fl season. While there are various factors to consider when evaluating contracts, one crucial aspect for teams is the impact on their salary cap. So, let’s take a closer look at the top 10 highest paid NFL players for 2023 based on their salary cap charges.
Updated List of Top 10 Highest Paid NFL Players in 2023
1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs | $39.693 million
At the top of the NFL’s cap hits for 2023 is none other than Patrick Mahomes, who was once the highest-paid player in the league based on his average annual value. His cap hit for the upcoming season stands at number one, totaling $39.693 million. This significant figure is mainly attributed to a substantial $22.4 million roster bonus. Fortunately for the Kansas City Chiefs, they managed to renegotiate Mahomes’ contract earlier in the offseason, mitigating the financial burden that would have been even greater.
2. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans | $36.6 million
Despite the Tennessee Titans’ underwhelming performance in 2022, they are committed to keeping Ryan Tannehill for the final year of his contract. The team’s first-year general manager, Ran Carthon, confirmed at the Combine that Tannehill will retain the starting quarterback position, even after selecting Will Levis from Kentucky in the second round of the draft. However, if the Titans have a change of heart and decide to release Tannehill, they would incur $18.8 million in dead money but create $17.8 million in cap space.
3) Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | $35.104 million
In 2023, Tom Brady won’t be playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, nor will he be earning any money from the team. However, despite his absence, his dead money charge still remains as the third-highest cap hit in the league. This is because the Buccaneers consistently added void years to the end of Brady’s contract, and when he retired, the remaining money on those void years immediately accelerated onto the team’s salary cap.
4) Leonard Williams, DT, New York Giants | $32.26 million
The New York Giants made changes to Leonard Williams’ contract last offseason, but unfortunately, it resulted in an increase in his cap charge for 2023. Interestingly, no other interior defensive lineman in the NFL will have a cap hit exceeding $30 million next year. During the NFL Combine, the Giants’ general manager, Joe Schoen, expressed his intention to discuss with Williams’ team the possibility of reducing his cap figure for the upcoming season.
5) Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions | $30.975 million
When the Detroit Lions acquired Jared Goff from the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, they only took on his base salaries and roster bonuses. However, they quickly converted $20 million of his 2021 salary into a signing bonus and spread it out over the duration of his contract. As a result, Goff’s cap charge amounted to approximately $31 million in 2022, and it will remain at that level for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, unless a new deal or additional restructures occur.
6) DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals | $30.75 million
Despite DeAndre Hopkins being on the trade block prior to the draft, the Arizona Cardinals now have a vision of the veteran wide receiver remaining with the team. Considering Hopkins’ reluctance to accept a pay cut, the only viable option for the Cardinals to reduce his cap charge is to restructure his contract and push money into future seasons. However, if the Cardinals don’t view Hopkins as a long-term asset, they might be hesitant to increase his cap charges in the coming years.
7) T.J. Watt, EDGE, Pittsburgh Steelers | $29.369 million
Ranking seventh on our list is another impressive pass rusher from the AFC North, T.J. Watt. Currently, Watt holds the title of the highest-paid pass rusher in the NFL, second only to the Rams’ Aaron Donald in terms of overall defensive player salaries. When he signed a four-year, $112 million extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021, Watt secured an impressive $80 million in fully guaranteed money.
8) Myles Garrett, EDGE, Cleveland Browns | $29.176 million
Over the next four seasons, Garrett will carry an average cap charge of $29.3 million, making it potentially challenging for the Browns to continue with their restraint. However, with the salary cap consistently rising, Garrett’s cap hits will become increasingly manageable. For the 2023 season, he will receive a base salary of $17.25 million, while there will be approximately $12 million allocated to prorated signing and option bonus money in the books.
9) Jake Matthews, OT, Atlanta Falcons | $28.359 million
Jake Matthews, who holds the title of the longest-tenured player on the Atlanta Falcons’ roster, will also carry the highest cap hit for the team in 2023. In March 2022, Matthews signed a three-year contract extension worth $52.5 million, ensuring his presence in Atlanta until 2026. Matthews is set to receive a base salary of $12.56 million for the upcoming season. The remaining portion of his cap charge consists of various bonuses, including signing, roster, option, and restructure bonuses.
10) Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs | $28.292 million
Currently, Jones is slated to receive a base salary of $19.5 million along with a $500,000 workout bonus. Additionally, there are $7 million in cap charges resulting from a previous restructure. Moreover, there are $1.25 million worth of incentives labeled as “likely to be earned” that will count against the Chiefs’ cap after Jones achieved the 10-sack threshold in 2022.
This list of the highest-paid NFL players reflects the financial recognition given to elite talent in the league. From quarterbacks to defensive standouts, these players command significant contracts, showcasing the value placed on their skills and contributions to their teams. As the NFL continues to evolve, we can expect new names to rise and reshape the list of the highest-paid players, further fueling the excitement and competitiveness of the game.