The five highest-paid defensive players of all time

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  • By Ralph Warner
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On August 31, Aaron Donald became the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL when he signed a six-year, $135 million extension. About 30 hours later, Donald was knocked down to the No. 2 spot by Khalil Mack who signed a six-year, $141 million deal with the Bears. So, do these new deals immediately put Mack and Donald among the top defensive earners of all time? Find out below.

Here are the top five highest-paid wide receivers in NFL history, according to Spotrac.

1. DE Julius Peppers

Years: 2002-present

Career Earnings: $159.9 million

Career Accolades: 154.5 sacks, 2003 Defensive ROY, 9x Pro Bowler, 3x First-Team All-Pro

Julius Peppers ranks fourth (154.5) on the NFL's all-time sacks list and has the most among active players. The 38-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down as he racked up 11 sacks in 2017. Peppers' productivity over the years has paid off in a major way -- he's earned over $70 million in his 10 seasons with the Panthers and over $50 million from his four years with the Bears. Throw in another $26 million from his three-year stint with the Packers, and you're looking at the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

2. DT Ndamukong Suh

Years: 2010-present

Career Earnings: $124 million

Career Accolades: 51.5 sacks, 2010 Defensive ROY, 5x Pro Bowler, 3x First-Team All-Pro

According to Spotrac, Ndamukong Suh has lost $620,000 in fines over the course of his eight years in the NFL. Lucky for Suh, that $620,000 only accounts for 1/200th of the amount he's made in his career. In 2015, the Dolphins signed Suh to a six-year, $114 million contract which was the biggest contract signed by a defensive player in NFL history at the time. Suh only spent three seasons in Miami, but was still able to haul in $59 million. In 2018, he'll make another $14 million playing alongside Rams DE Aaron Donald.

3. CB Darrelle Revis

Years: 2007-2017

Career Earnings: $124 million

Career Accolades: 29 INTs, Super Bowl XLIX Champion, 7x Pro Bowler, 4x First-Team All-Pro

The average career length of a cornerback is 2.94 years. Few, if any, positions rely on speed and athleticism as much as cornerbacks do. Darrelle Revis ran a speedy 4.38 at his pro day workout in 2007. Revis used that speed and the skills he acquired to become the best corner of his generation. Revis reached his peak from 2009 to 2011 when he made three consecutive All-Pro first-teams. That kind of production is the reason why the Jets paid Revis $96 million over eight seasons.

4. DE Mario Williams

Years: 2006-2016

Career Earnings: $120 million

Career Accolades: 97.5 sacks, 4x Pro Bowler, 1x First-Team All-Pro

Mario Williams is another high draft pick who benefited from being selected before the rookie wage scale was put in place. The No. 1 pick of the 2006 NFL Draft signed a six-year, $54 million deal with the Texans. From 2006 to 2011, Williams averaged 8.8 sacks per season and earned a six-year, $96 million contract from the Bills. Williams ended up playing out four years of that deal, earning over $64 million during his tenure in Buffalo.

5. CB Champ Bailey

Years: 1999-2015

Career Earnings: $102.7 million

Career Accolades: 52 INTs, 12x Pro Bowler, 3x First-Team All-Pro

Champ Bailey's made the Pro Bowl 12 times in his 15-year career -- he has the most Pro Bowl selections among CBs in NFL history. That kind of consistency and elite play earned him over $100 million in career earnings, the majority of which was earned during his 10 seasons with the Broncos.

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