The 10 Richest NFL Players and Whether They Are Worth the Cost

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2012

The 10 Richest NFL Players and Whether They Are Worth the Cost

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    The NFL is known for having some of the richest athletes on the planet, and the top 10 richest players in the NFL have exuberant contracts that will ensure their families live luxuriously for generations to come. 

    Forbes recently ranked the top 100 richest athletes in all of sports, and the NFL unsurprisingly led the way with 30 players in the top 100. The list included not only the total salary of each player but the money the players earned via endorsements as well. 

    The top 10 NFL players in the top 100 richest athletes have some jaw-dropping numbers, but are they worth the cost to their NFL franchises? 

    With such a rigorous salary-cap system currently in place in the NFL, teams have to spend wisely to field a competitive squad each year. Investing so much money in one player could set a franchise back a decade, or it could allow the team to win a few Super Bowls. 

    Here are the top 10 richest NFL players and whether they are worth the cost.

    Disclaimer: All contract and endorsement numbers used in this slideshow are pulled directly from the Forbes 100 Richest Athletes list, which can be found here

10. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

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    Total earnings: $26.6 million
    Salary/winnings: $18.6 million
    Endorsements: $8 million

    With the success Eli Manning has had with the New York Giants over the years, it is hard to believe he is this low on the list. 

    Manning has been stellar throughout his career and has won two Super Bowl rings with the Giants. With they way things have been going for Manning thus far, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he will win a few more championships before all is said and done.

    Manning has a ridiculously high endorsement value when compared to the majority of other NFL players. This is mainly due to the dominance of the endorsement venue of his older brother, a player who just might make an appearance on this list as well.

    Is Manning worth the cost?

    The answer is a resounding "yes." He has won two championships already while playing the most important position in football. There could be more money for him in the future.

9. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

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    Total earnings: $27.1 million
    Salary/winnings: $23.1 million
    Endorsements: $4 million

    Where to start with Tom Brady? The New England Patriots' star quarterback has won three Super Bowl championships, including two Super Bowl MVP titles, been named to the Pro Bowl seven times and won two MVP awards. 

    In his 12-year career, Brady has thrown for almost 40,000 yards and 300 touchdowns, cementing himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

    Like the quarterback before him on this list, it is hard to figure out why Brady is not higher on the list. 

    Is Brady worth the cost?

    An emphatic "yes" here as well. Brady is one of the greatest football players of all time. As cliche as it sounds, he defied the odds and proved everyone wrong on his miraculous journey. There is not a sum of money that can quantify what Brady has contributed to New England. 

8. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

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    Total earnings: $27.8 million
    Salary/winnings: $26.8 million
    Endorsements: $1 million

    To say that Sam Bradford has had a tumultuous start to his NFL career would be a massive understatement. The St. Louis Rams picked Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft to be the savior of the franchise, and they paid him like one as well.

    Bradford's rookie season was mediocre at best as he finished with 18 touchdown passes and a 76 quarterback rating. It was all downhill last season as Bradford only appeared in 10 games and threw only six touchdown passes, winning one game in those appearances.  

    Is Bradford worth the cost?

    As of now, absolutely not. Bradford has not performed at a No. 1 overall pick level yet, and there have been no indications that he will do so in the future. It is still early for Bradford, but he is flirting with the "bust" label a little too closely. 

7. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets

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    Total earnings: $28.3 million
    Salary/winnings: $27 million
    Endorsements: $1.3 million

    Make no mistake, Darrelle Revis is the definition of a lockdown cornerback in the NFL and he propels the New York Jets' defensive unit to otherwise unobtainable heights. 

    There is not a quarterback in the NFL that can claim he is comfortable throwing at Revis, and there is not a wide receiver in the NFL that can claim he enjoys lining up across from Revis.

    Most games don't see opposing quarterbacks throwing at Revis, let alone throwing to his side of the field. Still, in five seasons, Revis has nonetheless managed to rack up over 280 total tackles to go along with 18 interceptions.

    Is Revis worth the cost?

    Yes. There has not been a corner like Revis in some time, and any amount of money it takes to keep Revis around while he is playing at this level is something any team should be willing to pay.

6. Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills

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    Total earnings: $33.2 million
    Salary/winnings: $32.9 million
    Endorsements: $250,000

    It should be well known by most NFL fans that Mario Williams is one of the highest paid players in the league after recently having to watch the soap opera that was Williams and the Buffalo Bills negotiating a free-agent contract.

    The Bills were right to take Williams hostage in Buffalo and pay him whatever he wanted. In 82 games, Williams has racked up a ridiculous 53 sacks and is easily one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL today.

    Williams is the type of player that not only records the impressive statistics, he also makes everyone around him better. 

    Is Williams worth the cost?

    Definitely, although the Bills have taken a slight risk giving him this much money after he missed the majority of last season due to injury. This changes to a definitive "no" if Williams can not return to form next season. 

5. Charles Johnson, DE, Carolina Panthers

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    Total earnings: $34.4 million
    Salary/winnings: $34.3 million
    Endorsements: $100,000

    Charles Johnson is only 25 years old and only five years into his NFL career, but he has recorded 30.5 sacks to date as a D-lineman. Eleven-and-a-half of those sacks came in the 2010 season, and nine more came last year. 

    Johnson is becoming one of the better pass-rushing defensive ends in the NFL, but it is surprising to find his name so high on the list, especially over guys like Mario Williams. 

    Is Johnson worth the cost?

    Maybe. Johnson has exploded onto the scene in the past few years, but typically it would be wise to save this insane amount of money for someone with a bit more extensive resume. The Carolina Panthers have a variety of issues on the roster still, and pouring this much money into one player could backfire. 

4. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

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    Total earnings: $36 million
    Salary/winnings: $35.5 million
    Endorsements: $500,000

    Ndamukong Suh was made the No. 2 overall selection by the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL draft because of his other-worldly physicality and pass-rushing prowess.

    Suh has about 100 tackles and 14 sacks in his first two seasons, so he has not disappointed on the field performance-wise.

    He has, however, disappointed fans and the organization through his visible lack of maturity through on- and off-field incidents. Suh has stomped on opposing players on the field and was involved in a car wreck.

    Is Suh worth the cost?

    Sure, if you are gauging it strictly on performance. He is a beast on the field and there is not a player in the NFL with a higher motor on every snap. However, the headaches he causes could continue to pile up, and that could be a major issue. For now, Suh is worth the cost.

3. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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    Total earnings: $36.8 million
    Salary/winnings: $35.3 million
    Endorsements: $1.5 million

    Larry Fitzgerald has the distinction of being the only wide receiver on this list, and there is a reason for that. 

    The star receiver for the Arizona Cardinals has almost 10,000 yards receiving and 73 touchdowns to date after entering the league with Arizona in 2004. He is a model receiver that runs every and all routes and excels at run-blocking. 

    Is Fitzgerald worth the cost?

    Every penny. Fitzgerald is the undisputed leader of the Cardinals' locker room and is easily one of the top receivers in the game today.  

2. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens

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    Total earnings: $37.3 million
    Salary/winnings: $37.1 million
    Endorsements: $200,000

    Haloti Ngata is one of the most dominating forces in the NFL on the interior of the defensive line for the Baltimore Ravens. He is, no pun intended, a massive reason for the successes of Baltimore's defensive units since 2006. 

    Ngata is one of those players that does not record the flashy stats, but his presence is felt on every snap. He is eerily athletic and uses his strength and speed to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks and stuff the run with ease.

    Is Ngata worth the cost?

    Without question. Ngata may very well be the best in the league at what he does. He is a nightmare for every offensive line in the NFL, and that does not appear to be changing any time soon.

1. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

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    Total earnings: $42.4 million
    Salary/winnings: $32.4 million
    Endorsements: $10 million

    This should not come as a surprise—Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Not only that, but Manning has dominated the endorsement game from the beginning. 

    Manning has thrown for almost 55,000 yards and 400 touchdowns to go along with his lone Super Bowl win and Super Bowl MVP, four league MVPs and 11 Pro Bowl selections. When he is not on the field, Manning is over-saturating the commercial market and appearing on shows such as SNL

    Is Manning worth the cost?

    Maybe. Manning missed all of last year because of a neck injury and was released by the Indianapolis Colts because the front office had concerns about his durability.

    Manning was promptly scooped up by the Denver Broncos and paid a large sum of money in the process. It is not all guaranteed money, but there is a huge risk-reward element there.