Head coaching in the NFL can be the difference between mediocrity and excellence. A great head coach can inspire a team while a poor one can allow players to fail to live up to expectations. Let’s take a look at the highest-paid coaches in the NFL (the top coach on the list will not surprise you).
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs – $7.5 million
While it’s true Andy Reid has never won a Super Bowl, he’s kept his teams ultra-competitive and close to that championship level. The Chiefs were awful before Reid arrived, and last season he got them to the AFC championship game. That kind of consistency is enough to make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL.
Reid has also had great success during his career tutoring quarterbacks. Here are just a few examples of quarterbacks he’s coaxed great results out of: Donovan McNabb, Nick Foles, Michael Vick, Alex Smith, and of course Patrick Mahomes.
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints – $9 million
After winning the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, Sean Payton has earned what seems like career-long immunity for one championship. Payton has kept the Saints in contention, however, knocking on the championship door multiple times with Drew Brees.
Payton’s current deal runs through 2023, so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The question is whether he can lead the team to another championship? With Brees under center and a talented backup in Teddy Bridgewater waiting in the wings, it wouldn’t be shocking if Payton won another title before his deal is up.
Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders – $10 million
Jon Gruden got $10 million a season to come out of the Monday Night Football booth to return to the Oakland Raiders‘ sideline. While Gruden has yet to recapture the glory he achieved in Tampa or even Oakland, he wasn’t acquired to succeed in Oakland. Gruden was hired to lead the team to Las Vegas, where they plan to move in 2020.
The jury’s out on whether Gruden’s truly a great coach or not — despite his Super Bowl victory, the perception was always that he won that title with Tony Dungy’s team. But if Gruden can succeed with the team in one of the hottest new markets for professional sports in Vegas, he’ll definitely earn the high price tag.
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks – $11 million
Now that he’s had two Super Bowl appearances, one championship, and turned the Seattle Seahawks into a perennial playoff contender, it’s easy to see why Pete Carroll makes $11 million per year. But if you told someone from 20 years ago that he would be one of the highest-paid NFL coaches, they may scratch their head.
Carroll remade himself as a top head coach by winning two national championships at the collegiate level with USC in the early 2000s. But prior to that, Carroll was a seen as a generally clueless NFL head coach during underwhelming runs with the New York Jets and New England Patriots.
Carroll was so ineffective with the Patriots, then-AOL sportswriter Bill Simmons nicknamed him “Fredo,” after the hapless Corleone brother from the Godfather films. Now? Carroll is sought after as a public speaker as well as being regarded as one of the top coaches in the league.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots – $12.5 million
It should come as no surprise that Belichick is the highest-paid coach in the NFL. At $12.5 million, one could probably also call Belichick’s salary a relative steal for the Patriots.
During his time in New England, Belichick has won six Super Bowls, more than any head coach in NFL history. His coaching career had modest beginnings.
He played a key role in the New York Giants’ championship teams of the late ’80s/early ’90s as a defensive coordinator, then struggled with the Cleveland Browns in the mid-’90s. Belichick spurned the New York Jets to go to New England, where he’s been a legend ever since.
It’s not likely any coach will ever replicate what he’s done any time soon. The Patriots should consider themselves lucky they only have to pay $12.5 million based on the success Belichick’s had.