Coaching means more in the NFL than in any other sport, and head coaches are at the top of the food chain. As organizations realize the true value of an elite head coach, salaries are only expected to rise. Who are the highest-paid NFL head coaches heading into the 2024 offseason?
List of Highest-Paid NFL Coaches
While the NFL Players Association and salary cap websites like Over the Cap and Spotrac keep track of player earnings, tracing NFL head coach salaries can often be challenging. Still, reporting from outlets like Sportico and others have gauged what the league’s top head coaches are making.
There is no salary cap for NFL head coaches or their staff. While head coaching salaries are unlikely to keep pace with elite player salaries, coaching pay continues to increase. Let’s run through the top five highest-paid head coaches in the NFL.
1) Sean Payton, Denver Broncos
- 2023 salary: $18 million
The Broncos needed to make a drastic change after their failed Nathaniel Hackett experiment, and shifting to a future Hall of Fame head coach in Sean Payton certainly qualified as drastic. Denver sent a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-rounder to the Saints in exchange for Payton’s rights and a 2024 third-round selection.
In February 2023, NBC Sports’ Peter King reported that Payton’s five-year deal is “in the neighborhood” of $18 million annually. For that payday, the Broncos expect Payton to turn Denver back into a perennial contender.
While the Broncos didn’t make the playoffs this past season, they fought back from a 1-5 start to finish with an 8-9 mark, beating the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and others along the way.
With Russell Wilson likely to be released before the 2024 campaign, Payton will have to start fresh under center.
2) Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
- 2023 salary: $14 million
After becoming a head coach at age 30, Sean McVay became the youngest NFL head coach (37) to win a Super Bowl when the Rams defeated the Bengals in 2022. As of 2024, he’s still the second-youngest head coach in the league; McVay is roughly a month older than first-year New England Patriots HC Jerod Mayo.
Amazon reportedly offered McVay $100 million over five years to serve as a broadcaster after the 2022 campaign, but he chose to stay in Los Angeles — and received a subsequent pay bump. After flirting with an early retirement in past offseasons, McVay has already committed to sticking with the Rams through 2024.
L.A. bounced back from an injury-riddled 2022 season to post nine wins and make the playoffs this year. Although the Rams were eliminated in Round 1, they still exceeded every expectation in 2023.
3) Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
- 2023 salary: $12.5 million
Since taking over as the Steelers’ head coach in 2007, Mike Tomlin has taken Pittsburgh to the postseason 11 times, won seven AFC North titles, and secured one Super Bowl trophy.
He’s famously never posted a record below .500, repeatedly keeping the Steelers in contention until the end of each season. Tomlin may also be the best locker-room communicator in the NFL.
The 51-year-old is believed to have one year remaining on his contract, but Tomlin didn’t want to discuss his deal after Pittsburgh’s Wild Card loss in January 2024. Asked about his future with the Steelers, Tomlin walked away from the podium before the question could even be completed.
T-4) Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
- 2023 salary: $12 million
Andy Reid is arguably the best head coach in the NFL, so the Chiefs are getting a bargain by paying him just $12 million annually.
Reid had plenty of success during his run with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he’s cemented his legacy by developing Patrick Mahomes and winning two Super Bowls in Kansas City. The only head coach to win 100 games with two franchises, Reid will be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame when he calls it quits.
Reid has previously said he’s open to coaching into his 70s. In 2020, Mahomes said Reid told him he plans to be the Chiefs’ head coach for the duration of the quarterback’s recent contract extension, which runs through the 2031 season.
“I haven’t even thought about that. I’m thinking about one thing,” Reid said when asked about retirement in January 2024. “I figured that would come up when you guys were asking these questions because I’m old — but not that old.”
T-4) John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
- 2023 salary: $12 million
John Harbaugh got off to a blazing start after being hired as the Ravens’ head coach in 2008. Baltimore won a playoff game in each of his first five seasons in charge and secured the Lombardi Trophy in 2012.
Harbaugh’s appeared in 19 playoff games since 2008, the second-most of any head coach during that stretch. But he saved his best work for the 2023 campaign.
The Ravens finished with an NFL-best 13-4 record, Lamar Jackson is on track to win MVP, and both of Baltimore’s coordinators are interviewing for head coaching jobs.
The Ravena are the class of the NFL, and Harbaugh is atop the organizational hierarchy.
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