When an NFL player has contract issues, they like to brag that playing the sport isn't really about the money. Then again, with the amount of money some of these guys are banking, it's gotta at least by in the back of their minds!
For the 2015-2015 season, there are five guys in the NFL who will earn over $30 million. Ten will be making more than $20 million, and 29 guys will be making $15 million or more.
So how is it that one guy can make $30 million when the team has to stay under a $143.28 million cap? Does no one else get paid?
There is a trick. Teams back load contracts so the player can have the appearance of a big money deal now, but then offer players huge signing bonuses (which are paid at signing). All bonuses count against the cap, but signing bonuses are spread out over the life of the contract.
Bottom line? There is a ton of money to be made in the NFL. So kids, if you drink your milk, maybe you too can grow up to be big and strong like Cam Newton, Macell Dareus, or Ndamukon Suh and make an insane amount of money playing football.
How insane? Just take a look at the top ten highest paid players in the NFL for the 2015-2016 season:
#10: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
2015 Salary: $20.5 million. $15.5 million base, $5 million restructure bonus
If you have ever wondered why Jay Cutler always looks so laid back and relaxed it is because he knows he is going to make more money than most of the league even if he throws interception after interception.
#9: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
2015 Salary: $22 million. $2.5 million base, $12 million signing, $7.5 million roster bonus
After watching his peers get paid during the summer, Atlanta wide receiver finally got his payday prior to the start of the season. Why so much? He catches everything—the short passes, the long ones the ones in traffic, and the ones that force him to go through traffic.
#8: Ndamukong Suh, DL, Miami Dolphins
2015 Salary: $26.5 million. $985,000 base, $25.5 million signing bonus, $15,000 workout bonus
As one of the best defensive linemen in the game it was no surprise that someone gave him a big money deal during the off-season. Now if only he can manage not to step on anyone and play all 16 games…
#7: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
2015 Salary: $26.75 million. $11.75 million base, $15 million signing bonus
The Bengals knew they had to lock down their top receiving threat or risk losing him during the offseason so they threw a ton of money at home—a four year deal worth $60 million. With it, Andy Dalton can breathe a little easier (as long as he doesn't have to play in primetime).
#6: Marcell Dareus, DL, Buffalo Bills
2015 Salary: $27.8 million. $2.8 million base, $25 million signing bonus
He caused a few folks to scratch their heads when he turned down a six-year, $90 million deal from the Bills. He said he wanted to feel the love, and apparently that wasn't enough—so they paid him more (and now he feels loved).
#5: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
2015 Salary: $31 million. $1 million base, $22.5 million signing bonus, $7.5 million roster bonus
Many questioned why the Panthers would sign him to such a deal. His value to the team is beyond reproach, but he has yet to lead the team to much postseason glory. Thanks to him, pretty much every decent young quarterback is going to make as much as him.
#4: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
2015 Salary: $31.7 million. $700K base, $31 million signing bonus
This contract was a no-brainer. The man led the team to two straight Super Bowls and came within a yard of winning both. As long as the team manages to hold on its other playmakers he'll get them their again.
#3: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
2015 Salary: $35.25 million. $1 million base, $31 million signing bonus, $3.25 million roster bonus
He's won a pair of Super Bowls and played in three. With him at the helm and with the play makers the Steelers have gathered there is no reason to think they will not get back to the big game sometime in the near future.
#2: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
2015 Salary: $37 million. $5.5 million base, $31 million signing bonus, $500K workout bonus
He has won a couple Super Bowls and has played really well in the past, but what the Giants have seen lately out of Eli has not been what you would hope for out of a guy getting paid $37 million. Maybe once all of his skill players are healthy that will change.
#1: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
2015 Salary: $37.5 million. $15 million base, $22.5 million signing bonus
Rivers has been one of the best passing quarterbacks in the NFL for years. He has had moderate success in the postseason, but has yet to win the big game. With the pieces in place the team thinks it can make a run at the big game for years to come—as long as they keep their quarterback.