Skip to main content

Top Ten Low Paid NFL Players

See the Lowest Salaries Among Popular NFL Players
Date & Time Thursday April 17, 2014, 12:00 PM (EDT)
TV Channel Stream live sports and ESPN originals on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Start your 7-day free trial today!
ESPN+ Free Trial!
ESPN+ Free Trial!
NFL | See the Lowest Salaries Among Popular NFL Players

NFL players, who tend to have the shortest tenures of any professional athletes, also make the least amount of money on average. $1.9 million is the median going rate for a pro football player, while the average MLB salary is $3.2 million and the average NBA salary is a whopping $5.2 million. Today, we’ll take a look at ten of the most shockingly low contracts in the league. You’re bound to be surprised by some of these numbers. I know I was. Bear in mind that this list isn’t ordered by which player takes home the least dough every year, so make sure you’re paying attention. 


1. Russell Wilson (QB-Seahawks) - Wilson makes a relatively measly $526,000 annually. Granted, this is Wilson’s rookie contract and, props if you called it, but I don’t think anyone saw him winning a Super Bowl two years in. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to this Seattle squad when Wilson’s agents begin working on his contract extension. 


2. Richard Sherman (CB-Seahawks) - Seattle’s dynamic CB Sherman takes home $550,000 per year. If you hadn’t yet picked-up on it, young players and low pay (in NFL terms) helped the Seahawks front office stack their squad with talent. As I alluded to above, things could change drastically in the northwest once these players and their reps start vying for contracts that suit their position as Super Bowl XLVIII victors. 


3. J.J. Watt (DE-Texans) - Watt is the cornerstone of Houston’s D and a fan favorite. Thus, it’s fairly astounding that Watt makes just $1.4 million a year (that’s half a million below the league average). With Bill O’Brien bringing some new blood to the Texans club this year, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Watt’s contract down the road. From a personal standpoint, I watch my team play Watt twice a year and, from the hits they take, he should probably be earning double…as much as it pains me to admit it. 


4.Torrey Smith (WR-Ravens) - Smith is entering the last year of his rookie contract and will take home $860,000 and some change. Smith and his agents seem committed to keeping him in Baltimore for the long haul, so we’ll see what happens next off-season (less than 42 weeks away, people…I know, I know…don’t dwell on it). 


5. Colin Kaepernick (QB-49ers) - For a guy whose team has been to the NFC title game two years running, Kaepernick’s $840,000 a year salary is remarkably low. If Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady had accomplished the same feat, you can bet they’d be making well into seven figures every season. 


6. Jamaal Charles (RB-Chiefs) - $1.75 million a year isn’t shabby in most industries, but when you’re the NFL’s premiere RB, it serves to reason that you would make above (rather than well below) the league average. Charles contributes an unbelievable amount to KC’s offense (and to fantasy owners everywhere), so his annual income is somewhat surprising. 


7. Alfred Morris (RB-Redskins) - The ‘Skins starting RB makes just $510,000 per year. While Morris isn’t necessarily one of the league’s most elite backs, this is a remarkably low salary for any NFL starter. Morris is fairly young, though, so there’s time for him to boost his pay grade. Morris won’t even turn 26 until end of the upcoming season. 


8. Doug Martin (RB-Buccaneers) - Martin, a first-round pick in 2012, actually survived Tampa Bay’s regime change this year. Martin will earn $698,000-some during the 2014-2015 season. Like my No. 7 guy, Morris, Martin has time to bolster his salary. However, RBs do tend to have some of the shortest careers of any NFL players, so making bank early is important for these boys. 


9. Andy Dalton (QB-Bengals) - At $850,000 per annum, Dalton makes more than Kaepernick (and he’s never won a play-off game). Regardless, under a million dollars a year is low for an NFL starting QB, especially one who has at least made post-season appearances for multiple consecutive years. 


10. Rob Gronkowski (TE-Patriots) - Gronk has been absolutely riddled with injuries, so his $630,000 per year contract isn’t as surprising as some of the others on this list. Plus, Gronk did receive an $8 million signing bonus in 2012, so he’s hardly hurting for pocket change. Nonetheless, as important as Gronk is to the Pats offense (consider how the squad looked early last season when Brady was without his favorite target…too painful, Pats fans? Sorry.), this is a decidedly low number.

Top 10 Sport Sites