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Counting down the richest athletes on every NFL team

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29 PHOTOS
Highest paid player on every NFL team 2015
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Counting down the richest athletes on every NFL team

32. Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns — $9,000,000

Position: Left tackle

2015 earnings breakdown: $8.8 million salary, $200,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Thomas has started every game of his 9-year NFL career.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

31. TY Hilton, Indianapolis Colts — $11,000,000

Position: Wide Receiver

2015 earnings breakdown: $10.0 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary.

One thing to know: Hilton's spot on this list will be short-lived as quarterback Andrew Luck is due for a new contract that will likely challenge the all-time records.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

30. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals — $11,719,114

Position: Cornerback

2015 earnings breakdown: $11.6 million salary, $100,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Peterson's $70.1 million contract is nearly identical to the one signed by Darrelle Revis with the Jets.

(Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

29. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers — $12,800,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $10.4 million salary, $2.0 million roster bonus, $400,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Colin Kaepernick's $114 million contract was never as good as it sounded and chances are he will never see the end of it.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

26t. DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions — $13,000,000

Position: Linebacker

2015 earnings breakdown: $12.0 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary.

One thing to know: Levy's $33.8 million contract is a distant fourth when ranking the total value of contracts for Lions players, but he has the benefit of a signing bonus this year. Over the next four years, his salary is a more reasonable $5-7 million per year.

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

26t. Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs — $13,000,000

Position: Linebacker

2015 earnings breakdown: $12.0 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary

One thing to know: Houston's 6-year, $101 million is $35 million bigger than any other linebacker's contract, but $8.5 million of his $20.5 million signing bonus was deferred until next year.

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

26t. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings — $13,000,000

Position: Running Back

2015 earnings breakdown: $11.0 million salary, $2.0 million roster bonus.

One thing to know: After missing nearly the entire 2014 season, Peterson is back and already leading the NFL in rushing through the first four weeks. His 3-year, $42 million contract did not come with a signing bonus, so it is basically a year-to-year deal.

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

24t. Byron Maxwell, Philadelphia Eagles — $13,500,000

Position: Cornerback

2015 earnings breakdown: $6.5 million roster bonus, $6.0 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary.

One thing to know: His 6-year, $63 million is fourth among cornerbacks in terms of total value.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

24t. Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Bucs — $13,500,000

Position: Defensive Tackle

2015 earnings breakdown: $6.5 million roster bonus, $5.0 million salary, $2.0 million option bonus.

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

23. Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens — $14,000,000

Position: Cornerback

2015 earnings breakdown: $13.0 million signing bonus, $1.0 million salary

One thing to know: Smith's contract is a distant second on the Ravens in terms of total value, behind quarterback Joe Flacco, but Flacco will only make $8.8 million this year.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

22. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots — $15,000,000

Position: Tight End

2015 earnings breakdown: $10.0 million signing bonus, $4.75 million salary, $250,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: With the Patriots locking up Gronkowski to a 6-year, $54 million contract in 2012, they got one of the best steals in the NFL. Gronk will have salaries of $2.25 million and $4.25 million the next two years.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

20t. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers — $15,100,000

Position: Wide Receiver

2015 earnings breakdown: $13.0 million signing bonus, $1.2 million salary, $500,000 roster bonus, $400,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Randall Cobb signed a 4-year, 40.0 million extension this off-season.

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

20t. Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars — $15,100,000

Position: Tight End

2015 earnings breakdown: $6.0 million signing bonus, $9.0 million salary, $100,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Thomas signed a 5-year, $46.0 million contract with the Jags as a free agent this summer, but has yet to play in a game because of a hand injury.

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

19. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders — $15,177,266

Position: Wide Receiver

2015 earnings breakdown: $14.7 million signing bonus, $435,000 salary.

One thing to know: Amari Cooper is already looking like he is ready to be the next great wide receiver in the NFL.

(Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

17. Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams — $15,788,756

Position: Defensive End

2015 earnings breakdown: $10.2 million roster bonus, $5.6 million salary.

One thing to know: After recording 19 sacks in 2013, Quinn signed a 4-year, $57.0 million extension. He had 10.5 sacks in 2014.

(Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

16. Darrelle Revis, New York Jets — $16,000,000

Position: Cornerback

2015 earnings breakdown: $16.0 million salary.

One thing to know: No player has gambled on himself more than Revis, and it keeps paying off, turning a nonguaranteed contract into $68 million.

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

15. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans — $16,305,164

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $15.9 million signing bonus, $435,000 salary.

One thing to know: Mariota is actually the highest-paid rookie this year, as top pick Jameis Winston had 35% of his $17.0 million signing bonus deferred until 2016.

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

14. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys — $17,000,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $16.0 million restructure bonus, $1.0 million salary.

One thing to know: Romo's 6-year, $108 million contract originally called for a $17 million salary this season. By turning $16 million of that into a bonus, the Cowboys are able to spread the impact to the salary cap over several years. The downside is that he will count $21 million against the cap next season despite just an $8.5 million salary, so another restructuring will likely be done.

(Photo by Mike Stone/Getty Images)

13. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints — $19,000,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $18.75 million salary, $250,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Drew Brees is now in Year 4 of his 5-year, $100 million contract, and the back-loaded deal is starting to kill the Saints' salary cap. Brees will take up $26.4 million against the cap this year, more than $5 million more than any other player in the NFL.

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

12. Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins — $19,038,000

Position: Linebacker

2015 earnings breakdown: $16.0 million signing bonus, $2.8 million salary, $250,000 roster bonus.

One thing to know: Kerrigan is going to be a one-hit wonder on this list, having just signed a 5-year, $57.5 million contract. His total earnings in 2016 will be just $5.3 million.

(Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

11. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans — $19,969,000

Position: Defensive End

2015 earnings breakdown: $10.0 million restructure bonus, $9.97 million salary.

One thing to know: In just the second year of his 6-year, $100 million contract, Watt has already restructured the deal once, converting his $10 million roster bonus this season into a restructure bonus, spreading the cap hit out over the next five years.

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

10. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears — $20,500,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $15.5 million salary, $5.0 million restructure bonus.

One thing to know: Jay Cutler has already earned $75.7 million heading into the 2015 season, and he has played in just two playoff games, winning one.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons — $23,500,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $12.0 million signing bonus, $11.5 million salary.

One thing to know: Ryan still has four years remaining on his 5-year, $103.75 million contract extension.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

8. Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins — $26,500,000

Position: Defensive Tackle

2015 earnings breakdown: $25.5 million signing bonus, $985,000 salary, $15,000 workout bonus.

One thing to know: Despite all the big contracts for quarterbacks, Suh was arguably the biggest winner, getting a megadeal worth $114 million over six years, including $60 million guaranteed. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the contract is going to become a nightmare after the second year.

(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

6. Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills — $27,823,530

Position: Defensive Tackle

2015 earnings breakdown: $25.0 million signing bonus, $2.8 million salary.

One thing to know: Dareus cashed in just before the start of the season with a $96.6 million contract that includes $60 million guaranteed. However, as has become the norm in the NFL, the "real guarantee" is really just his earnings this year with the rest only guaranteed against injury.

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks — $31,700,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $31.0 million signing bonus, $700,000 salary.

One thing to know: Russell Wilson is finally going to get paid, but his contract was not the game changer many were expecting.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers — $35,250,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $31 million signing bonus, $1 million salary, $3.25 million roster bonus.

One thing to know: At $87.4 million, the contract signed this off-season by Big Ben doesn't sound as sexy as the other deals signed by quarterbacks. However, it was better than most as he got more than $35 million in Year 1 and a whopping $53 million over the first two seasons.

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

2. Eli Manning, New York Giants — $37,000,000

Position: Quarterback

2015 earnings breakdown: $31.0 million signing bonus, $5.5 million salary, $500,000 workout bonus.

One thing to knowEli Manning finally agreed to his long-anticipated contract extension that includes an NFL-record-tying $65 million guaranteed and a whopping $37 million in the first year.

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
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With the salary cap on the rise, contracts for the elite NFL players are starting to look like those in other sports.

Because of how the NFL's quirky salary cap system works, large contracts often come with large signing bonuses. The result is that the highest-paid players fluctuate from year-to-year and tends to favor those who signed deals recently.

SEE MORE: Ranking the best and worst NFL stadiums

Still, there is quite a disparity in how much different teams pay their highest-paid players.

Here are the 32 players who will make the most money on their teams this year, ranked by their total 2015 earnings.

The Herd: Professional Sports Should Get Rid of the Salary Cap

Now check out what happened to the first-round picks in the infamous 2000 NFL Draft:

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The first-round picks from Tom Brady's infamous 2000 NFL Draft

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