Month: June 2024

NFL Active Leaders In Career Earnings

Kirk Cousins‘ four-year, $180MM deal with the Falcons this season vaulted him up the list of active career earners. This was by virtue of his $50MM signing bonus, adding to the more than $231MM he earned from the Commanders and (mostly) the Vikings throughout his career. Even under the worst-case scenario, Cousins will still see at least another $50MM come his way via his contract with Atlanta, which would push his career earnings north of $331MM.

While the soon-to-be 36-year-old Cousins will surely see a significant portion of the $80MM worth of unguaranteed money on his contract, he’ll still be hard pressed to catch Aaron Rodgers on the career-earnings list. Rodgers earned more than $306MM during his long tenure in Green Bay, and he’s already made close to $37MM during his one season in New York (mostly via the $35MM signing bonus on his reworked pact).

With at least $40MM of additional guarantees coming his way from the Jets, Rodgers will continue to grow his lead as the highest-earning NFL player of all time. Both Rodgers and Matthew Stafford were able to leap Tom Brady among the NFL’s highest all-time earners over the past year.

With all that said, we’ve listed the 25 active players who have earned the most money in their NFL careers (h/t to OverTheCap.com). While this list is up to date, it doesn’t account for soon-to-realized salaries for the 2024 campaign. This list is also solely focused on NFL cash and does not include off-the-field earnings:

  1. QB Aaron Rodgers: $343MM
  2. QB Matthew Stafford: $328MM
  3. QB Russell Wilson: $305MM
  4. QB Kirk Cousins: $281MM
  5. QB Jared Goff: $234MM
  6. LB Von Miller: $179MM
  7. QB Joe Flacco: $177MM
  8. OT Trent Williams: $171MM
  9. QB Derek Carr: $165MM
  10. LB Khalil Mack: $162MM
  11. QB Dak Prescott: $161MM
  12. DL Aaron Donald: $157MM
  13. QB Jimmy Garoppolo: $150MM
  14. DE Calais Campbell: $143MM
  15. QB Deshaun Watson: $142MM
  16. QB Patrick Mahomes: $136MM
  17. DE Joey Bosa: $134MM
  18. DL Leonard Williams: $134MM
  19. WR Mike Evans: $132MM
  20. QB Carson Wentz: $130MM
  21. WR DeAndre Hopkins: $128MM
  22. WR Stefon Diggs: $126MM
  23. DE Cameron Jordan: $126MM
  24. OT Lane Johnson: $121MM
  25. DT Chris Jones: $120MM

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown Suffered Serious Oblique Injury In 2023

Amon-Ra St. Brown took his production to another level in 2023. After finishing the 2022 campaign with 1,256 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns, the Lions wideout completed the 2023 season with 1,539 yards and 10 scores. This performance helped earn him both a first-team All-Pro nod and a lucrative four-year, $120MM extension from Detroit.

While everything seemingly went St. Brown’s way in 2023, the former fourth-round pick revealed on the recent Netflix Receiver series that he dealt with serious injury issues throughout last season. This included tearing his oblique “completely off the bone,” as passed along by Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com.

The injuries started popping up in Week 2, when St. Brown suffered a toe issue against the Seahawks. He was still in the lineup for Week 3, finishing with nine catches for 102 yards, but the wideout revealed that he suffered an oblique injury in that contest that he initially believed was a simple hip pointer.

“I’ve had a hip pointer before, so I thought it was a hip pointer,” St. Brown said (via Alper). “Maybe it’s just a little bruise. And I’m like, ‘Damn, my toe’s still hurting at this point. Now I have this oblique injury.’”

Despite describing his pain as eight or a nine out of 10 heading into Week 4, the wideout still showed up against the Packers, collecting 56 yards and a touchdown. A subsequent MRI revealed the true extent of his oblique injury, forcing St. Brown to miss his team’s Week 5 win over the Panthers. The receiver returned in Week 6 and proceeded to top 100 receiving yards in four-straight games, and he appeared in at least 85 percent of his team’s offensive snaps in all but two games down the stretch.

The Lions have a lot more money invested in St. Brown heading into the 2024 campaign, and with the organization having established themselves as one of the NFC’s true contenders, the team may not be as eager to have their star play through injuries. Of course, that will be easier said than done in 2024, especially with Josh Reynolds no longer around. The offense will be relying more on Jameson Williams and Kalif Raymond next season, so the Lions may find it difficult to keep the offense rolling if their top receiver is sidelined.

WR Allen Robinson On Giants Roster Bubble?

Allen Robinson caught on with the Giants earlier this offseason, with the organization clearly hoping the wideout can bring some experience to a questionable depth chart. However, the 30-year-old isn’t a shoo-in for the team’s initial 53-man roster. In his preview of the Giants’ depth chart, Dan Duggan of The Athletic writes that it’s “hard to see Robinson earning a roster spot.”

[RELATED: Giants WR Allen Robinson: ‘I’ve Got A Couple More Years In Me’]

Despite injuries ruining the end of his Jaguars tenure, the receiver still garnered a three-year, $42MM deal with the Bears in 2018. He underwhelmed during his first season in Chicago but managed to put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020, with the wideout averaging 100 catches per year between those two campaigns.

Since then, Robinson’s struggles have been well-chronicled. He hauled in only 410 yards during his final season with the Bears before getting another lucrative three-year contract in 2022, this time from the Rams. He only lasted a season in Los Angeles, finishing with 339 receiving yards. He was promptly dealt to the Steelers last offseason, and to his credit, he started all 17 of his appearances in Pittsburgh. However, his numbers hit a new low, with the 30-year-old finishing with only 34 catches for 280 yards and no touchdowns.

Robinson was cut by the Steelers back in March, but he ended up catching on with the Giants in May. While the veteran brings more experience than many of his new teammates, he still faces an uphill battle to make the squad. First-round rookie Malik Nabers is expected to lead the depth chart, and the team settled their contract stare down with Darius Slayton. With Wan’Dale Robinson, Isaiah Hodgins, Jalin Hyatt, and new addition Isaiah McKenzie also around, Robinson would likely require an injury to earn a bottom-of-the-depth-chart spot.

Duggan suggested that Robinson could end up landing on New York’s practice squad, a move that would require the player’s sign-off. Robinson recently said he’s still got multiple years left in the tank, so it’s uncertain if he’d be willing to settle for a taxi squad role during his age-31 season.

Aaron Rodgers On Davante Adams: ‘I Can’t Wait To Play With Him Again’

Davante Adams has been with the Raiders for two seasons, but since the departure of Derek Carr his short- and long-term future has been the subject of considerable speculation. Adams has been floated as a candidate to find his way to the Jets in a reunion with Aaron Rodgers, something the latter recently alluded to.

When asked by Vegas Sports Today about new Raiders offensive coordinator (and former Packers quarterbacks coach) Luke Getsy, Rodgers offered praise for the staffer. He followed that up, however, by saying of Adams that he “can’t wait to play with him again” (video link). That comment comes shortly after the All-Pro wideout confirmed Rodgers has frequently been in contact on the subject of joining forces in New York.

Adams, 31, attempted to shoot down further speculation on that front by reiterating his commitment to the Raiders. He was one of several core players who advocated for Vegas to retain head coach Antonio Pierce on a full-time basis, and doing so has sat well with Adams and Co. The Raiders went 5-4 under Pierce to close out 2023, and repeating that (relative) success this season would bode well for his job security as well as Adams’ desire to remain in place for years to come.

The six-time Pro Bowler is under contract through 2026, but the final two years of his contract call for sizable jumps in annual compensation ($36.25MM) and cap hits ($44.1MM). None of Adams’ base salaries for the 2025 or ’26 seasons are guaranteed, something which could fuel new questions about his Raiders tenure particularly if the team were to struggle early this fall. Both general manager Tom Telesco and owner Mark Davis have made assurances Adams remains in the team’s plans, but renewed trade interest from the Jets could be seen down the road.

New York pursued Adams (among other wideouts) leading up to the 2023 trade deadline, and further interest would come as no surprise. The Jets are believed to have had Adams on their radar since acquiring Rodgers, a logical development given their success in Green Bay. The pair spent eight seasons together with the Packers, and expectations would be high for them if a reunion ever were to take place.

A blockbuster trade sending Adams to New York does not appear to be on tap from his perspective or that of the Raiders. Considering Rodgers’ sway in the Jets’ decision-making, though, his input on the matter could keep this story alive for at least the time being.

Largest 2024 Cap Hits: Offense

The NFL’s salary cap ceiling was expected to see a large increase this offseason, but estimates proved to be on the low side. A record-setting jump resulted in a cap of $255.4MM for teams to work with.

That has resulted in new waves of spending at a few positions, with quarterbacks and receivers seeing continued growth at the top of the market. Last offseason offered a strong chance of the league seeing at least one $40MM-plus cap charge, but the Browns avoided such a scenario with a Deshaun Watson restructure. Owing to that move – and the lack of further adjustments this spring – however, Watson’s financial impact is set to grow considerably this season.

Here are the league’s top cap charges on offense leading up to training camp:

  1. Deshaun WatsonQB (Browns): $63.77MM
  2. Dak PrescottQB (Cowboys): $55.13MM
  3. Matthew StaffordQB (Rams): $49.5MM
  4. Kyler MurrayQB (Cardinals): $49.12MM
  5. Daniel JonesQB (Giants): $47.86MM
  6. Patrick MahomesQB (Chiefs): 37.01MM
  7. Lamar JacksonQB (Ravens): $32.4MM
  8. Trent WilliamsLT (49ers): $31.57MM
  9. Tyreek HillWR (Dolphins): $31.32MM
  10. Josh AllenQB (Bills): $30.36MM
  11. Cooper Kupp, WR (Rams): $29.78MM
  12. Taylor MotonRT (Panthers): $29.75MM
  13. Joe BurrowQB (Bengals): $29.55MM
  14. Deebo SamuelWR (49ers): $28.63MM
  15. Chris GodwinWR (Buccaneers): $27.53MM
  16. Jared GoffQB (Lions): $27.21MM
  17. Joe ThuneyLG (Chiefs): $26.97MM
  18. Geno SmithQB (Seahawks): $26.4MM
  19. Laremy TunsilLT (Texans): $25.86MM
  20. Davante AdamsWR (Raiders): $25.35MM
  21. Quenton NelsonLG (Colts): $25.2MM
  22. Kirk CousinsQB (Falcons): $25MM
  23. Jawaan TaylorRT (Chiefs): $24.73MM
  24. D.K. Metcalf, WR (Seahawks): $24.5MM
  25. Christian KirkWR (Jaguars): $24.24MM

Watson’s figure will shatter the NFL record for the largest single-season cap charge if no adjustments are made in the coming weeks. The hits for Prescott, Murray, Stafford and Jones also would have set a new benchmark if not for the Browns passer, a sign of the QB market’s continued upward trajectory. Cleveland is set to remain in a similar situation for the next three years as Watson plays out his fully guaranteed $230MM deal.

Prescott’s future is one of several important questions the Cowboys need to answer relatively soon. With CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons due for second contracts, an extension for the three-time Pro Bowler will need to take into account future commitments. While Prescott has considerable leverage (via no-tag and no-trade clauses), he joins Jones in facing an uncertain post-2024 future in the NFC East.

The latter saw the Giants make an effort to trade up for a quarterback in April and he reacted in an understandable manner. Jones’ $40MM-per-year 2023 extension remains the dominant storyline surrounding the team, and a decision on retaining him or moving on will need to be made prior to a potential out early next offseason. Murray’s performance this fall will likewise be worth watching; he has received consistent praise from head coach Jonathan Gannon, but he will aim to put together a fully healthy season following 2023’s truncated campaign.

Stafford and the Rams have a mutual desire to continue their relationship, but he is seeking guarantees beyond the 2024 campaign. The 36-year-old’s representatives have been in discussion on a resolution during the offseason, although even in the absence of one a training camp holdout is not expected. The likes of Mahomes, Jackson and Allen retain a place in the top 25, and the same will no doubt be true of Burrow for years to come.

Of the receivers listed, only Hill is known to be actively pursuing a new deal. The 30-year-old once led the receiver market with a $30MM AAV, a figure inflated by non-guaranteed money at the end of the pact. With the bar having been raised to new heights this offseason, Hill could join teammate Jaylen Waddle in securing a new payday. Since the team has a Tua Tagovailoa extension on the horizon, however, Miami could hesitate on the Hill front.

It come as little surprise that Williams tops the list for offensive linemen. The 11-time Pro Bowler has been mentioned in retirement rumors before, but playing to age 40 is now a goal. Meeting it could require future contract adjustments. Samuel’s future in the Bay Area was a talking point this offseason as the team attempts to keep Brandon Aiyuk in the fold. One of the high-profile wideouts may be playing for a new team for the first time in their career in 2025.

Elsewhere along the O-line, Moton and Taylor demonstrate the value seen at the right tackle spot in recent years. Given the developments of the guard market this offseason, though, the likes of Thuney and Nelson will have competition for spots on the list in future years. Similarly, the non-Hill wideouts could easily be surpassed in the future with a further additions set to be made (particularly by Lamb, Aiyuk and Ja’Marr Chase) at the top of the ever-increasing market.

Goff joined the $50MM-per-year club on his third NFL deal, whereas Cousins continued to add to his impressive NFL earnings by joining the Falcons. If healthy, the latter could prove to be an effective pickup for a team aiming to return to the postseason (while quieting questions about a transition to Michael Penix Jr. under center). Smith also has plenty riding on this season with a new Seahawks coaching staff in place which incrementally arrived at the decision he will serve as the starter in 2024.

Latest On Browns’ Interior OL Depth

The Browns have been set at guard for the last five years. Joel Bitonio has held down a starting job in Cleveland since getting drafted in 2014, making the Pro Bowl in each of the last six seasons and earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2021 and 2022. Wyatt Teller has joined Bitonio as a starter since being traded from Buffalo in 2019 and has joined Bitonio in the last three Pro Bowls. The team’s depth behind the two is set to look a little different in 2024, though.

The need for depth hasn’t been critical during the tenure of Bitonio and Teller. Bitonio missed 17 games back in his second and third seasons but didn’t miss any games after that until this past season. Teller has only missed two games in the past three years but hasn’t quite shown the durability of Bitonio in a shorter career. Still, with Bitonio heading into his 11th season in which he’ll turn 33, it makes sense to have an eye on the future.

While Michael Dunn has been a serviceable injury replacement, starting two games in each of the last three years, he doesn’t provide much upside as the future starter at the position. For that reason, the Browns made two key additions to the roster this offseason, signing former Seahawks starter Germain Ifedi and drafting Michigan rookie Zak Zinter in the third round of this year’s draft.

The preferred option here is likely Zinter, who’s had an excellent camp, according to Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. Cleveland got an excellent value on Zinter after the former Wolverine needed to have a steel rod placed in his leg, preventing him from working out for teams throughout the pre-draft process. He was able to participate fully in organized team activities and minicamp and showed enough to have the Browns excited about his potential to eventually replace Bitonio or Teller as a top guard.

Without the opportunity to start this year, Zinter should still have the chance to push Dunn for the primary backup role at guard. If, for any reason, Zinter isn’t quite ready to step into that role, Cleveland has Dunn and an experienced starter in Ifedi to hold down the role until he is.

Latest On Chargers’ RB Position Battle

The top end of the Chargers’ depth chart at running back is set to look extremely different in 2024. After rolling with Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley for the last four seasons, new head coach Jim Harbaugh and new offensive coordinator Greg Roman will be utilizing a new pair of backs this season.

While the pair is new to Los Angeles, they are no strangers to Roman. Roman was on staff in Baltimore from 2017-2022, spending the last four years of that tenure as offensive coordinator. Roman was in Baltimore when both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins entered the NFL as Ravens, helping the team field a top rushing offense in the league during their time together.

For much of his career, Edwards has never really received the billing as RB1. Sharing a roster with such players as the late Alex Collins, Mark Ingram, and Dobbins, Edwards has always entered the season as RB2. Injuries to those players constantly put the Ravens offense in a position in which they needed to rely on Edwards. Even functioning in a dual-back rushing attack, Edwards has been extremely consistent, reaching at least 700 rushing yards in each healthy season.

Dobbins has not had the same consistency as Edwards. While he has been dynamic in stretches, averaging 5.8 yards per carry in his career and being seen as the Ravens RB1 when healthy, health has been a gigantic hurdle for the Ohio State product thus far. Since appearing in 15 games as a rookie, Dobbins has only appeared in nine of a possible 51 games since. He missed the entirety of the 2021 season, nine games in 2022, and suffered a season-ending injury in last year’s season-opener.

Now, Roman, Edwards, and Dobbins all enter their first years as Chargers. According to Daniel Popper of The Athletic, Edwards is looking set to enter his first ever season as RB1. Popper claims that Edwards so far looks to be “the clear lead back.” Likely a cautious approach to Dobbins’ injury-history, Los Angeles will depend on Edwards’ consistency. Edwards also displayed true RB1 potential last year, recording a career-high 810 rushing yards while finishing third for NFL running backs with 13 touchdowns behind only Raheem Mostert and Christian McCaffrey.

Behind Edwards, Popper believes that there is an open competition for touches, though he notes that Dobbins should be the clear winner, if healthy. Pushing Dobbins for snaps with be rookie sixth-round pick Kimani Vidal, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson, and Jaret Patterson, likely in that order. Vidal, out of Troy, rushed for 2,793 yards and 24 touchdowns in his final two years of college ball, and his fresh slate in Los Angeles should favor his opportunities if he has a good camp. Spiller and Dotson have seen minimal opportunities in their three-combined years with the team, and that doesn’t seem likely to change now, while Patterson hasn’t seen much action since his rookie year with Washington in 2021.

Chargers fans looking for a glimpse at what they can expect out of their rushing offense should have little research to do other than watching the Ravens’ offensive film of the last five years. If Popper’s perception is correct, 2024 should feature a healthy dose of Edwards as the lead back with as much Dobbins as his body will allow. Vidal will likely get some work, too, should Dobbins not be up for it, while Spiller, Dotson, and Patterson could all earn some time with strong camps.

NFC Front Office Updates: Biehl, 49ers, Powell

Another Biehl has entered the NFL ranks of scouting as Neil Stratton of SucceedinFootball.com tells us that Nate Biehl has joined the staff in San Francisco. Biehl’s dad, Mike Biehl, is currently the director of player personnel for the Buccaneers.

Biehl had been working for his dad’s team in Tampa Bay as a video intern while finishing school at nearby South Florida. He joins the 49ers as the team’s new NFS scout, following in his father’s personnel footsteps.

Here are a few other personnel updates from around the NFC:

  • The 49ers made two other updates to their scouting department, per Stratton. Casey Filkins joins the staff as a new scouting assistant, making the short trek over from Stanford. As a running back for the Cardinal, Filkins struggled to stay on the field in his four years of play. Following the conclusion of his playing career, it appears Filkins will attempt to make the transition to scouting. In addition, San Francisco added Grant Bordelon as a new football systems personnel analyst. A former defensive lineman at MIT, Bordelon will look to continue utilizing his football IQ (and his regular IQ) on the gridiron.
  • Lastly, the Saints have promoted long-time staffer Ryan Powell, according to Stratton. Powell started in the NFL as a training camp assistant for the Seahawks in 1998. He’s now been with New Orleans for 19 years, spending 17 of those as a pro scout after two years as a combine scout. This newest promotion will make Powell a national scout.

Lions LB Jack Campbell Expected To See Increased Workload; Team Eyeing Hybrid Role For Derrick Barnes

The Lions made Jack Campbell the first inside linebacker to come off the board in last year’s draft. The No. 18 pick did not, however, enter his rookie season with a starting defensive role in hand.

Veteran Alex Anzalone enjoyed a career year in 2023, racking up 129 tackles and three sacks. Derrick Barnesmeanwhile, saw time at inside linebacker but also on the outside. Campbell had a notable role in the group with a 59% defensive snap share, but a larger workload should be coming his way in 2024.

The 23-year-old is expected to take on a Day 1 starting spot this season, as noted by team reporter Tim Twentyman. Campbell wound up making 12 starts in the regular season (along with two more during the Lions’ run to the NFC title game), but a full-time spot alongside Anzalone would represent an uptick in usage. He amassed 95 tackles and a pair of sacks as a rookie, although his play in pass coverage leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Campbell allowed a completion on 25 of 31 targets last season, surrendering a passer rating of 128.2 and a pair of touchdowns as the nearest defender. Developing in that regard would allow the Iowa product to earn further trust from Detroit’s coaching staff. The likes of Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Malcolm Rodriguez are also still in the fold for Detroit, though, and they could take on third-down responsibilities in Campbell’s place if need be.

Twentyman also notes Barnes saw reps at both inside and outside linebacker this spring, meaning he could continue to be used in a variety of ways moving forward. The 2021 fourth-rounder saw time in a rotational capacity during his first two seasons, but in 2023 he logged a 68% snap share. Barnes translated that into 81 tackles and eight pressures, and Campbell settling into an every-down role on the inside could allow him to further expand his versatility.

The Lions ranked second against the run last season, and with considerable continuity in the linebacking core a repeat of that showing should be expected in 2024. Campbell and Barnes are each positioned to play a notable role in that effort, and their showings during training camp will be worth watching closely.

Patriots, LB Jahlani Tavai Agree To Extension

JULY 12: Further details on the Tavai deal are in, courtesy of KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. The extension carries a base value of $17.88MM (a slightly higher figure than first reported) and includes $9MM guaranteed. The latter figure results from a $5.78MM signing bonus and fully guaranteed salaries for the 2024 and ’25 seasons.

Tavai’s cap figures range between $3.45MM and $5.44MM over the course of the deal, so keeping him in the fold for the foreseeable future should be feasible from the team’s perspective. He can earn per game roster bonuses topping out at $500K this season and $750K annually from 2025-27 to help reach the maximum value of $21MM.

JULY 2: Continuing an offseason trend of keeping in-house players on the books for years to come, the Patriots are set to retain Jahlani Tavai for the foreseeable future. The veteran linebacker has reached agreement on a three-year extension, ESPN’s Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter report.

This agreement contains a base value of $15MM, but the pair add it can reach a maximum of $21MM. Tavai was set to enter a walk year following the conclusion of his most recent Pats extension, but now he will be on the books through 2027. The 27-year-old has been in New England for the past three seasons, and he has emerged as a key figure on the team’s defense.

Tavai began his career with the Lions, spending a pair of seasons in the Motor City. The former second-rounder’s debut Patriots campaign saw him make 13 appearances without any starts following his Detroit release. In the two years since then, however, he has seen defensive snap shares of 50% and 76%. Tavai is set to continue as a first-team contributor for years to come at the second level of the team’s defense.

The Hawaii alum was due $1.88MM in 2024, but none of his base salary was guaranteed. This new deal represents a notable raise and a sign of confidence from Eliot Wolf and Co. that Tavai will continue to produce. He posted a career-high 69 tackles in 2022 before upping that figure to 110 last season. Over the past two years, Tavai has added a pair of interceptions, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Remaining a consistent performer over the life of this pact could prove to make this a solid investment from the team’s perspective.

New England has been busy in 2024 with respect to retaining and extending returning players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The likes of defensive tackle Christian Barmore and safety Kyle Dugger agreed to big-ticket pacts during the spring. In the linebacking core, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings both worked out deals of their own. The Patriots – a team which ranked seventh in total defense last season – will thus have plenty of familiar faces in place for 2024.

Armed with over $44MM in cap space entering Tuesday, absorbing a deal such as this will not be a problem for New England from a financial standpoint. Tavai was due to count $3.16MM against the cap in 2024, and that figure could change once this pact is official. Regardless of if that is the case, though, he will be a central member of the Patriots’ defensive plan for several more years.