There's no shortage of articles chronicling the riches-to-rags stories of NFL players who went broke after squandering massive fortunes. Some blew it all on bad investments and leeching from hangers-on. Others did themselves in after partying, bad judgment, and reckless spending on homes, luxury cars, and shiny stuff of every imaginable kind.
Many football players, however, got rich and stayed rich—and some are richer than others. Some of the NFL's wealthiest current and former athletes earned their big bucks on the field. Today's top players, after all, earn massive contracts that sometimes run into nine figures with huge sums guaranteed or paid upfront as bonuses. Others played at a time when athletes earned comparatively modest salaries but struck it rich through post-retirement entrepreneurial pursuits and business ventures.
A few of the following players made more from big-money corporate endorsement deals than they ever did on the gridiron. Some launched rap careers or made it big in Hollywood. Others turned their popularity and knowledge of the game into lucrative broadcasting careers where they received NFL-style paychecks without the bodily injuries.
To uncover the richest NFL players, Stacker consulted Celebrity Net Worth and ranked them by their 2022 net worth. The net worth figures in this list were calculated using a proprietary formula that factored in all publicly available data about each person, including salaries, real estate holdings, divorces, record sales, royalties, and endorsements—minus estimated taxes, manager's fees, agent fees, and lifestyle expenses.
Here's a look at the richest players in the National Football League. Some are still playing today. Others were drafted in the 1950s and have been retired for decades. Some are known widely among football fans but wouldn't be familiar to mainstream audiences. Others are household names across the country, even among people who have never watched a game. One person on this list never technically played in the NFL but is the most powerful man in the league today.
All, however, have one thing in common—they're very, very rich.
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- Net worth: $30 million
After being drafted by the Browns with the sixth pick in 1957, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown quickly established himself as one of the most feared and productive rushers in football. A three-time MVP and eight-time All-Pro, Brown went to the Pro Bowl for every one of his nine years in the league. After retiring in 1965, he translated his tough-guy persona into a long and successful Hollywood career and supplemented his resume and income with broadcasting work, media appearances, and promotional endorsements.
Two-time Super Bowl champion, 12-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP, and seven-time All-Pro Ravens great Ray Lewis certainly earned his place in the Hall of Fame. Except for maybe Lawrence Taylor, Lewis is probably the most feared linebacker of all time and is known for anchoring the defense that led the Ravens through their most successful era in franchise history. His career earnings total $95.7 million.
- Net worth: $40 million
Running back Edgerrin James was a superstar from the get-go. The University of Miami alum was drafted fourth overall in 1999 by the Indianapolis Colts and throughout his 11-season career also played for the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. James won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1999 and was selected for the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams four times. He holds the Colts' franchise record for all-time rushing yards, attempts, and touchdowns and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
- Net worth: $45 million
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was named All-Pro and selected for the Pro Bowl twice during his 10-year NFL career, which he spent mostly with the Titans. He earned $57.4 million total, with the back end of his career padded by a seven-year, $100 million contract he signed with the Washington Redskins, where he played for only two years. The deal is widely accepted to be one of the worst free-agency transactions in football history—widely accepted by those who aren't Albert Haynesworth, that is.
Calvin Johnson played nine seasons in the NFL, all in Detroit, pulling in career earnings of $112.2 million during that time. The six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro wide receiver signed one of the richest contracts in sports history 2012 when he inked an extension worth $132 million over eight years.
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Eagles franchise quarterback Carson Wentz famously watched the Birds' legendary 2018 Super Bowl win over the Patriots from the sidelines, thanks to an injury. The following year, Philly signed him to a record-breaking four-year, $128 million contract extension that, when bonuses and options are included, amounts to $154.7 million over six years with nearly $107 million guaranteed.
Linebacker LaVar Arrington went to the Pro Bowl three times during his seven-year career, which he spent mostly with the Redskins, earning nearly $44 million along the way. Upon retirement, he launched a successful broadcast career that continues to this day on both TV and radio, and he also embarked on several successful entrepreneurial endeavors.
From the time he was drafted in 1999, cornerback Champ Bailey was the yardstick by which all other defensive backs were measured. No cornerback has ever been to more Pro Bowls than Bailey's 12, and his 203 defended passes is an NFL record. He earned nearly $102.8 million over the course of his career.
One of the most well-known names in football, Terry Bradshaw was the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1970-1983. Bradshaw led his team to four Super Bowl championships in the course of six years and was the first quarterback to win three MVPs and four Super Bowl titles. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility. Since 1994, Bradshaw has become a prominent voice in the NFL, working as a sports analyst and famously co-hosting "Fox NFL Sunday."
- Net worth: $48 million
Although he would soon be overshadowed by a young sixth-round draft pick who backed him up when he was injured, quarterback Drew Bledsoe did amazing things in New England before Tom Brady took over the Patriots. He ended a long playoff drought, took the Pats to the Super Bowl, and established the franchise as a force to be reckoned with in the AFC during his tenure in the 1990s. Throughout his 14-year career, Drew Bledsoe earned $80 million.
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- Net worth: $50 million
Drafted in 1991, Aeneas Williams played through 2004, mostly for the Cardinals but also for the Rams. An eight-time Pro Bowler, the Hall of Fame defensive back was named All-Pro three times. He earned $33.3 million over the course of his standout career.
Four-time Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster spent eight years in the NFL, seven of them in Houston, before retiring in 2016. He earned nearly $38 million on the field during that time. He then embarked on a successful music career, with many considering him among the best athlete-turned-rappers in history.
Legendary Bears halfback Gale Sayers was a force of nature on the gridiron in the mid-1960s, but it was after his retirement that he made his real money as an entrepreneur. In 1984, he formed a company called Crest Computer Supply Co. and built it into a successful enterprise. Later renamed to Sayers, the firm serves Fortune 1000 companies.
Jalen Ramsey went fifth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2016 draft after an outstanding college career at Florida State. It didn't take long for him to become one of the best cornerbacks in the league and make the Pro Bowl twice in Jacksonville. Ramsey helped the Jaguars snap a 10-year playoff drought; however, tension between him and the team's front office resulted in a trade to the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. In 2020, he signed a five-year, $100 million contract extension, which, at the time, made him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.
There is debate over the greatest of all time for many positions in football—wide receiver is not one of them. The greatest and most prolific in history without any close second, Jerry Rice was instrumental in the success of Joe Montana's 49ers dynasty and owns literally every receiving record worth holding. Throughout his career and beyond, the three-time Super Bowl champ and Hall of Fame legend supplemented his income with lucrative endorsement deals.
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Julio Jones has had quite the career since getting drafted sixth overall in 2011 by the Atlanta Falcons. The seven-time Pro Bowler is considered one of the best wide receivers of the 2010s and holds the Falcons franchise records for receiving yards and receptions. Unfortunately, injury has plagued Jones, and in 2021 the Falcons traded him to the Tennessee Titans. He most recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being released by the Titans in 2022.
Career Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald is an 11-time Pro Bowler and one of the greatest receivers in history. He has earned more than $180.8 million during his standout NFL career. In January 2020, he became only the second active NFL player (after Aaron Rodgers) to invest in an NBA team when he bought a minority ownership stake in the Phoenix Suns.
Retired NFL cornerback Marcus Trufant spent all but one of his 11 NFL seasons in Seattle. A 2007 Pro Bowler, Trufant was instrumental in mentoring the up-and-coming Seahawks secondary that would go on to "Legion of Boom" fame. He earned more than $36 million in combined salary.
One of the NFL's top defensive ends, Ndamukong Suh spent most of his 12-year career with the Lions but also did stints with the Dolphins, Rams, and Bucs. His nearly $166.2 million total career earnings were padded in 2015 when he became the league's top-paid defensive player thanks to a six-year deal with Miami worth more than $114 million.
Everyone likes a good comeback story, and Ryan Tannehill is one of the more impressive. The quarterback spent six seasons on the Miami Dolphins after being drafted eighth overall in 2012. In 2019, he was traded to the Tennessee Titans and served as backup to Marcus Mariota until midway through the season. As a starter, Tannehill led the Titans to the AFC Championship and was named that year's Comeback Player of the Year, as well as a Pro Bowler. In the two seasons that followed, he helped the Titans win division titles.
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Widely considered one of the greatest tight ends of all time, Tony Gonzalez broke a handful of league and franchise records during his 17-year career. His NFL records include most career receiving yards and receptions for a tight end; most consecutive seasons with 50+ receptions; and Pro Bowl all-time leader for receptions.
He was drafted 13th overall in 1997 to the Kansas City Chiefs and holds the franchise record for most career receiving yards and receptions, as well as receiving touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. Gonzalez played his last five seasons on the Atlanta Falcons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.
Vincent Jackson broke the 1,000-yard receiving mark six times in his 12-year NFL career, which the three-time Pro Bowler split between the Chargers and the Bucs. His efforts earned him more than $71 million in cumulative salary.
- Net worth: $60 million
Frank Gifford is a New York Giants legend. Unfortunately, he's also known for suffering some pretty hard tackles, with the most infamous known simply as "The Hit," a tackle made by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik in 1960 that was so brutal it forced Gifford into early retirement. Eighteen months later, the running back changed position and came back into the league as a flanker. He also played defensive back and was a Pro Bowler in all three positions.
Gifford retired for good in 1964 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. After his career as a player ended, he worked as a play-by-play and commentator for 27 years on ABC's "Monday Night Football." Gifford passed away in 2015 at the age of 84. An autopsy revealed he lived with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease that is closely related to repeated head trauma and has been found in the brains of hundreds of former NFL players.
- Net worth: $65 million
Defensive end Michael Strahan's 15-year career with the Giants earned him seven trips to the Pro Bowl, a Super Bowl ring, a place in the Hall of Fame, and more than $76.3 million in career salary. His massive success, widespread popularity, and affable personality earned him a hugely successful media career. He landed major gigs on "Fox NFL Sunday" while also working as a co-host on "Live! With Kelly and Michael" and later, "Good Morning America," the latter of which reportedly doubled his salary from roughly $10 million to $20 million.
Today, Troy Aikman earns an annual salary of about $7.5 million as Fox's lead game analyst, but before his career in the broadcast booth, the Cowboys quarterback was a legend on the field. The six-time Pro Bowler spent all 12 years of his career in Dallas, a Cowboys record for quarterbacks, and during that time, the Hall of Famer won three Super Bowls. His on-field earnings total $55.5 million.
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- Net worth: $70 million
Drafted by the Redskins in 2012, Washington picked quarterback Kirk Cousins as a backup for Robert Griffin III, but when RG3 was injured, Cousins took the helm. The three-time Pro Bowler quickly proved his worth, was eventually picked up by the Vikings, and in 2018, he signed a league-leading $84 million three-year contract that was fully guaranteed. He's now earned more than $200 million in total salary.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has been with the Falcons since Atlanta drafted him in the first round in 2008. He was traded to the Colts in 2022. A four-time Pro Bowler, one-time All-Pro, and one-time MVP, Ryan is currently locked into a five-year, $150 million contract extension that—after he signed the deal in 2018—briefly made him the highest-paid player in the NFL and the league's first $30 million-a-year quarterback.
After being drafted first overall in 2010, Sam Bradford spent the first half of his career with the Rams before moving to the Eagles, the Vikings, and the Cardinals, where he spent the last year of his eight-year career. Along the way, he earned more than $130 million in career salary.
Like Strahan, longtime Dallas quarterback Tony Romo transitioned into big-money broadcasting work after he retired, in his case working as a CBS Sports color analyst for NFL telecasts. A four-time Pro Bowler and career Cowboy, Romo earned more than $127 million throughout his 13-year career.
- Net worth: $75 million
Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton earned just under $15 million during his rookie year in 2011, but after eleven years as one of the most successful and marketable players in the league, his career earnings now total more than $133.5 million. Although he was named Rookie of the Year in 2011, the three-time Pro Bowler's season of magic was in 2015, when he was named league MVP and led his team to a Super Bowl appearance.
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- Net worth: $85 million
Quarterback Joe Flacco helmed the Ravens during one of the team's winningest era. He won the Super Bowl in 2013, took the Ravens to the playoffs six times, went to three AFC Championship games, and won the AFC North twice. His efforts earned him more than $174.6 million in total career salary.
- Net worth: $90 million
The #1 overall pick in 2003, quarterback Carson Palmer spent the first half of his career with the Bengals, then moved to the Raiders, and finished with the Cardinals before retiring in 2017. During his long and successful career, the three-time Pro Bowler earned more than $174 million in salary alone.
- Net worth: $95 million
Drafted in the first round in 2005, quarterback Alex Smith spent his early career with the 49ers before moving to Kansas City and finally to the Redskins, where he remains today. The three-time Pro Bowler has earned nearly $189.7 million so far.
- Net worth: $100 million
Since he entered the league in 2004, career Steeler Ben Roethlisberger has represented Pittsburgh football more completely than anyone since Terry Bradshaw. A six-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, Roethlisberger has earned more than $267 million throughout his 18-year career.
One of the defining quarterbacks of his era, Brett Favre played from the time he was drafted in 1991 through 2010, mostly with the franchise he's become synonymous with: the Green Bay Packers. He earned nearly $138 million over the course of his 20-year career and padded that fortune with another one earned from his many corporate and commercial endorsement deals. The 11-time Pro Bowler earned his team a Super Bowl ring and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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Eight-time Pro Bowler and 2013 comeback king Philip Rivers signed a one-year contract with the Colts worth $25 million in 2020 before retiring in 2021. The rest of his 17-year career, however, was spent with the Chargers, who drafted him in the first round in 2004. In all, he's earned nearly $244 million in combined salary.
Tom Condon was an offensive lineman for the Chiefs from 1974 to 1984 before spending his final year in New England and retiring in 1985. While playing, he earned a law degree in the offseason, joined the executive committee of the NFL Players Association, and began representing players. Today, he's one of the most successful agents in all of professional sports.
- Net worth: $145 million
The Broncos have won three Super Bowls, and John Elway was part of the Denver organization for every one—twice as a quarterback and once as an executive. He defined the franchise from 1983 to 1998 with a Hall of Fame career that included trips to six AFC Championship Games and five Super Bowls, not to mention retiring as the winningest quarterback at the time. He made a fortune in investments and car dealerships after retiring and retains a high-paying job in the Broncos front office as president of football operations.
- Net worth: $150 million
The man who threw Jerry Rice most of his record-breaking receptions was Joe Montana, who defined the quarterback position before Tom Brady's arrival. As QB for the 49ers, the legendary Hall of Famer presided over one of history's greatest and most exciting dynasties, winning four Super Bowls with San Francisco and going to the Pro Bowl eight times. The highly marketable Montana made most of his money off the field through his many corporate endorsement deals and speaking engagements.
- Net worth: $160 million
Drew Brees was drafted by the Chargers in 2001 and played in San Diego through 2005 before moving to New Orleans, where he spent his career since, achieving most of his success and his money. He went to the Pro Bowl an incredible 13 times, won a Super Bowl, and passed Peyton Manning for career touchdown passes in 2019. The longtime Saints announced his retirement in 2021 and has amassed career earnings approaching $270 million.
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The brother of Peyton and the son of Archie, Eli Manning lived up to the family name with a 16-year, single-team career that spanned from 2004 to 2019 with the Giants. The New York great won two Super Bowls and went to the Pro Bowl four times. His total earnings during that time combine for more than $252 million.
- Net worth: $165 million
Russell Wilson is one of only two quarterbacks with a 100-plus career passer rating (with Aaron Rodgers). A nine-time Pro Bowler, the Seahawks play-caller has been to two Super Bowls and won one throughout his 11-year career. When he signed a four-year, $140 million contract extension in 2019, Wilson became the highest-paid player in the game at the time.
- Net worth: $200 million
When the Favre era ended in Green Bay, the Aaron Rodgers era began. Rodgers is a 10-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, but those accolades don't tell the whole story. When factoring in stats like completion-to-interception ratio and passer rating, he's one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. Between the time he was drafted in 2005 until today, Rodgers has earned more than $305 million.
John Madden—who was drafted for the Eagles but injured in training before he ever played professionally—never suffered a single losing season during his decade as the head coach of the Raiders, emerging with a record of 103-32-7 for a combined winning percentage of 75.9%—he won 17 games straight from 1976 to 1977. After his stellar coaching career, he became the world's most famous and revered football broadcaster and the name of the sport's most successful video game franchise.
Controversial but undeniably successful, Roger Goodell joined the NFL as an administrative intern in 1982 and has served as league commissioner since 2006. He has presided over the NFL's most profitable and successful era and is widely considered to be one of the most powerful people in sports. Although he voluntarily agreed to forego his $4-5 million yearly salary during the coronavirus shutdown, his total annual compensation for 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons is $63.9 million.
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Steve Young filled the giant shoes of Joe Montana and carved out a spot as one of the greatest quarterbacks in history. A Hall of Famer with three Super Bowl rings, Young earned nearly $50 million on the field, but his real money came after retirement. A financial whiz, he's still nursing a $40 million annuity from the long-defunct USFL, he co-founded a massive and sprawling private equity firm, and he's enjoyed a successful career in broadcasting.
- Net worth: $250 million
Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl with the Colts, another with the Broncos, went to 14 Pro Bowls, enshrined himself as one of history's greatest quarterbacks, and retired with a record $400 million in career earnings, including salary, licensing, bonuses, and endorsements. He remains one of the world's most marketable athletes and is a common sight in commercials for Papa John's, Nationwide, Gatorade, Nike, and Mastercard.
The undisputed greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady won seven of the 10 Super Bowls in which he played. The leader of the most successful dynasty in football history, the Patriots great (now a Buc) went to 15 Pro Bowls, was a three-time MVP, a three-time All-Pro, a five-time Super Bowl MVP, and is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He's earned more than $332 million in total salary.
- Net worth: $300 million
Quarterback Fran Tarkenton played for 18 seasons in the NFL with the Vikings and the Giants, earning nine trips to the Pro Bowl and a place in the Hall of Fame. After retiring in 1978, however, he embarked on an equally successful second career as founder of Tarkenton Software, which he later sold. He continues to work as an entrepreneur and teaches others to do the same. He has authored a book called " The Power of Failure: Succeeding in the Age of Innovation" and works with the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business to offer a certificate in entreneurship.
- Net worth: $600 million
Roger Staubach dabbled in real estate during his Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys, whom he joined as a rookie in 1969 for a salary of $25,000. He appeared in four Super Bowls, won an MVP and two rings, and went to six Pro Bowls. After retiring, he returned to real estate to form the Staubach Company. He expanded it nationally, built a real estate empire, and sold his company for $613 million.
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