Agent’s Take: Cowboys’ Dak Prescott headlines record of NFL’s high 10 highest-paid gamers in 2021


Figuring out the highest-paid NFL gamers yearly is tougher than with their counterparts within the NBA and MLB. NFL contracts are sometimes front-loaded with signing bonuses as a result of the offers aren’t absolutely assured. This creates extra variance on a year-to-year foundation.

Wage is often deferred in essentially the most profitable NFL contracts. When a participant has a big signing bonus in his contract, a portion of the cash is not obtained till the subsequent calendar 12 months in loads of situations.

Wage deferrals are a well-established follow within the NFL. The seven-year, $98 million contract Peyton Manning signed with the Colts in March 2004, which made him the league’s highest-paid participant (by common wage), included a then-NFL-record $34.5 million signing bonus of which $18.5 million of the $34.5 million wasn’t paid to Manning till March 2005.

The chart under incorporates notable wage deferrals into 2022.



Whole signing bonus

Deferred quantity

Cost date

Jonathan Allen





Tom Brady





Darius Leonard





T.J. Watt





Joe Thuney





Braden Smith





Figuring out the highest-paid gamers in a specific 12 months has develop into a extra sophisticated endeavor as a result of the NFL Collective Bargaining Settlement modified the cost schedule of base wage. Starting this 12 months, base wage is being paid over twice the variety of regular-season weeks. Fifty p.c is paid over the course of the common season, with the ultimate cost coming on the finish of 36 weeks. This implies the ultimate cost of 2021 base wage might be in early Could 2022.

Gamers who transformed base wage into signing bonus for wage cap functions have a extra favorable cost schedule. The automated conversion rights groups have been sticking in NFL participant contracts aren’t reflecting this alteration. The transformed cash is often paid in equal installments over the course of the 18-week common season. If conversion rights aren’t within the contract, a participant’s agent can negotiate much more favorable cost phrases.

Beneath are the ten highest-paid NFL gamers for 2021. The one cash considered is from NFL participant contracts and is earlier than taxes (i.e; gross revenue). Sixteen of the 18 regular-season weeks are within the 2021 calendar 12 months. Since two regular-season video games are being performed in January 2022, gamers are handled as receiving 44.4% of base wage in 2021. The ultimate recreation of final 12 months’s common season was in January 2021, so 1/seventeenth of 2020 base wage can be mirrored within the calculations.

Prescott takes the highest spot largely as a result of he’s getting nearly all of his NFL-record $66 million signing bonus from the four-year, $160 million contract he signed in March in the course of the 2021 calendar 12 months. He obtained $25 million of the $66 million inside 15 days of signing his $40 million-per-year contract. The remaining $41 million is being paid in equal installments in the course of the 2021 common season. Prescott is one among two returnees from final 12 months’s record. He was eighth when he performed underneath a $31.409 million franchise tag in 2020.

The six-year, $138.06 million contract Williams signed in free company to stay with the 49ers makes him the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman at $23.01 million per 12 months. His $30.1 million signing bonus can be the biggest ever in an offensive lineman contract. The final of the three installments with the $30.1 million was paid on Oct. 31.

3. Tom Brady: $29,735,131

Brady is the opposite returnee from final 12 months’s record. He was ninth in 2020. Brady can be second if $15 million of the $20 million signing bonus from the one-year contract extension he signed in March wasn’t deferred till February 2022. His 2021 compensation consists of $3.375 million of incentives earned in the course of the 2020 season that have been paid in March.

Williams, who was designated as a franchise participant by the Giants for a second 12 months in a row, signed a three-year, $66 million contract. The $45 million absolutely assured, which features a $22.5 million signing bonus, is essentially the most ever in a Giants contract. Williams might be in receipt of your complete signing bonus, which was damaged into 4 funds, on Dec. 22.

Ryan would not be on this record if the Falcons hadn’t created $14 million of 2021 wage cap house by changing $21 million of his $23 million 2021 base wage right into a roster bonus that is being prorated like signing bonus. He is benefitting from the extra favorable cost schedule with the wage conversion. The $21 million is paid in equal installments over the 18-week common season. Moreover, $5 million of a $6.95 million wage conversion in March 2020 wasn’t paid till this previous April 15.

The 2021 first total decide bought the Jaguars to do one thing that they had by no means completed. Lawrence’s $24,118,900 signing bonus was paid in a lump sum inside 15 enterprise days of his contract’s execution. The everyday Jaguars cost schedule for first-round decide signing bonuses had been one-half inside 15 enterprise days of signing and the opposite half on the finish of the next March.

The 2016 NFL Defensive Rookie of the 12 months signed a five-year, $135 million extension averaging $27 million per 12 months with $102 million in total ensures throughout coaching camp final 12 months. The $102 million is essentially the most assured cash ever for a non-quarterback. As for Bosa’s $35 million signing bonus, $17.5 million was deferred till this previous March 31.

8. T.J. Watt: $23,879,398

Watt grew to become the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback with a four-year, $112.011 million extension averaging $28,002,750 per 12 months proper earlier than the beginning of the common season. Extra surprisingly, the Steelers deserted a long-established contract precedent the place signing bonus is the one assured cash to provide Watt essentially the most cash absolutely assured at signing in NFL historical past for a non-quarterback with $80 million. A $35 million signing bonus, by which $10 million is not payable till subsequent Could, is a part of the $80 million absolutely assured.

As 2021’s second total decide, Wilson signed a totally assured four-year deal for $35,150,680 which included a $22,924,132 signing bonus. The signing bonus was payable in a lump sum on Aug. 15.

A 2022 second-round decide and a 2023 fourth-round decide have been dealt to the Falcons for a disgruntled Jones and a 2023 sixth-round decide in June. The Titans assumed the remaining three years of Jones’ contract operating by way of the 2023 season price $38.326 million within the commerce. A $14 million wage conversion for wage cap functions paid in equal installments in the course of the 2021 common season and a $9 million deferral of the $11 million cost needed for the Falcons to choose up Jones’ 2023 contract 12 months in March 2020 make up most his 2021 compensation.



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