Broncos' Peyton Manning is NFL's highest paid athlete


Although Drew Brees is on the way up, Peyton Manning can enjoy at least one more year as the highest paid athlete in the NFL.

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Sports Illustrated released its annual list of richest American players in all of sports -- including endorsements -- and Peyton Manning remained on top for all NFL players. His $13 million in endorsements put him at $31 million overall. That was good for seventh overall and comfortably ahead of Larry Fitzgerald (10th, $26.25 million), Mario Williams (13th, $25.5 million), and Calvin Johnson (23rd, $22.25 million.)

These type of lists are sometimes awkward and misleading for NFL players whose contracts often pay them far more money one year than the next. For example, Tom Brady deferred $6 million of his salary until 2013. So he made "only" $12.25 million in salary when the reality is his average yearly income is much higher. He would have rocketed from No. 26 on the list all the way to eighth right behind Peyton.

The lists also remind us that some big non-quarterback NFL stars simply don't make the same kind of endorsement money that other sports stars do. Larry Fitzgerald, 10th on the list, makes $500,000 in endorsements. For comparison, Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes over $24 million in endorsements.

One final note: No one says these rankings are fair. Brees did not make the list for the last year, while Kevin Kolb and Calais Campbell did.