Who are the highest-paid guards in the NFL in 2023? Which 10 players currently occupy spots on the list, and who sits at the top of a position that has seen its value jump in the last 12 months?
Who Is the Highest-Paid Guard in the NFL?
The Falcons made Chris Lindstrom the NFL’s highest-paid guard just prior to the start of the 2023 free agent period by signing him to a five-year, $105 million extension. That contract will give Lindstrom a $21 million annual salary, $1 million ahead of the Colts’ Quenton Nelson.
Lindstrom will receive $63 million in fully guaranteed money. Nelson collected $60 million in practical guarantees but only $41 million in full guarantees, so Lindstrom’s pact represents a notable step up.
Lindstrom had been set to play the 2023 season on a his fifth-year option, which would have paid him $13.202 million. He’ll now collect significantly more cash for the upcoming season, although Atlanta should be able to keep his cap charge relatively low.
Highest-Paid Guards 2-10
2) Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts: | AAV: $20 million
Nelson had held the highest-paid guard title until Lindstrom reached a new deal with the Falcons. Lindstrom and Nelson are the only two guards earning more than $20 million annually.
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Nelson’s four-year, $80 million contract included $41 million guaranteed at signing, including his $31 million signing bonus and his 2022 and 2023 salaries. While Nelson’s cap figures will stay relatively low through this upcoming season, his charges will skyrocket to an average of $24.1 million from 2024-26.
Nelson’s $19 million salary for 2024 will become fully guaranteed on March 19; it’s already guaranteed for injury. He can collect $2 million in roster bonuses on the fifth day of the league year in 2025 and 2026.
3) Elgton Jenkins, Green Bay Packers | AAV: $17 million
Elgton Jenkins was scheduled to hit free agency in 2023, but the Packers opted to lock him in via a four-year extension, making him the second-highest-paid guard in the NFL. The 27-year-old Jenkins received a $24 million signing bonus, the only guaranteed portion of the contract.
Green Bay doesn’t typically guarantee base salaries, and Jenkins’ contract is no different. Instead, he can earn a $5.1 million roster bonus on the third day of the 2024 league year. Additionally, Jenkins has $500,000 available each year via a workout bonus. He can also collect $600,000 per season in per-game roster bonuses through 2025 and $1 million in 2026.
4) Brandon Scherff, Jacksonville Jaguars | AAV: $16.5 million
After playing through two franchise tags with the Commanders, Brandon Scherff finally hit the open market and became the highest-paid guard who plays primarily on the right side. Jacksonville gave Scherff $49.5 million over three years, including $30 million guaranteed.
Scherff’s cap charge will be $20 million in 2023 unless the Jaguars restructure his contract. The deal is built to be exited after two years, after which Scherff would have earned $33.9 million. Jacksonville would absorb just $5 million in dead cap by cutting Scherff next offseason. If he continues to play at a high level, the Jags would almost certainly extend him rather than accept another $20+ million cap charge in 2025.
T-5) Joe Thuney, Kansas City Chiefs | AAV: $16 million
The Chiefs rebuilt their offensive line in 2021, and Joe Thuney was the crown jewel of those efforts. Thuney was the NFL’s highest-paid guard for a time after Kansas City gave him a five-year contract worth $80 million.
Thuney’s deal contained a $17 million signing bonus, $31.89 million in full guarantees at signing, and a total of $50.89 million in guarantees during the deal. Since then, Thuney’s 2023 base salary ($15 million) has become guaranteed. In 2024 and 2025, $2 million of his base salary for the season will lock in on the third day of the league year.
Thuney currently carries the top 2023 cap hit for guards at $22.12 million. The Chiefs have already restructured his contract, adding money to future seasons and making it more difficult to release him down the line. Kansas City could cut Thuney after the 2024 season — when he’ll be 32 years old — and create $9.4 million in savings.
T-5) Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns | AAV: $16 million
During the 2021 NFL season, Joel Bitonio joined Thuney at the top of the list of highest-paid guards in the NFL. However, Bitonio’s deal was just for three years, with a value of $48 million. The reason for the shorter deal was that Bitonio still had two years of his old contract remaining. As a result, if both play out their deals, they’ll hit free agency at the same time in 2026.
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Bitonio received a $10.5 million signing bonus and $22.102 million fully guaranteed at signing. His 2023 salary of $11 million became guaranteed in March 2022, leaving his cap charge for the upcoming season at $14.6 million.
Bitonio has a void year at the end of his deal, and an artificially low cap hit ($7.9 million) in 2025, so the Browns clearly designed his deal to be restructured. Cleveland has plenty of leeway to shift some current money into future seasons if they so desire.
7) Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns | AAV: $14.2 million
The Browns will spend the seventh-most cap space on offensive linemen in 2023, and much of the money is wrapped up at the guard positions. Like Bitonio, Wyatt Teller is one of the highest-paid guards in the NFL, thanks to the four-year, $56.8 million extension he signed in 2021.
The extension had $16.591 million in full guarantees at signing. His 2023 base salary was guaranteed for injury at signing but has since become fully guaranteed.
Teller’s cap charges will stay relatively stable — between $15.4 million and $17.7 million — over the final three seasons of his contract before a void year in 2026. Cleveland could exit Teller’s contract after this upcoming season and create $6.3 million in cap savings.
8) Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys | AAV: $14 million
Zack Martin is still arguably the best guard in the NFL, so the Cowboys holding onto him at a $14 million salary represents a significant bargain. Although Martin is 32 years old, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, and he remains under contract for the next two seasons.
Dallas had already restructured Martin’s deal several times heading into 2023, and they did so again this offseason. The club needs the cap space, and they already have two void years at the end of Martin’s deal, providing plenty of cushion to move money into the future. His 2023 cap charge now sits at $9.95 million.
9) Laken Tomlinson, New York Jets | AAV: $13.33 million
Laken Tomlinson joined Jenkins and Scherff as another new addition to the top 10 highest-paid guards after signing a free agent contract with the Jets in 2022. He received $40 million over three years, including $23.9 million fully guaranteed.
Tomlinson already has $10 million of his $12.7 million salary for 2023 guaranteed. In March, the Jets restructured his contract and added three void years, lowering his cap charge for the upcoming season to $10.88 million.
If Tomlinson struggles again in 2023, Gang Green can move on next offseason and create $8.14 million in savings while absorbing $10.74 million in dead space.
10) Ben Powers, Denver Broncos | AAV: $13 million
The Broncos were intent on landing offensive line help during the 2023 free agent period, and they did just that by landing former Ravens guard Ben Powers. Denver gave Powers a four-year, $52 million deal that contains $28.5 million guaranteed.
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Powers’ cap charge will be just $5.25 million in 2023 but will rise to $15+ million over the final three seasons of the deal. His 2023 and 2024 base salaries are already guaranteed, while $1.5 million of his 2025 salary will guarantee on the fifth day of that league year. Powers can also earn up to $510,000 in per-game roster bonuses in each year of the contract.