If there’s one thing every NFL star wants, it’s to be among the most expensive NFL contracts. Each year, stars at every position are rewarded with MASSIVE paydays. Players hold out, go to the press to express concerns, and even demand trades in order to get theirs.
The issue is deciding whether or not each massive contract is worth it. Let’s dive into the 10 most expensive NFL contracts (by total salary) and rank them by value. For this, we will go from best value to worst. All contract numbers are thanks to Spotrac.
The 10 Most Expensive NFL Contacts, Ranked by Value
Josh Allen, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Six years, $258 Million ($150 Million guaranteed)
Josh Allen has more than earned his massive payday. For the 2022 season, Allen’s cap hit is just over $16 Million but he gets significantly more expensive next year. Despite that, he’s earned every dollar.
Initially a big, strong-armed, and raw prospect from Wyoming, Allen was a risky investment by the Bills when they drafted him in 2018. He was decent as a rookie, took a step forward in 2019, then made an unprecedented jump into the 2020 season. Usually, the breakout year is in the quarterback’s second. For Allen, we all had to wait another season.
Now, he’s a perennial MVP candidate and his Bills are Super Bowl favorites for all of the top online NFL betting websites. While he is the second-most expensive player in the NFL in terms of his contract, he is easily the most worth it. 614 yards and seven touchdowns in just two games. It’s safe to say that the Bills, led by Allen, are going to be one of the best teams in the NFL all year.
Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
10 years, $450 Million ($141.5 Million guaranteed)
450 MILLION DOLLARS. Patrick Mahomes is far and away the most expensive contract…and he’s worth every penny. The only reason he isn’t higher is due to the fact that Allen’s contract is such a bargain. Did you know: Mahomes’ $450 Million contract is larger than the total GDP of seven countries.
Ever since he burst out of the gates by finding the endzone four times in Week 1 against division rival Chargers, Mahomes has been one of the premier signalcallers in the league. That year, he led the league with 50 touchdowns, 9.6 yards per attempt, and a QBR of 80.3. 2018 was his MVP season and he hasn’t regressed since.
He has an aggressive playstyle that can result in turnovers, as we saw last year. Despite that, he’s been in the MVP conversation every single year. He brought a Super Bowl LIV win back to Kansas City, an AFC Championship the following year, and he’s hosted the game each of the last four seasons.
Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
Five years, $242.6 Million ($161 Million guaranteed)
Broncos Country, let’s ride! Russell Wilson was the face of the Seattle Seahawks franchise for his first ten years in the NFL and was shipped off to Denver before this season. A roster that was playoff-ready already, adding the nine-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XLVIII champion resulted in a massive shift in odds.
“Let Russ Cook” was the motto of the 12th Man on social media because it seemed like Seattle’s offensive approach was to not allow Wilson “cook.” Now, in Denver, he will be allowed to play to his strengths.
Paying Wilson a brand-new, five-year, $242.6 Million contract is a bold move by a franchise desperate to emerge from the group of death that is the AFC West and get back to Super Bowl contention. Is it an overpay? Methinks not.
Another did you know: Did you know Russell Wilson has never received a single vote for MVP? Insane.
Kyler Murray, Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals
Five years, $230.5 Million ($189.5 Million guaranteed)
Yet another brand-new contract, Kyler Murray played hardball with his Arizona Cardinals and was rewarded. About as elusive can be, Murray has shown that he can be an exciting quarterback in the NFL.
As the orchestrator of the “Hail Murray,” Kyler Murray has proven that he can score almost at will. With DeAndre Hopkins as his WR1 (when he returns from suspension, of course), Murray can light up defenses.
Arizona has only made playoffs once since 2015, and it was a disappointing performance in last year’s edition. Murray was rewarded for taking the team to the playoffs and the Cardinals hope he can improve his postseason performance with a little more money. Arizona has a solid team this year and it will make Murray’s payday worth it in the long run.
Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Three years, $150.8 Million ($150.8 Million guaranteed)
Truth be told, the contract of the back-to-back MVP could very well be a blank check and it would be worth it. However, Aaron Rodgers is nearly 39 years old. Father Time is undefeated.
The sole owner of the Chicago Bears franchise, Rodgers has experienced success just about every year since taking over for Brett Favre. And despite the fact that Green Bay has only reached the Super Bowl once in Rodgers’ tenure (SB XLV in 2010), the Packers are among the favorites year in and year out.
This contract would be more worth it among the most expensive NFL contracts if not for the consistent choke jobs in the playoffs. He’s played in 22 postseason games and has a middling 12-10 record. That includes four one-and-dones. Plus the fact that his contract handcuffed the Packers and resulted in their trading of Davante Adams.
If Rodgers can ride into the sunset ala John Elway and bring home another title, his contract will shoot up this list.
Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
Four years, $160 Million ($130 Million guaranteed)
No quarterback on this list has won multiple Super Bowls but Matthew Stafford has a decent shot to repeat this year. That is, of course, if his shoulder holds up…
Stafford spent a long 12 years in Detroit. In his nine full, completed seasons, Stafford averaged 4,423 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was a high-volume, nearly-elite passer of the football but he was wasting away with the Lions. You know, the franchise that robbed us of more of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson.
His trade to LA catapulted the Rams to Super Bowl contention and, ultimately, a title. Last year, it sure looked like this contract was worth it. After reports of his shoulder surfaced, we have to reassess. When healthy, Stafford continues to be able to sling it with the best of the best.
Matt Ryan, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
Five years, $150 Million ($100 Million guaranteed)
Before the 2018 season, Matt Ryan signed his five-year, $150 Million contract, just a year removed from blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI. He was the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise but they elected to ship him off to Indianapolis when it became apparent the team was in on — and nearly landed — Deshaun Watson.
Atlanta did right by Ryan by trading him off to a contending team, however. Even then, Ryan’s cap hit this year is $18.7 Million…it’s $35.2 Million next year. The team has a strong young core, but that much money for a quarterback that will be 38 is not ideal.
Matt Ryan is a solid veteran quarterback but he is at the end of his viable years. Indianapolis is going to be paying over $35 Million for a mentor for whichever young quarterback they select in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Dak Prescott, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
Four years, $160 Million ($126 Million guaranteed)
Being the quarterback for “America’s Team” has its perks. In his time in Dallas, Dak Prescott has been a skilled quarterback, capable of winning games himself.
While on his rookie contract, Prescot was well worth the money. Since then, not so much. Prescott missed 11 games in 2020 due to a grusome injury. Despite that, Dallas signed him to his contract and was rewarded with 16 games, an NFC East title, and a first-round exit in the playoffs. This year? Another serious injury in Week 1.
Is it the Cowboys fault that Prescott’s missed all that time due to injury? Probably not, but at this point, this contract does not look great.
Khalil Mack, Linebacker, Los Angeles Chargers
Six years, $141 Million ($90 Million guaranteed)
By far the most expensive NFL contract for a defender, Khalil Mack got an extension after being shipped off from the Raiders to the Bears. Chicago has since off-loaded that contract to LA.
There’s a reason Mack’s contract is the second-worst of the highest-paid NFL players: he’s a defender. Quarterback is where the money is. Plus, Mack has yet to replicate the success that he had as a Raider, hence why the change in scenery.
Mack’s impact on the game is lesser as a linebacker/edge rusher as compared to a quarterback. Is he a stud? Absolutely. But an offense can game plan to take away his impact; a quarterback has the ball every play.
Although, the good news for the Chargers is that Mack made the playoffs in 2016, 2018, and 2020. They must be destined to make it in 2022.
Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns
Five years, $230 Million ($230 Million guaranteed)
Finally, Deshaun Watson. When he played, Watson was one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL. He has not played in a game that mattered since January 3rd, 2021. He intentionally sat out the 2021 season after not being able to come to an agreement with the Texans…plus the fact that they are a poorly-ran organization.
So, naturally, he decided to sign a $230 Million fully guaranteed after hand-picking the Cleveland Browns during a months-long debacle of a series of events. Seems like a lateral move in terms of how well one franchise is run compared to another, but hey, not here to judge.
Naturally, his contract is the worst of the most expensive NFL contracts. He has yet to play a snap due to his off-the-field misdeeds. Even then, the Browns knew he was going to be suspended, so they structured his contract in a way that nearly eliminated his cap hit for 2022. While it was intelligent, it just shows they are a-okay with what Watson did.