- Minkah Fitzpatrick is the only $20-million safety.
- Two Seahawks' safeties are in the top five.
- Harrison Smith's dead cap hits are declining.
NFL safeties have never ranked among the highest-paid NFL players. And barring a mega deal just before or during the 2022 season, that’ll continue for another year.
It took the largest contract for a safety in NFL history to push just one player, Minkah Fitzpatrick, into the top 40 highest-paid NFL players. And while more safeties than ever will make at least $15 million in 2022, the high-end safety salaries still rank worst among all defensive position groups.
By total cash, here are the highest-paid NFL safeties for 2022:
Highest-Paid NFL Safeties: Salary Rankings, 2022
|1||Minkah Fitzpatrick||Steelers||$22.1 million|
|2||Marcus Williams||Ravns||$16 million|
|3||Justin Simmons||Broncos||$15.1 million|
|4||Jamal Adams||Seahawks||$14.4 million|
|5||Quandre Diggs||Seahawks||$14 million|
|6||Jessie Bates III||Bengals||$12.9 million|
|7||Kevin Byard||Titans||$12.5 million|
|8||Justin Reid||Chiefs||$11.6 million|
|9||Harrison Smith||Vikings||$11.5 million|
|10||Eddie Jackson||Bears||$11.1 million|
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers
Approximately half of Minkah Fitzpatrick’s four-year, $73.6-million extension – signed in June 2022 – is guaranteed. He’s scheduled to earn at least $14.5 million in cash annual from 2023-26.
Fitzpatrick’s teammate T.J. Watt is the second-highest-paid NFL linebacker for 2022.
Minkah Fitzpatrick career earnings: $16,447,771
2. Marcus Williams, Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Williams won big in free agency after five years with the New Orleans Saints. The former second-round pick signed a five-year, $70-million deal with the Ravens that pays him at least $12 million annually through 2026.
Marcus Williams career earnings: $16,852,439
3. Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
Justin Simmons made a total of $4.7 million in his first four NFL seasons (2016-19). He earned $28.5 million in the last two seasons and is scheduled to earn another $44 million over the next three seasons on his current four-year, $61-million deal.
Justin Simmons career earnings: $33,202,947
4. Jamal Adams, Seattle Seahawks
Three weeks before the 2021 season, Jamal Adams signed a four-year, $70.6-million extension that included $38 million in guarantees. His base salary is just $2 million in 2022 before jumping to $11 million in 2023, $16.5 million in 2024, and $17.5 million in 2025.
Jamal Adams career earnings: $43,348,738
5. Quandre Diggs, Seattle Seahawks
Quandre Diggs has gone from a sixth-round pick with a mid-six-figure average annual salary over his first three seasons to one of the highest-paid safeties in the league.
His current three-year, $39-million contract includes cash numbers of $14 million in 2022, $14 million in 2023, and $11 million in 2024.
Quandre Diggs career earnings: $23,575,237
6. Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals
Jessie Bates III is scheduled to earn $12.9 million in 2022 . . . if he plays in 2022.
As of early August, the fifth-year safety hasn’t signed his franchise tag and doesn’t intend to report to training camp until a long-term deal is signed.
Jessie Bates III career earnings: $6,854,902
7. Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans
Kevin Byard is in the third year of a five-year, $70.5-million contract that’ll pay him $12.5 million in 2022 and $14.1 million in both 2023 and 2024. His dead cap number doesn’t drop below $10 million until 2024, the final year of the contract.
Kevin Byard career earnings: $35,008,847
8. Justin Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs landed Justin Reid in 2022 free agency with a three-year, $31.5-million contract that included a $10.5-million signing bonus, which accounts for nearly all of his total cash ($11.6 million) in the first year of the deal.
Reid is the only player on this list playing for a team in the top five of preseason Super Bowl odds at the online sportsbook.
Justin Reid career earnings: $6,219,449
9. Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings
At 33 years old, Harrison Smith is in the first year of a four-year, $64-million that includes just $26.4 million guaranteed and has modest dead salary cap hits in 2024 ($7.8 million) and 2025 ($3.9 million).
Smith’s teammate Kirk Cousins is one of the highest-paid NFL quarterbacks.
Harrison Smith career earnings: $68,018,489
10. Eddie Jackson, Chicago Bears
Eddie Jackson’s base salary was just $1 million in 2021, the first year of a four-year, $58.4-million contract signed before the 2020 season. His base salary is $11 million in 2022.
Eddie Jackson career earnings: $25,329,175
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