The thing about sports is that you can be a solid player on a mediocre team. Unfortunately, this is something that happens to many professional players. Luckily for them, their talent ensures that they still bring in the big bucks.
NFL players earn a lot of money, and REALLY good NFL players earn even more! We know, amazing, right? And even though these players will never earn the coveted Super Bowl ring, we're sure that they're more than happy with the millions resting in their bank accounts.
These are the ten highest paid NFL players who never made the playoffs.
10 Mike Williams
Mike Williams was a wide receiver who spent most of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He enjoyed a spectacular 2012 season, finishing with a career high 996 receiving yards. Due to this, Williams signed a six-year, $40 million contract with the Bucs in 2013. However, he was quickly traded to the Bills, spent a majority of time on the injured reserve, and spent his entire 2015 season as a free agent. While his career eventually fizzled out, he ended his NFL career with $12 million in cash, which is certainly nothing to laugh at.
9 Daryl Washington
Daryl Washington was a controversial player in his day. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010, but in 2013 he was both suspended by the NFL for substance abuse and arrested for assault after allegedly pushing his ex-girlfriend and breaking her collarbone. In 2014, he was suspended indefinitely for substance abuse, causing him to miss the Cardinals' 2014 and 2015 playoff appearances. Despite this, he eventually walked away with $17 million to his name.
8 Stevie Johnson
Stevie Johnson was a wide receiver who is primarily associated with the Buffalo Bills. He is often considered a "draft steal," as he was the first Bills player to go back-to-back seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving. In total, he played 99 games, scored 34 touchdowns, and posted 4,764 yards received. Johnson earned a relatively paltry $295,000 in his first year with the Bills. By 2012, Johnson was earning over $2 million a year, peaking at $11 million in 2012 ($2,500,000 salary plus $8,500,000 signing bonus). He eventually accumulated just shy of $32 million throughout his nine seasons of football.
7 James Laurinaitis
James Laurinaitis is a former linebacker who spent his career with the St. Louis Rams. He was drafted by the team in 2009 and stayed with them until 2015. Unfortunately, the Rams aren't the greatest team in the league, and they never made the playoffs while Laurinaitis was with them.
In 2016, Laurinaitis signed with the Saints for $8.25 million but was plagued with injuries and announced his retirement the following year. In all, he appeared in 117 games and made 663 solo tackles. In eight seasons of the NFL, Laurinaitis accumulated just south of $36 million.
6 Eugene Monroe
Eugene Monroe has some nasty luck. Despite spending a majority of his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Monroe was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. The next year, the Ravens made the playoffs, but Monroe was forced to miss the games due to an ankle injury. In the end, he had missed 17 of 34 games, forcing the Ravens to release him. Monroe was earning big bucks with the Ravens, as in 2014 he earned $12 million between salary and his signing bonus. Monroe finished his NFL career after seven seasons, having earned just shy of $38 million.
5 Jairus Byrd
Jairus Byrd came so close, yet was so far. Byrd was a free safety who spent five seasons with the Buffalo Bills between 2009 and 2013. However, his career really flourished in 2014, when he signed a six-year, $56 million contract with the New Orleans Saints, which included an $11 million signing bonus. Unfortunately, Byrd suffered a knee injury and missed the entire 2014 season. He was eventually released by the Saints in 2017 and signed with the Carolina Panthers, who lost the wild card game against his previous team. So darned close! No matter - he collected $40 million throughout his time in the NFL.
4 Reshad Jones
After playing college football for the University of Georgie, Reshad Jones was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. He has remained with the team ever since, serving as a strong safety. Despite making the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2017, the Dolphins have not entered the playoffs since he joined the team in 2010. In March of 2017, Jones signed a five-year contract with the Dolphins worth $60,000,000, including an average salary of $12 million and $35 million in total guaranteed money. So, yeah, we don't think he's crying himself to sleep.
3 Gerald McCoy
Gerald McCoy is a brilliant defensive tackle, earning (as of the 2018 season) 53 sacks, 21 pass deflections, 6 forced fumbles, and 297 tackles. His work is reflected in his accolades, as he is a 6x Pro Bowl player, all of which were accomplished between 2012 and 2017. Unfortunately, he has spent all his time with the Buccaneers, and they kind of suck. So, no playoff birth for poor Gerald McCoy. In June of 2019, McCoy signed with the Panthers for a one-year, $8 million contract, including a $4 million signing bonus. With the Panthers included, McCoy has accumulated roughly $120 million throughout his NFL career!
2 Mario Williams
Mario Williams is another player who came oh-so-close to the playoffs. From 2006 to 2011 he played for the Houston Texans, who made the playoffs in his final year. Unfortunately, he suffered from a torn pectoral muscle and missed the playoffs due to being on the injured reserve. He then spent four seasons with the Buffalo Bills before signing a two-year, $17 million contract with the Miami Dolphins. That year, the Dolphins lost the wild card game to the Pittsburgh Steelers, effectively ending Mario Williams's dreams of reaching the playoffs. Throughout his eleven seasons in the NFL, Williams made $120 million.
1 Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas is often considered to be one of the best offensive linemen of all time. He even holds a record with 10,363 consecutive snaps, which is the longest in the NFL since the record began in 1999. He is also a 10x Pro Bowl player, earning the distinction in his first ten seasons between 2007 and 2016. In short, he's fantastic. Unfortunately, the Cleveland Browns are not, and he spent his entire career with the team. The last time the Browns made the playoffs was in 2002. So, no, Thomas did not make the playoffs. Fortunately, he earned an estimated $122 million in his time with the Browns, so we think he'll be OK.