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    Who Are the Highest-Paid Safeties in the NFL in 2024?

    Who are the highest-paid safeties in the NFL heading into the 2024 season? Contracts are getting more expensive in the defensive backfield.

    The landscape of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL is shifting quickly. As safeties become more critical in today’s two-high world, defensive backs are landing extensions and resetting the top of the market. Who is the highest-paid safety in the NFL, and which other DBs round out the top 10 at the position?

    Who Is the Highest-Paid Safety in the NFL?

    After signing an extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May 2024, Antoine Winfield Jr. is the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Winfield’s four-year pact is worth $84.1 million and contains $45 million in fully guaranteed money.

    His $21.025 million average annual value (AAV) makes Winfield the NFL’s highest-paid defensive back of any kind. His yearly earnings will just surpass the $21 million CB Jaire Alexander collects from the Green Bay Packers.

    The Buccaneers initially used a $17.123 million franchise tag to retain Winfield in March. However, a long-term extension always seems likely for the former second-round draft pick, who earned first-team All-Pro honors after leading the league with six forced fumbles while adding six sacks and three interceptions.

    Tampa Bay had until July 15 to work out a new contract with Winfield. His new four-year pact will supersede his franchise tag, so Winfield is under contract with the Bucs through 2027.

    Highest-Paid Safeties 2-10

    2) Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers | AAV: $19 million

    Derwin James held the title of the NFL’s highest-paid safety for nearly two years after inking an extension with the Los Angeles Chargers in Aug. 2022. James’ deal was a four-year contract worth $76 million with $38.6 million guaranteed, good for a $19 million AAV.

    A portion ($3.4 million) of his 2024 became fully guaranteed in March 2023. Meanwhile, James’ 2023 option bonus ($12 million) will prorate over the life of the deal. He has $3 million roster bonuses due in 2025 and 2026, which will force Los Angeles to decide on his future with the club.

    3) Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers | AAV: $18.247 million

    Minkah Fitzpatrick agreed to a four-year, $72.98 million extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers in June 2022. Fitzpatrick received a $17.5 million signing bonus and $36 million in full guarantees.

    MORE: Predicting the 2024 NFL Playoffs

    Pittsburgh has typically refused to guarantee more than one full year on any contract. However, they’ve now broken that protocol with both Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt. Fitzpatrick’s 2022 base salary was fully guaranteed, as was his $14.5 million salary in 2023. The Steelers restructured his contract in March 2023, so his cap charges will exceed $21 million from 2024-26.

    4) Xavier McKinney, Green Bay Packers: AAV: $16.75 million

    Few teams needed safety help this offseason more than the Packers, who lost three safeties with 600+ snaps in 2023. With that in mind, Green Bay targeted Xavier McKinney on the first day of 2024 free agency, signing the former New York Giant to a four-year deal worth $67 million.

    McKinney received a $23 million signing bonus, his only guaranteed money in the contract. Green Bay is typically reticent to guarantee base salary, and the club didn’t make an exception for McKinney. His cap charge will sit at $7.8 million in 2024 before leaping to $17.6 million next season.

    5) Jessie Bates III, Atlanta Falcons | $16.005 million

    After playing the 2022 campaign on the franchise tag with the Cincinnati Bengals, Jessie Bates III signed a four-year, $64.02 million deal to join the Atlanta Falcons on the first day of the 2023 legal tampering period.

    Bates received $36 million fully guaranteed at signing and $23 million in Year 1 cash. After carrying a $9.5 million cap hit in 2023, Bates’ 2024 cap charge will jump to $17.5 million. Atlanta could restructure his contract and save cap space by converting his $13 million base salary for 2024 into a proratable signing bonus.

    6) Kyle Dugger, New England Patriots | AAV: $14.5 million

    The New England Patriots initially used the rarely-seen transition tag to retain Kyle Dugger this offseason. Dugger became just the sixth NFL player to be transition-tagged over the past decade. He would’ve earned $13.815 million for the 2024 season, but the two sides eventually agreed to a long-term extension in April.

    Dugger’s four-year, $58 million contract included $29.75 million guaranteed at signing. Theoretically, New England could cut Dugger after 2026 and turn this into a two-year, $32 million pact. If he’s still on the Pats’ roster in March 2026, a portion of his base salary for that season will become partially guaranteed.

    7) Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals | AAV: $14.1 million

    Budda Baker is under contract with the Arizona Cardinals through the 2024 campaign under the terms of the four-year, $59 million extension he inked in Aug. 2020. Arizona used a $7.1 million option bonus that was exercised in March 2021.

    Baker requested a trade in April 2023, but the Cards eventually guaranteed his $13.1 million base salary in July to end the contract dispute. He’ll collect $14.2 million in 2024, while his cap charge will exceed $19 million. Baker will enter free agency next offseason as a 29-year-old.

    8) Marcus Williams, Baltimore Ravens | AAV: $14 million

    Marcus Williams played for the New Orleans Saints on the franchise tag in 2021 before landing a five-year, $70 million pact with the Baltimore Ravens in March 2022. He received $32 million fully guaranteed, including his $14.965 million signing bonus and base salaries in 2022 and 2023.

    The rest of Williams’ guarantees are included in a $14.92 million option bonus. That bonus was fully guaranteed, but it wasn’t officially exercised until the beginning of the 2023 league year. At that point, the option bonus was prorated over the rest of Williams’ contract (in the same fashion as a signing bonus).

    T-9) Grant Delpit, Cleveland Browns | AAV: $12 million

    Although he would’ve hit the free agent market just four months later, Grant Delpit inked a three-year, $36 million deal with the Cleveland Browns in Dec. 2023. Delpit, sidelined by a torn Achilles in his 2020 rookie season, missed Cleveland’s final five games in 2023 while dealing with a groin issue.

    KEEP READING: Who Are the NFL’s Highest-Paid Cornerbacks?

    Delpit received just $14.9 million guaranteed at signing, including his $6 million signing bonus, minimal base salaries in 2023 and 2024, and a $4.18 million option bonus. Delpit has more option bonuses in 2025 ($10.065 million) and 2026 ($10.02 million), which will prorate once they hit the Browns’ books.

    T-9) Jalen Thompson, Arizona Cardinals | AAV: $12 million

    Jalen Thompson might be the most anonymous NFL player who ranks among the top 10 highest-paid at his position. A fifth-round pick in the 2019 Supplemental Draft, Thompson became a full-time starter for the Cardinals in 2021 and landed an extension in 2022.

    Thompson’s three-year, $36 million contract ($20.17 million guaranteed) will keep him in Arizona through 2025. He’ll be due a $2 million roster bonus before the 2025 season. Thompson’s contract contains a void year in 2026, so the Cards will take on $4 million in dead cap if they don’t re-sign him at that point.

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