The New England Patriots may have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first game of the new NFL season Thursday night, but Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has Tom Brady beat in one way this year: Big Ben’s getting paid more.
Brady actually has a larger base salary, $8 million compared to $1 million for Roethlisberger, but the Steelers quarterback inked a new five-year contract earlier this year that reportedly included a $31 million signing bonus. Including his roster bonus, Roethlisberger will take in more than $35 million this year from the Steelers, making him the top-paid player for 2015, according to Spotrac.com.
Despite being the reigning Super Bowl champion, Brady ranks 40th. (These numbers exclude endorsement earnings.)
Not all NFL players make money as much money as the sport’s stars, of course. Last year, the average salary in the league was just over $2 million. The average salary for the top 100 players in the NFL is $11.6 million, 29 percent less than that of the top MLB players and 13 percent less than NBA’s best.
The lowest paid players in the NFL made a relatively meager $420,000, reports Forbes. That’s less than one percent of the $44 million NFL President Roger Goodell takes home, and reflects a salary cap system that has teams investing the bulk of their money into their top few players.
Still, even the lowest-paid NFL players are making far more money than the typical American worker, although their careers are far shorter. The average NFL career lasts an average of just 3.5 years, with total earnings of $6.7 million, according to USA Today.