How Peyton Manning Made $230 Million To Become The Highest-Paid Player In NFL History

Peyton Manning just surpassed the NFL record for most touchdown passes in his career.

While it may not matter as much to Manning, there is another huge record he holds. He has been paid more than any other NFL player and it is not even close.

While Manning is one of the best players ever and has an insane work ethic, he has also been a bit lucky to end up with $US230 million in career earnings, $US75 million more than any other player.

It seems silly in hindsight, but after a successful college career it was not a slam dunk that Peyton Manning was the best player available in the 1998 NFL Draft as some thought Ryan Leaf was the better choice.

Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning at the 1998 NFL Draft

In the end, the Indianapolis Colts made the right decision, drafting Manning and signing him to a 6-year, $47.7 million contract with a $11.6 million signing bonus.


Ryan Leaf's rookie contract was worth just $13.2 million over 6 years. He made just $12.6 million from that deal and just $13.0 million in his career.


Things did not start out well for Manning. In his rookie season he threw an NFL rookie record 28 interceptions and the Colts won just 3 games.

But things turned around quickly as Manning threw just 15 interceptions his second year and the Colts won 13 games.

Manning got a lucky break when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Tony Dungy despite 3 straight winning seasons, opening the door for Manning to be paired with an excellent defensive-minded coach.

When Manning's rookie contract expired after the 2003 season, the Colts gave him the 'franchise tag' which meant the promise of a 1-year, $18.4 million contract to keep him from becoming a free agent.


Unlike Derek Jeter, who was lucky to be drafted by the New York Yankees, it didn't matter that Manning was playing in a small-market city since the NFL shares television revenue.

As a result, the Colts were able to give Manning a new 7-year, $99.2 million contract after the 2003 season.


That contract included a $34.5 million signing bonus, the largest ever in the NFL at the time. Manning was 27 years old at the time.

Manning would ultimately make $94.7 million with his second contract with his annual salary and bonuses reaching $19.3 million in 2010.


At the time of the signing, Manning thought he would spend the rest of his career in Indianapolis.


The contract expired after the 2010 season when Manning hit all the necessary playing time incentives. Colts owner Jim Irsay promised to give Manning the biggest contract in NFL history.


At the time, there was great debate over whether Manning deserved a higher average annual salary than Tom Brady, who had recently signed a 4-year, $72 million deal.

After the 2010 season, the Colts once again gave Manning the franchise tag as the uncertainty of the impending lockout loomed.

But 5 days after the lockout ended, Manning signed a new 5-year, $90 million contract.

But that contract lasted just one year as Manning missed the 2011 season following neck surgery and the Colts were faced with having to pay Manning a $28 million bonus if they kept him for the 2012 season.

Manning left the Colts having already made $171.7 million in 14 seasons with one Super Bowl win.


A free agent for the first time, Manning ultimately signed a 5-year, $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos with no signing bonus and only $18 million guaranteed.

Before signing the deal, Manning was actually furious at his agent for negotiating a deal that was bigger than Tom Brady's contract.

From Peter King of

'When Manning picked Denver, he simply asked Condon:

'What does Tom Brady make?'

'$US18 million a year.'

'Then I don't want to make a penny more than that.'

Condon's visions of a $US25 million a year deal were dashed, although the Broncos' opening offer was $US19.4 million a year. Condon phoned to tell Manning, who was incensed:

'I told you I didn't want to make more than Brady!'

Condon apologised, hung up and called Manning's wife, who responded, 'I'll take care of it,' and coaxed Manning to accept the Broncos' offer.'

By the end of this season, Manning will have made $230 million, $75 million more than the second-highest paid player, Tom Brady.

Manning still has two years left on his contract with salaries of $19 million each year. However, those years are not guaranteed.

Assuming Manning stays healthy and the Broncos keep him, Manning will ultimately be a free agent after the 2016 season. He will be 41 and will have made $267.7 million in his career.

Now check out how insanely competitive Peyton Manning can be

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