illinois franchise looks to make gains in 2020. He signed a five-year, $70 million contract after the Bears released Leonard Floyd, ranking him among the biggest salaries for pass rushers. Quinn looks like a potentially strong signing after a very good 2019.
Quinn recorded 11.5 sacks, 34 tackles, three passes defended, and two forced fumbles in 14 games in 2019. He also recorded the third-best pressure rate and disruption rate in the entire NFL. Now he needs to bring those numbers North and do it all over again.
Carr scored a five-year, $125 million extension with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2017. He will make about $20 million this year in the lucrative deal. The Raiders’ quarterback is now at the midpoint of his contract but knows the stakes are high this season.
The year is beyond important because the Mahomes’ deal has changed the playing field for elite QBs. If Carr can develop more consistency and prove how good he is, he will be in a position to demand more money and again make one of the highest salaries in the NFL. The ball is in his court.
The first of two Cowboys in a row, it’s no surprise that Elliot has a very lucrative contract. One of the best running backs in the league, he actually stands to make more this year alone than Christian McCaffrey. While the Panthers’ star has a bigger overall deal, Elliot has the higher guaranteed pay of the two salaries for 2020.
Elliot is a machine and one of the Cowboys’ most important players. His relationship with QB Dak Prescott will be key to any chance of Dallas doing anything exciting this year. No wonder they will pay him about $20 million in 2020 alone. A great player to watch.
The well-rounded wide receiver tested free agency but chose to sign a lucrative extension with the Cowboys. He has superb footwork and makes great decisions, which explains why ‘America’s Team’ wanted to keep him. Cooper will hope to take Dallas to the next level.
They gave him a five-year $100 million contract in March. This will pay him about $20 million this year alone. He had hardly hit the free-agent market before the Cowboys came in with a megadeal to pay him one of the highest-paid salaries at his position.
Armstead is working hard in training this offseason because he wants to prove his 10-sack season was no fluke. After signing a lucrative five-year deal to remain with the San Francisco 49ers, he’ll get every chance to show why he’s making one of the biggest salaries in the league for a defender. It’s been a sharp rise for the former Oregon Duck.
The 49ers will pay him $85 million over five years and he’ll make about $20 million in 2020 alone. They clearly want to keep their best players together as they look to go one better than last year and win the Super Bowl. This is still a young team, but one that is growing.
If the Cleveland Browns play as a cohesive unit this season, they could be a very good team. Of course, this means getting Baker Mayfield up to speed after a shoddy 2019. Signing Conklin from the Titans is a great move. The Browns will hand him $20 million this year, one of the top salaries for a lineman.
Conklin will play on the right side of the Browns’ offense while Jedrick Wills will be on the left in his rookie year. In 2019, the Browns came in 23rd in offensive rankings. That number must improve this year if they are to do anything meaningful.
It’s been a very frustrating time for Waynes. In one of the most surprising moves of the offseason, he moved to the Cincinnati Bengals on a three-year, $42 million deal in March. The lucrative contract will see him earn about $20 million alone this year. But the problem is that he still isn’t officially a Bengal.
The global health crisis meant that he couldn’t take his physical. Until that happens, the Bengals won’t pay him. It also means he can’t train heavily in case of injury. This could cause the Bengals to renege on the contract agreement. In short, Waynes is in a bizarre situation but still set to get paid one of the highest salaries for a cornerback.
Another quarterback whose value has dramatically increased because of the Mahomes deal, Ryan is one of the top QBs in the league. The Atlanta Falcons star signed a five-year, $150 million extension in 2018. This included a lucrative $46.5 million signing bonus.
In 2020, he will make a guaranteed $20.2 million excluding bonuses. The Falcons are hoping to have a stellar year with the likes of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Todd Gurley next to Ryan. But only time will tell if their offensive line will be as effective this year with several changes.
The L.A. Rams have an excellent defense and Ramsey is a big part of that. In 2020, the franchise handed Ramsey a hefty five-year contract because they wanted to reward him for his efforts. Furthermore, his $105 million deal is the biggest defensive back deal in history. Meanwhile, he will take home at least $21 million in 2020 as part of one of the most lucrative salaries in the sport.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Ramsey made his name with the Jaguars before the Rams swooped for his signature. It was a wise decision because he is one of the best in his position in the league. He doesn’t play in the most glamorous position, but teams will pay big money for athletes like Ramsey because they are like building blocks. He has a big future in California.
Last season was effectively a right-off for Roethlisberger after a significant elbow injury. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback will hope he can make a large difference this year. At the age of 38, there’s nothing guaranteed. But he’s still far better than the Steelers’ other options as we saw when he was out in 2019.
Roethlisberger enters the first season of a two-year, $68 million extension. This will pay him a guaranteed $21.5 million this year. Roethlisberger knows that the end of his phenomenal career is near. Can the Steelers go deep into the playoffs this year?
Brown earned the highest of all salaries for offensive lineman in the NFL last year until Laremy Tunsil took matters into his own hands. Nevertheless, Brown’s salary is still incredibly lucrative. The Las Vegas Raiders will pay him $22 million this year, excluding bonuses.
It’s well deserved too because Brown was a shining light in their team. While his work ethic and love for the sport has been questioned in the past, there’s no doubt that he is on top of his game at the moment. Few things motivate as well as money does.
Not much gets past Tunsil – on or off the field. The Houston Texans made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league after Tunsil negotiated with them without an agent. Tunsil signed a $66 million extension that will see him make over $22 million this year. It’s a record in terms of salaries for his position.
Furthermore, Tunsil hopes his unorthodox negotiation method will inspire other players to do the same thing. Unscrupulous agents slice off big chunks from their clients’ paychecks. If you have a good head for business on your shoulders, then why not do it yourself?
Donald is an unstoppable force. The defensive tackle is a true monster on the playing field. The LA Rams know that they have a special player, and that’s why they pay him so much money. Now, the six-time Pro Bowl choice will work with new Rams’ defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.
This could be massive for the Rams. Staley helped Von Miller develop into an outstanding player and will hope to do the same with Donald. Donald will make about $22 million this year in guaranteed money, making him one of the highest-paid players at his position.
In 2019, Jones signed a three-year, $66 million extension with the Falcons. His lucrative deal will see him earn close t0 $23 million this year alone. Analysts rate him as one of the best receivers in the history of the NFL, so you can see why the Falcons rewarded him.
Coming off of a season in which he finished second in the league with 1,394 yards despite missing a game, Jones will be a favorite to lead the league in that category next season. In short, he’s one of the finest in his position in the league right now.
The Indianapolis Colts’ defensive tackle is on a very lucrative contract. After the 49ers traded him to the Colts, he signed a four-year, $84 million extension with $44.4 million guaranteed. This year, he stands to make a tidy $23.4 million.
Buckner is a very exciting talent. The 26-year-old stands 6-foot-7 with a massive wingspan and has all of the physical attributes his role requires. He also played a key part in the 49ers’ exciting playoff run last year so the Colts hope that he can have the same influence this season too.
The Chicago Bears are paying Khalil Mack an astounding amount of money. He will see a guaranteed $24 million this year. He has a huge deal but has to prove he deserves it.
Mack has yet to win a playoff game with the Bears. Furthermore, he was not half as dominant last season as he should be with the money he is commanding. In short, Mack needs to step it up and maximize his potential if he really is a top-five defensive player.
He was arguably once the best backup quarterback in the NFL but now Bridgewater will be a starter again. After departing from New Orleans, Bridgewater will replace Cam Newton for the Carolina Panthers. He will also make a lot of money this year too.
The Panthers will pay Bridgewater $24 million this year as part of a three-year deal worth $63 million. In short, the 26-year-old has the chance to be a starter again after a frustrating time in New Orleans where he was never going to dislodge Drew Brees.
A veteran still playing at the highest level of the game, Brees genuinely expects to contend for the Super Bowl in what could be his final season this year. Like Tom Brady, Brees also signed a two-year $50 million deal this offseason. The New Orleans Saints offered him an extension which he gratefully accepted.
This will make him one of the highest-paid players of 2020. The 13-time Pro Bowler won the Lombardi Trophy in 2009. The Saints have come close to replicating their victory since then, but have narrowly missed out on several occasions in the playoffs. Will this be their year?
Rivers’ departure from the LA Chargers didn’t get the same attention as Tom Brady leaving the Patriots, but it was the end of an era in its own right. After 17 seasons, Rivers and the Chargers decided to part ways. Now the 38-year-old will lead the Indianapolis Colts.
They offered him a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $25 million. Some believe that this is a big risk because the Chargers and Rivers were awful last year. But the veteran wants to prove that he has gas left in the tank as he pursues a new challenge.
Anybody who wanted to sign Brady had to pay him well. In short, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were willing to do that, offering him a two-year deal worth $50 million. He’ll earn $25 million alone this year, while there is a no-trade clause in the fine print.
This is all great news for Brady, who enters the twilight of his career on a high. After a staggering 20 seasons with the Patriots, he has a fresh challenge at the age of 42. The Bucs wanted him for his brand as much as for his abilities on the playing field.
The San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback will bring home over 25 million dollars this year alone in guaranteed pay. He will enter his third season of a lucrative five-year contract worth $137 million. It’s a staggering amount of money but some analysts have criticized it.
To sum up, Garoppolo needs to prove that he deserves an elite quarterback’s salary. His passing and decision-making under pressure must improve because it was off at various key moments of the season. We saw that in the Super Bowl’s final quarter. This is a big year for the former Patriot.
The Miami Dolphins cornerback will have a very lucrative year. They signed the star defensive back to a five-year, $82.5 million pact with $54.4 million guaranteed. Furthermore, he will earn a cool $26 million this year alone. That puts him as one of 2020’s highest earners.
Jones is a highly effective cornerback who is also a capable safety. It’s even possible that he could play in the latter position this year. In 2019 quarterbacks only threw at Jones 62 times, or 3.8 times per game. Meanwhile, they just completed 29, resulting in a feeble three touchdowns.
Clark is a true outlier on this list because he doesn’t play one of the most fashionable positions. However, the defensive end played a massive role in Kansas City’s Super Bowl success. First of all, he had the second-most tackles by any player in the playoffs.
Then he became one of only six players ever to have five sacks in the postseason. In short, that’s why the Chiefs rewarded him. Clark will take home a staggering $27 million in 2020. But Chiefs fans will definitely think those numbers are good value after their first Lombardi Trophy in 50 years.
One man who will benefit from Mahomes’s new mega-deal is Prescott. The Dallas Cowboys guarantee him almost $29 million on the franchise tag this year, but contract negotiations rumble on. Now that Mahomes has changed the game, Prescott may push for even more money than before. Prescott will certainly be seeking one of the biggest salaries in the NFL.
Only time will tell what effect the Kansas City star’s new contract will have on the sport, but you can guarantee every elite QB in the NFL will point to it. Prescott is definitely a very good player, however, he isn’t at Mahomes’s level just yet. This will be interesting.
The Los Angeles Rams quarterback scored a massive extension last offseason. It’s worth a total of $134 million. Furthermore, it includes a $21 million roster bonus in 2020. If you add that to the guaranteed $31 million that he will bring home, you can see this is a lucrative deal.
At the age of just 25, there is still room for Goff to improve. Furthermore, he says that his close work with head coach Sean McVey has helped him to improve as a player. In sum, the hope is that they will emerge as the next Belichick-Brady duo, but they have a lot to prove before that.
Some people think that the Tennessee Titans are taking a big risk with Tannehill. He is undoubtedly a very good quarterback, but the question begs, is he an elite player? They did reward him for a brilliant season, where the NFL awarded him Comeback Player of the Year. Still many aren’t sure he deserves one of the top salaries in the NFL in terms of quarterbacks.
In short, they offered him a very lucrative deal which will see him make a tidy $37.5 million in 2020. This comes after he signed a four-year, $118 million extension in March. However, some critics think they should have waited a year to see if he can do it again and prioritized Derrick Henry instead.
After Mahomes’s new deal, Wentz’s contract suddenly looks like a bargain. He has entered the second season of a four-year, $128 million extension with the Philadelphia Eagles. It will guarantee him just shy of $40 million this year, a ton of money.
His lucrative deal is one of the biggest in the league but maybe he’ll wish he waited before signing. After Mahomes’s record contract, the NFL will never be the same again. In sum, this was a watershed moment for football’s elite players and the amount of money they can command.
The Minnesota Vikings guarantee Cousins one of the highest salaries of 2020. This will probably come as a surprise to NFL fans, but he is incredibly well-paid in the short-term. He signed a two-year, $66 million extension with Minnesota in the offseason.
Some feel the salaries Cousins has demanded are a bit overstated. He’ll take home about $40 million this year. This just goes to show how highly the Vikings think of him, with many fans ranking above Packers QB Aaron Rodgers at the moment. If he can have the same influence as his Packers’ compatriot on the Vikings, it will be money well spent.
The Kansas City Chiefs QB is a generational talent. In short, that’s why the Chiefs rewarded him with the biggest contract in the history of the NFL. In sum, Mahomes signed a 10-year deal worth up to $503 million, with $477 million in guarantees. Meanwhile, Mahomes also has an exit option.
However, if you look at the figures, Mahomes will not be the highest-earner in 2020, at least not where guaranteed take-home pay is concerned. While he will definitely make about $48 million without bonuses, it’s not enough for him to top this list.
Wilson remains the highest-paid player in the NFL on an annual basis. Mahomes obviously has a much bigger overall contract, but Wilson will take home more money in the short-term. His contract guarantees him a massive $53 million this year.
The Seattle Seahawks QB signed a four-year extension in 2019 worth $140 million with $107 million guaranteed. This will make him one of the most motivated players in the league as he hopes to lead Seattle to another Super Bowl. What a staggering amount of money that is.