The 2018 Money Team

  • By Ralph Warner and Nick Toney
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This offseason will go down as the one where virtually every NFL star became Deion Sanders.

Listen to Prime Time's 1995 classic "Must Be The Money." He's detailing an era where 26-year-old athletes have unlimited cash flow; diamond Rolexes, first class trips, drop-top Benzes for the lady friends, and instant VIP access!

Now fast forward 23 years. Khalil Mack can buy all of it and have enough leftover to rival the GDP of a small nation. Aaron Rodgers can afford his own 747.

From Mack to Rodgers and every mega-deal in between, this is your updated 2018 All-Money roster. Their annual income make the bars in "Must Be the Money" seem like a lesson in frugality. Here's a breakdown of the highest-paid players (by position) in the NFL this season.

*Average salary figures via

These figures are based on each player's average salary.

QB: Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million)

Age: 34

Accolades: 6x Pro Bowler, 2x NFL MVP, 2x First-Team All-Pro, Super Bowl XLV champion and MVP

The title of highest-paid player in the NFL has been passed around quite a bit this offseason. First it was Kirk Cousins with his three-year, $84 million (fully guaranteed) contract in March, then that was topped when Matt Ryan signed a five-year, $150 million deal in March. Everyone knew who the real cash king would eventually be though: Aaron Charles Rodgers. The two-time NFL MVP took his throne on August 29 when he signed a four-year, $134 million extension. The Lambeau faithful will have the remainder of Rodgers' prime to hope the six-time Pro Bowler can bring another Lombardi trophy to Green Bay.

RB: Le'Veon Bell ($14.5 million)

Age: 26

Accolades: 3x Pro Bowler, 2x First-Team All-Pro

Le'Veon Bell's contract issues with the Steelers have been going on for a couple years now, but they seem a bit more contentious right now.. In short, Bell wants to be paid like a dual-threat. Bell is listed as a running back and he's one of the best in the league, racking up 1,291 rushing yards and 9 rushing TDs in 2017. However, he's also one of the league's receiving leaders, the 26-year-old hauled in 85 receptions (10th most in the league) in 2017.

The Steelers franchise-tagged Bell for $12.1 million in February 2017. Bell was reportedly offered a five-year deal, worth $12 million annually, but the RB turned it down. He held out for the 2017 preseason, but played in Week 1 and went onto an All-Pro year. The Steelers franchised-tagged the three-time Pro Bowler for the second consecutive year this offseason. Assuming Bell does sign the franchise tender, he'll be the highest-paid RB. Is he willing to walk away from $14.5 million and possibly scare off future suitors by sitting out the 2018 season?

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. ($18 million)

Age: 25

Accolades: 3x Pro Bowler, 2014 Offensive ROY

A few months ago, Odell Beckham Jr. was trade bait; a player seemingly outside the Giants' long-term plans. Big Blue's star wideout never forced the issue, instead adopting a prove-it mantra that changed his employer's mind. The end result: A five-year contract worth up to $95 million with about $65 million guaranteed. That's an extreme raise from the $8.5 million Beckham Jr. was slated to make on the fifth year of his rookie deal. It's even more than OBJ stood to make had the Giants franchise-tagged him in consecutive seasons.

TE: Rob Gronkowski ($13 million)* including incentives

Age: 29

Accolades: 5x Pro Bowler, 4x First-Team All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl Champion

Call Gronk's reworked Patriots deal a win for both sides. The Patriots retain the services of perhaps the greatest tight end to ever lace 'em up; Gronk can hit incentives and make more money than anyone else at his position. Should No. 87 catch at least 70 passes for 1,085 yards and nine or more scores -- all while playing 80 percent of the team's snaps -- it'll add another $4.4 million to his 2018 earnings. He can then go on living off his Dunkin' Donuts and BodyArmor endorsement deals... unless a nice chain comes along.

DT: Aaron Donald ($22.5 million)

Age: 27

Accolades: 4x Pro Bowler, 3x First-Team All-Pro, 2017 Defensive Player of the Year

How could the Rams afford a much-deserved Aaron Donald pay bump? After all, they imported (and paid) Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh -- all as the All-Pro plotted a lengthy summer holdout. Rams GM Les Snead broke through to Donald by backing up the Brinks truck. The Pitt product landed $40 million at signing with another $46 million guaranteed over the course of his new six-year, $135 million deal.

LB: Khalil Mack ($23.5 million)

Age: 27

Accolades: 3x Pro Bowler, 2x First-Team All-Pro, 2016 Defensive Player of the Year

Aaron Donald's deal was historic for all of about 30 hours. Then, Khalil Mack was dealt to the Windy City and locked it to the tune of $141 million over six years. Those monstrous figures include a whopping $60 million just for signing and $90 million guaranteed overall. After the ink dries, Mack will haul in $23.5 million on average per season. That's quarterback money for a man who makes quarterbacks shiver.

CB: Josh Norman ($15 million)

Age: 30

Accolades: 1x Pro Bowler, 1x First-Team All-Pro

The 2015 season was a breakout one for Josh Norman and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers won a franchise-record 15 games and their star CB had a career-high four INTs and two TDs. The season reached its apex when the Panthers trounced the the Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship. However, a couple months after a losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, Norman became a free agent and signed a five-year, $75 million contract with Washington.

DE: Fletcher Cox ($17.1 million)

Age: 27

Accolades: 3x Pro Bowler, Super Bowl LII champion

Fletcher Cox was one of the vets in the Eagles locker room that helped Philly reach the promise land in 2017. Cox has been with the Eagles his whole career and been a constant presence in their defense -- playing in 93 out of 96 games over the course of his six-year career. The three-time Pro Bowler racked up a career-high 50 tackles -- including 9.5 sacks -- in 2015. The following offseason, Philly rewarded him with a six-year, $102.6 million extension.

K: Stephen Gostkowski ($4.3 million)

Age: 34

Accolades: 4x Pro Bowler, 2x First-Team All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl Champion, NFL record consecutive extra points made (479)

Who says kickers don't get paid? Veteran K Stephen Gostkowski signed a four-year, 17.2 million contract in July 2015. The deal made him the highest-paid kicker in the NFL. Gostkowski entered the league with big shoes to fill, the Patriots drafted him in 2006 to replace Adam Vinatieri. Gostkowski has held his own, setting an NFL record consecutive extra points made (479) and helping the Patriots add two more Lombardis (XLIX and LI) to their trophy case.

OL: Taylor Lewan ($16 million)

Age: 27

Accolades: 2x Pro Bowler

Only a mega-deal could force Taylor Lewan to break out the Boss Hogg suit. The Titans' blind side protector tackle landed a five-year, $80 million deal with $50 million guaranteed -- wide receiver money by some standards. He's now the highest-paid big ugly in league history, surpassing new Giants left tackle Nate Solder's four-year, $62 million pact signed in the spring.

S: Eric Berry ($13 million)

Age: 29

Accolades: 5x Pro Bowler, 3x First-Team All-Pro, 2015 Comeback Player of the Year

From 2013 to 2016, Eric Berry had one of the most compelling stories in the NFL. He went from having his first All-Pro season in 2013 to missing the majority of the 2014 season when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Berry had an unbelievable return in 2015 when he had another All-Pro season and won Comeback Player of the Year.

He followed that up with another All-Pro season in 2016 where he recorded 77 tackles, four interceptions and two touchdowns. After the 2016 season, Berry was rewarded for his perseverance and production with a six-year, $78 million contract. Berry was sidelined for nearly all of 2017 when he suffered a ruptured Achilles in the season-opener. We'll see how 2018 pans out, but when healthy, Berry has proven himself as one of the best DBs in the NFL.



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