Sports | December 1, 2021 10:54 am

Report: Multiple Top NFL Coaches Are Set to See Spike in Salary to $25M

Would the middling Pittsburgh Steelers be better off paying Ben Roethlisberger or Mike Tomlin a huge annual salary?

Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts from the sideline
Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts from the sideline.
Dylan Buell/Getty

With freshly signed NCAA football coaches Mel Tucker (Michigan State) Lincoln Riley (USC) and Brian Kelly (LSU) all set to earn $9.5 million per year or more for the next decade and Alabama’s Nick Saban already making a $10-million annual salary (that may go up) for as long as he wants to stay in Tuscaloosa, compensation for the top coaches in the NFL is set to spike.

Per sports business insider Joe Pompliano, Kelly’s $9.5 million annual salary is more than than 26 out of the 32 head coaches in the NFL make, but that is set to change very soon, according to ProFootballTalk.

With three NFL head coaches are already believed to be making about $15 million or more in salary and incentives combined — Bill Belichick ($18 million), Pete Carroll ($14 million) and Sean Payton ($14 million) — the league’s best coaches are going to be making $25 million per year within the next two years, per a PFT source.

Since there is no salary cap to govern what coaches are paid the same way there is to control what players receive in compensation, a sharp increase in salary would not have to be bargained for by a union or approved by anyone except for an individual team’s owner.

“Even though it’s believed no coach currently makes $25 million annually in the NFL, the market is expected to arrive at that threshold soon,” per PFT. “It will be very good for the best NFL coaches to get $25 million per year. A great coach means a lot more to an NFL franchise than a good player, and plenty of good players have been making much better money than great coaches. Thus, as the pay for the best college coaches publicly skyrockets, the pay for the best NFL coaches will continue to quietly climb — even if it’s still not climbing the way it should.”

Other than Belichick (who may already be making close to $25 million per some estimates) Carroll and Payton, some other well-paid NFL coaches who would likely be joining the $25M-club are Andy Reid ($12 million), Mike Tomlin ($11.5 million) and Kyle Shanahan ($9.5 million).

While the NFL’s best coaches will probably never make as much money as the NFL’s best players on an annual basis, a closure of the pay gap may mean the guys on the sidelines will win out over the guys on the field in the long term due to longevity. Belichick is coaching at a high level at the age of 69. Maybe Tom Brady will play that long, but most players won’t.