Just over two weeks before the 2011 NFL season kicks off. Unlike the NBA (for now), things were resolved relatively quickly. Too much money was to be lost. And speaking of money, here are the ten highest paid players in the NFL this coming season – all of them quarterbacks or defensive linemen.
Number 10 – Paul Soliai, Miami Dolphins, 12.4 Million Dollars
Paul Soliai’s contract before the lockout helped him become one of the highest paid players at his position (defensive tackle), guaranteeing him a one year salary of over 12 Million Dollars. Since entering the NFL in 2007, he has suffered from weight problems and has been a full time starter only since last year, recording 33 tackles and 2 sacks.
Number 9 – Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens, 12.5 Million Dollars
One of the best in the league on the front four, Ngata began his career with the Ravens as a DT but played his last two season, earning two Pro Bowl selections, as a Left Defensive End. He was also a first team All-Pro in 2010, having a career best 5.5 sacks. He is currently negotiations an extension to his contract.
Number 8 – Gerlad McCoy, Tamba Bay Buccaneers, 12.8 Million Dollars
Starting his second year with the Bucs, McCoy, a DT, recorded 21 tackles and 3 sacks during his rookie season. He the no.3 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, coming out of Oklahoma, after two First Team All-American Selections.
Number 7 – Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, 13.5 Million Dollars
After much improved second season, in both record (11-5) and pretty much every statistical category, mostly his TD-INT ratio, Sanchez is ready to make his name as an elite quarterback, more than just a pretty face and some guy who runs an offense. The Jets, and Sanchez, are aiming high and far this season.
Number 6 – Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos, 14 Million Dollars
A month after signing a six year, 61.5 million dollar deal, Elvis Dumervil was sidelined by injury, tearing a pectoral muscle, missing the entire 2010 season. In 2009 he was an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection, recording a league high 17 sacks, moving from Outside linebacker to defensive end when needed.
Number 5 – Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders, 15 Million Dollars
A three time champion with the New England Patriots, Seymour will be beginning his third season with the Raiders in 2011. He recorded 5.5 sacks last seasons with Oakland, earning his sixth Pro Bowl selection in his 10 year career.
Number 4 – Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, 15.5 Million Dollars
Some have forgiven him, many have not. There’s no denying Vick was electrifying for the Eagles on the field last season, rushing for nine touchdowns, passing for over 3000 yards, 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Despite his fantastic regular season, earning him the comeback player of the year award, Vick and the Eagles came up short in the playoffs.
Number 3 – Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 18 Million Dollars
In 2010, Tom Brady may have played the best football of his career. Yes, maybe even better than in 2007. The numbers weren’t as flashy – 3900 yards, 36 touchdowns and not 50, but leading the league in Touchdowns while throwing only 4 interceptions (0.8% of his passes, best in the NFL, second best all time), helping the Patriots to a 14-2 season and his second MVP award.
Number 2 – Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, 18.4 Million Dollars
Sam Bradford got named as the future of the Rams from the moment they signed him for a very pampering contract, one he wouldn’t have gotten after the lockout. He set a few rookie records en route to win the offensive rookie of the year award, helping the Rams to a 7-9 record, which was nearly enough to enter the Playoffs in the very weak NFC West.
Number 1 – Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, 23 Million Dollars
One of the greatest ever is still not back from his injury while rumors of the Colts flirting with Brett Favre, the man Manning is gunning for his records, hover around. Manning led the league in completions and attempts last season, as the Colts lost in their playoff opener for the 7th time since Manning joined the franchise.