Who Was the First NFL Player to Earn $30 Million Per Year?
Sports contracts are getting out of hand. They have been for years, but we’ve entered the stage where one player – Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes – has a deal that could be worth half a billion dollars. That’s billion with a B. A little more than two years ago, no player in the NFL averaged more than $30 million per season. That changed in May of 2018 when one NFL player inked an extension to become the first player to average $30 million a year. Who is that player?
This has been the year of the big contract in the NFL
Big contracts, especially among quarterbacks, are the norm in the NFL. The deal signed by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes this offseason, however, was a shocker. It wasn’t shocking that Mahomes, a former NFL MVP and a Super Bowl champion, got his big payday, but the numbers were astounding. He inked an extension that could be worth $503 million.
The Chiefs were ecstatic to lock in Mahomes. “This is a significant moment for our franchise and for the Chiefs Kingdom,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Since he joined the Chiefs just a few years ago, Patrick has developed into one of the most prolific athletes in all of sports. He’s an extraordinary leader and a credit to the Kansas City community, and I’m delighted that he will be a member of the Chiefs for many years to come.”
Soon after, the Houston Texans locked up their franchise quarterback. Deshaun Watson, who came into the NFL the same year as Mahomes, also signed an extension, although not as extensive. Watson’s deal was for four years at $156 million and could be worth up to $160 million. It’s also been reported that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott turned down an extension that would’ve paid him north of $30 million annually.
There are 18 quarterbacks averaging at least $25M per year
The numbers are crazy. As of May, there are 18 quarterbacks in the NFL making at least $25 million per season, according to overthecap.com. The crazier part is that Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are No. 16 and No. 17 on the list.
There are 35 quarterbacks making at least $5 million annually, starting with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen at $5,295,759. Taysom Hill, the New Orleans Saints backup quarterback, is earning $10,500,000 per season. After Hill, the next highest-paid quarterback annually is Teddy Bridgewater of the Carolina Panthers at $21 million.
There are 10 quarterbacks collecting $30 million or more per season, beginning with Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons at $30 million. Dak Prescott, the injured Dallas Cowboys quarterback, is playing on the franchise tag and is making $31,409,000. Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs tops the list at $45 million annually.
Who was the first NFL player to make $30 million annually?
He got hot at the right time and it paid off. Matt Ryan put together the best season of his career in 2016 and reaped the benefits soon after. Prior to the 2018 season, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback became the first NFL player to average $30 million annually. He also was the first player to make $100 million in guaranteed money.
Ryan was the MVP of the NFL in 2016 and he guided the Falcons to a Super Bowl berth. Ryan threw for 4,944 yards and finished with 38 touchdown passes. He also completed 69.9% of his passes. Not only was he named the MVP, but he was also named the Offensive Player of the Year.
Ryan’s extension came after Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins signed mega deals with their respective teams. While Ryan was the first player to reach $30 million annually just two seasons ago, he now sits 10th in annual salary among quarterbacks.