They may play only 16 regular season games per year, but they lay their bodies on the line every single game. It is the only major American sport where almost every single play ends up with a bone-crunching tackle. They are the men of the gridiron, here is a list of the top 10 highest paid players in the NFL for the period of June 2012 to June 2013, including salary, bonuses and endorsements.
10. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $23.4 million
Vincent Jackson is a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He used to play for the San Diego Chargers, the team that drafted him in 2005 out of the University of Northern Colorado. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times and has received more than a thousand yards in four seasons. In 2012, he moved to the Bucs for a five-year, $55.6 million contract. His salary and bonuses for the year is $23.2 million. He also has endorsements amounting to $250,000.
9. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs – $24.9 million
Dwayne Bowe is a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs. He played in college for Louisiana State University. In 2007, he entered the NFL Draft where the Chiefs took him in as the 23rd choice. He holds the team record for the most receiving yards per game at 65.1 yards. He is also second behind Tony Gonzalez for the most receptions per game at 4.7. He signed a five-year, $56 million salary in 2012. He earned $24.5 million in salary and bonuses this past year, along with endorsements amounting to $400,000.
8. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens – $25.8 million
Ray Rice is a running back for the defending Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens. He entered the draft in 2008 after playing college football at Rutgers University. He ranks second in the team record books in rushing yards, attempts and rushing touchdowns. He ranks third in combined touchdowns. Last year, he earned $24.2 million in salary and $1.6 million in endorsement deals with Nike, Verizon and M&T Bank.
7. Calvin Johnson Jr., Detroit Lions – $26.3 million
Calvin Johnson Jr. is a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions. Nicknamed the Megatron, he played for Georgia Tech in college before being chosen second overall by the Lions in the 2007 draft. His combination of size, strength, speed and leaping ability was rewarded with an eight-year, $132 million contract in 2012. His salary last year was $25.5 million, plus endorsements amounting to $800,000.
6. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys – $28.8 million
Tony Romo is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He played for Division I-AA school Eastern Illinois University in college, before signing up as a free agent for the Cowboys after not being selected in the 2003 draft. He started out as a holder before coming in as a quarterback to replace Drew Bledsoe in a 2006 game. Since then, he has made the Pro Bowl three times, led the team to the playoffs, and broken the team record for most games with at least 300 passing yards and most games with at least three touchdown passes.
5. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – $30 million
Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. He played 14 stellar seasons with the Indianapolis Colts after playing college football for the University of Tennessee. During his stint with the Colts, he won the Super Bowl and was awarded the MVP trophy four times. After he sat out the 2011 season due to injury, the Colts released him and the Broncos signed him up. He immediately led the team to the playoffs, barely missing a spot in the conference finals. His salary last year was $18 million, though he earns $12 million in endorsements.
4. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – $36.8 million
Joe Flacco is the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. He played in college for the University of Delaware before entering the NFL in 2008. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to start and win two playoff games in a rookie season. He has one of the strongest arms in the league and last year threw 11 touchdown passes without an interception in the postseason, tying Joe Montana’s record. He earns $35.9 million in salary and $850,000 in endorsements.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots – $38.3 million
Tom Brady is the quarterback of the New England Patriots. He played college football in the University of Michigan before he was drafted in 2000. He has been to five Super Bowls, winning three of them. He has also been named regular season MVP twice, Super Bowl MVP twice, and has been to eight Pro Bowls. He holds the league record for most touchdown passes in a season. His career playoff wins is also the most in the league. He also has a supermodel wife in Gisele Bundchen. His salary last year was $31.3 million, with endorsements of $7 million.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – $49 million
Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. He played in college for the University of California, Berkeley before being drafted in 2005. He initially backed up Brett Favre, before he became the starter in 2008. In 2010, he led the team to the Super Bowl, winning MVP honor in the process. He is the league’s all-time leader in passer rating at 104.9. He also owns the largest contract in the league when he signed a five-year, $110 million deal. His salary is $43 million with endorsements amounting to $6 million.
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – $51 million
Drew Brees is the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. He played college football for Purdue before being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2001. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler and led the Saints to the title in 2009, winning MVP honor after tying the record for most completions in a Super Bowl. He earns $40 million in salary and $11 million in endorsements with companies like Nike, Wrangler and Verizon