Highest-Paid Defensive Players of All Time: Chris Jones’ New Contract Places Him Second

Chris Jones and the Chiefs reached agreement on a five-year deal, making Jones one of the highest-paid defensive players in NFL history.

With free agency just days away, teams are scrambling to keep their impending free agents in town. One of the biggest names set to be available was Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones, but Jones will stay in Kansas City after reaching an agreement on a massive deal.

The Super Bowl champion Chiefs and defensive star Jones have agreed to the framework of a five-year contract that includes $95 million guaranteed and keeps the All-Pro defensive tackle off the free agent market.

The deal makes Jones the highest-paid defensive tackle in NFL history, but where does he rank in terms of all defensive players?

Highest-Paid Defensive Players in the NFL

San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa is the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history based on average annual salary.

In September, the 49ers and Nick Bosa have agreed to terms on a five-year, $170 million contract extension with $122.5 million guaranteed, making the All-Pro edge rusher the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

At an average of $34 million annually, Bosa’s contract surpassed Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s deal ($31.6 million) as the most for a defensive player.

Bosa, 26, has 53.5 career sacks across 68 games and has at least 10.5 sacks in each of the past three seasons. He’s just hitting his prime, so it makes sense that he’s the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

Aaron Donald is an eight-time All-Pro first-teamer and has 111 career sacks in 154 games despite being a defensive tackle. The Rams gave Donald a big-time deal after they won Super Bowl 56. He’s in the last year of that three-year pact worth $95 million and has recorded 13 sacks during it.

Jones’ new deal puts him above Donald but below Bosa in terms of highest-paid defensive players based on average annual salary.

T.J. Watt comes in a third with an average annual salary of $27 million. Watt led the NFL in sacks in three of the past four seasons and has 96.5 sacks in 104 career games. He has at least 13 sacks in five of his seven NFL seasons, yet isn’t even the highest-paid player at his position.

With an average annual salary of $27 million, Joey Bosa is the fourth-highest-paid defensive player in the league currently. He played just 14 regular-season games in 2022 and 2023 combined, but he still managed a solid nine sacks in those contests. He hasn’t played a full season since 2019.

Myles Garrett makes $25 million annually, putting him fifth on the list, and has posted double-digit sacks in six consecutive seasons and earned recognition as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year for 2023.

Jones will soon slot in at the second place position in terms of highest-paid defensive players.

KEEP READING: Highest-Paid NFL Players of All Time

A Pro Bowler each of the last five years, Jones has been tabbed as an All-Pro each of the past two seasons. He racked up a career-best 15.5 sacks in 2022 and had 10.5 sacks in 16 games in 2023. Jones has a career stat line of 75.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.

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