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43 players, including Blake by-god Bortles, will have a higher average salary than Tom Brady’s 2018 paycheck

Brady’s restructured contract is less expensive than Tyrod Taylor’s.

F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Qualifying Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Tom Brady was the league’s most valuable player in 2017 after leading his New England Patriots to an AFC championship. He won’t be paid like it in 2018, though.

The 41-year-old quarterback cut the Pats a hometown bargain as he enters the second-to-last year of his contract with the team. Brady will cost New England just $15 million this fall, making him the league’s 22nd highest-paid passer and creating some extra salary cap space for a team that wasn’t exactly hurting for room in the first place.

Even with an extra $5 million in incentives built into the contract, that’s an amazing deal for the Patriots and another team-building concession from Brady, who had previously agreed to below-market deals in 2013 and 2016. It doesn’t nearly capture the prolific quarterback’s value. Forty-three players will take the field in 2018 with higher annual average salaries than Brady’s $15 million base. Sixteen will make more than the $20 million he could make if he hits all his benchmarks.

Some are worth every penny. Others, uh, are not.

The former Patriots

No one on the New England roster will make more money than Brady will in 2018. There are several players who lost their spot with the Patriots due to rising salary concerns that will. The list includes his longtime blindside protector, his top wideout from 2017, and the player who was set to take up Brady’s mantle before running out of time on his rookie deal and getting shipped to Santa Clara.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo, $27.5M
  • Chandler Jones, $16.5M
  • Brandin Cooks, $16.2M
  • Nate Solder, $15.5M

The quarterbacks

Matt Ryan, the quarterback who helped squander a 28-3 Super Bowl lead to Brady, will make double what the 2017 MVP will receive this fall. He’s just one of 20 passers who will make more than the Patriot QB, who is sandwiched between Tyrod Taylor and Josh McCown on this year’s biggest earners list.

  • Matt Ryan, $30M
  • Kirk Cousins, $28M
  • Matthew Stafford, $27M
  • Derek Carr, $25M
  • Drew Brees, $25M
  • Andrew Luck, $24.6M
  • Alex Smith, $23.5M
  • Joe Flacco, $22.1M
  • Aaron Rodgers, $22M
  • Russell Wilson, $21.9M
  • Ben Roethlisberger, $21.9M
  • Eli Manning, $21M
  • Philip Rivers, $20.8M
  • Cam Newton, $20.8M
  • Sam Bradford, $20M
  • Ryan Tannehill, $19.3M
  • Case Keenum, $18M
  • Blake Bortles, $18M
  • Andy Dalton, $16M
  • Tyrod Taylor, $15.2M

The pass rushers (and pass-rushing defensive tackles)

The highest-paid non-quarterbacks in the league are the guys who beat up the quarterbacks. Expect Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack to be added to the list soon if they can work out their contract holdouts.

  • Von Miller, $19M
  • Ezekiel Ansah, $17.1M
  • DeMarcus Lawrence, $17.1M
  • Fletcher Cox, $17.1M
  • Olivier Vernon, $17M
  • Justin Houston, $16.8M
  • J.J. Watt, $16.7M
  • Kawann Short, $16.1M
  • Marcell Dareus, $16.1M
  • Melvin Ingram, $16M
  • Gerald McCoy, $15.9M
  • Jason Pierre-Paul, $15.5M
  • Jurrell Casey, $15.1M

The wide receivers

Belichick balked at the idea of paying big money to keep Brandin Cooks around, just like he did with Deion Branch more than a decade ago. With Brady taking a pay cut, the team could have spent big on a top-tier wideout instead of having to turn to Cordarrelle Patterson and Eric Decker.

  • Antonio Brown, $17M
  • Mike Evans, $16.5M
  • DeAndre Hopkins, $16.2M
  • Sammy Watkins, $16M
  • Jarvis Landry, $15.1M

And Taylor Lewan

Lewan cashed in after a stellar start to his career that’s included Pro Bowl honors in 2016 and 2017 and has twice been named one of the NFL’s top 100 players by his peers. Now he’s the highest-paid offensive lineman in the game and almost making Blake Bortles money!

  • Taylor Lewan, $16M

And that’s it. Forty-three players are set to make more money than the 2017’s top player this fall. If Taylor hadn’t been punished for leading the Bills to the playoffs with a trade to the Browns, he’d be the AFC East’s third-highest paid quarterback. His new deal is for $5M less annually than Sam Bradford, who signed with the Cardinals after playing in just two games last season and utterly baffling coaches and trainers with the knee cartilage equivalent of Schrodinger’s Cat. He’ll make more than $7M less than Joe Flacco, who posted the worst yards-per-attempt average since 2014 last season.

So yeah, pretty nice bargain for the Patriots there. But don’t cry for Brady. He’s made more then $197 million in NFL contracts alone over the course of his career, and his wife has an estimated net worth of $360 million.