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Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Highest-Paid NFL Defensive Coordinators

Todd Bowles
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports/Design: John Regula

The NFL earns billions of dollars annually selling its media rights. As fans in stadiums and subscribers tune in to catch the action, coaches — even assistants and specialist coaches — are becoming household names.

The highest-paid NFL defensive coordinators earn millions to gameplan against the offensive schemes of their opponents.

While assistant coaching salaries are rarely made public, the following compensation data is estimated from a variety of sources.

Vic Fangio tops the list of the highest-paid NFL defensive coordinators. He earns an estimated $4.5 million to coach the Eagles’ defense.

Fangio was hired in May to work in Philadelphia after spending 2023 with the Dolphins. He has coached 10 top 10 defensive units in yards allowed and points allowed in his career. 

Mike Zimmer earns an estimated $4 million to come in second. He now works with the Cowboys after serving as a consultant in 2023 with the University of Colorado. Zimmer returns to Dallas where he won a Super Bowl with them as an assistant in 1996.

Third on the list is Steve Spagnuolo of the Chiefs. He makes a reported $3.5 million coaching the defense of the back-to-back Super Bowl champs. Under Spagnulo’s leadership, Kansas City didn’t allow more than 27 points throughout the regular season and playoffs in 2023-2024.

Todd Bowles of the Buccaneers earns $2.4 million in the fourth spot. He serves in a dual role as the head coach and defensive play-caller in Tampa. Bowles was only the defensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021 before taking over as head coach for the retiring Bruce Arians.

Fifth on the list is Leslie Frazier of the Seahawks. He earns an estimated $2 million annually. Frazier signed with Seattle in February and will enter his 25th year of coaching. He spent six seasons coaching with the Bills before his move to the Seahawks.

Experience pays best for NFL defensive coordinators.

As America’s most popular sport gears towards more offensive output, teams value experience when selecting defensive coordinators. The top three highest-paid NFL defensive coordinators have a combined 46 years of experience coaching defenses.

Ranking The NFL’s Highest-Paid Defensive Coordinators

Here is the entire list of the highest-paid NFL defensive coordinators. The list was compiled using reports and estimated data from NBC Sports and ProFootballNetwork.

  • Updated: June 13, 2024
RankCoachTeamEstimated Compensation
1Vic FangioPhiladelphia Eagles$4.5 million
2Mike ZimmerDallas Cowboys$4 million
3Steve SpagnuoloKansas City Chiefs$3.5 million
4Todd BowlesTampa Bay Buccaneers$2.4 million
5Leslie FrazierSeattle Seahawks$2 million
T-6Ed DonatellMinnesota Vikings$1.8 million
T-6Ejiro EveroCarolina Panthers$1.8 million
8Ryan NielsenJacksonville Jaguars$1.7 million
9Jeff UlbrichNew York Jets$1.6 million
T-10Nick RallisArizona Cardinals$1.5 million
T-10Lou AnarumoCincinnati Bengals$1.5 million
12Patrick GrahamLas Vegas Raiders$1.4 million
13Vance JosephDenver Broncos$1.2 million
14Chris ShulaLos Angeles Rams$1.1 million
T-15Joe WoodsNew Orleans Saints$1 million
T-15Eric WashingtonChicago Bears$1 million
T-15Anthony WeaverMiami Dolphins$1 million

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