Our list for the 10 highest paid players in the 2015 NFL season is based on total cash and not base salaries, which means players receiving huge signing bonuses for more recent contract deals fill up the top 10, including two Atlanta Falcons players (Matt Ryan, Julio Jones) and five more quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton and Jay Cutler.
Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins – $19,038,000
Kerrigan signed a five-year extension with the Redskins in July worth $57.5 million, which includes a $16 million signing bonus to go along with his $2.788 million salary and a small roster bonus, as he enters his fifth season in the NFL, making one Pro Bowl since joining the Redskins.
J.J. Watt, Houston Texans – $19,969,000
Watt signed his huge deal back in 2014; a six-year, $100 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus. In 2015 he makes $9.969 million in base salary and got a $10 million bonus for being on the roster after five days of the new season. He’s a 3-time Pro Bowler, 3-time first team All-Pro and twice the NFL defensive player of the year.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – $20,500,000
Cutler’s massive seven-year, $126.7 million deal was signed back in 2013. This season he’s making $15.5 million in base salary and $5 million through different roster bonuses. He is a one-time Pro Bowler (2008).
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons – $22,006,045
Jones is one of a number of receivers to get a serious salary bump in the 2015 preseason. He signed a five-year, $71.25 million contract with the Falcons that includes a $12 million signing bonus, $2.5 million in base salary and $7.5 million in other bonuses. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – $23,500,000
The guy throwing passes to Jones got his massive extension in 2013; a 5-year, $103.75 million contract. His base salary in 2015 is $11.5 million, with the other $12 million coming in bonus form. He is a three-time Pro Bowler.
Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins – $26,500,000
Suh is the only one on this list to switch teams, signing his deal with the Dolphins after leaving the Detroit Lions. His contract is for six years, worth $114.375 million, including a $25.5 million signing bonus, while making a little under $1 million in base salary this season. he’s a four-time Pro Bowler and four-time first team All-Pro.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers – $31,000,000
Newton signed a five-year, $103.8 million deal with the Panthers this summer. He’ll make $1 million in base salary, while the other $30 million comes from a $22.5 million signing bonus and $7.5 million roster bonus. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks – $31,700,000
It was very important for Wilson to get a bigger deal than Newton and after a long negotiation process, he got what he wanted. His deal with the Seahawks is a four-year extension worth $87.6 million that comes with a $31 million signing bonus to go with his $700,000 base salary in 2015. Wilson is a Super Bowl champion and a two-time Pro Bowler.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – $32,000,000
Rivers signed what might be his last contract with the Chargers and in the NFL last month, getting a four year contract extension worth $83.25 million. His base salary in 2015 is $15 million, while the rest comes from bonuses. He is a five-time Pro Bowler.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – $35,250,000
Roethlisberger got his massive extension done back in March. He’ll make $1 million in base salary to go along with his $31 million signing bonus and $3.25 million roster bonus. Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro Bowler.
And if we’re going by base salary:
Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills – $12,100,000
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions – $12,500,000
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles – $12,985,000
Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants – $14,813,000 (Unless he’s placed on the non-football injury list, which means the Giants don’t have to pay his salary)
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – $15,000,000
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – $15,000,000
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – $15,500,000
Darrelle Revis, New York Jets – $16,000,000
Eli Manning, New York Giants – $17,000,000
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – $18,750,000