Breaking Down the Pro Bowl Rosters

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
Extension 36 28.8 $11,415,336 32 33
Drafted 25 24.0 $2,584,496 25 25
Unrestricted 18 30.1 $7,651,713 4 14
Franchise 3 27.3 $11,363,111 3 2
Other 3 31.7 $6,479,167 1 2
Street 1 33.0 $885,000 0 0

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
Quarterback 6 4 30.8 $14,520,633
Interior Lineman 6 4 27.2 $11,993,671
Tackle 6 5 29.7 $9,216,042
Wide Receiver 8 5 26.5 $9,195,887
Center 4 4 27.5 $9,031,831
Cornerback 8 6 26.9 $8,494,708
Tight End 4 4 29.0 $8,226,475
Outside Linebacker 6 5 29.2 $8,140,357
Guard 6 4 27.5 $7,070,879
Inside/Middle Linebacker 4 2 25.3 $6,809,265
Defensive End 6 4 28.7 $6,675,000
Free Safety 4 3 28.3 $6,521,156
Strong Safety 2 1 25.0 $6,168,070
Running Back 6 2 25.0 $3,846,427
Placekicker 2 2 34.0 $3,516,667
Punter 2 2 27.5 $2,831,503
Special Teamer 2 1 30.0 $2,650,000
Return Specialist 2 0 23.5 $1,225,909
Fullback 2 1 28.0 $1,132,573

Finally, here are the financial numbers for the players in the Pro Bowl

Name Position Team Age APY
Aaron Rodgers Quarterback Packers 33 $22,000,000
Ben Roethlisberger Quarterback Steelers 34 $21,850,000
Matt Ryan Quarterback Falcons 31 $20,750,000
Tom Brady Quarterback Patriots 39 $20,500,000
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
Patrick Peterson Cornerback Cardinals 26 $14,010,000
Richard Sherman Cornerback Seahawks 28 $14,000,000
Gerald McCoy Interior Lineman Buccaneers 28 $13,600,000
Trent Williams Tackle Redskins 28 $13,200,000
TY Hilton Wide Receiver Colts 27 $13,000,000
Janoris Jenkins Cornerback Giants 28 $12,500,000
Luke Kuechly Inside/Middle Linebacker Panthers 25 $12,359,059
Tyron Smith Tackle Cowboys 26 $12,200,000
Kelechi Osemele Guard Raiders 27 $11,700,000
Joe Thomas Tackle Browns 32 $11,500,000
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
David DeCastro Guard Steelers 26 $10,000,000
Jason Peters Tackle Eagles 34 $9,575,000
Aqib Talib Cornerback Broncos 30 $9,500,000
Devin McCourty Free Safety Patriots 29 $9,500,000
Travis Frederick Center Cowboys 25 $9,400,000
Travis Kelce Tight End Chiefs 27 $9,368,400
Jordan Reed Tight End Redskins 26 $9,350,000
Alex Mack Center Falcons 31 $9,000,000
Jurrell Casey Interior Lineman Titans 27 $9,000,000
Rodney Hudson Center Raiders 27 $8,900,000
Maurkice Pouncey Center Steelers 27 $8,827,325
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
Marshal Yanda Guard Ravens 32 $7,979,412
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
Donald Penn Tackle Raiders 33 $5,950,000
Amari Cooper Wide Receiver Raiders 22 $5,665,780
Jadeveon Clowney Defensive End Texans 23 $5,568,250
Brandon Scherff Guard Redskins 25 $5,303,910
TJ Lang Guard Packers 29 $5,200,000
Casey Hayward Cornerback Chargers 27 $5,100,000
Khalil Mack Defensive End Raiders 25 $4,669,251
Reggie Nelson Free Safety Raiders 33 $4,250,000
Justin Tucker Placekicker Ravens 27 $4,200,000
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
Pat McAfee Punter Colts 29 $2,900,000
Taylor Lewan Tackle Titans 25 $2,871,251
Matt Bryant Placekicker Falcons 41 $2,833,333
Johnny Hekker Punter Rams 26 $2,763,005
Odell Beckham, Jr. Wide Receiver Giants 24 $2,601,550
Aaron Donald Interior Lineman Rams 25 $2,534,125
Marcus Peters Cornerback Chiefs 23 $2,396,040
Zack Martin Guard Cowboys 26 $2,241,950
C.J. Mosley Inside/Middle Linebacker Ravens 24 $2,197,001
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Free Safety Packers 24 $2,084,625
Xavier Rhodes Cornerback Vikings 26 $1,951,626
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
Mike Tolbert Fullback Panthers 31 $1,650,000
Landon Collins Strong Safety Giants 22 $1,530,140
Derek Carr Quarterback Raiders 25 $1,342,951
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
Dak Prescott Quarterback Cowboys 23 $680,848
Devonta Freeman Running Back Falcons 24 $676,106
Tyreek Hill Return Specialist Chiefs 22 $646,555
Kyle Juszczyk Fullback Ravens 25 $615,146