Every time another athlete signs a new super-contract our eyes pop out of our heads. The fact that James Harden will earn on average $360,000 a game as part of his extension is astounding. Even other NBA stars were shocked by the contract, and they weren’t afraid to hide their praise, posting all over Twitter. Of course Harden’s deal came just days after Warriors superstar Steph Curry broke a record. Before the new contract, the NBA champion was a bargain for Golden State, but he more than earned his blockbuster deal, worth more than $200 million, after winning two championships in three seasons.
But not all contracts are created equal, especially when comparing different leagues and sports. Each league has it’s own salary cap, except for those leagues that don’t have a salary cap (we’re looking at you, MLB). Going into the 2017 season, the NFL’s salary cap stands at $167 million for a team built of 53 players. Meanwhile the NBA has a projected $99 million salary cap for the 2017-18 season and each team has, on average, a 14-man roster. So it would make sense that each NBA player would earn more per season than players in the NFL.
There are also contract lengths which vary from league to league. In baseball, contracts tend to be longer, even reaching ten years or more. In the NFL, they’re around the same length, especially for quarterbacks. In basketball, contracts tend to be for anywhere from two to seven years. As per games per season, NFL players who play in 16 games a season are more likely to get paid more per game than NBA players (82 games) and definitely MLB players (162 games).
Each of the athletes below has reached a contract milestone in his own league, and most earn a different salary every year based on their agreements, while we are ranking based on the average salary per year for these contract. Here they are, the sports contracts that made our eyes pop:
It seems fitting to start this list with Colin Kaepernick, a guy who just three years ago signed a six-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers and today is still looking for a team. Back in 2014, he was seen as one of the rising stars in the league, prompting the Niners to cough up such a contract, which included $61 million in guarantees and a $12 million signing bonus. Then Kaepernick became inconsistent, and his protest took over the headlines and now, he’s still looking for somewhere to play.