The landscape of the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL has changed dramatically in recent years. Who is the highest-paid CB in the NFL, and which other cornerbacks round out the top 10 at the position?
The highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL | 6-10
Which cornerbacks sit in the bottom half of the top 10 for average annual value (AAV)?
10) William Jackson, Washington Football Team | AAV: $13.5 million
William Jackson joined the list of highest-paid CBs in 2021 when he signed a three-year deal with the Washington Football Team worth $40.5 million. Jackson spent five seasons in Cincinnati, but he only played in four. He missed his entire rookie season after tearing a pectoral muscle during camp. In his four years in Cincinnati, Jackson deflected 41 passes and came away with 3 interceptions.
In each of the final three seasons, he allowed a completion percentage against of under 60%. Jackson has struggled at times with allowing touchdowns to be scored, with opponents scoring a total of 14 when matched up with him in the last three seasons. However, his low completion percentage ensured he was one of the top options available in the 2021 free-agency period.
T-8) Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens | AAV: $14 million
One of the most infuriating cornerbacks in the NFL, Peters’ undeniable talent ensures he is one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the league. Entering his seventh season, Peters has already been traded twice and is playing for his third NFL franchise.
Nevertheless, the Ravens were willing to commit to a three-year extension worth $42 million. That’s because, in those six seasons, he has an impressive 31 interceptions and has scored 6 touchdowns. On top of that, Peters has forced 9 fumbles and made 299 tackles.
His completion percentage allowed has sat above 60% in two of the last three seasons, but that is more than made up by his ability to turn the ball over. Any time a player can make the splash plays Peters does, he will always be well-paid.
T-8) Trae Waynes, Cincinnati Bengals | AAV: $14 million
Replacing Jackson in Cincinnati is another former first-round selection in Trae Waynes. Waynes spent five seasons in Minnesota before signing with the Bengals in 2020. Much like Jackson’s first season in Cincinnati, Waynes missed his first year with a pectoral injury. That leaves him with two years remaining on his three-year, $42 million contract entering 2021.
The pressure will be on Waynes this season. In his final season in Minnesota, he struggled significantly. In fact, he allowed a 74% completion rate and 5 touchdowns in 2019. If those struggles manifest again this season, the Bengals can move on from his contract for just $5 million in dead money.
7) James Bradberry, New York Giants | AAV: $14.5 million
After spending the first four years of his career in Carolina, the New York Giants made James Bradberry one of the highest-paid NFL cornerbacks in 2020.
Bradberry had 11 interceptions and 47 passes defended in his time in Carolina. However, what really stood out was his completion percentage allowed sitting at 51% on 210 targets in his final two seasons. Furthermore, in his final season with Carolina, he allowed just 1 touchdown on 97 targets.
Bradberry had a good first year in New York but will need to perform well again in 2021. If he struggles, the Giants could move on from him and leave just $7 million in dead money in 2022.
6) Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins | AAV: $15.1 million
The Miami Dolphins were never letting Xavien Howard out of town after selecting him in the second round in 2016. They extended Howard on a five-year, $75.3 million contract in 2019, the final year of his rookie deal. That extension came off the back of Howard leading the league in interceptions in 2018 with 7. In 2020, he topped that number with 10 and once again led the league.
Howard also impressed in coverage in 2018 and 2020. Across 164 targets, Howard allowed just 85 completions, posting impressive numbers everywhere but touchdowns allowed (9). One element of intrigue for Howard is the lack of protection he has in his contract. The Dolphins could release him after the 2021 NFL season for just $2.8 million in dead money.
The highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL | 2-5
Which CBs make up the top five in terms of the highest-paid at the position?
5) Byron Jones, Miami Dolphins | AAV: $16.5 million
Howard’s partner in crime is Byron Jones, who is a different style of cornerback. While Howard has led the league twice in interceptions, Jones has just 4 in his six-year career. Jones had a strong finish to his Dallas career, with a completion percentage allowed of just marginally above 50% while allowing a total of 5 touchdowns in those final two seasons.
Jones’ first year in Miami was more of a struggle, as he allowed 5 touchdowns and a completion percentage above 60%. If he does not improve in 2021, he could be released ahead of the 2022 season for a dead money cost of just $4.2 million.
4) Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles | AAV: $16.7 million
Darius Slay is another cornerback who brings a lot of good traits to the table. In seven years in Detroit, he had 19 interceptions, including leading the league with 8 in 2017. After allowing just 96 completions on 187 targets in his final two years with the Lions, the Eagles did not hesitate to target him when he was made available.
Philadelphia immediately extended his contract with a three-year, $50.1 million contract to ensure he ranked as the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL at the time. He had some struggles in 2020, with a completion percentage allowed of 76.7%. If he struggles again, the Eagles would have to swallow $15.6 million in dead money if they were to release him.
3) Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills | AAV: $17.3 million
Tre’Davious White briefly took over as the highest-paid CB in the NFL — for all of three days. He signed a four-year, $69 million contract extension in 2020, keeping him in Buffalo until 2025. The deal contains a total of $55.3 million in guarantees, with $36.7 million guaranteed at signing.
White’s numbers speak for themself. He has 15 interceptions in four years, leading the league in interceptions in 2019. In each of the past three years, his completion percentage allowed has been below 57%, and he has allowed just 6 touchdowns in that time.
2) Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens | AAV: $19.5 million
Marlon Humphrey slotted straight in at No. 2 on the list of highest-paid cornerbacks when he signed his five-year, $97.5 million contract. The former first-round pick has somewhat lived in the shadow of his more headline-grabbing partner in Peters.
He has had just 8 interceptions in his career but forced 8 fumbles last season. Humphrey and Peters make for a wonderful combination, ranking third in Pro Football Network’s ranking of cornerback duos entering 2021.
Humphrey is a wonderful player simply because of his willingness to follow a receiver all over the field. He will line up on the outside or in the slot if required. To do that and still perform as one of the best in the league is a huge indicator of just how talented he is.
Who is the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL?
Which CB takes the crown as the highest-paid in the NFL in terms of AAV?
1) Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams | AAV: $20 million
The highest-ranked cornerback on PFN’s Top 25 CBs, Jalen Ramsey, is also the highest-paid CB in the league. Following a trade, the 2016 fifth-overall NFL Draft selection signed a five-year, $100 million contract extension before the start of the 2020 NFL season.
Ramsey had a somewhat down year in 2019, however, allowing a 66% completion rate. Nevertheless, he bounced back to be at his very best in 2020, allowing just a 51% completion rate and 2 touchdowns when targeted.
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