Even in the USA, American football cannot always keep up with the absolute top salaries. Basketball, boxing and even golf outperform the National Football League (NFL). But the stars of this American popular sport have a special charisma. The top earners are the quarterbacks. They dominate the top 10 highest-paid football stars compiled by “Forbes” as of September 9, 2023. Russell Wilson opens the list. His contract with the Denver Broncos is said to have been worth around $28 million in 2023. It was said that the 34-year-old, who was 34 at the time of publication, earned another $13 million off the field. Among other things, Wilson founded a fashion label with his wife, singer Ciara.
Some NFL stars made it into this ranking with comparatively low income from advertising contracts. According to Forbes, one of them was Kyler Murray in ninth place. According to the magazine, the 26-year-old quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals earned around $39 million on the field in 2023 and $3.5 million through partnerships, including with Nike. According to Forbes, the annual income was calculated based on the payments that a club made to the player in 2023 (including all bonuses) as well as the estimated income from advertising contracts, licensing deals or other ventures.
Dak Prescott's signing bonus had set an NFL record in 2021. The quarterback received $66 million from the Dallas Cowboys on top of his four-year, $160 million contract. According to Forbes, the 30-year-old's annual income was now only in eighth place. Prescott earned $31 million on the field and $13 million from other businesses.
The nickname “Jackpot Joey” for Joe Burrow is no coincidence. According to Forbes, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback negotiated an extension of his contract for a guaranteed sum of $219 million shortly before the ranking deadline. That was the second-highest amount ever, according to the report. Broken down to 2023, the 26-year-old reportedly earned $45 million ($41 million on the field), putting him in seventh place.
According to Forbes, Deshaun Watson only earned an estimated half a million dollars from endorsement deals in 2023. The reason was the allegations of more than 20 women who had accused the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns of sexual harassment. Advertising partners then separated from the 27-year-old. In 2020, Watson's off-field earnings were estimated at $8 million. He earned $46 million with the Cleveland Browns, which was enough for him to rank sixth in the ranking of the biggest stars in American football.
According to Forbes, Daniel Jones extended his contract with the New York Giants for another four years in March 2023. Deal value: $160 million. The 26-year-old quarterback is rarely active on social media but has a number of traditional endorsement partners. According to the ranking, they added another $1.5 million to his club salary of $46 million.
At 39, Aaron Rodgers is by far the oldest of the top football stars. But the quarterback is one of the NFL's biggest earners even after moving from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets. "Forbes" attested that the playmaker had an annual salary of $36.9 million and $11 million in income from advertising contracts or his venture capital company RX3.
Nick Bosa stands out in two ways in this ranking of the highest paid NFL players. At 25, he was the youngest athlete at the deadline and also the only non-quarterback in the top 10. According to the analysis, the NFL's 2023 Defensive Player of the Year received around $51 million in annual salary from the San Francisco 49ers. Only one million were added off the pitch. Bosa will face number two in this ranking at the Super Bowl on February 11, 2024.
Patrick Mahomes has done it: The Kansas City Chiefs will defend their title against the 49ers in the 2024 Super Bowl. According to Forbes, the 27-year-old quarterback signed the largest contract in NFL history to date in 2020: $450 million for ten years. Broken down to 2023, according to the analysis, Mahomes received $40.5 million from his club and earned $20 million as an advertising ambassador for T-Mobile, Walmart and Hugo Boss, among others. But that also put him a world away from being the highest-paid footballer in 2023.
Lamar Jackson played in his own income bracket in 2023. The quarterback extended his contract with the Baltimore Ravens after two years of negotiations in exchange for a signing bonus of $72.5 million - an NFL record, Forbes reported. The magazine calculated the 26-year-old's on-field income of $80 million, plus $1.5 million from other business activities. On Forbes' list of the 50 highest-paid athletes in the world for 2023, Jackson narrowly missed making it into the top 10. To put it into perspective: Cristiano Ronaldo was at the top of the ranking with a reported $136 million (90 million of which came from advertising contracts and the like).
This article first appeared in the business magazine "Capital", which, like stern, is part of RTL Deutschland.