Getting a spot on an NFL team is a good way to make a lot of money, but some may be surprised to learn that only 29 NFL players in history have reached or broken the $100 million career earnings barrier. Here they are:
Champ Bailey — $102.8 million
Had it not been for the $3 million roster bonus cornerback Champ Bailey brought home in 2010, he would have just missed making it onto this list.
Cam Newton — $104.7 million
Quarterback Cam Newton's most lucrative season (so far) came in 2015, when he made $24.0 million including his $15.5 million signing bonus.
Terrell Suggs — $105.2 million
Suggs' entire career up to this point, and the $105.2 million he's earned, have been with the Baltimore Ravens, but he'll soon be an unrestricted free agent with a desire to continue playing in the NFL.
Jason Peters — $105.7 million
Peters, on the other hand, has said he intends to finish his career with the Eagles following the 2019 season, when his contract will come to an end.
Gerald McCoy — $110.1 million
Gerald McCoy's contract with the Bucs has him with the team for three more seasons.
Calvin Johnson — $113.8 million
Johnson retired after the 2015 season due to issues with pain, in the process he had to do without the $67.7 million he would have made in the following four years of his contract.
Joe Thomas — $119.9 million
Besides his nearly $120 million in career earnings, Thomas is known for having never missed a game over the course of his 11 seasons in the NFL, a career which came to an end after the 2017 season.
Mario Williams — $120.4 million
Williams was a beneficiary of the kind of big rookie contracts for number 1 draft picks you don't see as much anymore, when his first signing with the Texans was a six year deal for $54 million – and that was only the beginning.
Jay Cutler — $122.2 million
Cutler pulled of the rare NFL feat of un-retirement following his exit from the league following the 2015 season, signing back on with the Dolphins to replaced injured QB Ryan Tannehill.
Darrelle Revis — $124.2 million
Revis is a true free agency success story, having avoided long-term contracts over the course of his career.
Michael Vick — $124.8 million
Vick would likely be ranked significantly higher on this list were it not for the dog-fighting bust that sunk two full seasons from his football career.
Tony Romo — $127.4 million
Romo retired in 2016 and is now enjoying the second phase of his career in the broadcast booth rather than on the field.
Sam Bradford — $129.7 million
Bradford's presence on this list can be partially attributed to the fact that he was the last number 1 draft pick to be drafted by an NFL team before the league imposed restrictions on rookie contracts.
Brett Favre — $137.8 million
Favre will always be known as a Green Bay Packer, but actually he made a lot more money in his time after with the Jets and the Vikings.
Ndamukong Suh — $138.7 million
Sug signed a six-year, $114.4 million contract with the Dolphins, but he ended up getting cut after three years and $60 million.
Alex Smith — $146.5 million
Smith is a veteran with 14 seasons under his belt, but his most lucrative contract was signed in 2018 – $40 million with a $27 million signing bonus included.
Joe Flacco — $147.8 million
Elite quarterback Joe Flacco has the career earnings to befit his elite status.
Larry Fitzgerald — $163.3 million
In addition to that hefty sum, Fitzgerald has seen 11 Pro Bowls, but no championship rings, over the course of his 14 NFL seasons.
Julius Peppers — $165.0 million
Peppers is 38 but he only recently signed a new contract with the Panthers for $5 million.
Carson Palmer — $174.1 million
Palmer's last season was in 2017, when he had the biggest cap hit ($24.1 million) after Joe Flacco's.
Matthew Stafford — $178.3 million
When you count the massive $50 million signing bonus, Stafford's five year contract with the Lions has the highest annual salary of anyone in the NFL at an average of $27 million a year.
Matt Ryan — $178.7 million
Ryan signed a $150 million contract extension in May of this year with a guarantee totaling $100 million — the biggest such guarantee in the league.
Ben Roethlisberger — $187.3 million
Roethlisberger's most lucrative season so far has been 2015, during which he brought home a $31 million signing bonus.
Philip Rivers — $202.9 million
After Rivers' surprise lucrative contract extension with the Chargers in 2015, he made headlines for purchasing a $200,000 deluxe SUV complete with a film room in the back.
Aaron Rodgers — $204.0 million
Rodgers' current contract with the Packers has him locked in until the 2023 season, at which point his career earnings will be more than $100 million higher than they are here.
That figure would reportedly be a lot higher were it not for the $60 million in "discount contracts" Brady has sacrificed in staying with the Patriots.
Drew Brees — $221.7 million
Brees is nearing the end of his NFL days at 38 years old but still his no public plans to retire. His contract with the Saints has him on the field at least through 2019.
Eli Manning — $235.3 million
If Eli Manning finishes out his contract and the 2019 season, his career earnings at $252.3 million will edge out his brother Peyton.
Peyton Manning — $248.7 million
But right now, the NFL's biggest earner so far is Peyton Manning, and he still had another $19 million left on his Denver Broncos contract when he retired after the 2015 Super Bowl.