15 biggest contracts in NFL history
Every year, it seems like the contracts in the NFL keep getting bigger, which is why we wanted to create a list of the biggest NFL contracts ever signed.
Admittedly, this list might need to be updated in a year or two. Teams seem determined to keep one-upping each other with regard to the largest contracts in NFL history.
Nevertheless, we wanted to come up with the current ranking of the biggest NFL contracts of all time.
Biggest NFL contracts of all-time
While some fans need free agency explained because some of the largest contracts in NFL history aren’t always guaranteed. At the same time, some of the biggest NFL contracts have turned into some of the worst contracts in NFL history.
That made us want to not only rank the biggest NFL contracts of all time but check in to see how some of those contracts panned out and whether or not they were worth it in the end.
15. Trent Williams – 6 years, $138 million
It’s nice for an offensive lineman like Trent Williams to be included among the highest-paid players in NFL history. In 2021, the 49ers gave him a six-year extension worth $138 million, including over $55 million in guaranteed money.
Williams has surely established himself as one of the truly elite offensive linemen in the league. Since 2012, Williams has gone to 10 Pro Bowls in an 11-year span. Even as he moves deeper into his 30s, he’s showing no signs of slowing down or no longer being worth the big salary San Francisco pays him.
T13. Andrew Luck – 6 years, $140 million
We can safely say that Andrew Luck’s six-year, $140 million extension from 2016 didn’t exactly work out the way either side envisioned. At that point, Luck was returning from a season in which he only plays seven games.
After getting $87 million in guaranteed money from that contract, Luck would also miss the entire 2017 season. As we know, Luck abruptly retired prior to the 2019 season amidst frustration at his continuing health issues. His career never became what anyone thought it would be, although he did get paid well.
T13. Russell Wilson – 4 years, $140 million
This won’t be the first time we see Russell Wilson on this list.
In 2019, the Seahawks gave him a four-year, $140 million extension. That deal made him the highest-paid player in the NFL, at least at that time.
Things continued to go well for Wilson and the Seahawks for the next couple of seasons before things turned south in 2021. Ultimately, Wilson was traded before that four-year extension was completed. Luckily for him, Wilson got an even bigger contract after he was traded.
12. Khalil Mack – 6 years, $141 million
Among defensive players, Khalil Mack has the largest contract ever signed. In 2018, Mack held out for a massive deal, prompting the Raiders to trade him to Chicago. The Bears then pledged to pay him $141 million over the next six years, including $90 million in guaranteed money.
Of course, when that deal became too much for the Bears, they traded him to the Chargers in 2022. In retrospect, it’s fair to question whether someone like Aaron Donald deserves to be the highest-paid defensive player in the league, which he was until Mack topped Donald’s $135 million contract exactly one day later. It’s worth noting that Mack hasn’t had double-digit sacks since 2018, so he’s not exactly living up to his deal.
11. Davante Adams – 5 years, $141.25 million
Davante Adams is the financial winner among the NFL’s non-quarterbacks. The Raiders gave Adams a five-year, $141.25 million deal after working out a trade with the Packers for him. It’s hard to argue against Adams earning the top salary in the league among non-quarterbacks.
He’s become a perennial Pro Bowler and an elite wide receiver. Even without Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback in 2022, Adams led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches and had over 1,500 receiving yards, making it clear that the Raiders made a wise investment in him.
10. Matt Ryan – 5 years, $150 million
In 2018, Matt Ryan received his second contract from the Falcons worth at least $100 million. With his five-year, $150 million deal, Ryan became the first NFL player to average at least $30 million per season.
At the time, Ryan was just two years removed from winning MVP and taking Atlanta to the Super Bowl, making this appear to be a sound investment. However, during the rest of his time with the Falcons, Ryan failed to lead Atlanta to a winning record and was clearly in decline.
However, not all of that can be blamed on Ryan, as the Falcons struggled to use the rest of their salary cap to put a competent supporting cast around their franchise quarterback, who ultimately left the Falcons in 2022.
T7. Daniel Jones – 4 years, $160 million
Without question, Daniel Jones is the most surprising name on our list. The Giants didn’t even pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. That made Jones a free agent after he led the G-Men to the playoffs in 2022, forcing them to give him a four-year, $160 million contract to keep him.
That’s a big price tag for a quarterback with a 21-31-1 record over his first four seasons in the league. But the Giants surely think that the best is yet to come from Jones after taking a big step forward during the 2022 campaign.
T7. Dak Prescott – 4 years, $160 million
After the 2020 season, the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Dak Prescott for a second straight season. Fortunately, the two sides were finally able to come to an agreement on a long-term extension soon after that.
Prescott’s $160 million contract came with $126 million guaranteed and the league’s largest signing bonus at $66 million.
The new contract didn’t necessarily make Prescott a more consistent quarterback, as he led the NFL in interceptions in 2022. But with Prescott at the helm, the Cowboys have typically had one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, making this a contract that the Cowboys had to offer their franchise quarterback.
T7. Matthew Stafford – 4 years, $160 million
On the heels of leading the Rams to a Super Bowl win, Matthew Stafford was rewarded with a four-year, $160 million extension. It seemed like a fitting contract extension with Stafford immediately rewarding the Rams for acquiring him via trade.
However, this is potentially a lesson for teams not to make big financial promises right after winning a Super Bowl. Despite leading the Rams to a Super Bowl, Stafford led the league in interceptions in 2021.
He also underwent offseason elbow surgery and had an injury-plagued 2022 season, going just 3-6 in the nine games he started. To be fair, Stafford could still turn things around. But there are serious questions about how things will play out over the rest of Stafford’s deal.
6. Aaron Rodgers – 4 years, $200 million
During his long career, Aaron Rodgers has signed three different nine-figure contracts. The last of those big-money deals came in 2022 in the form of a four-year, $200 million deal that gave Rodgers $153 million guaranteed.
That’s a lot of money to give a quarterback in his late 30s. But keep in mind that it came on the heels of Rodgers winning back-to-back MVP awards. Unfortunately for the Packers, not even a $200 million contract could fully mend their relationship with Rodgers. Less than a year after agreeing to this contract, Rodgers and the Packers parted ways after 18 seasons together.
5. Deshaun Watson – 5 years, $230 million
It’s not a stretch to call Deshaun Watson’s five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns the most questionable deal in NFL history. On top of the deal being fully guaranteed, Cleveland gave up three first-round picks and three mid-round picks to acquire Watson.
Keep in mind that happened after Watson didn’t play for a full season amidst some truly despicable allegations and a flurry of lawsuits. Thanks to a suspension, Watson only played six games in 2022, so there is a long way to go if the Browns hope to get anything close to what they paid for with Watson’s contract.
4. Kyler Murray – 5 years, $230.5 million
It’s hard to let go of a quarterback with Kyler Murray’s talent and potential, which is why the Cardinals gave him one of the biggest NFL contracts ever seen in 2022. Murray’s deal gave him $230.5 million over five years with $160 million in guaranteed money.
While Murray was already a two-time Pro Bowler, he hadn’t even won a playoff game at that point. Also, the Cardinals went 3-8 in Murray’s 11 starts during the 2022 season right after he got that extension, leaving some to question if the Cardinals might one day regret this deal.
3. Russell Wilson – 5 years, $245 million
When all is said and done, Russell Wilson could end up being one of the highest-paid NFL players ever. As mentioned, he set a record in 2019 when he got a four-year, $140 million extension from the Seahawks. However, that contract looks like chump change compared to the five-year, $245 million extension the Broncos gave him after trading for him in 2022.
Unfortunately, Wilson’s first season in Denver didn’t exactly go according to plan, potentially making this look like one of the worst contracts in NFL history. In his defense, Wilson still has a few years to make up for one bad year and join the list of distinguished quarterbacks to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl alongside John Elway and Peyton Manning.
2. Josh Allen – 6 years, $258 million
The Bills want to win a Super Bowl so badly that they signed Josh Allen to one of the biggest NFL contracts ever. Prior to the 2021 season, Allen got a six-year extension worth $258 million with $150 million being guaranteed.
That contract will give Allen until at least 2028 to lead the Bills to a Super Bowl win. He’s certainly proven himself to be one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL. Also, keep in mind that the Bills spent well over a decade suffering through one subpar quarterback after another, and that’s putting it nicely.
After enduring so many bad years, you can’t blame the Bills for showing Allen the money and hoping he can deliver a Super Bowl win at some point.
1. Patrick Mahomes – 10 years, $477 million
It’s possible that no player will ever top the contract extension that Patrick Mahomes got in 2020 when he got a 10-year, $477 million deal that could end up being worth as much as $503 million.
Frankly, it’s hard to envision a player being worth more than Mahomes. He even got a bigger contract than Mike Trout, and he plays a sport without a salary cap.
On a global scale, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have signed a contract worth more than the deal Mahomes got. In other words, Mahomes is the one who set the bar, and it’s hard to believe that anyone will ever top the biggest contract in NFL history.