The 2016-17 NFL season is imminent, and there are some guys who are poised to make an incredible amount of money. Obviously, you might automatically think about Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton; but there are some names on the following list that might surprise you. Here are the top twenty money-makers for the upcoming NFL season based on average yearly salary in their current contracts, according to figures from NFL.com:
#20 – Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($17.67 million)
Stafford has brought NFL hope to Detroit for the first time in a long time. Though he hasn't produced as many wins as he would like, he always seems on the verge of putting together a banner year for the Lions. Last year he threw 32 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions.
#19 – Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans ($18 million)
Osweiler moved to Houston after helping the Broncos on their way to a Super Bowl victory last year. He has studied under Peyton Manning, one of the greatest ever, for four years now, but has yet to prove himself as a franchise player.
#18 – Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys ($18 million)
It's hard to understand exactly why he gets paid so much, as he has hardly produced any good results in 13 years in Texas. With just two playoff wins in his career and a broken back this season, you can expect the next contract he signs to be significantly less substantial.
#17 – Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears ($18.1 million)
Yet another member of this list who really has no business being here. He's a decent quarterback, sure, but he doesn't produce playoff teams. So far in his career, he's only played beyond the regular season once.
#16 – Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers ($19 million)
Kap came out of the blocks pretty fast, starting in a Super Bowl loss early in his career, but since then he has faltered. He has lost his starting job, and the only media attention he's getting these days is from his national anthem protests against racial injustice.
#15 – Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins ($19.1 million)
Suh made his name in Detroit, and recently joined the Dolphins. In 2015, he became the highest-paid defensive player at the time, earning him a spot on this list. Will he be able to help take the Dolphins to the postseason?
#14 – Von Miller, Denver Broncos ($19.1 million)
Last year, Miller became the Super Bowl MVP with an impressive showcase against Cam Newton and the Panthers. Then, in the offseason, after threatening to sit the season out if he didn't get what he wanted, he became the highest-paid defensive player in history.
#13 – Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins ($19.25 million)
Seriously? He has never even seen the postseason. Generally, the measure of a quarterback is how well he plays into the winter months. He's got great legs and a great arm, but zero playoff appearances, making him another question mark on this list. Although I suppose Miami has a bit of a history with great quarterbacks who don't produce beyond the regular season.
#12 – Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins ($19.95 million)
Cousins took an ailing Redskins squad to the playoffs last season (in the weakest division in the NFL). The Redskins liked that enough to sign him to a big deal—but for only one season. If he takes the Skins to the postseason again, you can expect a longer-term, high-paying deal for this guy.
#11 – Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints ($20 million)
Basically the dictionary definition of a saint, and one of the best players of all time at his position, this guys has earned every penny. From his off-the-field class to his Super Bowl ring, Brees is one of the best role models in the sport.
#10 – Tom Brady, New England Patriots ($20.5 million)
Brady has won four Super Bowls and two League MVP awards, and many would place him in the top five quarterbacks of all time. He's facing a four-game suspension this season, but don't be surprised if you see him late in the postseason yet again.
#9 – Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons ($20.75 million)
Matt Ryan has made the playoffs as the Falcons starter four times out of eight seasons. He's consistent and dependable, but needs to start putting up playoff wins to earn figures like what he's making. He is 1-4 all time in the postseason.
#8 – Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers ($20.76 million)
Newton proved last season that he's worth a lot of dough, taking the Panthers to a historic season and a near miss in the Super Bowl. Many believe he will be the face of the NFL following the retirement of Peyton Manning, and the impending end of many other big-name careers.
#7 – Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers ($20.81 million)
NFL's current ironman, he has started in 160 consecutive games. He's mister consistent, and has brought San Diego to the playoffs five times in 12 years. But this veteran's time is quickly running out for a Super Bowl victory.
#6 – Eli Manning, New York Giants ($21 million)
Manning has brought two Super Bowl rings to New York in his career, but always seems to live in the shadow of his older brother. He is inconsistent, and has missed the playoffs for four straight years. Perhaps this will be the year that he brings the glory back for the Giants.
#5 – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ($21.85 million)
Big Ben has brought two Super Bowl rings to a city that really, really loves championships. This season he has some of the best receivers in the league, and with a defense that's on the rise, many experts are placing the Steelers in the running for this year's Lombardi Trophy.
#4 – Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks ($21.9 million)
One of the quietest players on this list, Wilson is one of the most dependable quarterbacks in the league. He rarely ever makes mistakes, but he's hoping to move past the huge one he made at the end of the Super Bowl in 2015. With him at the helm, never count this team out.
#3 – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers ($22 million)
When he came to Green Bay, he had to fill Brett Favre's shoes. And he has done so as well as anyone could. He has the best career QB rating of all time, and he brought a Super Bowl to Green Bay in 2011. Every year he has a chance to win another.
#2 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens ($22.13 million)
It's certainly possible that Flacco deserves to be on the top twenty list. But number two? Probably not. He has never been a pro-bowl quarterback, and his one Super Bowl ring came on the back of the team's impressive defense.
#1 – Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts ($23.33 million)
The Colts missed the playoffs last year for the first time in Luck's career, but that's only because he missed nine games due to injury. He is a great quarterback poised to have an impressive career if he continues on the path he's on.