Breaking Down the Money at Every NFL Position

Nick Kostos@@thekostosContributor IMarch 12, 2013

Breaking Down the Money at Every NFL Position

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    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

Quarterbacks

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    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.

    Rounding out the top 10, in order, are Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub, Sam Bradford, Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford.

    Notable quarterbacks outside the top 10 include Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo and Matt Ryan.

    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Joe Flacco (BAL)

    $20.1 million  
    Drew Brees (NO) $20  
    Peyton Manning (DEN) $19.2  
    Eli Manning (NYG) $15.2  
    Tom Brady (NE) $14.1

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Jimmy Clausen (CAR)

    $1.57 million  
    Andy Dalton (CIN) $1.3  
    Colin Kaepernick (SF) $1.28  
    Dan Orlovsky (TB) $1.25  
    Colt McCoy (CLE) $1.24

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Nick Stephens (DAL)

    $450,000  
    Adam Weber (TB) $450,000  
    McLeod Bethel-Thompson (MIN) $437,500  
    Aaron Corp (BUF) $405,000  
    Matt Simms (NYJ) $405,000

Running Backs

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Adrian Peterson (MIN)

    $13.7 million  
    Darren McFadden (OAK) $10  
    Chris Johnson (TEN) $9.2  
    Arian Foster (HOU) $8.7  
    DeAngelo Williams (CAR) $8.6

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Delone Carter (IND)

    $661,301  
    Bilal Powell (NYJ) $610,000  
    Josh Vaughan (ATL) $600,000  
    Jamie Harper (TEN) $585,145  
    John Conner (CIN) $585,000

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Shaun Draughn (KC)

    $415,000  
    Tristan Davis (WAS) $397,500  
    John Griffin (NYJ) $397,500  
    Harvey Unga (CHI) $397,500  
    Mario Fannin (DEN) $393,333

Wide Receivers

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    On average, wide receivers pull in about $1.8 million, led by Calvin Johnson, who has the largest salary at $18.8 million. Larry Fitzgerald is second with $14.1 million.

    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Calvin Johnson (DET)

    $18.8 million
    Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) $14.1
    Dwayne Bowe (KC) $11.2
    Vincent Jackson (TB) $11.1
    Devin Hester (CHI) $10.2

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Marvin Jones (CIN)

    $565,700
    Kealoha Pilares (CAR) $563,878
    Juron Criner (OAK) $561,140
    Jeremy Kerley (NYJ) $556,063
    Kris Durham (DET) $555,000

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Tyler Shoemaker (KC)

    $405,000
    Isaiah Williams (OAK) $405,000
    Mike Brown (JAX) $397,500
    Jerrell Jackson (JAX) $397,500
    Kerry Taylor (ARZ) $397,500

Tight Ends

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Jason Witten (DAL)

    $7.21 million
    Vernon Davis (SF) $7.1
    Jermichael Finley (GB) $7
    Rob Gronkowski (NE) $6.9
    Marcedes Lewis (JAX) $6.8

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Clay Harbor (PHI)

    $560,725
    D.J. Williams (GB) $559,500
    Niles Paul (WAS) $555,413
    Fendi Onobum (CHI) $555,000
    Mike McNeill (STL) $555,000

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Jamie McCoy (PIT)

    $435,000
    Tommy Gallarda (ATL) $435,000
    Brandon Barden (TEN) $435,000
    Jed Collins (NO) $430,000
    Brett Brackett (JAX) $430,000

Offensive Linemen

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    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):

    Player Avg. Salary

    Jason Peters, OT (PHI)

    $10.1 million
    Joe Thomas, OT (CLE) $10
    Trent Williams, OT (WAS) $10
    Carl Nicks, OG (TB) $9.5
    Ryan Kalil, C (CAR) $8.1

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Brett Goode, C (GB)

    $835,000

    Lamar Holmes, OT (ATL) $658, 250
    Joe Barksdale, OT (STL)
    $644,750
    Bobby Massie, OT (ARZ) $635,845

    Brandon Fusco, OG (MIN)
    $533,556

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Paul Cornick (DEN)

    $405,000
    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

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Mario Williams (BUF)

    $16 million
    Julius Peppers (CHI) $14
    Charles Johnson (CAR) $12.6
    Jared Allen (MIN) $12.2
    Chris Long (STL) $12

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Da'Quan Bowers (TB)

    $962,500
    Carlos Dunlap (CIN) $929,950
    Jermaine Cunningham (NE) $908,750
    Fili Moala (IND) $850,000
    Vinny Curry (PHI) $807,500

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Alex Silvestro (BAL)

    $405,000
    Jacquies Smith (NYJ) $405,000
    Jeremy Beal (DEN) $397,500
    Cam Johnson (SF) $397,500
    Ricky Sapp (NYJ) $297,353

Defensive Tackles

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Gerald McCoy (TB)

    $12.68 million
    Ndamukong Suh (DET) $12
    Terrell Suggs (BAL) $10.4
    Haloti Ngata (BAL) $9.7

    Darnell Dockett (ARZ) $9.3

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Christian Ballard (MIN)

    $611,888
    Mike Daniels (GB) $600,146
    Lamar Divens (SF) $600,000
    Brian Price (DAL) $600,000
    Kellen Heard (IND) $585,000

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Johnny Jones (OAK)

    $405,000
    Ricky Lumpkin (ARZ) $405,000
    Swanson Miller (BAL) $405,000
    Everrette Thompson (ARZ) $405,000
    Jerome Long (JAX) $397,500

Linebackers

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    DeMarcus Ware (DAL)

    $11.14 million
    Anthony Spencer (DAL) $10.62
    LaMarr Woodley (PIT) $10.25
    David Harris (NYJ) $9
    Robert Mathis (IND) $9

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Marcus Bernard (NE)

    $630,000
    Vincent Rey (CIN) $630,000
    James-Michael Johnson (CLE) $628,977
    Sam Acho (ARZ) $628,607
    Ronnell Lewis (DET) $624,272

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Robert James (ATL)

    $415,000
    Nigel Carr (BAL) $405,000
    JoJo Dickson (NYJ) $405,000
    Jerrell Harris (OAK) $405,000
    Colin Parker (ARZ) $405,000

Cornerbacks

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Nnamdi Asomugha (PHI)

    $12 million
    Darrelle Revis (NYJ) $11.5
    Champ Bailey (DEN) $10.75
    Brandon Carr (DAL) $10
    Cortland Finnegan (STL) $10

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Alterraun Verner (TEN)

    $579,285
    Josh Norman (CAR) $574,750
    Walter Thurmond (SEA) $573,375
    Chris Greenwood (DET) $573,000
    Shaun Prater (CIN) $571,250

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Chris Lewis-Harris (CIN)

    $430,000
    Cliff Harris (NYJ) $405,000
    Cory Nelms (OAK) $397,500
    Chandler Fenner (SEA) $371,250
    Marshay Green (IND) $87,500

Safeties

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Eric Berry (KC)

    $10 million
    Troy Polamalu (PIT) $9.12
    Michael Huff (OAK) $8
    Eric Weddle (SD) $8
    Antrel Rolle (NYG) $7.4

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Jerron McMillian (GB)

    $600,146
    Christian Thompson (BAL) $600,146
    Larry Asante (IND) $600,000
    Al Afalava (TEN) $585,000
    Robert Blanton (MIN) $577,763

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    David Sims (PHI)

    $435,000
    Sean Cattouse (SD) $430,000
    Eddie Pleasant (HOU) $430,000
    Blake Gideon (DEN) $405,000
    Chyl Quarles (CHI) $405,000

Kickers/Punters

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    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.

    Highest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Sebastian Janikowski, K (OAK)

    $4 million
    Dustin Colquitt, P (KC) $3.75
    Mike Scifres, P (SD) $3.6
    Josh Scobee, K (JAX)
    $3.45
    Rob Bironas, K (TEN)
    $3.33

    Median:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Dan Carpenter, K (MIA)

    $2 million
    Nick Novak, K (SD) $1.65
    Shaun Suisham, K (PIT) $1.575
    Tim Masthay, P (GB) $1.2
    Dave Zastudil, P (ARZ)
    $1.15

    Lowest:

    Player Avg. Salary

    Justin Tucker, K (BAL)

    $465,000
    Dan Bailey, K (DAL) $465,833
    Chris Jones, P (DAL) $465,000
    Matt Szymanski, K (KC) $450,000
    Danny Hrapmann, K (PIT) $405,000