The Pittsburgh Steelers backed up the Brinks truck for star outside linebacker T.J. Watt on Thursday.
Watt and the Steelers reportedly agreed to a massive four-year extension worth $112 million, with a staggering $80 million in guaranteed money.
The deal not only makes Watt the highest-paid player at his position but also the highest-paid defender in the NFL. The average annual value of his contract ($28 million) just edges out Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa ($27 million).
While Watt now tops all defensive players in average annual salary, where does he rank among the rest of the league?
Who are the highest-paid NFL players for 2021?
It’s no surprise that the list of the NFL’s 20 highest-paid players is littered with quarterbacks. The top 11 players in average annual salary are all signal callers.
Kansas City Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes leads the way at $45 million. The 2018 MVP and Super Bowl LIV winner inked a 10-year, $503 million extension ahead of last season.
After landing his own big-money extension in August, Josh Allen is second behind Mahomes with an average annual salary of $43 million. The Buffalo Bills rewarded Allen with a six-year, $258 million deal following his breakout 2020 campaign.
Dak Prescott, who also signed a new deal this offseason, is third at $40 million. Prescott secured a four-year, $160 million contract from the Dallas Cowboys despite suffering a gruesome season-ending ankle injury last year.
Deshaun Watson ($39 million) and Russell Wilson ($35 million) round out the top five.
Watt comes in at No. 12, sandwiched between a pair of quarterbacks -- Ryan Tannehill ($29.5 million) and Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5 million). Watt’s spot in the top 20 came at the expense of San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams, who leads all offensive linemen with an AAV of $23.01 million and is now 21st among all NFL players.
The highest-paid non-quarterback after Watt? That would be Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins in 14th at $27.25 million. The three-time All-Pro signed a two-year, $54.5 million extension, which he negotiated himself, after being traded from the Houston Texans last offseason.
Here’s a complete look at the top 20 (per Spotrac):
1. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes: $45 million
2. Bills QB Josh Allen: $43 million
3. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: $40 million
4. Texans QB Deshaun Watson: $39 million
5. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson: $35 million
T-6. Lions QB Jared Goff: $33.5 million
T-6: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: $33.5 million
8. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins: $33 million
9. Colts QB Carson Wentz: $32 million
10. Falcons QB Matt Ryan: $30 million
11. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill: $29.5 million
12. Steelers OLB T.J. Watt: $28 million
13. 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo: $27.5 million
14. Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins: $27.25 million
T-15. Chargers DE Joey Bosa: $27 million
T-15. Rams QB Matthew Stafford: $27 million
T-17. Buccaneers QB Tom Brady: $25 million
T-17. Raiders QB Derek Carr: $25 million
T-17. Browns DE Myles Garrett: $25 million
20. Bears OLB Khalil Mack: $23.5 million