Breaking Down the Money at Every NFL Position
With free agency set to open Tuesday, NFL teams are getting ready to lavish the market's best players with large contracts.
For fans to figure out how much money their favorite teams will splurge, it's important to know the price breakdown at each position. Who are the highest paid players? Who are the lowest paid players? And who are the guys literally sitting in the middle?
Here is a breakdown of the money at every NFL position.
All salary cap figures courtesy of Spotrac.com
The average salary for quarterbacks entering the 2012 season was $3.84 million, the highest of any position.
By average salary, the new highest paid quarterback in the NFL is its Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco, who will be pulling in $20.1 million.
Drew Brees is in second at $20 million, while the Manning brothers (Peyton at $19.2 million and Eli at $15.2 million) are in third and fourth.
And, what of last year's rookie class of quarterbacks? Andrew Luck comes in at $5.5 million, Robert Griffin III at $5.2 million and Russell Wilson at nearly $750,000.
To give you a better look here are the five highest-, median-, and lowest-paid QBs in the league.
Joe Flacco (BAL)
|Drew Brees (NO)||$20|
|Peyton Manning (DEN)||$19.2|
|Eli Manning (NYG)||$15.2|
|Tom Brady (NE)||$14.1|
Jimmy Clausen (CAR)
|Andy Dalton (CIN)||$1.3|
|Colin Kaepernick (SF)||$1.28|
|Dan Orlovsky (TB)||$1.25|
|Colt McCoy (CLE)||$1.24|
Nick Stephens (DAL)
|Adam Weber (TB)||$450,000|
|McLeod Bethel-Thompson (MIN)||$437,500|
|Aaron Corp (BUF)||$405,000|
|Matt Simms (NYJ)||$405,000|
The average salary for running backs is about $1.5 million, which, believe it or not, ranks below that of kickers and punters.
With the shelf life at the position being so short, it's not surprising to see that teams aren't all that willing to pay big money to running backs.
Only two backs make over eight figures: Adrian Peterson ($13.7 million) and Darren McFadden ($10 million). Others that come close to that total are Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Marshawn Lynch.
Alfred Morris, the Redskins rookie who finished second in the league in rushing, was the fourth highest paid running back on his own team and made $555,750.
Adrian Peterson (MIN)
|Darren McFadden (OAK)||$10|
|Chris Johnson (TEN)||$9.2|
|Arian Foster (HOU)||$8.7|
|DeAngelo Williams (CAR)||$8.6|
Delone Carter (IND)
|Bilal Powell (NYJ)||$610,000|
|Josh Vaughan (ATL)||$600,000|
|Jamie Harper (TEN)||$585,145|
|John Conner (CIN)||$585,000|
Shaun Draughn (KC)
|Tristan Davis (WAS)||$397,500|
|John Griffin (NYJ)||$397,500|
|Harvey Unga (CHI)||$397,500|
|Mario Fannin (DEN)||$393,333|
Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson are third and fourth at about $11 million. Devin Hester is a surprising fifth at $10.2 million.
Victor Cruz, currently a restricted free agent of the Giants, earns $2.8 million.
You can expect Mike Wallace, Percy Harvin, Greg Jennings and Wes Welker to inflate these numbers once they sign their free-agent contracts.
Calvin Johnson (DET)
|Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ)||$14.1|
|Dwayne Bowe (KC)||$11.2|
|Vincent Jackson (TB)||$11.1|
|Devin Hester (CHI)||$10.2|
Marvin Jones (CIN)
|Kealoha Pilares (CAR)||$563,878|
|Juron Criner (OAK)||$561,140|
|Jeremy Kerley (NYJ)||$556,063|
|Kris Durham (DET)||$555,000|
Tyler Shoemaker (KC)
|Isaiah Williams (OAK)||$405,000|
|Mike Brown (JAX)||$397,500|
|Jerrell Jackson (JAX)||$397,500|
|Kerry Taylor (ARZ)||$397,500|
Although rapidly becoming one of the more prominent positions on the football field, tight ends are among the cheapest paid stars in the league.
Jason Witten and Vernon Davis are the leaders with Jermichael Finley, Rob Gronkowski and Marcedes Lewis rounding out the top five.
Jimmy Graham, arguably the league's most dangerous weapon at tight end, is entering the final year of his original deal and has made only an average of $613,785 per year.
Jason Witten (DAL)
|Vernon Davis (SF)||$7.1|
|Jermichael Finley (GB)||$7|
|Rob Gronkowski (NE)||$6.9|
|Marcedes Lewis (JAX)||$6.8|
Clay Harbor (PHI)
|D.J. Williams (GB)||$559,500|
|Niles Paul (WAS)||$555,413|
|Fendi Onobum (CHI)||$555,000|
|Mike McNeill (STL)||$555,000|
Jamie McCoy (PIT)
|Tommy Gallarda (ATL)||$435,000|
|Brandon Barden (TEN)||$435,000|
|Jed Collins (NO)||$430,000|
|Brett Brackett (JAX)||$430,000|
When it comes to the average salary for offensive linemen, tackles lead the charge, followed by guards and then centers. The average salary for offensive linemen is $1.76 million
The highest paid tackle in the league is Jason Peters of the Eagles, who makes $10.1 million. The other tackles making eight figures are Joe Thomas and Trent Williams. Ryan Clady and Branden Albert, both franchise-tagged, round out the top five.
As for guards, Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph of the Buccaneers are first and third, respectively, and they sandwich Logan Mankins of the Patriots.
At center, Carolina's Ryan Kalil is the breadwinner by over $1 million. Rounding out the top five are Nick Mangold, Chris Myers, Scott Wells & David Baas.
Highest (three highest tackles, top guard, top center):
Jason Peters, OT (PHI)
|Joe Thomas, OT (CLE)||$10|
|Trent Williams, OT (WAS)||$10|
|Carl Nicks, OG (TB)||$9.5|
|Ryan Kalil, C (CAR)||$8.1|
Brett Goode, C (GB)
|Lamar Holmes, OT (ATL)||$658, 250|
|Joe Barksdale, OT (STL) ||$644,750|
|Bobby Massie, OT (ARZ)||$635,845 |
|Brandon Fusco, OG (MIN) ||$533,556 |
Paul Cornick (DEN)
|Jack Cornell, (BAL)||$405,000|
|Justin Boren, OG (DEN) ||$405,000|
|Cory Brandon, OT (CHI)||$397,500|
|Lemuel Jeanpierre, C (SEA)||$391,250|
Defensive ends trail only quarterbacks in average salary, coming in at nearly $2.6 million
The Buffalo Bills big-money contract to Mario Williams leads the list, as Super Mario makes $16 million. Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, Jared Allen and Chris Long are in the top five, and no one in the top 10 makes less than $10 million.
To ink a significant pass-rusher, teams must be willing to shell out $10 million or more. Somewhere, Cliff Avril is smiling.
Mario Williams (BUF)
|Julius Peppers (CHI)||$14|
|Charles Johnson (CAR)||$12.6|
|Jared Allen (MIN)||$12.2|
|Chris Long (STL)||$12|
Da'Quan Bowers (TB)
|Carlos Dunlap (CIN)||$929,950|
|Jermaine Cunningham (NE)||$908,750|
|Fili Moala (IND)||$850,000|
|Vinny Curry (PHI)||$807,500|
Alex Silvestro (BAL)
|Jacquies Smith (NYJ)||$405,000|
|Jeremy Beal (DEN)||$397,500|
|Cam Johnson (SF)||$397,500|
|Ricky Sapp (NYJ)||$297,353|
The average salary for defensive tackles is $1.8 million, buoyed by Tampa Bay's Gerald McCoy, who leads the pack at $12.7 million.
The Ravens have No. 3 and 4 on the list in Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, while Ndamukong Suh (second) and Darnell Dockett (fifth) also place in the top five.
Randy Starks and Henry Melton ($8.4 million via the franchise tag) are both in the top ten, while Raiders fans will be sick to see Tommy Kelly ($7.1 million) at No. 9.
The Bengals might be getting the best deal of all, with All-Pro Geno Atkins making only $801,000.
Gerald McCoy (TB)
|Ndamukong Suh (DET)||$12|
|Terrell Suggs (BAL)||$10.4|
|Haloti Ngata (BAL)||$9.7 |
|Darnell Dockett (ARZ)||$9.3|
Christian Ballard (MIN)
|Mike Daniels (GB)||$600,146|
|Lamar Divens (SF)||$600,000|
|Brian Price (DAL)||$600,000|
|Kellen Heard (IND)||$585,000|
Johnny Jones (OAK)
|Ricky Lumpkin (ARZ)||$405,000|
|Swanson Miller (BAL)||$405,000|
|Everrette Thompson (ARZ)||$405,000|
|Jerome Long (JAX)||$397,500|
The average salary for linebackers is $1.8 million, and the Dallas Cowboys are paying the top two players, DeMarcus Ware ($11.1 million) and Anthony Spencer ($10.6 million via the franchise tag).
David Harris is the top-ranked inside linebacker on the list, making $9 million. Patrick Willis is outside the top 10 at $7.6 million.
Clay Matthews, who is rumored to be receiving a contract extension this offseason, is making only $2.6 million.
DeMarcus Ware (DAL)
|Anthony Spencer (DAL)||$10.62|
|LaMarr Woodley (PIT)||$10.25|
|David Harris (NYJ)||$9|
|Robert Mathis (IND)||$9|
Marcus Bernard (NE)
|Vincent Rey (CIN)||$630,000|
|James-Michael Johnson (CLE)||$628,977|
|Sam Acho (ARZ)||$628,607|
|Ronnell Lewis (DET)||$624,272|
Robert James (ATL)
|Nigel Carr (BAL)||$405,000|
|JoJo Dickson (NYJ)||$405,000|
|Jerrell Harris (OAK)||$405,000|
|Colin Parker (ARZ)||$405,000|
The average salary for cornerbacks is nearly $1.7 million, and Eagles fans will be dismayed to hear that the top-ranking corner is free-agent bust Nnamdi Asomugha, who is making $12 million.
Darrelle Revis is second at $11.5 million, but that number is sure to increase if (when) he's traded by the Jets. Champ Bailey, Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan round out the top five.
Nnamdi Asomugha (PHI)
|Darrelle Revis (NYJ)||$11.5|
|Champ Bailey (DEN)||$10.75|
|Brandon Carr (DAL)||$10|
|Cortland Finnegan (STL)||$10|
Alterraun Verner (TEN)
|Josh Norman (CAR)||$574,750|
|Walter Thurmond (SEA)||$573,375|
|Chris Greenwood (DET)||$573,000|
|Shaun Prater (CIN)||$571,250|
Chris Lewis-Harris (CIN)
|Cliff Harris (NYJ)||$405,000|
|Cory Nelms (OAK)||$397,500|
|Chandler Fenner (SEA)||$371,250|
|Marshay Green (IND)||$87,500|
The highest earners at the safety position are Eric Berry, Troy Polamalu, Eric Weddle, Michael Huff and Antrel Rolle, respectively.
William Moore's new deal with the Atlanta Falcons puts him at approximately $6 million while Jairus Byrd's franchise tag from the Bills lands him nearly at $7 million.
With glut of free-agent safeties on the market this offseason, we could see big changes in these numbers come next year.
Eric Berry (KC)
|Troy Polamalu (PIT)||$9.12|
|Michael Huff (OAK)||$8|
|Eric Weddle (SD)||$8|
|Antrel Rolle (NYG)||$7.4|
Jerron McMillian (GB)
|Christian Thompson (BAL)||$600,146|
|Larry Asante (IND)||$600,000|
|Al Afalava (TEN)||$585,000|
|Robert Blanton (MIN)||$577,763|
David Sims (PHI)
|Sean Cattouse (SD)||$430,000|
|Eddie Pleasant (HOU)||$430,000|
|Blake Gideon (DEN)||$405,000|
|Chyl Quarles (CHI)||$405,000|
Is it any surprise that the Oakland Raiders lead the charge in this category, paying about $4 million to their kicker, Sebastian Janikowski?
Arguably the league's best kicker last season, Blair Walsh, is only 22nd amongst kickers with an average salary of $554,000.
Ironically enough, it's the AFC West that leads the way in punting, too, with both Dustin Colquitt of Kansas City and Mike Scifres of San Diego atop the punters list respectively.
Here's a better look at the highest-, median-, and lowest-paid kicks and punters in the league.
Sebastian Janikowski, K (OAK)
|Dustin Colquitt, P (KC)||$3.75|
|Mike Scifres, P (SD)||$3.6|
|Josh Scobee, K (JAX) ||$3.45|
|Rob Bironas, K (TEN) ||$3.33|
Dan Carpenter, K (MIA)
|Nick Novak, K (SD)||$1.65|
|Shaun Suisham, K (PIT)||$1.575|
|Tim Masthay, P (GB)||$1.2|
|Dave Zastudil, P (ARZ) ||$1.15|
Justin Tucker, K (BAL)
|Dan Bailey, K (DAL)||$465,833|
|Chris Jones, P (DAL)||$465,000|
|Matt Szymanski, K (KC)||$450,000|
|Danny Hrapmann, K (PIT)||$405,000|