The NFL’s top 10 highest earners made combined earnings of $508 million in the 2023 league year (before taxes and agents’ fees). According to Forbes, the money is a 4 percent increase from last year’s record $489 million. However, the top ten’s off-field total earnings fell to $69 million, from $120 million in 2022.
Forbes noted that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the NFL’s most marketable player, with an estimated $20 million in off-field earnings. He is followed by three quarterbacks — the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, the Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
The top ten highest-paid NFL players include six black players, with Lamar Jackson being the highest-paid player in the league. Forbes based their calculation on the players’ on-field earnings (salaries and bonuses) paid in 2023 or in connection with the 2023 season, for contracts signed as of September 9, 2023.
“The off-field earnings estimates are determined through conversations with industry insiders and reflect annual cash from endorsements, licensing, appearances and memorabilia, as well as cash returns from any businesses in which the athlete has a significant interest. Investment income such as interest payments or dividends is not included, but Forbes does account for payouts from equity stakes athletes have sold. Forbes does not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees,” according to Forbes.
Below are the highest-paid Black NFL players:
Lamar Jackson is the highest-paid NFL player, as per Forbes. He signed a five-year contract extension with the Ravens in May with a total value of $260 million. He also set an NFL record with his $72.5 million signing bonus.
The 26-year-old quarterback achieved the historic feat by representing himself. The deal also includes $185 million in guaranteed money.
Several deals reportedly influenced Jackson’s deal, including Deshaun Watson’s $230 million deal with the Cleveland Browns and Kyler Murray’s $189.5 million contract as part of his $230.5 million with the Cardinals.
Jackson was first drafted by the Ravens five years ago, and promised Ravens fans that they would “get a Super Bowl out of him.” Before he arrived at the Ravens, the team missed three consecutive playoffs. However, he is credited with reviving the team and earning the second unanimous NFL MVP selection in his first full season as a starter.
Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, who owns the NFL record for largest contract with the ten-year, $450 million deal he signed in 2020, has endorsement deals with almost 20 brands, including Hugo Boss, T-Mobile and Walmart. Recently, he became the center of the Netflix docuseries Quarterback and he also invested in the National Women’s Soccer League’s Kansas City Current and a Major League Pickleball team, Forbes said. All in all, 27-year-old Mahomes made $40.5 million on-field and $20 million off-field, making him the second highest-paid NFL player.
Deshaun Watson is the sixth highest-paid NFL player and the third highest-paid Black NFL player, according to Forbes. The 27-year-old Quarterback makes $46 million on-field and $0.5 off-field.
In 2020, he was making $8 million off the field, but he lost his endorsements when more than 20 women accused him of sexual harassment. Although he denied the allegations and was never prosecuted, he was fined by the NFL to the tune of $5 million and suspended for 11 games last season.
30-year-old Dak Prescott, who plays for the Dallas Cowboys, is the fourth highest-paid Black NFL player, earning $31 million on-field and $13 off-field.
According to Forbes, he had a record for an NFL signing bonus of $66 million from the four-year, $160 million contract he signed with the Cowboys in 2021.
The player has 15 sponsors, including Nike’s Jordan Brand, Bud Light and AT&T. What is more, he was also honored with the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his philanthropic works.
Kyler Murray, 26, plays for the Arizona Cardinals. The Quarterback makes $39 million on-field and $3.5 million off-field. Some of his corporate partnerships include Nike, BodyArmor and esports powerhouse FaZe Clan.
What is more, Forbes reported that he is also an investor. Last year, he invested in a $6 million seed round by Myna Swap, a marketplace that aims to facilitate the sale of physical collectibles through corresponding NFTs.
Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and his contract extension with the Denver Broncos gives credence to this. Recently, the Seattle Seahawks traded Wilson to the Broncos.
Wilson and the Broncos strengthened their newly formed partnership with a five-year contract extension worth $245 million, including $165 million in guaranteed money.
The deal made Wilson the third highest-paid NFL player, in terms of guaranteed money, after Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson with $230 million and then Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray with $189.5 million, according to Revolt. He has now dropped to the 10th position.
According to Forbes, he makes $28 million on-field and $13 million off-field.