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Who Is the Highest-Career Earning Undrafted NFL Player?

  • Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo was an undrafted free agent in 2003 and earned over $127 million in salary over a 13-year career.
  • Future Hall of Famer Jason Peters highest-earning non-quarterback to go undrafted, with over $119 million over 18 years.
Tony Romo highest career earning undrafted NFL players.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s NFL Draft in Kansas City will result in life-changing money for most draft picks, particularly those selected in the first round.

Last year’s No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker signed a four-year deal worth $37.4 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars. While first-round picks can expect to sign rookie contracts in the range of $10 to 40 million range, that number tends to decrease the lower a player is selected.

For example, last year’s Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy signed a four-year, $3.7 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers before quarterbacking them into the NFC Championship game.

Seventh-round picks will still typically make more than undrafted free agents, who usually sign for around the league minimum of $705,000 per year last season.

Several undrafted NFL players became Hall of Famers, including Warren Moon, who was among the league’s best quarterbacks in the 1980s and 1990s. Moon made about $37 million in career salary earnings, but that wasn’t enough to crack our list of the top-15 highest career contract earnings for undrafted NFL players, given the league’s salary cap growth over the past twenty years. Here’s our top-15 based on contract data from Spotrac.

Top 15 Undrafted Earners

RankPlayerPositionCareer Earnings
1Tony RomoQuarterback$127,422,458
2Jason PetersOffensive tackle$119,174,582
3Shaquil BarrettLinebacker $78,146,611
4Adam ThielenWide receiver $75,131,941
5Antonio GatesTight end $70,956,236
6Chris HarrisCornerback $68,993,414
7Tramon WilliamsCornerback $64,109,192
8Jake DelhommeQuarterback $63,474,061
9Kurt WarnerQuarterback$62,773,000
10Andrew NorwellOffensive guard$62,524,631
11Donald PennOffensive tackle $60,930,737
12Brent GrimesCornerback $60,688,958
13Cameron WakeDefensive end $60,641,875
14Michael BennettDefensive end $60,641,875
15Case KeenumQuarterback $51,934,877

Honorable mentions: Kicker Adam Vinatieri ($51,131,999), Kicker Justin Tucker ($47,573,599), Linebacker Bart Scott ($45,511,500), Linebacker James Harrison ($43,237,583), Quarterback Taysom Hill ($42,670,000), Wide receiver Wes Welker ($40,845,098), Wide receiver Rod Smith ($40,641,100), and Wide receiver Doug Baldwin ($40,069,269).

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