The regular NFL season has come to an end. The two teams featured in last season’s Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, did not make the playoffs in 2016. The Cleveland Browns won a grand total of one game out of 16. Nobody can ever predict what will come in the NFL from one season to the next, and that’s part of its wide appeal. It’s entirely possible that any one of the teams mentioned in this list could win the Super Bowl next season.
Sometimes being among the league’s highest-paid players doesn’t always equate to winning. So here are some of the richest players on the 16 NFL teams that finished with a .500 record or worse in 2016.
Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings: $51.25 Million
The Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 season took a drastic downturn before it even began, with starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffering a season-ending knee injury in August. The Vikings finished the season at 8-8 after a promising 5-0 start with Sam Bradford at quarterback. Bridgewater is still under his four-year rookie contract.
And so, the highest-paid Viking is free safety Harrison Smith. Smith is 27 years old and was drafted in 2012 out of Notre Dame at No. 29 overall by Minnesota.
Smith is under contract through 2021 on a five-year, $51.25 million ($28.58 million guaranteed) agreement. Smith’s 2016 base salary was $5.278 million and his signing bonus was $2 million.
Robert Quinn, Los Angeles Rams: $57.01 Million
In the Rams’ first season in Los Angeles since 1994, the team disappointed fans with a 4-12 record. The Rams fired head coach Jeff Fisher mid-December after announcing that the team had previously extended Fisher for two more seasons. Fisher coached the Rams for five seasons and has 165 career losses, which is tied for most losses as an NFL coach in history.
The highest-paid Ram is 26-year-old defensive end Robert Quinn, who actually finished 2016 on injured reserve after spending time off the field under the NFL’s concussion protocol. He is currently under a four-year, $57.01 million contract with about $41.17 million guaranteed.
Quinn was drafted No. 14 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the then-St. Louis Rams. He played college football at North Carolina. In 2016, Quinn’s base salary was $7.78 million and his signing bonus was $955,355.
Before spending the big bucks on tickets, jerseys and memorabilia, Los Angeles fans may want to wait and see what happens in the offseason.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: $61 Million
The San Francisco 49ers went 2-14 in 2016 and promptly fired head coach Chip Kelly after just one season with the team.
Most everybody in America became acquainted with San Francisco’s highest-paid player this season — and not because of his profession. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick appeared on the cover of TIME due to his kneeling during the national anthem in protest of social injustice, beginning in the preseason.
Kaepernick started 2016 as the back-up quarterback behind Blaine Gabbert, but regained his starting job in week six. He was originally signed to a six-year, $114 million contract in 2014, but that contract was restructured in 2016 making him an unrestricted free agent in 2018 instead of 2020. Kaepernick is still owed $61 million guaranteed.
In 2016, Kaepernick made $11.9 million in base salary and $2.47 million of his signing bonus.
Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints: $65 Million
New Orleans ended 2016 with a 7-9 record.
Quarterback Drew Brees counted the most against the Saints’ 2016 cap at $17.25 million in 2016, but the highest-paid Saint overall is one of the men paid to protect Brees: left tackle Terron Armstead.
Armstead is under contract with New Orleans through 2021 — a five-year and $65 million contract ($38 million guaranteed). Armstead is just 25 years old. The Saints drafted him out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2013 but not until the third round. Armstead struggled with injury all season but made $680,000 in base salary and $2.35 million of his signing bonus.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: $66.3 Million
The Baltimore Ravens completed 2016 with a perfect .500 record at 8-8. Baltimore’s most expensive player is quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco’s contract includes $44 million guaranteed and runs through the 2021 season. In 2016, Flacco’s base salary was $4 million; his signing bonus was $13.8 million; and his contract went $22.5 million against the team cap.
Flacco is 31 years old and was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft by Baltimore at No. 18 overall. Flacco led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in February 2013 against the San Francisco 49ers, and Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP. He cashed in with his current contract after the 2012-13 season.
Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals: $70 Million
The Arizona Cardinals finished with a 7-8-1 record. The team’s highest-paid player is cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Quarterback Carson Palmer cost the Cardinals the most in 2016 with a $18.375 million cap hit. Palmer is 37 years old and just completed his 14th season in the NFL with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Palmer was drafted No. 1 overall in 2003 NFL Draft out of USC by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Palmer’s net worth is $60 million. His base salary for 2016 is $4.9 million with a $4.25 million signing bonus. Palmer rakes in $500,000 worth of endorsement deals, according to Forbes.
But Peterson’s overall contract outweighs Palmer’s. Peterson is only 26 years old and is under a five-year, $70.05 million contract with the Cardinals through 2020. In 2016, Peterson had a base salary of $6.58 million and received $3.07 million of his signing bonus. Peterson’s net worth is $10 million.
Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns: $80.5 Million
The poor Cleveland Browns finished a miserable 2016 with the worst record in the NFL at 1-15. Similar to the Cardinals, the Browns’ highest-paid player in 2016 is different than the team’s overall highest-paid player. In 2016, cornerback Joe Haden counted the most against the cap at $14.4 million. Haden’s net worth is $20 million.
But overall, Haden’s contract comes in second to left tackle Joe Thomas who is under contract for seven years and $80.5 million through 2018 ($28.5 million guaranteed). Thomas was drafted by the Browns in the first round at No. 3 overall in 2007.
In 2016, Thomas earned a base salary of $8.3 million and did not receive a signing bonus.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: $83.25 Million
The San Diego Chargers completed 2016 with a 5-11 record after injuries completely decimated the team. Head coach Mike McCoy was fired after the team’s last game of the season on Jan. 1.
That said, the highest-paid Charger is quarterback Philip Rivers, who has not missed a single game in the last 11 seasons — out of a total of 13 seasons in the NFL. Money well-spent by the Chargers.
Rivers’ current four-year, $83.25 million contract runs through 2019. Rivers has $65 million of that guaranteed. In 2016, Rivers earned $15 million in base salary and collected $4.5 million of his signing bonus.
Rivers was drafted No. 4 by the New York Giants in the 2004 NFL Draft, but immediately was part of a trade that sent him to San Diego and Eli Manning to the Giants.
Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets: $86 Million
The New York Jets, a team predicted to truly contend for the playoffs prior to the season, completed 2016 at 5-11.
Veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis counted the most against the Jets’ salary cap in 2016 at $17 million, but the highest-paid Jet overall is defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. A lot of questionable commentary swirled around Wilkerson in 2016, but the fact remains that he is under contract with New York through 2020 and is owed a guaranteed $53.5 million of his $86 million contract.
Wilkerson, age 27, was drafted No. 30 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Temple. Since then, he has accumulated 40.5 career sacks. In 2016, Wilkerson earned $7 million in base salary and $3 million of his signing bonus.
Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars: $90 Million
The Jacksonville Jaguars ended 2016 at 3-13. Head coach Gus Bradley, in his fourth year with Jacksonville, was fired after the Jaguars lost their 12th game of the season on Dec. 18.
Jacksonville’s highest-paid player is a Super Bowl champion. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson won Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos just last season before Jacksonville wooed him away with a six-year, $90 million deal before the 2016 season began. Jackson is guaranteed $42 million.
Jackson, age 26, was drafted by Denver in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. In 2016, Jackson earned an $8 million base salary and $2 million of his signing bonus.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: $96 Million
The Cincinnati Bengals completed 2016 with a 6-9-1 record. Cincinnati’s star wide receiver and second highest-paid Bengal, A.J. Green, went down with a season-ending hamstring injury on Nov. 20, which made things much more difficult for the team’s highest-paid player: quarterback Andy Dalton.
Dalton is 29 years old and 2016 marked his sixth season in the NFL out of TCU. His current contract is a six-year, $96 million ($17 million guaranteed) running through 2020. In 2016, Dalton’s base salary was $10.5 million and he received $2.4 million of his signing bonus. Dalton’s net worth is $25 million.
Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills: $96.57 Million
The Buffalo Bills finished at 7-9 and fired head coach Rex Ryan following week 15, though he still has three years remaining on his five-year contract. The upstate New York franchise also ranks 3rd on the list of cheapest NFL tickets.
The Bills’ highest-paid player is defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who spent four games in 2016 suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Dareus was drafted No. 3 overall in the 2011 draft out of Alabama by Buffalo.
Dareus signed his current six-year, $96.57 million contract in 2015, which initially guaranteed him $42.9 million. The contract runs through 2021. In 2016, Dareus earned a base salary of $6.04 million and $5 million of his signing bonus.
Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles: $102.6 Million
Consistently ranking among the highest ticket prices in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles went just 7-9 in 2016. The largest 2016 cap hit for Philadelphia came in the form of left tackle Jason Peters at $9.74 million.
But the title of highest-paid Eagle goes to defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who has a six-year, $102.6 million contract with $63.3 million guaranteed. Cox is 26 years old and the 12th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State. His contract runs through 2022.
In 2016, Cox raked in a $1.3 million base salary and collected $5.2 million of his signing bonus.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: $103.8 Million
The Carolina Panthers had perhaps the most disappointing season of any team in 2016, finishing with a 6-10 record. Quarterback Cam Newton, the reigning NFL MVP, is the biggest moneymaker for Carolina.
Newton, age 27, was the first overall draft pick in 2011, selected by Carolina out of Auburn where he won the Heisman Trophy and won the BCS Championship as a junior. Newton made a $13 million base salary along with $4.5 million of his signing bonus in 2016.
In 2015, Newton signed his current five-year, $103.8 million contract that runs through 2020. Newton’s net worth is currently $45 million.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: $122.97 Million
The Indianapolis Colts were the definition of so-so in 2016 with an 8-8 record. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, age 27, is Indianapolis’s franchise player and highest-paid with a five-year, $122.97 million contract expiring in 2022. Luck is guaranteed $87 million of that contract.
In 2016, Luck made a $12 million base salary and earned $6.4 million of his signing bonus. He was also the heir apparent in Indianapolis after Peyton Manning left for Denver in 2012. Luck was drafted at No. 1 overall by the Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Stanford.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: $126.7 Million
The Chicago Bears finished 2016 at 3-13 and without their starting franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler is also the team’s highest-paid player in the midst of a seven-year, $126.7 million (with $54 million guaranteed) contract through 2021.
Cutler, age 33, was drafted by the Denver Broncos at No. 11 overall in 2006. Cutler’s net worth is $50 million. His base salary for 2016 was $16 million, and he played in only five games for the Bears in 2016.
All salary figures are per Spotrac.com and according to players’ overall active contracts, not just the 2016 salary cap hit. Net worth figures are indicative of assets versus liabilities. All net worth figures are according to CelebrityNetWorth.com unless otherwise noted.