NFL

Who are the highest-paid players for the NFL 2021 season?

We list the highest-paid players for the NFL 2021 season, based on the average annual value of their contracts, with Patrick Mahomes leading the way at $45m.

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Who are the highest-paid players for the NFL 2021 season?
Getty Images Jamie Squire

With the quarterback being by far the most important position in American football, it will come as no surprise that the highest-paid players are signal callers.

The 12 highest paid players for the 2021 NFL season all are quarterbacks, with just five non-QBs making up the Top 20: 13th-placed DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Arizona Cardinals, $27.3m); 14th-placed Joey Bossa (DE, LA Chargers, $27m); 16th-placed Myles Garret (DE, Cleveland Browns, $25m); 19th-placed Khali Mack (DE, Chicago Bears, $23.5m); and 20th-placed Trent Williams (LT, San Francisco 49ers, $23.01m).

Below we list the Top 10 highest paid players for the NFL 2021 season, based on the average annual value of their contracts, all of whom earn over $30 million a year, with the top three making more than $40 million a season. Just to point out that Tom Brady, the most decorated quarterback of all time, is not among the top 10. Earning $25 million a season, the Bucs signal caller is currently placed in joint 16th. In fact, Brady has rarely made more than $25m during his whole career.

1st - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs ($45m)

Mahomes signed a 10-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs last summer worth a record-breaking $450m, a figure which could rise to $503m with incentives. The 25-year-old QB repaid the Chiefs’ generosity by getting the team to their second consecutive Super Bowl last season. Mahomes has averaged 4,931 passing yards, 41 pass TDs and eight interceptions per 16 games played during his career.

2nd - Josh Allen, QB, Bills ($43m)

Allen, a 2020 MVP candidate, was handed a a six-year, $258m extension by the Buffalo Bills in August ahead of the 25-year-old’s fourth season in the NFL. Last season he posted 4,544 yards, 37 passing TDs and 10 interceptions, compared to 3,089, 20 pass TDs and 9 interceptions in 2019.

3rd - Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys ($40m)

After turning down an extension last year, Prescott signed a four-year deal valued at $160m with Cowboys in March. After missing the majority of last season due to an ankle injury, Prescott will hope for a problem-free season in 2021. In his last full season in 2019, the 28-year-old LA native recorded 4,902 yards, 30 passing TDs and 11 interceptions.

4th - Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans ($39m)

Watson has four-year, $156m contract with the Texans, But with the 25-year-old currently facing 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints of sexual misconduct and sexual assault, there are big question marks hanging over his NFL career. In 2020, he ranked number one in the NFL in passing yards (4,823) and yards per attempt (8.9).

5th - Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks ($35m)

Wilson penned a four-year, $140m deal with the Seahawks in 2019, which made him the NFL’s highest-paid player at the time. Since Seattle picked him up in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson, who won a Super Bowl in 2014, has never missed a game or posted a losing record. In 2020 the 32-year-old scooped the Walter Payton Man of the Year and last season enjoyed his best-ever return with 4,212 years and 40 passing TDs, along with 13 interceptions.

6th (tied) - Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers ($33.5m)

He may be 37 but Rodgers is still making big bucks and is the oldest player among the top 10. When he signed a four-year, $134m extension in 2018, it appeared he would finish his career at the Packers, but that now seems unlikely and he is tipped to move on at the end of this season after Greenbay voided the last year of his contract. Rodgers, who has made no effort to hide his frosty relationship with Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, reportedly turned down another extension this summer that would have made him the highest-paid player this season.

6th (tied) - Jared Goff, QB, Lions ($33.5m)

Right after the end of the 2020 season, the Rams traded Goff, two first round picks and a third round pick, to the Lions in exchange for QB Matthew Stafford. Goff has averaged 4,215 yards, 25 passing TDs and 13 interceptions per 16 games played during his five-season career to date.

8th - Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings ($33m)

Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million extension with the Vikings in March 2020, after a season in which he recorded 4,265 yards, a career-high 35 TD passes, and 13 interceptions. Having played nine full seasons in the NFL, the 33-year-old holds a .500 record of 51-51-2.

9th - Carson Wentz, QB, Colts ($32m)

After a dismal season with the Eagles in 2020, where he led the league in interceptions (15), Wentz joined the Colts in March. Having lost his starting position to Jalen Hurts last season in Philadelphia, the 28-year-old will hope to turn things around in Indianapolis, where he will once-again work under coach Frank Reich.

10th - Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: ($30m)

Ryan signed a five-year, $150m contract in 2018. The Falcons' first draft pick back in 2008, he has spent his entire career in Atlanta and will more-than-likely finish his career there. After an awful 4-12 season in 2020, Ryan will hope to lead the Falcon’s resurgence this year. The 36-year-old Boston College graduate is the second oldest player in the Top 10 after Aaron Rodgers.

NFL 2021: Highest paid players (11-20)

11th - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans ($29.5m)

12th - Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers ($27.5m)

13th - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals ($27.3m)

14th - Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams ($27m)

14th - Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers ($27m)

16th - Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers ($25m)

16th - Myles Garrett, DE, Browns ($25m)

16th - Derek Carr, QB, Raiders ($25m)

19th - Khalil Mack, OLB, Bears ($23.5m)

20th - Trent Williams, OL, 49ers ($23.01m)