UNITED STATES—Elite level athletes are some of the highest paid people in the world. The pool of players that make it into the big leagues is even smaller than most would imagine and the NFL is notoriously one of the hardest along with being a short career with the average length around 3.3 years. It is for these reasons, among many others, that they are so highly paid. Being an active NFL player is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world to be a part of.

Another justification for their gargantuan salaries is the sheer amount of revenue they generate for their teams and the league. Be it jersey sales, media exposure or success, their performances and name value helps teams turnover healthy profits. As we approach the preseason, we have seen extensions and trades that have changed the structure of salary caps and give certain players record-earnings. NFL lines are starting to be drawn up by sportsbooks as rosters begin to take shape and we have the Kansas City Chiefs as the early favorites to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy next season. Let’s take a look at the highest paid NFL players in the league.

Lamar Jackson – $52 million per year

The Lamar Jackson/Baltimore Ravens saga was one of the biggest stories of the early offseason. The Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson in early March and he revealed on twitter that he had asked for a trade a few days prior to the fact. He claimed that the hierarchy in Baltimore “has not been interested in meeting [his] value” when attempting to negotiate a new contract. All signs pointed to the former MVP being on his way out the door at the M&T Bank Stadium with a number of teams thought to be interested in his services. However, on April 27 he and the Ravens set aside their differences and announced that he had signed a new five-year contract worth $260 million with $185 million guaranteed. The $52 million he will now earn per year make him the highest paid player in NFL history.

Jalen Hurts – $51 million per year

For a 10 day period, it was Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Jalen Hurts who was the highest paid player in NFL history. Coming off of an incredible, MVP worthy season, Hurts stock as a franchise quarterback had risen into the stratosphere. There were questions at the beginning of the 22/23 season over whether he had what it took to be ‘the guy’, but after a 14-1 regular season and an agonizingly narrow Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, there were no more doubts. Last season’s MVP award essentially came down to whichever QB won the Super Bowl of which Patrick Mahomes took the spoils. As of May 2023, Hurts had the second biggest selling jersey in the league and after proving all his doubters wrong, there is no doubt he earned the five-year contract extension for $255 million that he signed in April this year.

Aaron Rodgers – $50.2 million per year

Another huge story coming from the offseason was Aaron Rodgers’ exit from the Green Bay Packers. After 17 years at Lambeau Field, he was traded to the New York Jets in April for first, second and sixth-round selections in the 2023 draft and a conditional second-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. The four time MVP and one time Super Bowl winner restructured his contract with the Jets but will still be the third highest earning player in the league. He currently has the biggest selling jersey in the NFL and is one of the most recognizable players in the league down to his longevity and big personality. Brand deals with Adidas, State Farm and Pizza Hut elevate his celebrity even more and he is just as big a get off the field as he is on it for the New York Jets.

Russell Wilson – $49 million per year

Russ being traded by the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos was big news in last year’s offseason. In joining the team he beat to win his Super Bowl ring back in 2014, he was to earn $37 million in his first year. However, not even six months later the Broncos announced that he had signed a five-year extension worth $245 million. Another recognizable face in the league, Russ has long been a star in the league and is undoubtedly the biggest star at the Broncos. Brand deals with Nike, Amazon, BOSE and Mercedes-Benz among many others make his endorsement portfolio one of the most lucrative of all players in the league expanding his wealth healthily.