If you’re wondering where the money is at in the NFL, the positions to play in are quarterback (obviously) and the guys rushing the quarterbacks, defensive ends or those hybrid end-linebacker types, with the Denver Broncos being the only team sending two players to the list of the highest paid players – Elvis Dumervil and Peyton Manning.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals – $13.25 Million
The problem for Fitzgerlad, who caught for over 1400 yards last season for the third time in his career? The Cardinals have a huge hole at quarterback, which probably won’t be fixed in 2012 as well. He’s a six time Pro Bowl selection and four time All-Pro, owed $120 million on the 8 year contract he signed with the franchise back in 2011.
Trent Williams, Washington Redskins – $13.4 Million
The only offensive lineman on this list, Williams was the number four pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, but what people mostly remember from his two year career thus far is his four game suspension from last season after failing a drug test. He’s due to make $60 million dollars by the time his contract runs out in 2016.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles – $13.9 Million
Vick begins his fourth season with the Philadelphia Eagles and the second on his huge five years, $80 million contract. Last season he did set a career high for passing yards, but also for interceptions while missing three games. His health and avoiding the big hits is the biggest key to the Eagles’ playoff prospects this season.
Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs – $14.5 Million
Entering his seventh NFL season, Hali has developed into one of the best outside linebackers in the league, recording 26.5 sacks over the last couple of years, twice in the top 10, also making the pro bowl twice and earning an second team All-Pro mention last season. His contract is up after 2015, with 2012 and 2013 being the peak years on his five year, $57.5 million deal.
Jared Allen, Minnesota Viking – $15.2 Million
Since joining the NFL in 2004, Allen has recorded 105 sacks, more than any other player in the league. He has led the league in sacks twice, including a new franchise record 22 last season with the Vikings. He’s a four time Pro Bowl selection and four time All-Pro as well. The 2013 season will be his last on the six year, $72 million contract he signed back in 2008.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – $15.3 Million
One of the best QB’s in the NFL had a rough 2011 season, passing a career high 20 interceptions and setting a career low with only 4.6% of his passes winding up in the endzone. Rivers made his fourth Pro Bowl game in 2011 and has four more years on his contract, a six year, $92 million deal signed in 2009.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams – $15.6 Million
Rookies can’t get the kind of money Bradford got after being the number one pick in the 2010 NFL draft, signing a six year, $78 million deal with $50 million in guaranteed money. Last year Bradford missed six games, winning only once in the 10 he played, suffering from a terrible O-Line and a terrible team, sacked on 9.2% of his passing attempts, being sacked 36 times through only 10 games.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – $18 Million
The 2012 season is the only guaranteed money year out of his five year, $96 million deal, but Manning is convinced that his return after missing the entire 2011 season with the Colts isn’t going to be a short-lived one. He’s an 11 time Pro Bowl, 5 time first team All Pro and four time NFL MVP, so you can understand why he’s confident.
Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos – $18.9 Million
After missing the entire 2010 season, Dumervil won the Ed Block courage award, making a nice comeback with 14 starts in 2011, recording 9.5 sacks, making his second Pro Bowl appearance. Dumervil has four more seasons on his contract, owed $61 million, $43 million of them guaranteed.
Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts – $19 Million
Freeney, who has recorded 102.5 sacks since entering the league in 2002, is on the last year of the six-year, $72 million deal he signed in 2007. He’s made 7 Pro Bowls and three first team All-Pro teams, selected to the NFL’s 2000s all Decade team.