Compared to last year, this year’s highest paid NFL players is completely dominated by quarterbacks. Last year’s Top Ten Highest Paid Players 2013 included three players who held positions other than quarterback. This year, that is not the case. As a result of the 2011 NFL collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap for each team in the league has been set to $120 million. At a minimum, each team is required to spend at least 88.8% of the cap in cash on player compensation. Each one of the player’s on this list take up a large percentage of their team’s salary cap, ranging between 13% to a little over 18%. How a team allocates their salaries is up to each individual team. Here are the highest paid players in the NFL in 2014:
New York Giants
Of all the quarterbacks in the league, Eli Manning single handedly had the most disappointing performance last year. During the first six games last season, Eli threw 15 interceptions leading the Giants to a 0-6 start. By the end of the season, Eli had racked up 27 interceptions with five games where there were more than 3 interceptions. In order for Eli to succeed this season he needs to be on pace with his top two receivers, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. Luckily for Eli, even after the debacle of a season he had, he can still sleep easy making $16,250,000 per season.
Having one of the best wide receivers in the league certainly helps any quarterback, but combined with Matthew Staffords incredible arm strength results in a deadly duo. The Detroit Lions have one the most deadly and unforgiving offenses in the league. When the offense is firing on all cylinders there aren’t many defenses that can stop them. The key for Stafford this season will be consistency and finding other targets if Calvin Johnson isn’t in the lineup. In order to show their dedication to Stafford, the Lions are paying him a hefty $17,760,000 per season.
No other quarterback in the league has faced as much scrutiny as the Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo. Coming of back surgery during the offseason, Romo will have a lot to prove this season to both his owners and his fans. Fortunately for Romo he has the tools and weapons needed to make that happen. His receiver core is one of the top in the leagues, featuring star Dez Bryant, alongside Jason Witten and Terrance Williams. As long as Romo can make good decisions in the pocket and capitalize on opportunities. he will have a good season. The Cowboy’s management believes in Romo so much that they awarded him a salary of $18,000,000 per season.
Last season Jay Cutler lead the Chicago Bears to have the second highest scoring offense in the league behind the Denver Broncos. Now entering his ninth season in the league, Jay Cutler has more to prove than ever. Nobody has ever questioned Cutler’s arm strength and talent, but what he has lacked is decision making. If anyone can help Cutler enter into the company of other premier quarterbacks in the league, it will be the new coach Marc Trestman. Cutler has already seen much improvement under his new coach, and with his salary and contract, Trestman obviously believes in him as well.
After suffering one of the most embarrassing Super Bowl loses in NFL history, everyone who knows Peyton Manning knows he will be pushing himself twice as hard this season. Despite having a record breaking year last year and the best of his career putting up more than 5,477 passing yards, 55 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions, it wasn’t good enough to beat the Seahawks in the big game. Having lost key wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Knowshon Moreno, the Broncos offense may not be as strong as it was last year, but what was lost on offense was more than made up on defense. Without a doubt, Peyton is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and his salary shows his worth.
New Orleans Saints
Undoubtedly, Drew Brees is one of the toughest and best quarterbacks in the league today. Brees had a record breaking season last year that resulted in his NFL record fourth season of 5000+ passing yards, as well as, his third straight season with at least 39 passing touchdowns. Perhaps, what is most impressive is what Brees is able to do with the quality of his receiving core. If you compare Brees to other elite quarterbacks such as Manning or Brady, to be nice, both have had much more help than Brees throughout their careers. After all, Brees was the first in the group to break Dan Marino’s single season passing yardage record and in terms of Super Bowl success, Brees has won just as many Super Bowls as Manning.
Despite having a horrible follow-up season to Baltimore’s 2012 Super Bowl run, Joe Flacco is still considered by many as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks and his salary certainly supports that claim. Last season Flacco had a career high of 22 interceptions and only 19 touchdowns making him have one of the worst touchdown to interception ratios in the league. This year Flacco hopes to make some improvement. With Dennis Pitta back for week 1 after he missed most of the season due to a hip injury and the team signing Owen Daniels and acquiring Steve Smith, Flacco should have quite a bit more help on offense.
Coming off from a rather dismal season, Matt Ryan is looking to lead Atlanta to a much more successful season this year. About everything that could go wrong fro Ryan last year did go wrong. Having dealt with massive offensive line issues and being without one of his top receivers, Julio Jones, proved too much for the Falcons to overcome. The fact is, Ryan has too much talent around his not to succeed this year. The veteran seems primed for a bounce back season, and the Falcon’s owners made that clear when they offered him a lucrative $20 million per year salary.
San Francisco 49ers
As one of the NFL’s rising stars, Colin Kaepernick is entering into the 2014 season with more weapons than ever along with a new offensive playbook. In 2013, Kaepernick managed to compile 3,197 yards in the air, including 21 passing touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. When all of his receivers were covered, he was able to make 92 carries for a total of 524 yards, with 4 total rushing touchdowns. What is most impressive, is Kaepernick was able to put up these kind of numbers without his favorite target, Michael Crabtree, for 11 games last season. With a healthy Crabtree being joined by Stevie Johnson, the 49ers offensive is well positioned to be a force to be reckoned with.
Green Bay Packers
Having had a shortened season in 2013, Aaron Rodgers is looking to come back with a vengeance. The Packers are loaded with offensive weapons and Rodger’s should benefit from having a healthier offensive line this year. During his last two healthy seasons, Rodgers averaged 42 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Rodger’s is known as an accurate passer and is the youngest quarterback considered a part of the elite trio alongside Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. He is also a very capable rusher when presented the opportunity. With all of his accomplishments in 5 short seasons, it is no wonder why he is currently the highest paid player in the league.
Featured image: Flickr by Mike Morbeck