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The highest-paid player in the NFL at every position

In the NFL there is a clear hierarchy in terms of how different players are compensated. Teams routinely give their biggest contracts to the most important player on the field, the quarterback.

That hierarchy becomes more apparent when we look at the wide range of pay given to the highest-paid player at each position, from the enormous deal signed by Philip Rivers, all the way down to the long snapper for the Tennessee Titans.

Using data via Spotrac and other sources, here are the highest-paid players at ever position in the NFL.

QB Philip Rivers — $37,500,000
QB Philip Rivers — $37,500,000
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Team: San Diego Chargers

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $22.5 million signing bonus, $15.0 million salary.

One thing to know: While everybody was focused on Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, and Ndamukong Suh, it was Rivers who got the surprise monster contract of the off-season. Rivers’ 4-year, $83.25 million extension doesn’t sound as sexy as some of the $100 million deals, but he got an NFL-record $65 million in guaranteed money and $54 million over the first two seasons.

DT Marcell Dareus — $27,823,530
DT Marcell Dareus — $27,823,530
Getty Images
Team: Buffalo Bills

Position: Defensive Tackle

2015 earnings breakdown: $25.0 million signing bonus, $2.8 million salary.

One thing to know: Dareus cashed in just before the start of the season with a $96.6 million contract that includes $60 million guaranteed, just edging out Ndamukong Suh for highest-paid defensive tackle this season. However, as has become the norm in the NFL, the “real guarantee” is really just his earnings this year with the rest only guaranteed against injury.
WR AJ Green — $26,750,000
WR AJ Green — $26,750,000
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Position: Wide Receiver

2015 earnings breakdown: $15.0 million signing bonus, $11.75 million salary

One thing to know: With one year left on his rookie contract, Green reached an agreement on a 4-year, $60 million extension just one hour before the team-imposed deadline to get something done before the regular season started.

ILB Luke Kuechly — $20,006,240
ILB Luke Kuechly — $20,006,240
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Team: Carolina Panthers

Position: Inside Linebacker

2015 earnings breakdown: $19.0 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary.

One thing to know: Luke Kuechly is another player who was in the final year of his rookie contract and signed his first extension just prior to the season, a 5-year, $61.8 million contract.
DE J.J. Watt — $19,969,000
DE J.J. Watt — $19,969,000
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Team: Houston Texans

Position: Defensive End

2015 earnings breakdown: $10.0 million restructure bonus, $9.97 million salary.

One thing to know: In just the second year of his 6-year, $100 million contract, Watt has already restructured the deal once, converting his $10 million roster bonus this season into a restructure bonus, spreading the cap hit out over the next five years.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan — $19,038,000
OLB Ryan Kerrigan — $19,038,000
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Team: Washington Redskins

Position: Outside Linebacker

2015 earnings breakdown: $16.0 million signing bonus, $2.8 million salary, $250,000 roster bonus.

One thing to know: Kerrigan is going to be a one-hit wonder on this list, having just signed a 5-year, $57.5 million contract. His total earnings in 2016 will be just $5.3 million.
LT Anthony Castonzo — $18,000,000
LT Anthony Castonzo — $18,000,000
Elsa/Getty Images
Team: Indianapolis Colts

Position: Left Tackle

2015 earnings breakdown: $14.0 million signing bonus, $4.0 million salary.

One thing to know: No offensive lineman in the NFL was on the field more in 2014 than Castonzo, who was involved in 1,115 plays.

CB Darrelle Revis — $16,000,000
CB Darrelle Revis — $16,000,000
Seth Wenig/AP
Team: New York Jets

Position: Cornerback

2015 earnings breakdown: $16.0 million salary.

One thing to know: No player has gambled on himself more than Revis, and it keeps paying off, turning a non-guaranteed contract into $68 million.
RB LeSean McCoy — $16,000,000
RB LeSean McCoy — $16,000,000
Bill Wippert/AP
Team: Buffalo Bills

Position: Running Back

2015 earnings breakdown: $13.1 million signing bonus, $2.6 million salary, $250,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: LeSean McCoy’s off-season included getting traded and not liking it, having to cancel an all-female party that backfired, accusing Chip Kelly of getting rid of “all the good black players,” and a new contract with the Bills.

TE Julius Thomas — $15,100,000
TE Julius Thomas — $15,100,000
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Position: Tight End

2015 earnings breakdown: $6.0 million signing bonus, $9.0 million salary, $100,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Thomas signed a 5-year, $46.0 million contract with the Jags as a free agent this summer.
OG Brandon Scherff — $14,124,555
OG Brandon Scherff — $14,124,555
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Team: Washington Redskins

Position: Offensive Guard

2015 earnings breakdown: $13.7 million signing bonus, $435,000 salary.

One thing to know: As the fifth pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, Scherff is already the highest-paid offensive guard in the NFL.

C Rodney Hudson — $13,000,000
C Rodney Hudson — $13,000,000
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Team: Oakland Raiders

Position: Center

2015 earnings breakdown: $6.9 million roster bonus, $5.7 million salary.

One thing to know: Hudson is another player from the 2011 draft who signed his first big extension this off-season, agreeing to a 5-year, $44.5 million deal after being a second-round pick.
FS Devin McCourty — $13,000,000
FS Devin McCourty — $13,000,000
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Team: New England Patriots

Position: Free Safety

2015 earnings breakdown: $10.0 million signing bonus, $2.5 million salary, $500,000 roster bonus.

One thing to know: McCourty’s 5-year, $47.5 million contract actually included a $15 million signing bonus, however, $5 million is deferred until 2016.

RT Bryan Bulaga — $9,968,750
RT Bryan Bulaga — $9,968,750
Al Bello/Getty Images
Team: Green Bay Packers

Position: Right Tackle

2015 earnings breakdown: $8.0 million signing bonus, $1.25 million salary, $469,000 roster bonus, $250,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Bulaga signed a 5-year, $33.75 million extension this off-season but can make more if he stays on the field. The Packers would have paid Bulaga up to $500,000 more if he played in all 16 games this season. He has already missed four games after missing all of the 2013 season.
K Stephen Gostkowski — $8,100,000
K Stephen Gostkowski — $8,100,000
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Team: New England Patriots

Position: Kicker

2015 earnings breakdown: $6.0 million signing bonus, $1.8 million salary, $200,000 roster bonus, $100,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Stephen Gostkowski’s 4-year, $17.2 million extension included $10.1 million guaranteed, the largest ever given to a kicker.

SS Da’Norris Searcy — $7,000,000
SS Da'Norris Searcy — $7,000,000
Al Bello/Getty Images
Team: Buffalo Bills

Position: Strong Safety

2015 earnings breakdown: $4.5 million signing bonus, $2.5 million salary.

One thing to know: Searcy is in the first-year of his 4-year, $23.75 million contract, his first big pay day in the NFL. It’s a good thing too, because according to his mother, he never had a backup plan for what he would do for a career (via TitansOnline.com): “He didn’t have a back-up plan. He never had a back-up plan. I used to tell him myself he needed to have a second idea of what he wanted to do, too. But he always said he didn’t have to because he was going to play in the NFL. I guess he was right.”
P Sam Koch — $5,000,000
P Sam Koch — $5,000,000
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Team: Baltimore Ravens

Position: Punter

2015 earnings breakdown: $4.0 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary.

One thing to know: The Ravens locked up Koch to a 5-year, $16.25 million contract prior to the season, with $5 million guaranteed. The deal freed up about $700,000 in salary cap space for the Ravens.

FB Jerome Felton — $3,700,000
FB Jerome Felton — $3,700,000
Charlie Riedel/AP
Team: Buffalo Bills

Position: Fullback

2015 earnings breakdown: $2.6 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary, $100,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Felton is proof that fullbacks are not what they used to be. He has carried the ball just eight times since 2010, including just a single carry this year. He has also never scored a touchdown, rushing or receiving.
LS Beau Brinkley — $1,500,000
LS Beau Brinkley — $1,500,000
Mark Zaleski/AP
Team: Tennessee Titans

Position: Long Snapper

2015 earnings breakdown: $840,000 signing bonus, $660,000 salary

One thing to know: Yes, teams do employ players whose only responsibility is to snap the ball more than a few feet a half-dozen times per game.



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