The Detroit Lions stole headlines Wednesday morning when they announced they had signed superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson to a seven-year, $132 million extension.Johnson’s new deal is $12 million more than the previous richest NFL contract: fellow wideout Larry Fitzgerald’s with the Arizona Cardinals.
Although the numbers are gaudy, Megatron will probably never come close to earning all of the $132 million in his contract.
In order to protect teams from injuries and/or diminished returns, NFL contracts are structured around huge signing bonuses, front-loaded guaranteed money, and numerous performance incentives.
Basically, it is very difficult for ANY player to ever come close to earning every penny included in his deal. That’s especially true when said deal approaches or even surpasses the $100 million plateau.
Drew Bledsoe signed a huge 10-year, $103 million deal with New England in 2001. It was the same year some guy named Tom Brady took over for the Patriots.
Philadelphia signed Donovan McNabb for what looked like the final contract of his career when they gave him $115 million over 12 years. On top of losing playing time and money due to injuries, McNabb eventually left town to make room for Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick.
The Minnesota Vikings gave Daunte Culpepper a $102 million deal in 2003. He was gone to Miami under a restructured deal just three years later.
All-world QB Michael Vick received a whopping $130 million deal from the Atlanta Falcons in 2004. He never made anything close to that once the dog fighting scandal broke out in 2007 and he eventually went to jail.
The Cincinnati Bengals future looked bright when they handed Carson Palmer $119 million over nine years in 2005. Injuries, so-so play, and a fake retirement later have Palmer making significantly less with Oakland.
Albert Haynesworth got a ridiculous $100 million over 7 years from the Washington Redskins in 2009. The Skins released him after two terrible seasons and Haynesworth bounced around New England and Tampa Bay in 2011.
Peyton Manning inked a 5-year, $90 million contract extension with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011. After losing a year to injuries he's now on his way out and looking for a new uniform for far less money.
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