With the Pro Bowl rosters now finalized I’ll do our annual financial assessment of the rosters. While the Pro Bowl is certainly not the best measure of who are the best players in the NFL it can at least help us look at some trends among those who receive votes.
The average annual salary of players selected to the Pro Bowl is $7.764 million. The highest salaried player to make the team was Aaron Rodgers at $22 million. The highest salaried non-quarterback selected was Von Miller at just under $19.1 million. The lowest cost player is Kyle Juszczyk of the Ravens who earns just over $615,000 a year. The lowest cost veteran was linebacker Lorenzo Alexander of the Bills at $885,000. Alexander came out of nowhere to have a stellar season. He and fullback Mike Tolbert are the only veteran position players to be under $4 million a year.
Only seven unrestricted free agents made the Pro Bowl this year. That list was Janoris Jenkins, Kelechi Osemele, Alex Mack, Donald Penn, Casey Heyward, Reggie Nelson, and Tolbert (Tolbert re-signed on the eve of free agency). Alexander is the only player who would qualify as a “street free agent” to make the list. Three players who were designated franchise players, Von Miller, Eric Berry and Justin Tucker, made the Pro Bowl while Cameron Wake and DeMarco Murray were the two players who made it who modified existing contracts to ensure their spots on a roster.
A number of players who signed extensions this year made the team. Tom Brady, Fletcher Cox, Larry Fitzgerald, Harrison Smith, David DeCastro, Travis Frederick, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed, Delanie Walker, and Matt Slater all signed new deals prior to the expiration of their contracts and those decision look to have paid off for their teams.
In general players who signed extensions or while under the franchise tag earned the highest average salaries right around $11.4 million per player. This was far higher than the UFA grouping who earned under $8 million a year. Rookie contracts averaged just under $2.5M a year making them the best bargains of all.
The players who signed extensions made up the largest percentage of Pro Bowlers at 41.9%. Draft picks were next at 29.1% followed by players who signed contracts after their last contract expired at 20.9%. Nearly 76% of all Pro Bowlers are playing for the team that originally drafted them or signed them as a free agent. I’d think these numbers probably reinforce the point that free agency is a much bigger unknown than players who you know fit in the system. 88% of players who made the Pro Bowl were draft picks and the other 12% went undrafted.
Here are a few summary stats of the Pro Bowl Roster, grouped by contract status.
|Contract Type||No. Selected||Average of Age||Average of APY||On Original Team||Drafted|
From a positional standpoint the largest salaries went to quarterbacks, interior defensive linemen, tackles, centers, and wide receivers which would probably indicate that draft picks haven’t broken through to the Pro Bowl at those positions. In general the only position that does not show a majority of veteran selections is running back which is dominated by rookie contracts.
Here are the numbers per position
|Position||No. Selected||No. Veterans||Age||Avg. salary|
Finally, here are the financial numbers for the players in the Pro Bowl
|Von Miller||Outside Linebacker||Broncos||27||$19,083,333|
|Ndamukong Suh||Interior Lineman||Dolphins||29||$19,062,500|
|Fletcher Cox||Interior Lineman||Eagles||26||$17,100,000|
|AJ Green||Wide Receiver||Bengals||28||$15,000,000|
|Julio Jones||Wide Receiver||Falcons||27||$14,250,000|
|Gerald McCoy||Interior Lineman||Buccaneers||28||$13,600,000|
|TY Hilton||Wide Receiver||Colts||27||$13,000,000|
|Luke Kuechly||Inside/Middle Linebacker||Panthers||25||$12,359,059|
|Ryan Kerrigan||Outside Linebacker||Redskins||28||$11,500,000|
|Larry Fitzgerald||Wide Receiver||Cardinals||33||$11,000,000|
|Eric Berry||Strong Safety||Chiefs||28||$10,806,000|
|Bobby Wagner||Inside/Middle Linebacker||Seahawks||26||$10,750,000|
|Geno Atkins||Interior Lineman||Bengals||28||$10,665,400|
|Harrison Smith||Free Safety||Vikings||27||$10,250,000|
|Devin McCourty||Free Safety||Patriots||29||$9,500,000|
|Travis Kelce||Tight End||Chiefs||27||$9,368,400|
|Jordan Reed||Tight End||Redskins||26||$9,350,000|
|Jurrell Casey||Interior Lineman||Titans||27||$9,000,000|
|Chris Harris, Jr.||Cornerback||Broncos||27||$8,500,000|
|Everson Griffen||Defensive End||Vikings||29||$8,500,000|
|Antonio Brown||Wide Receiver||Steelers||28||$8,392,000|
|LeSean McCoy||Running Back||Bills||28||$8,010,000|
|Brian Orakpo||Outside Linebacker||Titans||30||$7,750,000|
|Greg Olsen||Tight End||Panthers||31||$7,500,000|
|Cliff Avril||Defensive End||Seahawks||30||$7,125,000|
|Michael Bennett||Defensive End||Seahawks||31||$7,125,000|
|Cameron Wake||Defensive End||Dolphins||34||$7,062,500|
|Delanie Walker||Tight End||Titans||32||$6,687,500|
|DeMarco Murray||Running Back||Titans||28||$6,375,000|
|Ezekiel Elliott||Running Back||Cowboys||21||$6,239,085|
|Thomas Davis||Outside Linebacker||Panthers||33||$6,000,000|
|Amari Cooper||Wide Receiver||Raiders||22||$5,665,780|
|Jadeveon Clowney||Defensive End||Texans||23||$5,568,250|
|Khalil Mack||Defensive End||Raiders||25||$4,669,251|
|Reggie Nelson||Free Safety||Raiders||33||$4,250,000|
|Mike Evans||Wide Receiver||Buccaneers||23||$3,657,763|
|Vic Beasley||Outside Linebacker||Falcons||24||$3,623,807|
|Dwayne Harris||Special Teamer||Giants||29||$3,500,000|
|Odell Beckham, Jr.||Wide Receiver||Giants||24||$2,601,550|
|Aaron Donald||Interior Lineman||Rams||25||$2,534,125|
|C.J. Mosley||Inside/Middle Linebacker||Ravens||24||$2,197,001|
|Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Free Safety||Packers||24||$2,084,625|
|Donta Hightower||Inside/Middle Linebacker||Patriots||26||$1,931,001|
|Cordarrelle Patterson||Return Specialist||Vikings||25||$1,805,262|
|Matt Slater||Special Teamer||Patriots||31||$1,800,000|
|Landon Collins||Strong Safety||Giants||22||$1,530,140|
|Le’Veon Bell||Running Back||Steelers||24||$1,030,150|
|Lorenzo Alexander||Outside Linebacker||Bills||33||$885,000|
|David Johnson||Running Back||Cardinals||25||$748,218|
|Devonta Freeman||Running Back||Falcons||24||$676,106|
|Tyreek Hill||Return Specialist||Chiefs||22||$646,555|
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.