Not All of the NFL’s Highest-Paid Players Are the NFL’s Best Players

Daniel Jones, 26, is set to make nearly $50 million this year

Daniel Jones of the Giants in action against the Panthers.
Daniel Jones is making a ton of money to lead the Giants.
Rich Schultz/Getty

With the NFL Draft just around the corner, it certainly seemed as if 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was done in Baltimore as negotiations between the star quarterback and the Ravens had broken down and a trade request had been made.

The Ravens, understandably, were nervous about giving Jackson a lengthy fully guaranteed contract as he had been limited to just 12 games in the previous two seasons due to injury. Jackson, understandably, wanted the same sort of fully guaranteed contract that the Browns gave Deshaun Watson. With neither side willing to budge, it seemed a trade was in the works.

Fortunately for Ravens fans (assuming Jackson remains moderately healthy), the Ravens and their best player were able to come to an agreement just before the Draft and in early May he signed a historic contract that made him the highest-paid player in league history. Complete with a no-trade clause and a no-franchise tag clause, the five-year deal is worth a maximum of $260 million and includes $185 million in total guarantees.

“I just really wanted to get something done here,” Jackson said after signing. “I wanted to be here. I was like, man, OK, other teams cool, but I want to be a Raven…I really wanted to get this done before anything, before my time up and branch off somewhere else. I really want to finish my career here and win a Super Bowl here.”

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Thanks in large part to the $72.5 million signing bonus his deal included, Jackson is the NFL’s highest-paid player in 2023 and will bank approximately $82 million in salary, bonus money and endorsements this year, according to Sportico. With a career record of 45-16 as a starter and a .738 winning percentage (the fourth-best of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era behind only Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Roger Staubach) Jackson is probably worth the money.

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who is set to make nearly $50 million this year in salary, bonus money and endorsements combined, may not be. Nonetheless, Jones, who has a career record of 21-31-1, will make the third-most money in the NFL this year, behind only Jackson and reigning Super Bowl champ Mahomes ($65.5 million). Interestingly, Mahomes is only getting $40.5 million from the Chief, meaning $25 million of his money this year is for endorsements. In comparison, Jackson and Jones are only making $3.5 million in endorsement money combined.

In addition to Jones, other questionable quarterbacks who are being paid like top-10 players in the NFL are Watson ($46.5 million, career record of 31-28), Kyler Murray ($42.5 million, career record of 25-31-1) and Russell Wilson ($40 million, 4-11 last season). Dak Prescott ($45 million, led the NFL in interceptions last season) is also possibly being paid more than he is worth, although $14 million of his money comes in endorsement deals.

It all just goes to show that pay in pro sports is often based on perception, not performance. Just ask Jaylen Brown.

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