The Windy City, home to Lake Michigan, Da Bears, and one of baseball’s most cursed teams, the Cubs. As the third-largest city in the United States, Chicago has seen 17 championships between the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks. In addition to its rich history, Chicago is also home to one of the best sports bar scenes in the country and rated as one of the best cities to live in for young professionals.
Sports, beer, and women; sounds like the perfect city to start a career, right? Before you pack up your desk, you’ll want to catch up on the athletes in Chicago who fans demand the most from. Here is a list of the highest-paid athletes coming out of the Windy City.
10. Jay Cutler – QB Chicago Bears – 2013 Salary: $8.47 Million
After spending his first three seasons in the league with the Denver Broncos, Jay Cutler was traded to the Bears in exchange for Kyle Orton and a few draft picks. While in Chicago, he has led the Bears to nine game-winning drives and has thrown for 101 touchdowns. These numbers sound good, but it is certainly nothing that pops off the stat sheet. In January 2014, Cutler signed a 7-year, $126 million contract extension with over $50 million of that in guaranteed money. What Cutler brings to the table is consistency and toughness, playing in 67 games as a Bear in 5 seasons so far.
9. Brandon Marshall – WR Chicago Bears – 2013 Salary: $9.1 Million
Another former Bronco turned Bear, Marshall has lived up to his 5-year, $47.3 million contract he signed in 2010. Marshall has only missed a handful of games since coming into the league in 2006, allowing him to record 57 touchdowns in his young career. Marshall has made the Pro Bowl in five separate seasons and is sitting at 9,050 receiving yards in his career, placing him 13th amongst active WRs. He is set to become a free agent in 2015 where he will surely be paid even more, whether it’s from the Bears or a different club.
8. Joakim Noah – Forward Chicago Bulls – 2013 Salary: $12.1 Million
After winning the National Championship with the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007, Noah was drafted by Chicago with the 9th overall pick in the 2007 draft. Noah took his fair share of lumps in his first few seasons in the league and has since then flourished. After his first two seasons he has consistently averaged over 10 PPG and at least 10 rebounds per game. In October 2010, his hard work paid off and he signed at 5-year, $60 million deal with the team. In 2013 he made his first All Star Game and has cemented himself as one of the most athletic centers in the league, maintaining a top 10 offensive rebounding rank every season since 2008.
7. Paul Konerko – First Baseman – 2013 Salary: $12.5 Million
After brief stints with the Dodgers and Blue Jays, Konerko found his way to Chicago after the 1998 season and has been with the club ever since. As a member of the Sox, Konerko has appeared in 6 All-Star Games, played in nearly 2,200 games, and has maintained a .281 batting average. In 2013, he earned just under $13 million in what was surely the last big contract for the 37-year-old. He is signed through the 2014 season on a one-year, $2.5 million deal in which he will more than likely retire as a Sock. He is currently fifth among active players in career games and seventh among active players in career at bats.
6. Julius Peppers – DE Chicago Bears – 2013 Salary: $12.9 Million
As a standout basketball and football player at the University of North Carolina, Peppers was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 2002 NFL Draft. He played in 122 games as a Panther but became a free agent after the 2009 season, allowing the Bears to sign him to a 6-year, $91.5 million deal, making him one of the highest-paid NFL players at that time. Peppers has made it to the Pro Bowl in eight different seasons and even made it onto the NFL’s Hall of Fame All 2000’s team as a 2nd team selection. His tenacity on the field has left him as one of the most feared pass rushers in the game, ranking him 3rd amongst all active players in sacks.
5. Edwin Jackson – Picher Chicago Cubs – 2013 Salary: $13 Million
After bouncing around the league his first 11 seasons in the league, Edwin Jackson finally signed with the Cubs as a free agent in January 2013 for a 4-year, $52 million deal. Since making the All-Star team with the Tigers in 2009, Jackson’s numbers have steadily declined in all aspects of his game. As the highest-paid member of the Cubs last season, his numbers were dismal as he went 8-18 with an ERA of 4.98. Jackson is signed through the 2016 season where he will most likely not receive another multi-year deal unless he can come up with some magic and help the bottom-dwelling Cubs win some games.
4. Adam Dunn – First Basemen/DH Chicago White Sox – 2013 Salary: $15 Million
In 2010, the “Big Donkey” signed a 4-year, $56 million deal with the Sox as a free agent. With big risk comes big reward, and that is exactly how Dunn’s game is. Dunn is known throughout the league for being able to smash monster home runs, but he is also known for having an extremely high strikeout rate. He has only made it to the All-Star Game twice, but he is Mr. Dependable for the most part, remaining healthy enough to appear in over 1,800 games. He is also one of the highest-fielding first basemen in the league, maintaining a .988 fielding percentage, placing him in the top 10 amongst active first basement.
3. Carlos Boozer- Forward Chicago Bulls- 2013 Salary: $15.3 Million
Boozer played 6 seasons with the Utah Jazz before signing with the Chicago Bulls as a free agent in 2010 to a 5-year, $80 million contract. He has been dominant as a Bull, grabbing just under 10 rebounds per game and scoring over 16 PPG, making him one of the most valuable big guys in the league. Boozer has made it to two All-Star Games, although neither of them was as a Bull. Because of his tenacity and length, Boozer has been in the top 10 for field goal percentage in almost every year of his career.
2. Johnny Danks – Pitcher Chicago White Sox – 2013 Salary: $15.7 Million
Danks made his career debut with the White Sox in 2007 and has been with the team ever since. In 2011 he signed a 5-year, $65 million deal to remain with the club through the 2016 season. As a member of the Sox, Danks has 61-74 with a 4.20 ERA, certainly nothing to brag about. Similar to Edwin Jackson, Danks has gradually gone downhill and he has won just 15 games his last three seasons. He underwent shoulder surgery in 2012 and that may have led to his poor production on the mound the past few seasons, but the Sox have been entertaining any offers for Danks to unload his huge, unproductive contract.
1. Derrick Rose – Guard Chicago Bulls – 2013 Salary: $17.6 Million
It should be no surprise that Derrick Rose is the highest-paid athlete in Chicago. The Bulls drafted Rose with the first overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft but he has appeared in just 289 games since joining the team. Rose showed promise in the first three years of his career, winning Rookie of the Year in 2009, starting in the All-Star Game in 2010, and being named MVP of the league in 2011 at the age of 22. In December 2011, Rose signed a 5-year, $94 million extension, a contract he clearly deserved. However, in the playoffs of the 2012 season he tore his ACL and had to miss the entire following season. During the 2013-14 season he has played in just 10 games and is slated to miss the remainder of the year after tearing his meniscus in his right knee. After a career that started out with so much promise, Rose is no longer known for what he had done for the Bulls the first three years of his contract. Instead, his name is now being thrown around with Yao Ming and Grant Hill as being athletically gifted, yet physically fragile when it comes to playing an entire season.
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