A million here, a million there.
Professional sports contracts can seem massive, no matter the league, but we wanted to see what sport often ends up paying out the most in their top deals, especially relative to total league revenue. While the NFL has been a dominant force in US sports for the past decade for total league revenue, it was interesting to see how low their top 10 guaranteed contracts are compared to the NBA and MLB.
We pulled data on the top 100 guaranteed contracts in the NFL, MLB and NBA, and found a massive difference in the amount these contracts are worth.
What we found:
- The top 10 guaranteed contracts in the NFL are only about 19% the total value of the top 10 guaranteed contracts in the MLB, and about 38% of the total value of the top 10 guaranteed contracts in the NBA.
- The first NBA contract to show up, Mike Conley, is 30th on the list, behind 29 MLB contracts.
- Most top NFL contracts don’t even crack the top 100 on the list in guaranteed money; counting non-guaranteed money, then Andrew Luck is the sole player to crack the top 50.
It’s interesting that the NFL pays so much less, relative to total league revenue. For each league’s total revenue in 2016, seen below:
Below you will find full data on the current top 10 guaranteed contracts in the three leagues.
|Giancarlo Stanton||Miami Marlins||325,000,000|
|Miguel Cabrera||Detroit Tigers||248,000,000|
|Robinson Cano||Seattle Mariners||240,000,000|
|Albert Pujols||Los Angeles Angels||240,000,000|
|Joey Votto||Cincinnati Reds||225,000,000|
|David Price||Boston Red Sox||217,000,000|
|Clayton Kershaw||Los Angeles Dodgers||215,000,000|
|Prince Fielder||Detroit Tigers||214,000,000|
|Max Scherzer||Washington Nationals||210,000,000|
|Zack Greinke||Arizona Diamondbacks||206,500,000|
|Mike Conley||Memphis Grizzlies||140,529,829|
|Damian Lillard||Portland Trailblazers||139,888,445|
|Bradley Beal||Washington Wizards||127,171,313|
|Anthony Davis||New Orleans Pelicans||127,171,313|
|CJ McCollum||Portland Trailblazers||109,853,029|
|DeMar DeRozen||Toronto Raptors||109,760,025|
|Steven Adams||Oklahoma City Thunder||103,140,517|
|Giannis Anteokounmpo||Milwaukee Bucks||102,995,421|
|Andre Drummond||Detroit Pistons||98,419,538|
|Rudy Gobert||Utah Jazz||96,121,288|
|Ndamukong Suh||Miami Dolphins||59,955,000|
|Eli Manning||New York Giants||54,000,000|
|Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||44,000,000|
|Joe Flacco||Baltimore Ravens||44,000,000|
|Marcel Dareus||Buffalo Bills||42,900,000|
|Von Miller||Denver Broncos||42,000,000|
|Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||41,000,000|
|Oliver Vernon||New York Giants||40,500,000|
|Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||40,000,000|
|Philip Rivers||Los Angeles Chargers||37,500,000|
So what’s the reason behind all of this?
There are a few obvious reasons for this major discrepancy in salaries:
- NFL rosters are huge, and capped. It’s hard to pay any one player massive amounts of money without hamstringing the rest of the team. NBA rosters are about 1/5th the size, and they also play more games.
- MLB doesn’t deal with a hard cap, and outside of top stars, most players don’t make nearly as much money.
- MLB plays way more games, and thus has more opportunity for monetization.
- MLB players don’t suffer career-ending injuries nearly as often.
- The NFL CBA is thought to be the worst of the three leagues.