Andrew Luck made history on Wednesday when he signed a record-setting contract. Not only is the contract the NFL's most lucrative over the length of the deal, but the Indianapolis Colts quarterback will make more money in 2016 than any other player.
With one year left on his rookie contract, all signs pointed to Luck receiving an historic contract, providing yet another example of the premium placed on quarterbacks. It’s arguably the most important position in all of sports, and seven of the 11 highest-paid NFL players for next season are signal callers.
Ben Roethlisberger made more money than any NFL player in 2015, and Kirk Cousins has the league's highest base salary for the upcoming season. Neither player, however, is among the 10 highest-paid NFL players of 2016.
There is an absence of running backs and defensive backs among the top earners of 2016. New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is tied for 20th in the league with $17 million coming to him, and Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott will make just under $17 million after being drafted No.4 overall.
Below is a look at the highest-paid NFL players of the 2016 season, based on Spotrac.
1) Andrew Luck, $30 million
The Colts gave their franchise quarterback the richest deal the league has ever seen, signing him to a six-year, $140 million contract. It contains a $32 million signing bonus, $18 million of which will be paid within 10 days of signing the deal. Luck has a base salary of $12 million that is fully guaranteed, and $87 million of the contract is guaranteed for injury. Though Luck has set records with his deal, some feel the former No. 1 overall draft pick could have landed an even bigger contract.
2) Tom Brady, $29 million
The four-time Super Bowl winner is the NFL’s second-highest player, but his contract is actually very team-friendly. With a $28 million signing bonus in 2016, Brady has a base salary of just $1 million and he will count just $14 million against the salary cap. He signed an extension with the New England Patriots that lasts through the 2019 season when Brady will be 42 years old. But the 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback has shown no signs of slowing down, throwing for 69 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in the last two seasons.
2a) Joe Flacco, $29 million
Even though the Baltimore Ravens missed the playoffs and Flacco didn’t play a full season for the first time in his career, the veteran quarterback received a $40 million signing bonus as part of a three-year contract worth $66.4 million. The deal created $6 million in cap space for the Ravens, who went just 5-11 in 2015. Since winning a Super Bowl in the 2012 season, Flacco has endured a few subpar seasons.
2b) Olivier Vernon, $29 million
The New York Giants were active spenders this offseason, and Vernon was the biggest beneficiary. Leaving the Miami Dolphins to sign a five-year, $85 million contract, the defensive end is the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL. The deal includes $52.5 million in guarantees. His 2016 deal includes $1.75 million in base salary, a $20 million signing bonus, a $7 million roster bonus and a $250,000 annual workout bonus.
5) Fletcher Cox, $27.299 million
The Philadelphia Eagles rewarded their star defensive tackle with a six-year contract worth $101 million. Cox is signed through 2022 with $63 million in guarantees. Most of his 2016 earnings come from a $26 million signing bonus, one he earned by reaching his first Pro Bowl in 2015 after recording a career-high 9.5 sacks and 71 tackles.
6) Justin Houston, $23.5 million
Avoiding the franchise tag last year, Houston signed the largest contract in Kansas City Chiefs’ history. The six-year, $101 million contract with $52.5 million guaranteed also him the highest paid linebacker in history. In 2015, Houston played just 11 games due to a knee injury and saw his sack total drop from 22 to just 7.5.
7) Philip Rivers, $22 million
The talented quarterback has never led the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl since the team drafted him in 2004, but he’ll be with the team for 15 years if he plays out his most recent contract. In 2015, Rivers signed a four-year extension with San Diego that will pay him $65 million guaranteed. His base salary of $16.5 million is higher than the players listed above.
8) Brock Osweiler, $21 million
All it took was seven starts for Osweiler to become the eighth-highest paid player in the country’s No.1 sport. After getting real playing time for the first time since he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2012, the 25-year-old quarterback signed a four-year, $72 million contract to start for the Houston Texans. The team can cut ties with him after the first two years of the deal, but Osweiler is guaranteed $37 million over the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
9) Drew Brees, $20 million
While most of the league’s highest-paid players for 2016 are in the first or second year of their contracts, Brees is entering the last year of his deal. He’ll be a free agent in 2017, having signed a five-year, $100 million contract in 2012. Despite impressive statistics from the veteran, the New Orleans Saints have made the playoffs just once, finishing with three losing records in the last four seasons.
9a) Cam Newton, $20 million
The NFL’s second-highest paid player last year, Newton is tied for No.9 in 2016. He certainly didn't disappoint after the Carolina Panthers gave him a $103.8 million contract. The 27-year-old quarterback was named the league MVP, leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl with 45 total touchdowns. His 2016 earnings include a $13 million base salary and a $7 million signing bonus.
9b) Demaryius Thomas, $20 million
The Denver Broncos gave their top wide receiver a five-year, $70 million contract last season with $43.75 million guaranteed. Thomas is the highest-paid player at his position in the NFL, and for good reason. He’s the only wide out to total at least 1,300 yards in each of the last four seasons.