Net worths in the NFL are pretty interesting with the salary cap making it pretty interesting to see how much retired NFL players are worth. With the salary cap in place, it’s tough for some NFL players to gain as much money as other players in leagues like the NBA and MLB would make. Also with the salary cap going up year by year, many mediocre players that are currently playing, are making more money than some of the best players we’ve ever seen in the NFL. With players having varying degrees of success after retirement, you will be surprised to see how much some players are worth.
We all have an amount that we believe each player is worth based off of the amount of success they have had in the NFL. But, sometimes these players are worth a lot more or a lot less than you would believe. Just because these NFL players were paid very handsomely for their time in the NFL, it doesn’t they managed their money well after retirement and stayed right. And don’t assume that some players haven’t made a ton of money in the league, even if they haven’t lived up to their expectations. Some NFL players managed to increase their wealth after retirement due to sound business investments and just being smart with their earnings. In particular, these 15 NFL players’ net worths may surprise you.
15 Archie Griffin - $2 Million
This may not be as shocking as many others, but Archie Griffin is arguably one of the best running backs to ever play college football. He’s the only player in history to ever win the Heisman Trophy twice. He won four Big Conference titles at Ohio State University, and was drafted as the 24th overall pick of the 1976 NFL Draft. With all his success in the NCAA, you would expect him to have left the NFL with some money, but, shockingly his net worth is only worth $2 million.
Griffin’s professional career was nowhere near as successful as his college career. Throughout his seven-year career, he rushed for 2,808 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Griffin was unable to ever rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, and only had three career 100-yard rushing games. So for a man who was so successful playing college ball, it’s pretty surprising to see that he’s only worth $2 million.
14 Ray Rice - $14 Million
After the whole domestic violence case between Ray Rice and his wife, it would be expected that Rice would have lost money over the years without having football in his life. For a man who publicly struck his spouse and dragged her out of an elevator, he’s still wealthier than some of the best to have ever played the game. It may seem like Rice was in the league for a while, but he actually only made it through six seasons before his career unofficially came to an end. Through four of those seasons, he managed to rush for over 1,000 yards. Unsurprisingly, no team wanted to touch him and with him being over 30, no team will take a chance on him now
Since his NFL exile, Rice has become an advocate against domestic violence and has been a guest speaker on the issue at various events. He's recently said he's considering a return to Rutgers to finish his degree and get a post-football career going.
13 Tim Couch - $26 Million
The Cleveland Browns have a history of drafting poorly, and it all stems back even into the '90s, when they drafted Tim Couch out of Kentucky. With the success he had in the NCAA, it was an easy draft pick for the Cleveland Browns to use the first overall draft pick on him. Now, we’ve seen a ton of bad Browns quarterbacks since then, and Couch definitely isn’t the worst, but he wasn’t what the Browns thought they were getting themselves in to. Turnovers were a problem throughout Couch’s career, as he threw 67 interceptions during his career with only 64 touchdown passes. He was sacked 50 times in two seasons of his career, and failed to ever reach even a passer rating of 80.
Couch is considered one of the NFL’s biggest draft busts. And the most incredible thing about it, is he’s richer than most NFL players that currently play the game at a high level.
12 Jake Long - $54 Million
Considered one of the best offensive tackles seen in a while, Jake Long remains extremely wealthy after having a fairly short career. In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins used to the first overall draft pick to select Long from the University of Michigan.
His rookie contract was a five-year deal worth $57.75 million, and became the highest contract signed by an offensive lineman at the time.
Long was a great offensive lineman, one of the best the NFL has seen in a while, but he couldn’t stay healthy. He struggled through many injuries, which led his career ending early. It finally came to an abrupt end when he tore his Achilles against in Week 10 of the 2016 season when he played for the Vikings. After that season, Long finally announced his retirement. Even though injuries led his career to end early, he made enough money in his rookie contract to allow him to live his life the way he would like.
11 Jonathan Martin - $3 Million
Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin were once known as good teammates of the Miami Dolphins, and then they became enemies. Martin spoke out about how he was abused mentally in the locker room and how racial slurs were tossed around like candy. Martin’s career in Miami ended early, and quite frankly, ended his own career early. He played another year for the San Francisco 49ers before his career finally came to an end.
For most players, we expect them to make more or less based off of their play, but for Martin, his career ended a lot quicker than many expected. Martin had the opportunity to see the organization and make a case out of this, and probably get a big paycheck. Martin also played three years in the NFL as a second-round draft pick, so the fact that he’s only worth $2 million is pretty surprising with everything he’s been through.
10 LaVar Arrington - $45 Million
By all means, LaVar Arrington was a really good linebacker for the Washington Redskins, for about four seasons. After his fourth season in the NFL, he never played a full season again. Injuries forced Arrington’s career to slow down, which led his career to end after seven seasons. The reason why he made so much money was because of the contract extension he made early in his career, which was an eight-year deal worth $68 million.
The contract seemed incredible, but little did they know it would be one of the worst decisions they made in their history.
Arrington was going to be the future of that defense, but his career in Washington only continued for two more seasons before Arrington bought out his contract. Arrington then got another big contract from the New York Giants, a seven-year deal worth $49 million. Although he was, in all, fairly successful as a player, he was even more successful in the NFL as a businessman.
9 Charles Haley - $3 Million
What does it take for one of the all-time best defensive ends to make a lot of money? Charles Haley played 13 seasons for the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. During his career, he made 100.5 sacks and 485 total tackles. During six of his seasons, he reached at least 10 sacks. He finished his career winning five Super Bowls, tied for the most in NFL history by a single player.
There was nowhere near as much money to pay back in the '80s and '90s, but the fact that Haley is only worth $3 million is absurd. This is a man who has played at the highest level of football and succeeded more than 99% of players in the NFL's history. And to only be worth under $5 million is surprising; some players who don’t have a starting position are worth more money.
8 Jerry Richardson - $1.1 Billion
Would you ever think that someone could play two years in the NFL and later on in their life become worth over a billion? It’s absolutely absurd, and most fans would believe there’s no shot. Well, Jerry Richardson did in the late '50s, as a running back for the Baltimore Colts during the Johnny Unitas era. It never seemed like Richardson ever really wanted to be in football as a player, as he went on to own multiple businesses after his two-year stint in the NFL finished, including Hardee's and Flagstar branches.
Years passed, and then in 1993, Richardson became the owner of the Carolina Panthers.
With owning a NFL team, there’s a lot of money to be made, and Richardson definitely made his money.
Finally, after the 2017 season, Richardson announced that he will be in the process of selling the Carolina Panthers amid allegations of workplace misconduct.
7 Tony Romo - $90 Million
Tony Romo’s career may be a Super Bowl appearance short of a Cinderella story. An undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois goes on to be a top-five quarterback throughout his NFL career, but injuries linger throughout his career which lead him to an unexpected end. There are plenty of great quarterbacks that make a lot of money, including legends such as Dan Marino. Well, Romo is worth more than them. Romo was a great quarterback, but he’s worth more than legends that own businesses and whatnot. Romo is just a former quarterback who played for the Dallas Cowboys, and is now an analyst for CBS.
To think how much of a difference quarterbacks in the NFL make now opposed to 20 years ago. We're sure CBS is going to pay Romo very handsomely for a long time, as he's quickly become the most universally praised color commentator in the NFL. Who knows what kind of other endorsement deals he can rack up in his post football life.
6 Chad Johnson - $5 Million
Back when the Cincinnati Bengals were relevant, they had a guy named Chad Ochocinco Johnson. He was one of the best wide receivers during his time, and was one of the funniest players to watch. His personality made him gain popularity very quickly. During his 11-year career, he had seven seasons where he caught for over 1,000 yards. Despite Johnson’s disappointing last season of his career, it seemed like he could play more years in the NFL. In fact, Chad Johnson still believes he can play.
It’s just shocking to see a guy who had so much of an effect on the Bengals organization and was once so popular, really not have that much money left compared to other players.
Part of the reason may be Johnson having to pay child support for eight kids. Paying that much without an NFL contract takes a toll very quickly.
5 Peyton Manning - $200 Million
Think about this, Peyton Manning is worth five times the amount that former president Barack Obama is worth. Maybe it’s from the Papa John’s commercials, but Manning is one of the richest NFL players in history. He may be known as the best regular season quarterback of all time, as well as finishing off his career with two Super Bowl championships. Manning was a fan favorite, and maybe that’s why he’s worth so much money. He has been seen in many different commercials, and has even made some occasional appearances in movies.
Peyton has become more than just an athlete, he’s become a pop culture celebrity. Anywhere Manning goes, people know him. And because of that, he’s worth a ton of money. In fact, there have been whispers of Manning trying to put that net worth to good use and possibly purchasing a partial ownership stake in an NFL team.
4 Marion Barber - $1.5 Million
For Dallas Cowboys fans, Marion Barber was the most exciting running back Tony Romo had in his backfield, besides maybe DeMarco Murray. Barber had the build of Marshawn Lynch, he just didn’t succeed or last as long as Lynch. His ability to push through defenders and make defenders miss was incredible, and he’s probably one of the most underrated players of the last generation from the Dallas Cowboys.
He never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season, but he also only had over 200 rush attempts in a season, three times in his career. In 2007, Barber didn’t start one game, yet had rushed for 975 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. Barber never got the opportunity many felt he deserved. But even with the success in his career, he’s only worth $1.5 million. Some backup running backs are making more than that in a season.
3 Michael Irvin - $15 Million
Looking at this list, it seems that the Dallas Cowboys either paid players too much or too little. Wide receiver Michael Irvin is one of the best receivers in Cowboys history. Irvin is constantly compared to Dez Bryant when talked about the expectations for what the Cowboys want Bryant to be.
Well, Dez Bryant is worth $6 million more than Irvin, and Irvin has three Super Bowl rings as well as a job with the NFL Network.
Players were paid less back in the '90s than they are now, but does it show that the Cowboys may have overpaid for Dez Bryant? If you’re going to pay someone more than the best wide receiver in your team’s history, you expect them to play like it. Some players are getting paid a lot more than they deserve.
2 Roger Staubach - $600 Million
We speak about how NFL teams didn’t pay anywhere near as much as they do now, and then we see players who retired and became some of the richest people in society. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach, is one of the richest NFL players in history. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion, and has been selected into the Pro Bowl six times throughout his career. After retirement, Staubach got into the real estate business, which is where he made his money. He sold his company for $613 million in 2008. Staubach has also gotten involved with politics since his career came to an end.
Who would have ever thought that Staubach could go from a quarterback of the '60s to a multi-millionaire? Back then, salaries averaged about $25,000 a year. That type of money now is around what people who make minimum wage.
1 Terrell Owens - $100,000
Like Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens is in a similar situation. Owens played a Hall of Fame worthy career, and then in the matter of one season his career was finished. Owens actually still works out to stay in shape in case an NFL team would like to sign him. Some reports have stated the Owens wants to get back into the NFL due to the amount of money he has lost throughout his career.
Compared to what he once had, many consider Terrell Owens as broke compared to other players. Owens admits that he wasted around $80 million on bad investments throughout his NFL career.
Most fans don’t realize, but NFL players go broke quite easily due to the inability to deal with all that money on their own. They don’t know where to spend it first, and many times, these players aren’t making any money to replace the money they once had. Owens' wealth has diminished, but he's trying to get his financial situation turned around, launching his own clothing brand, Prototype 81.