According to the NFL Player’s Association, NFL players average career lifespans of 3.3 years. The NFL claims the lifespan numbers run a bit higher, but in either case, most NFL players cannot rely on big payouts during the brief careers. One in three NFL players suffer from some level of Alzheimer’s disease, which means the quality of life for former NFL players goes downhill at an unusually early age. The average NFL player is lucky to see his 60th birthday.
How does an NFL player accrue wealth in a league known for churning out players every 3.3 years? It helps to go high in the draft, preferably the first round, where lucrative long-term deals await fortunate players. Even a career ending injury cannot mitigate the wealth accumulated by signing a first round NFL player contract. Of the 8 wealthiest NFL players, six went in the first round of the NFL draft. Does this mean rich NFL players punch their meal tickets by going in the first round? Not necessarily, as players must save and invest their money wisely to reap the rewards of the wealth accumulated.
Quarterbacks dominate the 8 wealthiest NFL players list. Often considered the cornerstone of successful NFL franchises, quarterbacks command high salaries and wealth building multi-year contracts that can run as long as 10-plus years.
Let’s look at the 8 wealthiest NFL players:
8. Carson Palmer-$117,627,242
Palmer not only benefited from signing a lucrative contract straight out of USC, the former Trojans quarterback unexpectedly came out of retirement to sign a two-year $16, million deal to play for Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals. Palmer also earned millions during his stint at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. Palmer combines all of the elements that define the 8 wealthiest NFL players: rich first round draft pick contract, multiple contracts, and incentive-laden deals. The only factor that has limited Palmer financially has been his injury history.