Money

Here’s how much the highest-paid NFL players make now, compared to their first year in the league

Players in the National Football League include some of the highest-paid athletes in the world, such as the Indianapolis Colts's Andrew Luck and the New Orleans Saints's Drew Brees.

But even star quarterbacks weren't bringing in top dollar their first years in the game.

CNBC Make It used data from Sportrac to rank the highest-paid NFL players by average yearly salary, then compared it with historical numbers from Over the Cap. The results reveal how the players' current salaries compare to their guaranteed base salaries from their first years in the league.

While these statistics provide a fun look at how each player's earnings have grown over time, keep in mind that the base salaries don't include signing bonuses, which many players receive. Depending on which round the player is signed, bonuses can range from $60,000 to several million, paid out over time.

Below, check out the 15 highest paid NFL players, along with how much each one earned during his rookie year.

15. Ryan Tannehill

Team: Miami Dolphins
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $19,062,500
Base salary in 2012: $390,000

14. Tom Brady

Team: New England Patriots
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $20,500,000
Base salary in 2000: $193,000

13. Matt Ryan

Team: Atlanta Falcons
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $20,750,000
Base salary 2008: $295,000

Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tom Pennington | Getty Images
Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

12. Cam Newton

Team: Carolina Panthers
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $20,760,000
Base salary in 2011: $375,000

11. Philip Rivers

Team: San Diego Chargers
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $20,812,500
Base salary in 2004: $1,305,000

10. Eli Manning

Team: New York Giants
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $21,000,000
Base salary in 2004: $1,744,000

Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants throws the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Getty Images
Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants throws the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

9. Ben Roethlisberger

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $21,850,000
Base salary in 2004: $6,000,000

8. Russell Wilson

Team: Seattle Seahawks
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $21,900,000
Base salary in 2012: $390,000

7. Aaron Rodgers

Team: Green Bay Packers
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $22,000,000
Base salary in 2005: $620,000

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Getty Images
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

6. Joe Flacco

Team: Baltimore Ravens
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $22,133,333
Base salary in 2008: $295,000

5. Kirk Cousins

Team: Washington Redskins
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $23,943,600
Base salary in 2012: $390,000

4. Drew Brees

Team: New Orleans Saints
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $24,250,000
Base salary in 2001: $320,000

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Maddie Meyer | Getty Images
Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

3. Carson Palmer

Team: Arizona Cardinals
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $24,350,000
Base salary in 2003: $1,070,000

2. Andrew Luck

Team: Indianapolis Colts
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $24,594,000
Base salary in 2012: $390,000

1. Derek Carr

Team: Oakland Raiders
Average annual salary 2017-2018: $25,000,000
Base salary in 2014: $420,000

Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders looks to throw a pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter of their preseason NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
Thearon W. Henderson | Getty Images
Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders looks to throw a pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter of their preseason NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.