Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, $ 17.7M
Ryan is in the final year of the five-year extension he signed with the Falcons during the 2013 offseason, so he’s several million away from ranking in the top 10 this year. But he signed a five-year, $ 150 million extension this spring, meaning he’ll be making an average of $ 30 million per year for 2019-23—the NFL’s highest average salary, per Spotrac. Safe to say he’ll be one of the highest-paid quarterbacks for the first few years of the next decade.
Alex Smith, Washington Redskins, $ 18.4M
Similar to Ryan, Smith is still playing out the end of his last contract, but he is already guaranteed quite the income beyond 2018. After the Chiefs traded him to the Redskins this past winter, Smith signed a four-year, $ 94 million extension, putting his average salary at $ 23.5 million for that time. Were he getting paid that money this year, he’d be in the top 10.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots, $ 22M
No one knows how many years Brady’s well-maintained body has left, but we do know the soon-to-be 41-year-old quarterback will make $ 22 million from the Patriots this coming season. If we could factor in endorsement deals, his income for 2018 would almost certainly rank top-five among quarterbacks.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, $ 21.5M
When the Panthers signed Newton to a $ 103.8 million extension ($ 60 million guaranteed) three offseasons ago, it seemed like a gigantic risk because of ever-present injury concerns. But did you know he has only missed three games in his seven-year career? This big contract might be a bargain after all.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers, $ 22M
Speaking of games played, did you know Rivers has started every game for the Chargers since the beginning of the 2006 season and is the NFL’s active leader in consecutive starts? He’ll never catch Brett Favre (297 regular season, 24 postseason), but Rivers would be No. 5 on the NFL’s all-time list of consecutive starts (at any position) with 224 of them if he remains the healthy starter through the end of his contract (2019).
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, $ 20.6M
When Rodgers signed his five-year, $ 110 million extension in 2013, it gave him the highest per-season salary in NFL history. Now nearing the end of that deal, he’s only the 14th-biggest cap hit in the NFL for 2018. At some point over the next few months, though, he’s probably going to get a massive extension, ensuring he’ll be on this list for years to come.