28. New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan
Total cap hit: $14,247,000
Drew Brees currently isn’t under contract, hence why he’s not number one on the Saints’ list (though he normally would be). As a result, defensive end Cameron Jordan receives top billing. The former Cal product notched a career-high in sacks this past year (13.0). Over the course of his career, Jordan has consistently flashed the talent to be an All-Pro player. This is evidenced by being named to three Pro Bowls. Now in the prime of his play, the 28-year-old could be on the cusp of stardom.
Jordan makes only $8.4 million as a base salary — though he’s aided with a package of bonuses from four different categorizations. With the complementary bonuses, Jordan brings home a bit more than $14 million.
27. Cleveland Browns: Joe Thomas
Total cap hit: $14,250,000
Possessing a book-end left tackle is imperative in today’s NFL. With the vast collection of top-notch pass rushers in the league, there’s no question that the left tackle spot has grown in significance. For this reason, it’s no surprise to see Thomas as Cleveland’s highest-paid player. Though the Browns are atrocious and rarely win, it certainly isn’t Thomas’s fault. The former Wisconsin Badger made the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons. He’s also a 7-time First-Team All-Pro.
Thomas makes $10.3 million as a base salary. He also commands additional fees for a restructure bonus ($750,000), workout bonus ($200,000), and roster bonus ($3 million). In total, Thomas accounts for 10.59-percent of Cleveland’s cap.
26. Tennessee Titans: Jurrell Casey
Total cap hit: $14,920,000
Tennessee doesn’t get a ton of headlines. The franchise doesn’t sit in a big market — nor does the team play an overly attractive style of football. QB Marcus Mariota garners much of the press clippings. However, it’s DT Jurrell Casey who’s clearly Tennessee’s best player. The three-time Pro Bowler from USC is a virtual bowling ball from within the Titans’ front seven. Quick and built low to the ground, Casey is exceptionally proficient at stopping the run.
The Titans surely don’t want to lose a 28-year-old All-Pro defensive tackle. As such, they’ve taken the requisite measures to ensure that Casey will stick around for a while. He’s making $10.6 million as a base salary. This doesn’t include a signing bonus ($3.72 million), a workout bonus ($100,000) and a roster bonus ($500,000).
25. Houston Texans: J.J. Watt
Total cap hit: $15,000,000
Injuries have somewhat slowed the living legend that is Watt. He had an unreal four-year period in which he notched 69.0 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, and 41 pass deflections. These numbers scream “Hall of Fame” and “All-Time Great” — though the last two years have curtailed the hype somewhat. Watt’s played in only eight games over the past two seasons due to various injuries. Even if you aren’t a fan of the Houston Texans, appreciate Watt’s ability. When healthy, he’s big-time.
Watt’s salary isn’t as large as one would’ve thought — particularly when compared to other members within the piece. Watt gets $11 million as a base salary, $2 million as a signing bonus, and $2 million as a restructure bonus.
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