Richest NFL players

Written by:
May 13, 2020
Michael Hickey // Getty Images

Richest NFL players

There’s no shortage of articles chronicling the riches-to-rags stories of NFL players who went broke after squandering massive fortunes. Some blew it all on bad investments and leeching from hangers-on. Others did themselves in after partying, bad judgment, and reckless spending on homes, luxury cars, and shiny stuff of every imaginable kind.

Many football players, however, got rich and stayed rich—and some are richer than others. Some of the NFL’s wealthiest current and former athletes earned their big bucks on the field. Today’s top players, after all, earn massive contracts that sometimes run into nine figures with huge sums guaranteed or paid upfront as bonuses. Others played in a time when athletes earned comparatively modest salaries but struck it rich through post-retirement entrepreneurial pursuits and business ventures.

A few of the following players made more from big-money corporate endorsement deals than they ever did on the gridiron. Some launched rap careers or made it big in Hollywood. Others turned their popularity and knowledge of the game into lucrative broadcasting careers where they received NFL-style paychecks without the bodily injuries.

To uncover the richest NFL players, Stacker consulted Celebrity Net Worth and ranked them by their 2020 net worth. The net worth figures in this list were calculated using a proprietary formula that factored in all publicly available data about each person including salaries, real estate holdings, divorces, record sales, royalties, and endorsements—minus estimated taxes, manager’s fees, agent fees, and lifestyle expenses.

Here’s a look at the richest players in the National Football league. Some are still playing today, others were drafted in the 1950s and have been retired for decades. Some are known widely among football fans but wouldn’t be familiar to mainstream audiences. Others are household names across the country, even among people who have never watched a game. There is one person on this list that never technically played in the NFL, but is the most powerful man in the league today.  

All, however, have one thing in common—they’re very, very rich.

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Justin Edmonds // Getty Images

#44: Von Miller (tie)

- Net worth: $40 million

Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller was the Super Bowl 50 MVP, and his success has earned him big endorsement deals with brands like Best Buy and Adidas—then there’s his salary. In 2018, Miller was given his entire $16 million annual paycheck up front in the form of a bonus as part of a six-year, $114 million contract.

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Jared Wickerham // Getty Images

#44: Rob Gronkowski (tie)

- Net worth: $40 million

Although he’s now a Buc, Rob Gronkowski earned a place among history’s greatest tight ends during his long career with the Patriots when the team established itself as the NFL dynasty of all dynasties. He earned $53.4 million over the course of his career, but he’s known less for his salary than how he manages it. Gronk is on the record as saying he never spent a dime of his on-field earnings and instead lived only off of his endorsement deals.

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Carmen Mandato // Getty Images

#44: Matt Schaub (tie)

- Net worth: $40 million

Drafted in 2004, quarterback Matt Schaub’s wealth is a direct result of his longevity. His career has spanned 16 years and four teams. Over the course of that time, the two-time Pro Bowler earned nearly $92.4 million on the field alone.

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Jonathan Daniel // Getty Images

#44: Mark Sanchez (tie)

- Net worth: $40 million

When the Jets drafted Matt Sanchez as their franchise quarterback in 2009, his $28 million rookie contract was the richest in team history—it took five years for the Jets to realize Sanchez was never going to pan out. In the six seasons between 2013–18, Sanchez started in just 11 games for six different teams and is remembered as a bust who somehow managed to command huge salaries in exchange for virtually no production throughout his career. In the end, he earned a total of more than $74.22 million.

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Jason Miller // Getty Images

#44: Deion Sanders (tie)

- Net worth: $40 million

Defensive back/wide receiver Deion Sanders was one of the most visible, versatile, and marketable athletes in history. The only man ever to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series, Sanders played pro baseball with the Yankees, Braves, Reds, and Giants, and football with the Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins, and Ravens. The eight-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion, and pop culture icon now enjoys a successful career as an NFL network analyst and broadcaster.

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Robert B. Stanton // Getty Images

#44: Bryant Young (tie)

- Net worth: $40 million

Retired defensive tackle Bryant Young’s 89.5 sacks make him the franchise leader and one of the greatest players in team history. He went to four Pro Bowls, was named First Team All-Pro twice, and currently serves as the Atlanta Falcons’ defensive line coach. In 2020, he was named a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

#44: Aaron Donald (tie)

- Net worth: $40 million

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is almost universally accepted as one of the greatest interior defensive linemen in football. Drafted in 2014, he’s gone to the Pro Bowl in all six seasons and was First Team All-Pro in five of them. So far, he’s earned more than $60.2 million in salary alone.

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#37: Champ Bailey (tie)

- Net worth: $45 million

From the time he was drafted in 1999, cornerback Champ Bailey was the yardstick by which all other defensive backs were measured. No cornerback has ever been to more Pro Bowls than Bailey’s 12, and his 203 defended passes is an NFL record. He earned nearly $102.8 million over the course of his career.

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#37: Ray Lewis (tie)

- Net worth: $45 million

Two-time Super Bowl champion, 13-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP, and seven-time All-Pro Ravens great Ray Lewis certainly earned his place in the Hall of Fame. With the exception of maybe Lawrence Taylor, Lewis is probably the most feared linebacker of all time and is known for anchoring the defense that led the Ravens through their most successful era in franchise history. His career earnings total $95.73 million.

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Ezra Shaw // Getty Images

#37: LaVar Arrington (tie)

- Net worth: $45 million

Linebacker LaVar Arrington went to the Pro Bowl three times during his seven-year career, which he spent mostly with the Redskins, earning nearly $44 million along the way. Upon retirement, he launched a successful broadcast career that continues to this day on both TV and radio, and he also embarked on several successful entrepreneurial endeavors.

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#37: Carson Wentz (tie)

- Net worth: $45 million

Eagles franchise quarterback Carson Wentz famously watched the Birds’ legendary 2018 Super Bowl win over the Patriots from the sidelines, thanks to an injury. The following year, Philly signed him to a record-breaking four-year, $128 million contract extension that, when bonuses and options are included, amounts to $154 million over six years with nearly $108 million guaranteed.

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Streeter Lecka // Getty Images

#37: Cam Newton (tie)

- Net worth: $45 million

Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton earned just under $15 million during his rookie year in 2011, but after nine years as one of the most successful and marketable players in the league, his career earnings now total more than $121 million. Although he was named Rookie of the Year in 2011, the three-time Pro Bowler’s season of magic was in 2015, when he was named league MVP and led his team to a Super Bowl appearance.

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#37: Calvin Johnson (tie)

- Net worth: $45 million

Calvin Johnson played nine seasons in the NFL, all in Detroit, pulling in career earnings of nearly $114 million during that time. The six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro wide receiver signed one of the richest contracts in all of sports history in 2012, when he inked an extension worth $132 million over eight years.

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#37: Albert Haynesworth (tie)

- Net worth: $45 million

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was named All-Pro and selected for the Pro Bowl twice during the course of his 10-year NFL career, which he spent mostly with the Titans. He earned nearly $55 million in total, with the back end of his career padded by a seven-year, $100 million contract he signed with the Washington Redskins, where he played for only two years. The deal is widely accepted to be one of the worst free-agency transactions in football history—widely accepted by those who aren’t Albert Haynesworth, that is.

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#36: Drew Bledsoe

- Net worth: $48 million

Although he would soon be overshadowed by a young sixth-round draft pick who backed him up when he was injured, quarterback Drew Bledsoe did amazing things in New England before Tom Brady took over the Patriots. He ended a long playoff drought, took the Pats to the Super Bowl, and established the franchise as a force to be reckoned with in the AFC during his tenure in the 1990s. Over the course of his 14-year career, Drew Bledsoe earned nearly $80 million.

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#26: Vincent Jackson (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Vincent Jackson broke the 1,000-yard receiving mark six times in his 12-year NFL career, which the three-time Pro Bowler split between the Chargers and the Bucs. His efforts earned him more than $71 million in cumulative salary.

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#26: Troy Aikman (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Today, Troy Aikman earns an annual salary of about $7.5 million as Fox’s lead game analyst, but before his career in the broadcast booth, the Cowboys quarterback was a legend on the field. The six-time Pro Bowler spent all 12 years of his career in Dallas, a Cowboys record for quarterbacks, and during that time, the Hall of Famer won three Super Bowls. His on-field earnings total $55.5 million.

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#26: Ndamukong Suh (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

One of the NFL’s top defensive ends, Ndamukong Suh spent most of his 10-year career with the Lions, but also did stints with the Dolphins, Rams, and Bucs. His nearly $148 million total career earnings were padded in 2015, when he became the league’s top-paid defensive player thanks to a six-year deal with Miami worth more than $114 million.

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#26: Marcus Trufant (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Retired NFL cornerback Marcus Trufant spent all but one of his 11 NFL seasons in Seattle. A 2007 Pro-Bowler, Trufant was instrumental in mentoring the up-and-coming Seahawks secondary that would go on to “Legion of Boom” fame. He earned more than $36 million in combined salary.

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Christian Petersen // Getty Images

#26: Larry Fitzgerald (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Career Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald is an 11-time Pro Bowler and one of the greatest receivers in history. He has earned more than $175 million during his standout NFL career. In January 2020, he became only the second active NFL player (Aaron Rodgers) to invest in an NBA team when he bought a minority ownership stake in the Phoenix Suns.

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#26: Kirk Cousins (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Drafted by the Redskins in 2012, Washington picked quarterback Kirk Cousins as a backup for Robert Griffin III, but when RG3 was injured, Cousins took the helm. The two-time Pro Bowler quickly proved his worth, was eventually picked up by the Vikings, and in 2018, he signed a league-leading $84 million three-year contract that was fully guaranteed. He’s now earned more than $100 million in total salary.

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#26: Jim Brown (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

After being drafted by the Browns with the sixth pick in 1957, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown quickly established himself as one of the most feared and productive rushers in football. A three-time MVP and eight-time All-Pro, Brown went to the Pro Bowl for every one of his nine years in the league. After retiring in 1965, he translated his tough-guy persona into a long and successful Hollywood career and supplemented his resume and income with broadcasting work, media appearances, and promotional endorsements.

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#26: Gale Sayers (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Legendary Bears halfback Gale Sayers was a force of nature on the gridiron in the mid-1960s. After retiring, however, he made his real money as an entrepreneur. In 1984, he formed a company called Crest Computer Supply Co. and built it into a successful enterprise. Just 10 years later in 1994, the company did more than $55 million in sales.

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Ronald C. Modra // Getty Images

#26: Arian Foster (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Four-time Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster spent eight years in the NFL, seven of them in Houston, before retiring in 2016. He earned nearly $38 million on the field during that time. He then embarked on a successful music career, with many considering him to be among the best athlete-turned-rappers in history.

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#26: Aeneas Williams (tie)

- Net worth: $50 million

Drafted in 1991, Aeneas Williams played through 2004, mostly for the Cardinals but also for the Rams. An eight-time Pro Bowler, the Hall of Fame defensive back was named All-Pro three times. He earned $31.31 million over the course of his standout career.

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JOHN G. MABANGLO // Getty Images

#24: Jerry Rice (tie)

- Net worth: $55 million

There is debate over the greatest of all time for many positions in football—wide receiver is not one of them. The greatest and most prolific in history without any close second, Jerry Rice was instrumental in the success of Joe Montana’s 49ers dynasty and owns literally every receiving record worth holding. Throughout his career and beyond, the three-time Super Bowl champ and Hall of Fame legend supplemented his income with lucrative endorsement deals.

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Thearon W. Henderson // Getty Images

#24: Alex Smith (tie)

- Net worth: $55 million

Drafted in the first round in 2005, quarterback Alex Smith spent his early career with the 49ers before moving to Kansas City, and finally to the Redskins, where he remains today (though with an unclear playing future due to a broken leg in 2018). The three-time Pro Bowler has earned nearly $174 million so far and if he finishes out his contract, that number will jump to nearly $230 million by the end of the 2022 season.

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#23: Carson Palmer

- Net worth: $60 million

The #1 overall pick in 2003, quarterback Carson Palmer spent the first half of his career with the Bengals, then moved to the Raiders, and finished with the Cardinals before retiring in 2017. During his long and successful career, the three-time Pro Bowler earned more than $174 million in salary alone.

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#22: Michael Strahan

- Net worth: $65 million

Defensive end Michael Strahan’s 15-year career with the Giants earned him seven trips to the Pro Bowl, a Super Bowl ring, a place in the Hall of Fame, and more than $76 million in career salary. His massive success, widespread popularity, and affable personality earned him a hugely successful media career. He landed major gigs with Fox NFL while also working as a co-host on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” and later, “Good Morning America,” the latter of which reportedly doubled his salary from roughly $10 million to $20 million.

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#19: Tony Romo (tie)

- Net worth: $70 million

Like Strahan, longtime Dallas quarterback Tony Romo transitioned into big-money broadcasting work after he retired, in his case working as a CBS Sports color analyst for NFL telecasts. A four-time Pro Bowler and career Cowboy, Romo earned more than $127 million over the course of his 14-year career.

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Jennifer Stewart // Getty Images

#19: Sam Bradford (tie)

- Net worth: $70 million

After being drafted first overall in 2010, Sam Bradford spent the first half of his career with the Rams before moving to the Eagles, the Vikings, and Arizona, where he spent the last year of his nine-year career. Along the way, he earned more than $130 million in career salary.

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Tom Pennington // Getty Images

#19: Matt Ryan (tie)

- Net worth: $70 million

Quarterback Matt Ryan has been with the Falcons since Atlanta drafted him in the first round in 2008. A four-time Pro Bowler, one-time All-Pro, and one-time MVP, Ryan is currently locked into a five-year, $150 million contract extension that—after he signed the deal in 2018—briefly made him the highest-paid player in the NFL and the league’s first $30 million-a-year quarterback.

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Maddie Meyer // Getty Images

#18: Joe Flacco

- Net worth: $75 million

Quarterback Joe Flacco helmed the Ravens during one of the team’s winningest era. He won the Super Bowl in 2013, took the Ravens to the playoffs six times, went to three AFC Championship games, and won the AFC North twice. His efforts earned him more than $166 million in total career salary.

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Rob Carr // Getty Images

#16: Philip Rivers (tie)

- Net worth: $80 million

Eight-time Pro Bowler and 2013 comeback king Philip Rivers recently signed a one-year contract with the Colts worth $25 million. The rest of his 16-year career, however, was spent with the Chargers, who drafted him in the first round in 2004. In all, he’s earned nearly $219 million in combined salary.

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Mike Powell // Getty Images

#16: Joe Montana (tie)

- Net worth: $80 million

The man who threw Jerry Rice most of his record-breaking receptions was Joe Montana, who defined the position of quarterback before the arrival of Tom Brady. As QB for the 49ers, the legendary Hall of Famer presided over one of history’s greatest and most exciting dynasties, winning four Super Bowls with San Francisco and going to the Pro Bowl eight times. The highly marketable Montana made most of his money off the field through his many corporate endorsement deals and speaking engagements.

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Rick Diamond // Getty Images

#12: Tom Condon (tie)

- Net worth: $100 million

Tom Condon was an offensive lineman for the Chiefs from 1974–84 before spending his final year in New England and then retiring in 1985. While he was still playing, he earned a law degree in the offseason, joined the executive committee of the NFL Players Association, and began representing players. Today, he’s one of the most successful agents in all of professional sports.

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Focus On Sport // Getty Images

#12: Fran Tarkenton (tie)

- Net worth: $100 million

Quarterback Fran Tarkenton played for 18 seasons in the NFL with the Vikings and the Giants, earning nine trips to the Pro Bowl and a place in the Hall of Fame. After retiring in 1978, however, he embarked on an equally successful second career. He founded and grew a company called Tarkenton Software, which he later sold, and now runs several multimillion-dollar companies.

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Joe Robbins // Getty Images

#12: Brett Favre (tie)

- Net worth: $100 million

One of the defining quarterbacks of his era, Brett Favre played from the time he was drafted in 1991 through 2010, mostly with the franchise he’s become synonymous with: the Green Bay Packers. He earned nearly $138 million over the course of his 20-year career and padded that fortune with another one earned from his many corporate and commercial endorsement deals. The 11-time Pro Bowler earned his team a Super Bowl ring and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Streeter Lecka // Getty Images

#12: Ben Roethlisberger (tie)

- Net worth: $100 million

Since he entered the league in 2004, career Steeler Ben Roethlisberger has represented Pittsburgh football more completely than anyone since Terry Bradshaw. A six-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, Roethlisberger has earned more than $227 million over the course of his 16-year career.

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#10: Drew Brees (tie)

- Net worth: $120 million

Drew Brees was drafted by the Chargers in 2001 and played in San Diego through 2005 before moving to New Orleans, where he spent his career since, achieving most of his success and his money. He went to the Pro Bowl an incredible 13 times, won a Super Bowl, and last season passed Peyton Manning for career touchdown passes. The longtime Saints great remains in the league and has amassed career earnings approaching $245 million.

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Maddie Meyer // Getty Images

#10: Aaron Rodgers (tie)

- Net worth: $120 million

When the Favre era ended in Green Bay, the Aaron Rodgers era began. Rodgers is an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, but those accolades don’t tell the whole story. When factoring in stats like completion-to-interception ratio and passer rating, he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. Between the time he was drafted in 2005 until today, Rodgers has earned more than $219 million.

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#9: Russell Wilson

- Net worth: $135 million

Russell Wilson is one of only two quarterbacks with a 100-plus career passer rating (Rodgers). A six-time Pro Bowler, the Seahawks play-caller has been to two Super Bowls and won one over the course of his eight-year career. When he signed a four-year, $140 million contract extension in 2019, Wilson became the highest-paid player in the game.

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Justin Edmonds // Getty Images

#8: John Elway

- Net worth: $145 million

The Broncos have won three Super Bowls, and John Elway was part of the Denver organization for every one—twice as a quarterback and once as an executive. He defined the franchise from 1983–1988 with a Hall of Fame career that included trips to six AFC Championship Games and five Super Bowls, not to mention retiring as the winningest quarterback at the time. He made a fortune in investments and car dealerships after retiring and retains a high-paying job in the Broncos front office as president of football operations and general manager.

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Mark Brown // Getty Images

#6: Roger Goodell (tie)

- Net worth: $150 million

Controversial but undeniably successful, Roger Goodell joined the NFL as an administrative intern in 1982 and has served as league commissioner since 2006. He has presided over the NFL’s most profitable and successful era and is widely considered to be one of the most powerful people in sports. Although he voluntarily agreed to forego his $4–5 million yearly salary during the coronavirus shutdown, his total annual compensation is $40 million.

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Rob Carr // Getty Images

#6: Eli Manning (tie)

- Net worth: $150 million

The brother of Peyton and the son of Archie, Eli Manning lived up to the family name with a 16-year, single-team career that spanned from 2004–2019 with the Giants. The New York great won two Super Bowls and went to the Pro Bowl four times. His total earnings during that time combine for more than $252 million.

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Bob Levey // Getty Images

#5: Tom Brady

- Net worth: $180 million

The undisputed greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady won six of the nine Super Bowls in which he played. The leader of the most successful dynasty in football history, the Patriots great (now a Buc) went to 14 Pro Bowls, was a three-time MVP, a three-time All-Pro, a four-time Super Bowl MVP, and is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He’s earned more than $235 million in total salary and will add $50 million more to that stack if he finishes out his current contract.

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Jonathan Bachman // Getty Images

#2: Steve Young (tie)

- Net worth: $200 million

Steve Young filled the giant shoes of Joe Montana and carved out a spot as one of the greatest quarterbacks in history. A Hall of Famer with three Super Bowl rings, Young earned nearly $50 million on the field, but his real money came after retirement. A financial wiz, he’s still nursing a $40 million annuity from the long-defunct USFL, he co-founded a massive and sprawling private equity firm, and he’s enjoyed a successful career in broadcasting.

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Michael Hickey // Getty Images

#2: Peyton Manning (tie)

- Net worth: $200 million

Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl with the Colts, another with the Broncos, went to 14 Pro Bowls, enshrined himself as one of history’s greatest quarterbacks, and retired with a record $400 million in career earnings, including salary, licensing, bonuses, and endorsements. He remains one of the world’s most marketable athletes and is a common sight on commercials for Papa John’s, Nationwide, Subway, Gatorade, Nike, and Mastercard.

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Kirby Lee // Getty Images

#2: John Madden (tie)

- Net worth: $200 million

John Madden—who was drafted for the Eagles but injured in training before he ever played professionally—never suffered a single losing season during his decade as the head coach of the Raiders, emerging with a record of 103–32–7 for a combined winning percentage of 75.9%—he won 17 games straight from 1976–77. After his stellar coaching career, he went on to become the most famous and revered football broadcaster in the world and the name of the sport’s most successful video game franchise.

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Cindy Ord // Getty Images

#1: Roger Staubach

- Net worth: $600 million

Roger Staubach dabbled in real estate during his Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys, whom he joined as a rookie in 1969 for a salary of $25,000. In five Super Bowls, he won an MVP and two rings, and went to six Pro Bowls. After retiring, he went back into real estate, eventually branched out on his own, built the Staubach Company, expanded nationally, built a real estate empire, and eventually sold his company for $640 million.

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