Forbes released their annual list of the the highest-paid athletes in the world earlier this week, and no surprise, Floyd “Money” Mayweather topped the list with annual earnings worth $300 million. What may be surprising to some, however, was that Carson Palmer ranked higher than Peyton Manning on the annual list.
Palmer, ranked No. 27, registered an annual earnings of $29 million. Manning followed five slots later at No. 32 with $27 million.
The real disparity between the two comes in the sources of revenue from which they derive their earnings.
Manning netted a very balanced $15 million in salary with $12 million in endorsements. Palmer, on the other hand, earned just $500,000 in endorsements while netting a hefty $28.5 million salary.
Palmer signed a three-year $45 million extension with the Cardinals last November – just two days before a torn ACL ended his season – which included $19.5 million in bonuses over the first four months of the contract.
Manning restructured his contract with the Broncos in 2013 and received a $10 million restructure bonus, putting his net football income at $25 million that year and decreasing his salary in the following years.
Both Manning and Palmer ranked behind Ben Roethlisberger who was the highest-ranked NFL player at No. 11 with earnings of $48.9 million.
Manning’s ranking was down from 2014, despite his earnings being relatively static. He ranked No. 26 in 2014 at $27.1 million total earnings.
Quarterbacks, in general, are slipping in the rankings in recent years, even when earnings were higher. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers ranked 5th and 6th, respectively in 2013 with combined earnings of $100 million. Tom Brady and Joe Flacco ranked 11th and 13th, respectively that same year. Manning was No. 19, despite earning his high of $30 million that year.
Manning’s most-lucrative year (at least salary-wise) came in 2004 when he received a $34 million signing bonus on top of a $535,000 salary from the Colts, according to sportrac.com.
Clearly, the annual Forbes ranking can be skewed by salary bonuses and the timing of contracts.
With Manning officially in the twilight of his career, it’s clear that his long-term income potential is going to be strong in the endorsement business. Peyton can sling dough (literally and figuratively) with the best of them.
So while Palmer may have bested Manning in 2015, he will likely need to win a few more playoff games (he’s currently 0-2) and a league MVP or two before he can hope to match Peyton’s long-term earnings.