The Average Salary of a NFL Middle Linebacker

Image Credit: Willard/iStock/GettyImages

Football linebackers are critical defensive players who make defensive plays and direct changes and shifts relative to moves made by the offense. According to AZ Central, the highest-paid linebackers average at least ​$10 million​ a year; number one is Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts, who makes ​$20 million​. The San Francisco 49ers' Fred Warner makes ​$20 million​, and The Seattle Seahawks' Bobby Wagner earns ​$18 million​. An NFL linebacker's salary can be considerably lower. However, the wages are based on performance and other factors.

Advertisement

NFL Linebacker Description

Linebackers line up about three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage in the back of the defensive linemen. Their objective is to provide extra pass protection or offer protection based on the defensive play that is being run. The inside or middle linebacker usually gets the defensive play calls and then relays that play to the team. Middle linebackers generally lead their teams in tackles and also cover and spy quarterbacks and blitz.

Video of the Day

Outside linebackers handle outside containment and also blitz quarterbacks. Strongside linebackers call blitzes and usually line up across from the tight end. They are often the strongest linebackers and tackle running backs and fight off blocks. These linebackers also have to cover tight ends in player-on-player situations. Weakside linebackers need to be fast on their feet, as they are frequently called in for pass coverage, and chase plays from the back.

Advertisement

NFL Linebacker Education

Most NFL linebackers grow up playing football in high school and then in college, but not all have college or university degrees. According to the writers for Campus Explorer, about ​50 percent​ of NFL players have them; player rosters are developed by free-agent signings, drafting college players and trades. Players can be drafted after high school but have to be out for at least three years to be eligible for the draft.

Players who want to join the NFL without attending college have less chance of being drafted since many players are scouted at colleges and universities. Another reason to pursue a degree is that a football career typically doesn't last as long as other careers. As players get older, their skills decline, and there is also the risk of becoming injured while young. An NFL linebacker salary is undoubtedly tempting, but a solid education is easier to shoot for. Having a degree is something to fall back on when players can no longer be in the game.

Advertisement

NFL Linebacker Salary and Industry

The writers from Pro Football Focus show that Darius Leonard is indeed the NFL's highest-paid linebacker, with his ​$99.25 million​ five-year contract extension that guarantees him ​$52.5 million​; this will average him ​$20 million​ a year. Fred Warner follows Leonard at ​$19 million​, Bobby Wagner at ​$18 million​, CJ Mosley at ​$17 million​ and Zach Cunningham at ​$14.5 million​. They are amongst the highest-paid NFL players in history.

Advertisement

The top paid running backs in 2020 also have impressive salaries and have extensions that guarantee continued high earnings. At the top is Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers; his contract is valued at ​$64 million​, his average yearly salary is ​$16 million​, and he is guaranteed $36 million. Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys averages ​$15 million​ a year, the same as Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints.

According to Sports Rush, the highest-paid cornerbacks for 2020 include seasoned pros who have excellent track records. Jalen Ramsey of the L.A. Rams averages ​$20 million​ a year, and his contract guarantees him ​$71 million​. Marlon Humphrey from the Baltimore Ravens has a five-year, ​$98.75 million​ contract and Tre'Davious White's agreement with the Buffalo Bills is for four years with a ​$69 million​ guarantee.

Consider also:Sports Insurance Facts

Advertisement

references