A Financial Touchdown: The Richest NFL Players of All Time and Their Eye-Watering Net Worths

Tue Jan 18 2022

Football makes the world go around, and the sport would be nothing without the players who bring it to life. Thankfully, the NFL is full of hugely talented football players who all bring their own unique take to the league – and they get extremely well compensated for doing so. Yep, these guys are super rich.

With so many talented football players of past and present across the globe, it seems impossible to know which one comes out on top as the richest of them all. But we’ve done the hard work for you, and compiled a list of how much the best NFL players of all time have in their bank accounts. Spoiler alert: their net worths are eye-wateringly high – and the richest of them all might surprise you.

Alex Smith –  $55 Million Net Worth

Known for playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins, Alex Smith is a football legend. He started off his career playing college football for the Utah Utes, and in 2004 he even took home the title of the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Fast-forward to 2005, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and was able to make his NFL debut. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Unfortunately for Alex Smith fans, this football star decided to retire from the sport completely during the 2021 off-season – but we haven’t seen the last of him yet. Alex is now an NFL analyst for ESPN, and this new gig will certainly make his bank account even happier. Right now, Alex has a net worth of $55 million thanks to his football career, brand partnerships, and even his work as a motivational speaker.

Russell Wilson – $135 Million Net Worth

The NFL is full of talented quarterbacks, but Russell Wilson is considered to be one of the greatest dual-threat quarterbacks thanks to his offensive ability and his running talent. He first proved this by playing college football and baseball at NC State before he transferred to Wisconsin to truly hone his football skills. This move paid off, as he was picked in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He’s played for them ever since.

Over the past decade, Wilson has been named to eight Pro Bowls and started in the Super Bowl twice, and while he only has one Super Bowl win under his belt, he’s still only one of four quarterbacks in NFL history with a career passer rating over 100. Like many young NFL players, Wilson started investing his money wisely early on, which is why he now has a net worth of $135 million. He’s even the part-owner of a Major League Soccer team.

Carson Palmer – $60 Million Net Worth

Months of injuries forced Carson Palmer to eventually retire in 2017, but it’s fair to say that his legacy still lives on today. The former quarterback will be forever known for helping the Cincinnati Bengals win their first season and playoff appearance in a whopping 15 years – and he even made his mark when he was traded to the Oakland Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals.

At the time of his retirement, Carson was 12th all-time in both passing yards and passing touchdowns – and his presence within the NFL helped him rack up impressive net worth. At the time of writing, he’s one of the richest NFL players in the world, with a net worth of $60 million. That’s not bad for a retiree.

Peyton Manning – $200 Million Net Worth

As the son and older brother of two iconic NFL players, Peyton Manning is certainly making the Manning family proud. In fact, he’s widely regarded as one of the most talented players the league has ever seen – and he’s proved his worth over his 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and another four with the Denver Broncos. “The Sheriff” has the most first-team All-Pro selections and is third in career passing touchdowns. So, you could say he’s a big deal.

Thanks to his incredible career in football, Peyton has seen many other doors open up for him – and they have all contributed to his $200 million net worth. He once owned a whopping 21 Papa John’s pizza stores, he’s written his own book, he’s the host of his own documentary series on ESPN+, and he hosts Monday Night Football with his brother Eli Manning.

Arian Foster – $50 Million Net Worth

Arian Foster fans were probably devastated when the running back announced his retirement in 2016, as his football career was much shorter and sweeter than some of the other veterans in the NFL. But he still made an impact. After playing college football at the University of Tennessee, he began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans in 2009. He was with them for six years.

After that, he moved to the Miami Dolphins and continued to perform his signature move –  his Namaste bow, which always made an appearance after he scored a touchdown. Today, Arian Foster is worth $50 million, but now he’s making moves in another field. He’s now a fully-fledged recording artist, releasing music under the name Bobby Feeno.

John Elway – $145 Million Net Worth

John Elway is now primarily known for being the general manager and executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos – but veteran fans of the sport will remember the days when John was running up and down the field himself. The former quarterback played college football at Stanford before he was drafted for the team that he now manages. He really has gone full circle.

Elway has probably taught the current Broncos players a thing or two about the game, considering he was the second most prolific passer in NFL history at the time of his retirement. He can probably teach them a lot about finances, as well. Thanks to his former career and his new career within the NFL, John Elway is sitting on a small fortune of $145 million.

Drew Brees – $100 Million Net Worth

Even when Drew Brees was playing college football at Purdue, his teammates and coach knew that he was going to go far. He set records for yards, completions, and attempts, but the decision-makers within the NFL were concerned about his arm strength and height. Thankfully, the San Diego Chargers decided to sign him in the second round of their 2001 draft. He stayed there for four years, making history in the process.

Drew later joined the New Orleans Saints, and to this day he still holds the record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass – preciously held by the iconic Johnny Unitas for over five decades. Brees hung up his boots in 2020, but he hasn’t gone anywhere. Thanks to his old football career and his new job as an analyst for NBC Sunday Night Football, Brees’ net worth currently stands at $100 million.

Joe Flacco – $85 Million Net Worth

Known for having one of the strongest arms within the NFL, many teams have had the pleasure of having Joe Flacco on their side – despite his many injuries. Since being drafted in 2008 he’s played for the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, and he’s currently playing for the New York Jets. He’s set records on the field, but also off the field.

During the 2012 off-season, Flacco signed a six-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens worth a whopping $120.6 million, making him the highest-paid quarterback at the time. That contract has since been surpassed, but it certainly set this football legend up for financial success. At the time of writing, he’s worth around $85 million.

Michael Strahan – $65 Million Net Worth

Although Michael Strahan is now known more for being a TV host and journalist, we can’t forget where he came from – or what he did for the New York Giants. This defensive spent his whole 15-season career with the Giants, and during that time he helped the team win the Super Bowl XLII in 2007, and he even set the record for the most sacks in a season.

After taking home the Super Bowl trophy, Michael decided to hang up his jersey and call it a day. But even though he’s retired, he’s definitely not searching behind the couch for some loose change. Thanks to his time within the NFL and his subsequent career on television, his net worth stands at $65 million. In fact, this man is so rich that he didn’t have to pay to travel to space in the Blue Origin NS-19 rocket… they paid him to go!

Tony Romo – $70 Million Net Worth

Keen to ascend to NFL greatness as a young boy, Tony Romo made it his mission to be the best. He played college football at Eastern Illinois and even made an Ohio Valley Conference Championship appearance in 2001. By the time 2003 came along, the Dallas Cowboys knew that they needed to add him to their roster – so that’s exactly what they did.

The quarterback may have started his NFL career in a backup role, but he soon made his mark where he needed to, and he ultimately stayed with the Cowboys for an incredible 14 seasons. After hanging up his boots in 2016, it didn’t take long for CBS Sports to snap him up as a lead color analyst for their NFL telecasts, and he’s still doing that today. That’s probably why he still has such a high net worth of $70 million.

Matt Ryan – $70 Million Net Worth

Whether you know him as Matt Ryan or “Matty Ice”, there’s no doubt about the fact that this NFL player has become a legend in the game. At 36 years old, Matt is relatively old compared to his younger teammates, but that hasn’t stopped him from starting all but three games since being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008. As if that wasn’t enough, Ryan has also led his team to three Super Bowl victories.

This quarterback is still going strong today, and his name certainly comes with a price attached to it. In 2018, Ryan signed a $150 million five-year extension with the Falcons – making him the highest-paid player in NFL history at the time. While he no longer holds that record, he’s still pretty high up in the rankings. With a net worth of $70 million, he’s got no money worries at all.

Ben Roethlisberger – $70 Million Net Worth

After 18 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger can still be found on the field today – so it’s no wonder that he’s called “Big Ben.” This quarterback first made his mark at Miami University before being drafted in 2004, and during his first year, he proved his worth when he won the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Since then, he’s just gotten bigger and better.

In fact, Ben even became the youngest NFL quarterback to win a Super Bowl in 2006, when he took home the trophy at just 23 years old. His “backyard football” technique of playing outside the passing pocket has done him extremely well over the years, and his NFL career has even landed him a net worth of $70 million. We bet he can’t argue with that.

Joe Montana – $80 Million Net Worth

Although he’s no longer an active player after retiring way back in 1995, the legacy that Joe Montana created as “Joe Cool” and “The Comeback Kid” is still remembered today. This former quarterback played for the San Francisco 49ers for much of his career, but he did give the Kansas City Chiefs a chance to experience his record-breaking play as well. After all, he broke a lot of them.

Not only does he hold Super Bowl career records for the most passes without an interception, but he was also the first football player to be named Super Bowl MVP three times. His retirement came as a loss to NFL fans, but you’ll be happy to know that Joe is still going strong – both financially and career-wise. He owns horses and produces his own wine, and he has a net worth of $80 million.

Eli Manning – $100 Million Net Worth

As the son of NFL legend Archie Manning and the younger brother of the iconic NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, it was only a matter of time before Eli Manning made his NFL debut himself. That happened in 2004 when he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers and then traded to the New York Giants. He stayed with the Giants for an amazing 16 seasons and led the team to Super Bowl victory twice.

While Eli chose to retire in 2019, he can still hold his head high knowing that he is one of just five players to have been named Most Valuable Player multiple times for his team – and that he didn’t miss a single game due to injury during his career. Thanks to his talent and determination, today he has a tidy little nest egg of $100 million to his name. And that’s only going to increase now that he’s an analyst for ESPN.

Fran Tarkenton – $60 Million Net Worth

Long-standing fans of football and the NFL might remember Fran Tarkenton. His name first made the rounds in the late 1950s, while he was playing college football for the University of Georgia. It wasn’t long before he was picked by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the NFL draft to join their team – and Fran certainly started as he meant to go on.

All in all, Fran spent most of his 18-season career with the Vikings – aside from a four-year stint with the New York Giants from 1967 until 1971. But when he decided to retire, he decided to branch out into something completely different. He founded the computer-program generator company, Tarkenton Software, which he later sold in 1994 for a hefty amount. Even today, Fran is still sitting on a tidy nest egg of $60 million.

Brett Favre – $100 Million Net Worth

Even those who don’t follow the Green Bay Packers will know the name Brett Favre. This football veteran played for the NFL for over 20 years, and he spent a whopping 15 of those with the Packers. During this time he made himself known as a player to watch, having 321 consecutive starts from 1992 until 2010, and becoming the first quarterback to bag 500 touchdowns and 200 wins across the whole NFL.

Brett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, five years after he officially retired from the sport. And while he’s enjoying his retirement, Brett couldn’t stay away from the game for too long. Brett has become somewhat of a mentor for the other Green Bay Packers’ teammates, and he’s also founded countless businesses and charities within the sporting world. Because of that, he’s racked up a net worth of $100 million.

Steve Young – $200 Million Net Worth

As the great-great-great-nephew of Brigham Young himself, it was only a matter of time before a teenage Steve Young attended Bigham Young University. While there, he became the star quarterback and set new school and NCAA records. In 1986 he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he spent the majority of his epic career with the San Francisco 49ers.

While there’s no doubt about the fact that Young was a talented player within the NFL, he retired in 1999 – and much of his $200 million fortune has actually come from his post-football career. With a law degree underneath his belt, Young has become a prominent name in the world of private equity firms. He co-founded Huntsman Gay Global Capital in 2007, and since then has made some wise financial investments that have bumped up his bank account.

Sam Bradford – $70 Million Net Worth

Despite being released by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, Sam Bradford’s name is still a big one within the NFL. That’s largely because he made such an impressive mark during his first few years within the league – even though he wasn’t highly recruited when he finished high school. However, when Sam eventually made his way to the University of Oklahoma, he proved his worth and became only the second sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. 

Bradford thrived in college football, so it wasn’t long before he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. He later played for the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, and even the Philadelphia Eagles – and this hard work paid off, quite literally. Although he hasn’t played professional football for a few years now, Sam has been smart with his money and now has a net worth of $70 million.

Roger Staubach – $600 Million Net Worth

Over the course of his NFL career, Roger Staubach was awarded numerous different nicknames. From “Captain America” to “Captain Comeback” and “Roger the Dodger”, fans around the world could see how much he impacted the Dallas Cowboys. He stuck with them for 11 seasons, and the quarterback led them to the Super Bowl five times – and twice to victory.

Roger’s career came to an end in the late 1970s, but he was already prepared for life after football. Just two years before he officially retired in 1979, Roger founded his own real estate company. As the years went by his real estate career went from strength to strength, and in 2008 he sold The Staubach Company to Jones Lang LaSalle for $613 million. That’s how he’s amassed a $600 million net worth – the highest of any NFL player in history.

Aaron Rodgers – $120 Million Net Worth

Although his recent career has been fraught with injury speculation, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still going strong. After originally playing college football at Butte College, he decided to transfer to the University of California to play for the Golden Bears – and this move put him on the map. In 2005, he was selected in the first round of the NFL draft, and he’s been with the Green Bay Packers ever since.

Over the course of his career, Aaron has overtaken Brett Favre as the teams’ lead quarterback and has been voted MVP on three separate seasons – including the 2020 season. Rodgers has even led the NFL six times in the lowest passing interception percentage, and it’s suspected that he still has a few years left in him. Outside of football, Aaron has numerous investments that help his $120 million net worth, including a minority state in the Milwaukee Bucks.

Philip Rivers – $80 Million Net Worth

After playing college football at North Carolina State, it wasn’t long before Philip Rivers was making his mark within the NFL. In 2004, he was drafted by the New York Giants but was ultimately traded to the San Diego Chargers. He spent an incredible 16 seasons with the Chargers, before spending his last year before retirement with the Indianapolis Colts.

Unfortunately for Rivers, he never made his way to the Super Bowl during his career – but that’s not to say that fans don’t remember his legacy. And although Rivers has since retired, he’s known for being extremely frugal with his money and finds no need to splash out on lavish luxuries. So, we have a feeling that his $80 million net worth has him set for life.

Kirk Cousins – $70 Million Net Worth

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Kirk Cousins’ career within the NFL has taken a bit of a tumble because of his personal choices. However, he still remains one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. He started his career playing college football at Michigan State and later joined the Washington Redskins in the 2012 draft. Today, he plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

Cousins joined the Vikings as a free agent in 2018, and his three-year contract set the team back a whopping $84 million. And considering he’s sixth in the NFL’s all-time regular-season career passer rating, they obviously made a good decision. Cousins made a great decision to sign on the dotted line, too, as his net worth currently stands at $70 million.

Tom Brady – $180 Million Net Worth

Regardless of the team you support, it’s universally regarded that Tom Brady is one of the best players the NFL has ever seen. His name first came to our attention while he was playing college football at Michigan, and his entrance into the NFL is infamous. After being selected 199th by the New England Patriots during the sixth round of their NFL draft back in 2000, he’s considered to be one of the biggest draft steals of all time.

Brady spent 20 seasons with the Patriots and led them to victory countless times before moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 and repeating the process once again. He’s broken records, he’s made new ones, and he’s won just about every award a quarterback could win. It’s this NFL career, alongside his endorsements, his own merchandise and company, and his movie and TV projects that’s led him towards a $180 million net worth.

Cam Newton – $75 Million Net Worth

In recent years, Cam Newton’s injury record has seen him traded and released by teams – but there’s no doubt about the fact that he started off his career extremely strong. In the 2011 draft, he was selected first overall by the Carolina Panthers, and he became one of the best rookies in history. In fact, he won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year during his debut.

“Super Cam’s” most successful season by far came in 2015 when he led his team to the Super Bowl 50 and was named MVP in the process. His football career has certainly bumped up his net worth, but Cam is also a keen businessman. Not only does he own his own clothing line, but he also opened up his own cigar bar and restaurant, and is a popular motivational speaker. It’s no wonder he’s worth $75 million.