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Biggest NFL contracts: Highest-paid NFL players ever

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Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes has by far the biggest ever NFL contract. Photo from Arizona Republic.

As we enter the NFL’s offseason, with contract extensions, trades and the draft imminent, we take a look at the biggest NFL contracts of all-time.

T-8. Matthew Stafford – Lions: 5 year / $135 million

We will start the list as it will go on, with a quarterback. And one who is very relevant at the moment, at that, Matthew Stafford.

The QB who was just traded to the LA Rams from the team who gave him the second-biggest contract in NFL history back in 2017, the Detroit Lions. They gave him a five-year deal which made him the highest-paid active player.

Stafford’s first season with the Rams will be a key one for him to establish his future as the deal expires at the end of his second year there.

T-8. Joey Bosa – Chargers: 5 year / $135 million

An entry which was signed before this season, and notable as one of just a few non-QB players in our list, Joey Bosa is an elite talent at the second most premium position in the sport.

The quarterback will always be the position with the biggest NFL contracts, as this list shows, but the second tier is the guy who tries to sack them. The older Bosa [his brother may feature here in a couple of years] signed a five-year $135 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers after proving himself as one of the elite pass rushers in the league.

T-8. Aaron Donald – Rams: 6 year / $135 million

One of the greatest players to ever put on a helmet and shoulder pads, Aaron Donald is one of the only players who can break into the quarterback-tier of NFL contracts.

The Los Angeles Rams drafted #99 in 2014 and when his rookie deal expired, they gave him a six-year deal worth $135 million which made him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.

Unfortunately, this record lasted less than two months but we’ll get back to that later.

7. Jimmy Garoppolo – 49ers: 5 year / $137.5 million

One of the most interesting contracts on our list, Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers after he went from a career backup through three full years behind Tom Brady in New England to the starter when he came to the Bay Area.

In 2017, he took on the mantle of the starting role for a five-game stretch, and he went 5-0 in a famous run. The backup got starting QB money after his dominant season turnaround, and ahead of 2018, he inked a $137.5 million deal that will keep him in San Fran through 2022.

6. Michael Vick – Falcons: 10 year / $138 million

Interestingly, here we find the only contract on our list that is not currently being played out.

What is incredible about this is that the owner of said contract retired in 2015 and the deal expired after the 2013 season. Michael Vick was a revolutionary football player for the Atlanta Falcons, a quarterback who could rush better than most halfbacks, and who struck fear into defenses like nobody ever had before – a true dual-threat.

Vick was still in the top spot for four full seasons after his contract ended, and wasn’t usurped for the biggest contract ever until May 2018.

5. Russell Wilson – Seahawks: 4 year / $140 million

The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the 2010’s, having drafted Russell Wilson in 2012 and then made the playoffs in every year but one since.

They extended their franchise QB with a four-year deal that would keep him on the team through the 2023 season when he will be 35. Wilson is the second-oldest player on our list, but he is still playing at a great level and both Seahawks and NFL fans, in general, will be hoping that as he plays out this contract, they put the ball in his hands more and more.

4. Khalil Mack – Bears: 6 year / $141 million

The highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history is Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears.

The Oakland Raiders drafted an elite defensive talent and when they realised just how good he was, they traded him for a huge haul of picks to a team who wanted to pay him accordingly.

The Bears did just that when they gave him the biggest contract for a player who isn’t a quarterback in NFL history in 2018 – breaking a record that was just weeks old (sorry Aaron Donald).

At the time he signed the deal, it was actually the second biggest of all-time, including QB’s.

3. Matt Ryan – Falcons: 5 year / $150 million

The oldest player on this list, Matt Ryan signed his contract at age 32. He penned a deal which made him an Atlanta Falcon through the 2023 season.

When he signed the deal, he took the top spot of this list, as the first player in NFL history to have a $150 million valued contract. Ryan is a veteran who is still very productive, and with the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees playing over 40-years-old, he’s probably still got another short contract in him when this one expires.

2. Deshaun Watson – Texans: 4 year / $156 million

Possibly the most talked about player as we enter the 2021 offseason, Deshaun Watson is in the market for a trade out of Houston ahead of the next season.

This drama has come immediately after he inked one of the biggest NFL contracts ever, signing a four-year extension through 2025 for $156 million. Watson signed at age 24 after taking the NFL by storm in his first few seasons, and in 2020 he lead the NFL in passing yards. Ahead of the 2021 season, he may very well move on from the Texans, but wherever he goes he will be getting paid.

Only one person has ever had a contract worth more than Watson. and That will inevitably change, he is one of the hottest commodities in football as we move forward.

1. Patrick Mahomes – Chiefs: 10 year / $450 million

You already knew who was going to be number one on this list, of course, but did you realise that Patrick Mahomes’ contract was going to be worth 200% more than any other contract in NFL history?

There has always been a mentality that the next contract is the biggest contract, especially for quarterbacks, but somehow, I think it will take quite a while before someone can measure up to the $300 million jump that was made in 2020 when the Chiefs extended their superstar.

Mahomes signed the deal at 24, and he will become a free agent for the first time in his career in 2032.

Kansas City won the Super Bowl in the very first season that he extended. They returned to the big game again in 2021.

There will be many more successful seasons, and many more Super Bowl appearances for Mahomes. Plenty of those will come before anyone can ever knock him off of the top of the pile with the biggest NFL contract ever signed.



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