It is widely accepted, as well as highly inarguable, that the starting quarterback is the most important player on any given football team. Games are won with points, points are accumulated with touchdowns and touchdowns are often products of precision passing. Since pass completion is essential to victory, it is understandable to see why every team desires an outstanding quarterback. A quarterback leads the offensive line on every play that he participates in; however, this gargantuan amount of responsibility does not come without a hefty monetary compensation during each season in the National Football League.
Starting quarterbacks are on average the highest paid athletes on any NFL team, some making up just over 20% of their team’s salary cap. This goes to show every team’s willingness to provide the proper incentive and investment into the right individual to lead the way to victory, down after down and season after season.
Every quarterback looks to maximize their earnings when it comes time to sign contracts before the preseason begins. Many of the greatest quarterbacks have even managed to accumulate total salary figures well beyond the $100 million mark in their active careers. Some would even suggest that a quarterback is a clear representation of “The American Dream” and it doesn’t get any more American then the National Football League.
So with all these lumps of cash being distributed season after season, which quarterback has collected the most wealth? Well let us now find out. Here is a look into the Top 15 Highest Earning NFL Quarterbacks of All Time, a list recognizing some of the greatest quarterbacks to ever grace the gridiron with their talents, and be handsomely rewarded for such services to their teams.
Due to money not always being disclosed for endorsement deals and other side revenue players have, we'll be sticking with the highest earners based on what they made from actually playing the position.
15 Mathew Stafford
14 Jay Cutler
13 Donovan McNabb
Philadelphia Eagles legend Donovan McNabb nabs the 13th spot of the list. After being the first round, second overall pick for the Eagles in the 1999 draft, McNabb contributed his efforts to the team for eleven consecutive seasons. In those 11 seasons he was able to earn over $76 million. Combined with his last two seasons, 2010 with the Washington Redskins, and concluding his career in 2011 with the Minnesota Vikings, he produced total career earnings of $97.5 million.
12 Aaron Rodgers
11 Matt Ryan
10 Tony Romo
9 Michael Vick
In at number nine is Michael Vick. Vick has played for a cross-section of teams in the NFL, including the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Jets, but he currently resides with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His total career earnings sum up to $121,211,000. One key consideration to note when reviewing Vick’s total earnings is that he missed two seasons (2007 and 2008) due to his dog-fighting conviction. Because of this, he was not only unable to generate any earnings those years, but also the bad animosity regarding his conviction lowered his earnings in the subsequent years to follow. His convictions also resulted in Vick going into debt, which he just recently paid off.
8 Brett Favre
7 Carson Palmer
6 Ben Roethlisberger
5 Drew Brees
4 Philip Rivers
3 Tom Brady
2 Eli Manning
Twelve seasons. $187,770,000. $37 million earned this year alone. This tremendous amount of money has made Eli Manning the second highest earning NFL quarterback of all time, and with such a handsome amount, second place probably doesn’t seem so bad. Drafted as the number one overall pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, Manning aspired high hopes for the New York Giants, and delivered champion worthy performances in both 2008 and 2012; in both years he defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
1 Peyton Manning
The richest NFL quarterback of all time is Peyton Manning. Of course, who else could it have been? For any real football enthusiast, it really wasn’t a secret or even a surprise for that matter. Manning’s staggering total career earnings to date reach the sum of $246,732,000. His highest single-season earning was a whopping $35 million in 2004, around the middle of his 14-year stretch with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning has one final year left in his contract that will add an additional $19 million to his earnings. After winning Super Bowl 50, this might be where Manning's football revenue ends, but his endorsement deals will carry him for life.
Taking the top of the list by a landslide, Manning is surely to remain at the top for years to follow. If anyone is going to surpass him, it is likely to be younger brother Eli Manning, who sits just one spot behind his big brother.
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