We all knew Lawrence was about to get paid when Dallas franchise tagged him this offseason. His performance rushing the passer last year was simply too much to deny. Despite several big names to pay, the Cowboys had to lock up Lawrence.
They did with a five-year, $105 million deal including $48 million guaranteed. He’ll earn $31.1 million of that this year, making him the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
3. RUSSELL WILSON, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – $35 MILLION:
This Super Bowl-winning passer from the Seattle Seahawks made headlines by setting his own contract deadline for his team to get a deal done. He was also rumored to potentially have a contract that took into account salary cap increases. That didn’t ultimately happen, but the fact it was even talked about could be groundbreaking for future such deals in the NFL.
As for Wilson’s contract, he signed a four-year, $140 million deal featuring $70 million guaranteed, $35 million of which he’ll get this year. The Seahawks did what they had to do.
Ryan took the Falcon to the brink of winning the Super Bowl in early 2017. While they didn’t get there, Atlanta rewarded their leader with a ridiculous five-year, $150 million extension with $94.5 million in guaranteed money. The Falcons’ longtime QB hasn’t picked up the wins to perhaps justify a deal of such magnitude since.
However, he is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL and has a stocked arsenal of pass catchers at his disposal. Still, the pressure is on Ryan and Falcons coach Dan Quinn to recreate some of their 2016 magic, as Ryan will earn a jaw-dropping $44.75 million as the second highest-paid player in the NFL in 2019.
1. BEN ROETHLISBERGER, PITTSBURGH STEELERS – $45 MILLION:
Roethlisberger was at the center of a hotbed of drama and controversy involving former Pittsburgh wideout Antonio Brown ever since the end of last season. It got so bad that ‘Big Ben’ even apologized for his public comments after the fact.
Ii was also a shame that he never reached a Super Bowl with Brown and also-departed running back Le’Veon Bell by his side. But the Steelers clearly still believe in the aging and oft-injured passer.
They handed him a two-year, $68 million extension with $37.5 million guaranteed after last season. He has still secured elite passing numbers. His new running mates are wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner, not a bad pair to start over with.
He’ll lead one of the NFL’s most storied franchises into the future, and for his efforts, he’ll be paid $45 million in 2019 as the highest-paid player in the NFL this season.