The stars of the NFL may only have a relatively short career. But some can earn more in a single football season than most of us do in an entire lifetime! And thanks to their perceived value in the sport, quarterbacks are typically showered with the most money. Here’s a look at 40 of the all-time wealthiest.
40. Jake Delhomme – $63.5 million
Jake Delhomme earned his considerable $63.5 million fortune thanks to a willingness to play anywhere. The quarterback enjoyed several seasons in the NFL Europe, landing himself a slot in the Frankfurt Galaxy’s Hall of Fame in the process. American fans will, of course, know him better for his stints with the New Orleans Saints, the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Texans and the Carolina Panthers.
39. Kerry Collins – $63.7 million
Kerry Collins’ most lucrative period came in the mid-‘00s when he signed with the Oakland Raiders for nearly $17 million. The quarterback benefited from the injury that wrecked Rich Gannon’s career when he subsequently became a starter with the franchise. Spells with the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts helped to boost his fortune before he retired from the sport in 2012.
38. Matt Cassel – $65.5 million
By the time that Matt Cassel retired from the NFL in 2018, he’d reportedly earned a cool $65.5 million. Something of a journeyman, the quarterback began his career with the New England Patriots before moving to the likes of the Tennessee Titans, the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs. After a final season with the Detroit Lions, Cassel landed a commentary role at NBC Sports Boston.
37. Ryan Fitzpatrick – $71.5 million
Ryan Fitzpatrick has earned just one megabucks deal during his lengthy NFL career and even that was cut short. Yes, the $59 million contract he signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2011 ended up being downgraded to $21.2 million after just two years. But thanks to his itchy feet, he’s still bagged enough lucrative deals elsewhere to make him one of the Top 40 richest quarterbacks ever.
36. Mark Sanchez – $74.2 million
Mark Sanchez instantly became rich beyond his wildest dreams in his first NFL season when he signed a $50 million deal with the New York Jets. The University of Southern California graduate enjoyed five years with the franchise before moving to the Philadelphia Eagles. By the time Sanchez retired from the sport in 2019, he’d become one of the all-time richest quarterbacks.
35. Nick Foles – $74.4 million
Nick Foles was instrumental in the Philadelphia Eagles’ inaugural Super Bowl victory in 2018. But it was the Jacksonville Jaguars who offered him the big bucks, a four-year contract with a maximum value of $88 million to be exact, the following season. The quarterback has since added to his fortune with an autobiography and endorsement contract with the Lululemon apparel brand.
34. Carson Wentz – $79 million
Carson Wentz holds single-season records for the Philadelphia Eagles in touchdowns, completions, and passing yards. So it’s little surprise that the franchise extended his contract in the summer of 2019 to four years, and to the tune of a potential $128 million, too. Wentz has also boosted his bank balance with endorsement deals with the likes of Amazon, Nike and Bose.
33. Drew Bledsoe – $79.9 million
Drew Bledsoe might have missed out on the Super Bowl XXXVI and guiding the New England Patriots to victory thanks to an unfortunately timed injury. Yet the quarterback can no doubt take comfort from the hefty sums he earned during the rest of his 13-year career as a starter. Bledsoe has since added to his net worth as the co-owner of Doubleback Winery.
32. Joe Montana – $80 million
Joe Montana was undoubtedly one of the biggest football stars of the 1980s. The quarterback won no fewer than four Super Bowls during his stint with the San Francisco 49ers. But even after his retirement in 1994, the sporting legend still raked it in. That’s right: Montana’s shrewd investments and public speaking gigs have helped to boost his fortune to a cool $80 million.
31. Jared Goff – $80.7 million
Jared Goff helped to steer the Los Angeles Rams all the way to the Super Bowl during his third season with the franchise. He’s been handsomely rewarded for his efforts, too, landing a four-year deal in 2019 which included a signing bonus worth $25 million. Goff has also boosted his coffers with the launch of his own JG16 clothing range.
30. Andy Dalton – $86.5 million
Andy Dalton entered the NFL’s big-money league in 2014 when he inked a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals potentially worth $115 million. The quarterback was offered the deal after guiding the franchise to four playoffs in a row. He’d also made the Bengals record books in terms of single-season touchdowns and passing yards.
29. Matt Hasselbeck – $88 million
Matt Hasselbeck first made his name in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers before moving to the Seattle Seahawks. The quarterback spent the majority of his career there but bagged his most lucrative deal in 2011 with the Tennessee Titans. Although he didn’t earn the entire $21 million offered by the franchise, Hasselbeck’s enduring skills on the field meant he was still one of the all-time top earners by the time he retired in 2016.
28. Jimmy Garoppolo – $88.8 million
Jimmy Garoppolo appears on this list mainly thanks to one colossal record-breaking deal. When signed, the contract he agreed with the San Francisco 49ers offered him the highest average salary per annum in NFL history. It’s since been overshadowed by another quarterback further up the list. But still, potential earnings of $137.5 million are nothing to be sniffed at.
27. Derek Carr – $91 million
Health permitting, Derek Carr has been a permanent fixture in the Las Vegas Raiders starting line-up since he was drafted in 2014. The quarterback was offered a five-year deal worth $125 million after just three seasons with the franchise. And you could say he’s already paid back their faith by breaking records in passing yards, pass completions and fourth-quarter comebacks.
26. Matt Schaub – $94.4 million
Matt Schaub might not be as starry as the majority of names on this list. But with a career lasting almost 20 years, the quarterback has quietly racked up a fortune of which many Hall-of-Famers can only dream. Schaub earned most of his $94 million net worth with the Houston Texans. But it’s the Atlanta Falcons with whom he may end up reaching the $100 million milestone.
25. Donovan McNabb – $99.7 million
Donovan McNabb’s total career earnings sit agonizingly just $300,000 outside the nine-figure club. Actually, it’s probably not that agonizing. The NFL legend bagged the majority of his vast fortune during his 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. After retiring from the sport in 2011, the former quarterback worked at various major TV networks as an analyst.
24. Andrew Luck – $109.1 million
In 2016 the Indianapolis Colts offered Andrew Luck a record-breaking contract extension worth up to $140 million. The quarterback’s surname proved to be slightly ironic, therefore, when a shoulder injury kept him out of the whole of the following season. Luckily, the NFL star soon proved he was worth the money when he returned and was subsequently crowned Comeback Player of the Year.
23. Ryan Tannehill – $115.5 million
Ryan Tannehill had quite the remarkable NFL season in 2019. At the start he was merely a backup whose contract was worth a relatively low $2 million. By the end, though, the quarterback’s value had shot up to an incredible $118 million. Yes, the Tennessee Titans were inspired to offer Tannehill a highly lucrative four-year deal after he helped to guide them to the playoffs.
22. Jay Cutler – $122.2 million
Reality TV fans may know him better as the ex-husband of Kristin Cavallari. But long before Jay Cutler became a staple of the E! network, he was busy cementing his status as a Chicago Bears legend. The quarterback also enjoyed three seasons with the Denver Broncos after first showcasing his skills at Vanderbilt University.
21. Cam Newton – $122.5 million
Cam Newton enjoyed nine years with the Carolina Panthers, guiding the franchise to the Super Bowl and no fewer than four playoffs. But much of his $122.5 million fortune was earned away from the football field. That’s right: Newton has also achieved success with his production company and as an endorser for the likes of Beats and Under Armour.
20. Tony Romo – $127.4 million
Sometimes loyalty truly can pay off. Tony Romo spent all 13 seasons of his NFL career with the same franchise, the Dallas Cowboys, and he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. The quarterback also boosted his coffers with the endorsement contract he signed in 2008 with a fashion clothing marketing firm that was worth $10 million.
19. Sam Bradford – $130 million
Sam Bradford has struggled with injury throughout much of his career. In fact, the quarterback hasn’t managed to play an entire season in the NFL since way back in 2012. Mind you, his bank balance has always remained healthy. Bradford’s biggest payday came in 2010 when he was awarded a $78 million deal with the Rams, a franchise now in Los Angeles but back then based in St. Louis.
18. Brett Favre – $137.8 million
Brett Favre broke many NFL records during his glittering career. For example, he was the first player ever to have won both the Super Bowl and the Associated Press NFL MVP – Most Valuable Player – award in the same season. Little wonder, then, that the quarterback raked in nearly $138 million dollars during his long career with the Green Bay Packers, alongside stints with the Atlanta Falcons, the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. He’s also bagged various lucrative endorsement deals along the way.
17. Kirk Cousins – $140.6 million
Kirk Cousins earned a whopping $84 million during his six seasons with the Washington Redskins – a franchise now renamed as the more socially acceptable Washington Football Team. But it was with the Minnesota Vikings in 2019 that the quarterback became the highest-paid sportsman in the NFL. And the money keeps rolling in. In the spring of 2020, Cousins inked a contract extension worth $66 million.
16. John Elway – $145 million
Denver Broncos legend John Elway would have been near the top of this list had his business acumen been a little better. The former quarterback missed out on the opportunity to invest in the team for which he spent 16 years playing and he also lost millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme. Mind you, the $145 million Elway’s earned during both his playing and managerial career is a figure still way beyond most of his peers.
15. Russell Wilson – $162.4 million
Not content with becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL in 2019, the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson also has several lucrative business ventures. The quarterback serves as the CEO of West2East Empire, a public relations firm which has produced two offshoots. Wilson, who guided the franchise to its first Super Bowl, has also invested in the MLB initiative named the Portland Diamond Project.
14. Joe Flacco – $167.6 million
Joe Flacco helped to steer the Baltimore Ravens to victory in the Super Bowl XLVII, also achieving MVP status in the process. His reward was a lucrative three-year deal worth $66.4 million that would have kept him with the franchise until 2021. Flacco didn’t see out the entirety of his contract, though. He left for the Denver Broncos in 2019 in a move which further added to his net worth.
13. Carson Palmer – $174.1 million
Carson Palmer is widely regarded as one of the finest quarterbacks never to have achieved victory at a Super Bowl. The NFL legend also failed to lift an NCAA title while playing for the University of Southern California. But he can console himself with the fact he earned $174.1 million during his stints with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Oakland Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals.
12. Alex Smith – $189.7 million
Alex Smith began his enduring NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs before moving to Washington. It was a deal worth an incredible $94 million! But the quarterback soon proved he was worth the money by breaking numerous NFL records. Smith has also increased his net worth with a yearly $1 million income courtesy of various sponsorship deals.
11. Steve Young – $200 million
Steve Young is a three-time Super Bowl winner who enjoyed 13 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. But the majority of his $200 million fortune was earned away from the football field. That’s right: the former quarterback has raked in far more cash as the boss of an investments company called Huntsman Gay Global Capital than he ever made playing in the NFL.
10. Matthew Stafford – $226.5 million
In 2017 Matthew Stafford signed a five-year contract extension with the Detroit Lions worth up to $135 million. This was the most lucrative contract ever inked in the NFL at the time. Why was the quarterback offered such riches? Well, he’d just made it to the Pro Bowl in 2014 and had broken the league’s record for reaching 3,000 completions in the quickest time along the way.
9. Aaron Rodgers – $240.9 million
Expect Aaron Rodgers to climb even further up the list in the near future. The quarterback is still plying his trade with the Green Bay Packers, the franchise that offered him a four-year contract extension worth $134 million in 2019. Rodgers also has a keen business eye, and that same year joined forces with Byron Roth and Nate Raabe to launch a $50 million investment fund targeted on high-growth firms.
8. Philip Rivers – $243.9 million
Philip Rivers proved that it’s never too late to mix things up in 2020 when he signed with the Indianapolis Colts. For he’d spent the previous 16 years with the same team, the San Diego Chargers. The quarterback was given $25 million for the move to add to the $200+ million he’d already earned during his glittering NFL career.
7. Matt Ryan – $244 million
In 2018 Matt Ryan’s new contract, worth $150 million across half a decade, made him the first footballer to ever breach the $30 million-per-season mark. The quarterback was given such a lucrative deal by the Atlanta Falcons after ten years of service which included guiding them to the Super Bowl. Ryan has also bolstered his income with high-profile deals with the likes of Mercedes, Nike and Gatorade.
6. Peyton Manning – $248.7 million
Peyton Manning called time on his career at the perfect moment – just a month after guiding the Denver Broncos to victory at the Super Bowl. The quarterback was given $4 million for his instrumental role in the franchise’s success. But that was small change compared to the near-$245 million that Manning had already earned during his lengthy career. One of the NFL’s most famous faces, the star also has 32 Papa John’s franchise stores to his name.
5. Eli Manning – $252.3 million
Anything that Peyton Manning can earn, his younger brother can earn higher. Yes, Eli Manning has raked in approximately $4 million more as of 2020, helped considerably by the $96 million contract extension he signed with the New York Giants five years previously. Like his older sibling, retirement from the field hasn’t stopped the money coming in. He’s also put his name and his face to countless advertising campaigns.
4. Ben Roethlisberger – $253.3 million
Ben Roethlisberger is one of the few starting quarterbacks to emerge victorious at several Super Bowls and the only QB ever to have thrown for 500 yards in three separate games. That perhaps explains why the Pittsburgh Steelers forked out a further $37.5 million for his signature in 2019. Roethlisberger has been a vital member of the franchise since he was drafted in 2004.
3. Tom Brady – $260.2 million
One of the most famous footballers of his generation, Tom Brady earned the majority of his fortune during his two decades with the New England Patriots. But the six-time Super Bowl winner also earned a tidy sum with his shock transfer to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Brady name has raked in the cash with several off-the-field endeavors, too, including his 199 Productions company and lifestyle brand TB12.
2. Drew Brees – $269.7 million
The title of richest active footballer goes to the New Orleans Saints veteran Drew Brees. The quarterback has earned nearly $270 million during a career in which he’s achieved more than a dozen Pro Bowl selections and broken the NFL’s passing yards record. Brees is also something of an entrepreneur, with several Dunkin’ and Jimmy John’s franchises to his name, not to mention an investment in Waitr, a food delivery firm.
1. Roger Staubach – $600 million
Roger Staubach had a pretty illustrious ten-year career in the NFL, winning the Super Bowl twice with the Dallas Cowboys. But you still wouldn’t have expected him to top the all-time richest quarterbacks list. Of course, Staubach has earned the majority of his vast fortune from his business pursuits. The former footballer once co-owned a real estate firm which in 2008 he sold for a mighty $613 million!