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The highest-paid athlete at Super Bowl LIV will take home $27.5 million this year, thanks to the 'biggest deal in NFL history'

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) eludes Washington Redskins defensive end Matthew Ioannidis (98).
The Washington Post

Looks like the San Francisco 49ers' "record-breaking" contract with one of its star players is paying off.

CNBC Make It used data from sports contract website Spotrac to find the 2019-2020 average salary for each player on the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, who are competing in Super Bowl LIV. The highest-paid player in this year's Super Bowl is 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whose average annual salary is an astounding $27.5 million.

That far surpasses the highest-paid player in last year's game, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who earned an average annual salary of $22.5 million during the 2018-2019 season.

Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark is the Super Bowler earning the highest average salary this year after Garoppolo, at $20.8 million, per Spotrac.

Meanwhile, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was drafted in 2017, is a steal for Kansas City, with an average salary of $4.1 million — at least until he signs a new contract extension.

The 28-year-old Garoppolo signed a record five-year, $137.5 million contract with the 49ers in 2018, with $74 million guaranteed (unlike other professional sports leagues, NFL contracts are not fully guaranteed. They can be guaranteed for three purposes: skill, a team's salary cap and/or injury). At the time, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo called it the "biggest deal in NFL history on an average-per-year basis."

An NFL player's earnings depend on a variety of factors, including their base contract, NFL salary caps, bonuses, performance incentives and endorsement deals. So while Garoppolo's contract averages $27.5 million per year, what he actually earns in a given year varies.

The top-earning NFL players in 2020

Despite his record-breaking contract, Garoppolo comes in eighth in the league in average pay this year. Here are the other top earners this year:

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: $35 million
  • Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: $34 million
  • (Tied) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff: $33.5 million
  • Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz: $32 million
  • Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan: $30 million
  • Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins: $28 million

If the 49ers win, Garoppolo can expect a bonus payday: Sunday's champs will take home an additional $124,000 each, per the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.

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