Heading into 2014, Ben Roethlisberger, veteran quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is slated to be the highest-earning player in the AFC. Roethlisberger’s 2014 base salary is an impressive $12.1 million with $6.7 million in incentives. Assuming the University of Miami grad hits all the notes, he’ll gross a respectable 18.8 million clams.
Who will his pocket-stuffing counterpart from the NFC be?
According to Sports Illustrated, the average NFL salary in 2013 for a quarterback was $3.8 million. For defensive ends: $2.5 million, defensive tackles: $1.8 million,wide receivers: $1.8 million and linebackers: $1.8 million. As for running backs, they make less on average than kickers and punters ($1.6 million) at only $1.5 million.
While these numbers may seem counter-intuitive, we saw multiple team-leading earners of the defensive end and lineman varieties in the AFC edition of this ranking.
As I said in the previous chapter of this exposé: We’ll assume here that the stars align for these players. We’ll expect they collect every variety of incentive, bonus and escalator, and earn every penny of non-guaranteed money possible. We are after all optimists, and we hope for riches for all.
So, who’s the highest-paid carrier, catcher, protector, or pursuer of the pigskin on your favorite NFL team? We’ve got the complete breakdown of the heftiest salaries on each team in the NFC.
4 NFC East
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo, Quarterback: $21.7 million
The Cowboys' 33-year-old gunslinger is in the midst of a seven-year, $119.5 million contract. As an element of the contract, Tony Romo is entitled to a $25 million signing bonus, distributed across five seasons. In 2014, Romo is due to receive a $13.5 million base salary, and the aforementioned $5 million bonus. Additionally, No.9 is eligible for $3.2 in incentives in 2014.
New York Giants: Eli Manning, Quarterback: $20.4 million
The highest-earning player at any position in the NFL in 2013, Eli Manning will reprise that role in 2014. The younger Manning brother inked a seven-year $106.9 million contract in 2009 after a 2008 season in which he completed 60.3 percent of his passes, threw for more than 3,200 yards, and completed 21 touchdown passes. Eli could earn as much as $20.4 million in 2014, with a $15.15 million base salary.
Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver: $12.5 million
The 5’9’’ receiver from Cali signed a five-year, $47 million contract in 2012. DeSean Jackson’s 2014 contract assures him a base salary of $10.2 million, $2 million of his signing bonus, and the possibility of $250,000 in additional incentives. D-Jax was the sixth highest-paid wideout in the NFL in 2013.
Washington Redskins: Trent Williams, Left Tackle: $10.9 million
The second-highest-paid Washington Redskin in 2013, Trent Williams could earn $10.9 million in 2014. The fourth overall pick in 2010 out of Oklahoma, Williams signed a six-year, $60 million contract in 2010. Although the 6’5’’ tackle is raking it in, he was only the sixth-highest-earning LT in the NFL in 2013.
3 NFC North
Chicago Bears: Julius Peppers, Defensive End: $18.1 million
The former Carolina Panther, who notched 11.5 sacks in 2012, is slated to earn a base salary of $13.9 million in 2014. With incentives, Julius Peppers could earn more than $18 million. The 2002 Defensive Rookie of the Year, who signed an $84 million contract in 2010, joins Jared Allen and Mario Williams as the highest-paid defensive ends in the NFL.
Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle: $21.4 million
Ndamukong Suh paid out nearly $140,000 in fines in 2013. However, as he’s in the midst of a five-year, $65 million contract, the former University of Nebraska standout isn’t likely too concerned. Suh, as a function of a 2012 contract restructuring, is due to receive a base salary of $11.5 million in 2014, with a possible $9.8 million in bonus money coming his way.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rogers, Quarterback: $17.9 million
The 24th overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, Aaron Rogers signed a seven-year, $130 million contract in 2013 on the strength of five standout seasons after taking over the reigns from Brett Favre. Prior to 2013, Rogers had rarely missed a start, throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns every year, in addition to leading his team to a Super Bowl victory.
Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson, Running Back: $14.4 million
2 NFC South
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, Quarterback: $17.5 million
Matty Ice signed a six year extension worth $113.7 million with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. The Boston College alum is slated to receive a $9.5 million base salary in 2014 with a potential $8 million in escalators. Indeed, $42 million of Matt Ryan’s $113.7 million is fully guaranteed.
Carolina Panthers: Charles Johnson, Defensive End: $16.4 million
It’s not Cam Newton that will be collecting the most coin from the Carolina Panthers in 2014. Rather, defensive end Charles Johnson, who forced a ridiculous seven fumbles in 2012, could earn as much as $16.4 million.
New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, Quarterback: $18.4 million
As excited as he must be to be the pitchman for NyQuil, Drew Brees is likely happier about the five-year, $100 million contract he signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2012. Brees could earn as much as $18.4 million in 2014, with $10.7 guaranteed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darrelle Revis, Cornerback: $16 million
1 NFC West
Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver: $18 million
The second-highest-paid wide receiver in the league behind Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans, 30-year-old Larry Fitzgerald is due to receive a base salary of $12.7 million in 2014. With incentives, the former Pitt standout could gross $18 million for the year.
St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, Quarterback: $17.6 million
Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2013. Before that, though, he was off to a solid start: The former Oklahoma standout completed 60 percent of his passes and tossed 14 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions. The Rams, then, are happy to hand Bradford a base salary of $14 million in 2014.
San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Rogers, Cornerback: $8 million
It’s not Colin Kaepernick who will collect the fattest paycheck in 2014—the 49ers are actually getting incredible value from Kap, whose four-year, $5 million contract was signed when the player was an unproven backup—rather, it’s cornerback Carlos Rogers who could earn as much as $8 million in 2014.
Seattle Seahawks: Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver: $13.4 million
When former Minnesota Viking, Percy Harvin joined with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, the speedster signed a six-year, $64 million contract. However, the oft-injured Harvin only played in one game in 2013, making it likely the Seahawks won’t be keen on keeping him around for a base salary of $11 million in 2014. Of all the salaries on this list, this has to be the least sensible payout.