The richest football player on any given team is rarely the defensive lineman. The best big men on any given defensive squad, however, still earn a pretty penny for their hard work. This list includes plenty of old faces from last year, as well as newcomers like Kawann Short, whose big contract earned him a spot. Here's a look at the richest defensive linemen in the NFL by net worth, along with an examination of their contracts, salaries and bonuses.
Click through to see the richest defensive linemen, and compare their earnings to the men they're trying to take down.
Kawann Short Net Worth: $3 Million
Although he's on the low end of the net worth spectrum, Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short is in the top 20 when it comes to 2017 cap hits among NFL defensive linemen. Short enters 2017 at the beginning of a five-year, $80.5 million contract that includes a $20 million signing bonus. It pays him an average salary of $16.1 million per year.
Jason Pierre-Paul Net Worth: $3 Million
New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is beginning the first year of a big-time contract that will pay him $62 million over four years, including a $20 million signing bonus. He's guaranteed $29 million and will receive an average salary of $15.5 million per year.
Derek Wolfe Net Worth: $4 Million
Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe earns an average annual salary of $9.18 million as part of a four-year, $36.7 million contract that includes a $7.5 million signing bonus. The deal includes $17.5 million in guaranteed money and pays Wolfe until he becomes a free agent in 2020.
Ezekiel Ansah Net Worth: $6 Million
With a cap hit of $12.73 million, Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is one of 2017's 10 highest-paid defensive linemen in the NFL. The five-year veteran and 2013 first-round draft pick is entering the final season of a four-year, $18.59 million contract that includes a $11.9 million signing bonus. The Lions have never been to a Super Bowl. Chances are good Lions fans would give up a lot to see their team finally win it all.
Clinton McDonald Net Worth: $9 Million
Tampa Bay defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is entering the final year of his four-year contract. By the time McDonald becomes a free agent in 2018, the contract will have paid him $12 million. The deal did not include a signing bonus, but guaranteed him $4.75 million.
Haloti Ngata Net Worth: $10 Million
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was a first-round draft pick in 2006, and his 12 seasons in the NFL have made him among the wealthiest defensive linemen in the league. He becomes a free agent in 2018, and is entering the final season of a two-year, $12 million contract that includes a $4 million signing bonus. His average salary is $6 million a year.
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Cliff Avril Net Worth: $10 Million
When the 2017 season ends, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril will have just one year left on his current contract, which pays him $28.5 million over four years. The deal includes $9.5 million in guaranteed money. When you add in his $2.5 million signing bonus, Avril earns an average annual salary of $7.13 million.
J.J. Watt Net Worth: $10 Million
Seven-year NFL veteran and 2011 first-round draft pick J.J. Watt became a free agent in 2016, when he signed a six-year, $100 million contract. The deal includes a $10 million signing bonus and takes him through the 2021 season. He'll enter free agency again in 2022. Watt is one of the most dynamic players in the league. An average ticket to see Watt play at home costs $94. See the average ticket prices for every NFL team.
Olivier Vernon Net Worth: $16 Million
Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon's $16 million 2017 cap hit makes him this year's fourth highest-paid defensive lineman in the NFL. Vernon is in the second year of a five-year, $85 million contract that includes a $20 million signing bonus. Want to buy the Giants from the Mara family? This is what you'd need to do to be a successful NFL team owner.
Brandon Mebane Net Worth: $16 Million
Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane's 11 years in the NFL have made him one of the richest players at his position. The 2017 season marks the second year of a three-year, $13.5 million contract that pays Mebane an average annual salary of $4.5 million, including a $3 million signing bonus.
Sylvester Williams: $16.2 Million
Titans defensive tackle Sylvester Williams was drafted in the first round of 2013. In 2017, he'll begin the first year of a three-year contract that will pay him $17.5 million until he becomes a free agent in 2020. The deal, which includes a $3 million signing bonus, pays Williams an average annual salary of $5.83 million.
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Michael Bennett Net Worth: $17 Million
Texas A&M attendee Michael Bennett signed a three-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks worth $30.5 million, including an $8 million signing bonus. He's guaranteed $14 million and earns an average salary of $10.17 million per year.
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Gerald McCoy Net Worth: $30 Million
2010 first-round draft pick Gerald McCoy is bound by a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that will pay him $95.2 million until he re-enters free agency in 2022. He'll receive an average annual salary of about $15.87 million.
Fletcher Cox Net Worth: $30 Million
Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox signed a massive six-year, $102.6 million contract that will pay him an average of $17.1 million a year through the 2022 season. As part of the deal, he is guaranteed $36.3 million, including his $26 million signing bonus.
Julius Peppers: $30 Million
Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers boasts 16 years in the NFL. The 2002 first-round draft pick signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Peppers, who enters free agency in 2018, received a $1.65 million signing bonus, which is guaranteed as part of the deal. Peppers has made the Pro Bowl nine times and was named to the NFL 2000s all-decade team. He has a chance to make the Hall of Fame once he retires. See the net worths of the richest Hall of Famers.
Ndamukong Suh Net Worth: $50 Million
Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is once again the richest defensive lineman in football, as well as the highest-paid NFL lineman of 2017 and one of the highest-paid Pro Bowlers. At $19.1 million, his 2017 cap hit is higher than anyone else at his position. The eight-year veteran is in the middle of a six-year, $114.38 million contract that includes a $25.5 million signing bonus.
Net worth figures via Celebrity Net Worth.