The NFL's top earner takes home $51 million a year
Team salaries are just the starting point for these players. Endorsement deals can bring them millions more off the field.
Forbes has a list of the highest-paid players in the league in terms of salaries and endorsements combined. The takeaway: If you're a quarterback who has led his team to a Super Bowl win, corporate America is ready to hand you tons of cash.
This year's top earner is Drew Brees (pictured), who took home a combined $51 million between June 2012 and June 2013, Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen reports. The New Orleans Saints quarterback already nabbed a five-year, $100 million contract extension last summer. While that contract gave him only a $3 million salary for the season, his signing bonus was $37 million.
Companies are falling over themselves to hitch their wagons to this star, and Brees has become one of the most marketable athletes in sports. He has a dozen endorsement deals, Badenhausen reports, including with Nike (NKE), Procter & Gamble (PG), Verizon (VZ), PepsiCo (PEP) and Wrangler. Brees' endorsement deals bring him about $11 million a year. He also gets money from licensing and memorabilia.
Here are the rest of the athletes on Forbes' list:
2. Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers' quarterback is the highest-paid player in the league with a five-year, $110 million deal in place. His earnings for this last year are around $49 million, including his signing bonus and endorsement deals with Nike and State Farm. He has also signed a number of regional deals in and around his home market.
3. Tom Brady. The quarterback earned about $38 million in the last year, including a $30 million signing bonus for a deal inked in February.
4. Joe Flacco. Fresh off of a Super Bowl victory, the 28-year-old quarterback signed a six-year, $121 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens in March. At the time, it made Flacco the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history. But that record was short-lived once Rodgers began negotiating. Flacco's contract, along with a $29 million signing bonus, boosted his earnings for the last year to $36.8 million, Badenhausen reports.
5. Peyton Manning. You just need to watch Manning's latest DirecTV (DTV) ad, filmed with his brother, to see why he is the top pitchman in the league. He gets $12 million a year from Reebok, Buick, Wheaties and others.
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