The 100 Million Dollar Men of the NFL

By signing the most expensive contract (per season) in NFL history, Joe Flacco became the highest paid player in the league (obviously), but as history tells us, getting these $100 million deals doesn’t always mean that it’s an actual “lifetime” contract, as players like Michael Vick, Drew Bledsoe and Daunte Culpepper might choose to tell.

While quarterbacks are usually those who gets these mega-deals, some wide receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson have also been included, while Albert Haynesworth remains the only defensive player to receive a $100 million deal, and completely f%^& it up.

Drew Bledsoe, 2001

Bledsoe signed a record 10-year, $103 million contract with the New England Patriots, $24 million out of it guaranteed. He didn’t last very long, well, because Tom Brady happened. Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills and actually made only $15 million off of that huge contract.

Brett Favre, 2001 – Favre signed a 10-year extension worth $101.5 million with the Green Bay Packers, supposedly a “lifetime” contract, with $22 million in guaranteed money. Favre played until the 2007 season and then retired, only to comeback to play for the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. He earned $62.5 million off of that contract.

Donovan McNabb, 2002 – McNabb was already a two time Pro-Bowler when he signed a deal that promised him $115 million over the course of 12 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, $20.5 million of them guaranteed. He stayed with the Eagles until 2010, when he was traded to the Washington Redskins. He made $62 million off of that contract, and is still trying to make an NFL comeback today.

Daunte Culpepper, 2003

Culpepper didn’t last long after signing a huge, 10 year, $106 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings. He did go on to make the Pro Bowl a couple of times after signing, but a terrible injury early in 2005 killed his career with the Vikings, and he never really impressed in his comeback attempts with the Dolphins and Raiders, and probably made around $24 million off of the contract.

Michael Vick, 2004 – The only player with two $100 million deals in NFL history. Vick signed a deal for $130 million over the course of 10 years, with $37 million of that guaranteed. Then dog fighting happened, and the Atlanta Falcons saw the present and future of the franchise sent to prison. Vick earned about $39 million from that deal.

Carson Palmer, 2005 – Palmer is another player who looked to be the next big quarterback in the NFL, but his success with the Cincinnati Bengals, as everything in pro-Ohio football, didn’t last long. He led the Bengals to the postseason, but tore both his ACL and MCL in the playoffs. He still got a $118 million for 9 years contract and actually made over $74 million from it, but never reached the heights he was expected to.

Ben Roethlisberger, 2008

Roethlisberger was already a Super Bowl champion when he signed a deal for 8 years and $102 million with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He went on to win another one and lose the following year in the big game. He has so far earned $72.7 million off of that contract.

Albert Haynesworth, 2009 – Possibly the worst deal in the history of the NFL, as the Washington Redskins gave Haynesworth $100 million for 7 years, with $41 million guaranteed. He played only two seasons with the Redskins before being traded to the New England Patriots. He currently doesn’t have a team, but can be happy with earning $32 million off of it.

Eli Manning, 2009 – The younger Manning brother signed a huge $106.9 million deal for 7 years, with $35 million in guaranteed money and so far making nearly $60 million off of that contract. It’s hard to say the New York Giants aren’t happy with the decision, seeing him lead the team to a second Super Bowl in four years a few years later.

Michael Vick, 2011

Vick got to sign a $100 million for 6 years deal, with $35.5 million in guaranteed money with the Philadelphia Eagles after an impressive comeback season. Since signing that deal, he has taken more hits than any other NFL quarterback, and the Eagles fired their head coach for nearly 15 years, Andy Reid, while Vick’s contract has been restructured. He has made $32.5 million from the deal.

Larry Fitzgerald, 2011 – Even without Kurt Warner throwing to him, Larry Fitzgerlad is still probably the best receiver in the NFL, waiting for a proper quarterback to make him look like one once again. He signed a $120 million for 8 years deal with the Cardinals, so far earning $40 million off of it.

Calvin Johnson, 2012 – Megatron got a deal worth $132 million for 8 years, with $37 million in guaranteed money. The Detroit Lions couldn’t make the postseason or even finish above .500 for two years in a row, but the Stafford-CJ connection seems to be working very well, with Johnson making $17.25 million off of his contract so far.

Drew Brees, 2012

After turning the New Orleans Saints (along with Sean Payton and some clever signings) into a force in the NFC South, Brees got the contract everyone felt he deserved. He signed a deal worth $100 million for 5 years, already making $40 million off of it.

Joe Flacco, 2013 – Flacco signed a deal worth $120.6 million for six years, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. Time will tell if he deserved it or not.