Every March, NFL free agency arrives. And every year, like clockwork, NFL teams dole out hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to improve their squads and compete for a Super Bowl.
The 2022 NFL offseason will be no different, and as a result, the list of the league’s highest-paid players will surely change.
Some of the changes to the list of highest-paid players from 2021 will come via the free-agent market. That said, more of them will come via extensions or reworked contracts for top talents around the league.
For example, Aaron Rodgers has already signed a lucrative extension, and it will pay him more than $50 million per year. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford is underpaid after leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory and seems likely to be paid commensurately soon.
The exploding quarterback market will surely yield some new highly paid signal-callers, but don’t sleep on the market for top-tier pass rushers. Aaron Donald and Nick Bosa could soon agree to record-breaking deals while several quality receivers like Deebo Samuel are eligible for high-value extensions.
Defining the highest-paid NFL players can be an inexact science. You can focus on what a player is making in guarantees, what they are making in any given season or what they make on an average annual basis during the duration of their contract. Typically though, sorting it by annual value is the best way to go.
Here’s a look at the league’s highest-paid players for 2022, with all salary information coming via Spotrac.com.
This story will be updated as contracts are signed throughout the 2022 offseason.
NFL’s highest-paid players 2022
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
- Annual salary: $50.3 million
Rodgers signed a three-year extension with the Packers that will make him the NFL’s highest-paid player in 2022. The two-time reigning MVP will be the first NFL player to earn more than $50 million per season, and his $150.6 million in guaranteed money is the most for an NFL player in history as well. Rodgers has completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 8,414 combined yards, 85 touchdowns and nine interceptions over the last two seasons. He has won one Super Bowl during his 17-year career with the Packers.
2. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
- Annual salary: $45 million
Mahomes has been to two Super Bowls in his four years as a starter and has never failed to make at least the AFC Championship Game. He has averaged 5,129 yards, 41 pass TDs and 10 interceptions per 17 games played during his career. It doesn’t look like the Chiefs are going to regret giving him the NFL’s richest contract — 10 years, $450 million — any time soon.
3. Josh Allen, QB, Bills
- Annual salary: $43 million
Allen signed a contract in August of 2021 that will paid him $150 million in guarantees, the most in NFL history before Rodgers’ latest deal. He has markedly improved in each of his four NFL seasons and has led the Bills to double-digit wins and playoff appearances in three consecutive seasons. He had 42 total touchdowns and a career-high 763 rushing yards in 2021. He also threw for 637 yards and nine touchdowns in two 2022 postseason games before the Bills were eliminated by the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs.
4. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
- Annual salary: $40 million
Prescott returned from a devastating ankle injury suffered in 2020 and posted a career-high 68.8 completion percentage and 37 passing touchdowns in 2021. He has a career record of 53-32 as a starter but he has gone just 1-3 in four postseason starts. That includes a 23-17 loss against the 49ers during last year’s playoffs.
5. Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
- Annual salary: $39 million
Watson led the NFL in passing yards (4,823) and yards per attempt (8.9) in 2020. He’s one of the game’s better young quarterbacks, but he has been accused in 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints of sexual misconduct and sexual assault. It’s unclear when (or if) he’ll play again, but it appears that won’t be in Houston.
6. Russell Wilson, QB, Broncos
- Annual salary: $35 million
Wilson was traded to the Broncos during the 2022 offseason, but that won’t impact his standing among the NFL’s highest-paid players. The former Seahawk made 149 consecutive regular-season starts before missing his first game in 2021 after suffering a finger injury. Wilson has averaged 3,987 passing yards, 31 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions per 17 games played during his career. He also won a Super Bowl during his second season and was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year for 2020.
7. Jared Goff, QB, Lions
- Annual salary: $33.5 million
Goff signed a lucrative deal with the Rams but was dealt to the Lions as a part of the 2021 Matthew Stafford trade. Goff completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 3,245 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his first season in Detroit. However, he posted just a 3-10-1 record and has a 3-17-1 career record when not coached by Sean McVay.
8. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings
- Annual salary: $33 million
Cousins was brought to Minnesota to get them over the hump. He hasn’t done that, but he has thrown for at least 4,200 yards and 33 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. However, he is just .500 in his career as a starter with a record of 59-59-2.
9. Carson Wentz, QB, Commanders
- Annual salary: $32 million
Wentz signed a long-term extension with the Eagles but was traded shortly thereafter to the Colts after throwing a league-high 15 interceptions in 2020 and being benched in favor of Jalen Hurts. Wentz’s numbers were better in 2021, as he had 27 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions, but the Colts had just a 9-8 record and saw Wentz average 6.9 yards per attempt. He was traded again in 2022 and now will look to prove himself with the Commanders.
10. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
- Annual salary: $30 million
Matt Ryan’s streak of 4,000-yard seasons came to an end in 2021 when he totaled 3,968 passing yards. His 20 passing touchdowns were tied for the second-lowest of his 14-year NFL career, but his offense was devoid of receiving weapons for most of the season. Ryan isn’t the same player that won the MVP in 2016 and led the Falcons to a Super Bowl, but he is still a solid veteran quarterback.
11. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans
- Annual salary: $29.5 million
Since escaping Adam Gase in Miami, Tannehill has posted an 30-13 regular-season record as a starter and has led the Titans to three straight playoff appearances. an AFC Championship Game berth. He also has a 76 to 27 TD-INT ratio in three seasons as the Titans’ primary starter.
12. Davante Adams, WR, Raiders
- Annual salary: $28.25 million
Adams is now officially the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL. The Packers traded the two-time AP All-Pro first-teamer to the Raiders for first- and second-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the Raiders rewarded Adams by making him the NFL’s highest-paid receiver. Adams has averaged 121 catches, 1,483 yards and 14 touchdowns per 17 games played over the last five seasons. He has made the Pro Bowl during each campaign.
13. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
- Annual salary: $27.5 million
Garoppolo got the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game last season, but he seems likely to change teams this offseason. Why? Because Trey Lance is waiting in the wings to replace him. Garoppolo led the Niners on two deep playoff runs, including a trip to the 2020 Super Bowl. He has a 33-14 record as a starter and has thrown 71 touchdowns compared to 38 interceptions.
14. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals
- Annual salary: $27.3 million
Hopkins used to be the top non-quarterback on this list, but Adams leapfrogged him with his new deal. Hopkins logged just 572 receiving yards in 10 games last season but had eight touchdowns while dealing with a knee injury that caused him to miss the end of the season. Hopkins is still, clearly, one of the best receivers in the NFL. Think the Texans regret only receiving David Johnson and a second-round pick in exchange for Hopkins?
15. T.J. Watt, DE, Steelers
- Annual salary: $28.003 million
Watt became the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player just hours before the 2021 NFL season kicked off. He signed a four-year deal worth an excess of $112 million. His $28 million annual salary is the most for a defensive player in NFL history. Watt responded by tying Michael Strahan’s sack record of 22.5 while playing in just 15 games. He has led the NFL in sacks in back-to-back seasons and has posted no fewer than 13 sacks in each of his last four seasons.
T-16. Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams
- Annual salary: $27 million
Stafford joined the Rams in 2021 after spending the first 12 years of his career with the Lions. The result? Stafford tied a career-high with 41 touchdown passes and helped lead Los Angeles to a Super Bowl win on its home turf. Stafford seems likely to get an extension at some point from the Rams that will move him to a higher spot on this list.
T-16. Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers
- Annual salary: $27 million
Bosa is a great sack artist and has averaged 12 sacks per 17 games during his career. He won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 and won’t turn 27 until July of 2022. He will continue to be one of the NFL’s best outside pass-rushing threats for a long time given his relative youth.
T-18. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
- Annual salary: $25 million
Carr is a solid value on the quarterback market. He’s the 14th-highest-paid player at his position with but plays like a top-12 quarterback at times. He hasn’t yet won a playoff game, nor has he ever quite recaptured the magic of his 2016 season, when he led the Raiders to a 12-3 record before breaking his leg, but he threw for a career-high 4,804 yards last season. He also led Las Vegas to the playoffs. Perhaps Josh McDaniels will be able to take him to the next level.
T-18. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns
- Annual salary: $25 million
Garrett has been as-advertised during his NFL career. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has totaled 58.5 sacks in five NFL seasons. He also has 11 forced fumbles during his career. He may be the NFL’s best pass rusher, so he’s certainly worth this type of money.
20. Khalil Mack, OLB, Bears
- Annual salary: $23.5 million
Mack’s streak of six consecutive Pro Bowls came to an end in 2021 after he played in just seven games due to a foot injury. Still, he has averaged 11 sacks and three forced fumbles per 17 games played during his career. He’s now over 30, but he has shown no signs of slowing down, as he posted six sacks in seven games last season.
21. Trent Williams, OT, 49ers
- Annual salary: $23.01 million
Williams narrowly edged David Bakhtiari as the NFL’s highest-paid offensive tackle. He is making just $10,000 per year more than the Packers’ blindside blocker. Williams has arguably been the best left tackle in the NFL since joining the 49ers in 2020 after skipping the 2019 season while embroiled in a spat with the Commanders’ front office. He was excellent in 2021 and played a massive part in the 49ers’ run to the NFC Championship Game.
22. David Bakhtiari, OT, Packers
- Annual salary: $23 million
Bakhtiari was only able to play in one game for the Packers last year as he struggled to return from an ACL tear he suffered late in the 2020 season. That said, he has been an All-Pro twice in the last four years and allowed just one sack in 12 games in 2020. If he can get healthy, he will be well worth his lofty price tag.
23. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
- Annual salary: $22.5 million
Donald has 98 career sacks and just won his first Super Bowl. He has been an All-Pro seven straight seasons and has won the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year award in three of the last five years. He has never logged fewer than eight sacks in a season and once recorded a league-high 20.5 sacks — just two sacks shy of Strahan and Watt’s record of 22.5 — from the defensive tackle spot. That’s elite production, so him being the 22nd-highest-paid player and fourth-ranked defender in terms of salary is a steal. That’s part of why the Rams are likely to offer him a reworked contract during the 2022 NFL offseason.
24. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Texans
- Annual salary: $22 million
Tunsil played in just five games last season for the Texans but he didn’t allow a sack and committed just one penalty in 262 snaps played. He’s a strong starting left tackle and should continue to be for the duration of his prime.
T-25. DeForest Bucker, DT, Colts
- Annual salary: $21 million
The Colts swapped the 13th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for Buckner and they certainly didn’t regret it. Buckner was an All-Pro in 2020 and he has totaled 36 sacks over the four years as an interior defensive lineman. That’s no easy feet, so he deserves credit for his performance.
T-25. Leonard Williams, DT, Giants
- Annual salary: $21 million
In his first five NFL seasons, Williams totaled 17.5 sacks combined. In his first two full seasons with the Giants, he has totaled 18. He was more productive in 2020 than he was in 2021 but he has been a valuable weapon for a team that has lacked a strong edge rush in recent seasons.
T-25. Jaire Alexander, CB, Packers
- Annual salary: $21 million
The Packers agreed to a four-year contract extension with Alexander on May 16, 2022. Alexander has logged 188 tackles and five interceptions in 48 games (46 starts) over four years since being a first-round draft pick. He’s one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and made the All-Pro second team in 2020. He was limited to just four games in 2021 but is the clear-cut No. 1 corner in Green Bay.