Due to the salary cap being introduced in 1994, NFL teams have long had to be careful with the amount that they pay their star players, always needing to keep the big picture of team building in mind.
When it comes to coaches, however, these teams that are often valued in the billions of dollars can go crazy – and they often do – as coach salaries don’t count against the cap.
Just look at Urban Meyer for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had US$50 million left on his five-year deal when booted just 13 games into his first stint as an NFL coach in 2021.
Over the summer, the Denver Broncos opted to pay up a 2023 first and second-round pick to the New Orleans Saints to get Sean Payton – who’d left the team in 2021 – and then gave him a US$18 million per year deal.
The NFL coaching market is the Wild West of professional sports deals in North America, and if a coach reels in the Super Bowl, they can demand tremendous fees. Here’s a look at how much NFL coaches make.
What’s the Average Salary for NFL Coaches?
The average salary for NFL coaches is in the region of US$6.6 million, but there’s quite the gulf between the highest-earning NFL coaches and the lowest-earning, as it stands. That said, the floor is still rather high.
Coming into the 2023 campaign, Kevin Stefanski is reportedly the lowest-paid head coach, having signed a five-year deal in 2020 at US$3.5 million annually, but the highest-paid NFL coach reels in US $20 million per year.
This puts the median average of how much NFL coaches make at US$11.75 million, but most report that the rather exclusive US$10 million-plus cohort of NFL coaches only has nine members coming into the 2023 season.
The average NFL coach salary of US$6.6 million is a fair reflection of how much most make in the league, with the bottom-five earners being at least US$1.6 million shy of that annual salary.
Either way, teams pay their coaches well.
Who is the Highest Paid NFL Coach?
The highest-paid NFL coach is Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. He reels in a mighty $20 million each year, having collected a whole host of NFL records as the man at the helm of the Pats.
That said, the top-earning NFL coach was given reason for optimism in his team’s losing-but-resilient effort against last year’s Super Bowl finalists to open the 2023 season.
The aim is still to get a winning record on the books for the Pats, especially as the AFC East is suddenly stacked with three legitimate playoff hopefuls, like the Buffalo Bills, who’re at +900 in the best sport betting Canada has to offer.
Even with the hefty Sean Payton deal of the 2023 summer, few would have guessed that any other coach was earning more than the coach with a record eight Super Bowl rings.
Payton does land second among the current top-paid NFL coaches at a whopping US$18 million per season, but soon to join the two will almost certainly be Andy Reid.
The Kansas City Chiefs head coach is currently on a US$12 million per year deal that started in 2019 and runs until the end of the 2025 campaign. Since then, he’s added another Super Bowl and is among the favourites to get another this season.
Most impressively, though, is that, on paper, the Chiefs didn’t look to be the best team in the league last season, but Reid certainly made them play like they were.
How Do NFL Coach Salaries Compare to Those in Other Major League Sports?
In 2021, the only major league sports coach who could come close to the upper echelons of NFL coaches was Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, who was bringing in US$11.5 million per season.
This summer, Popovich signed the “richest NBA coaching contract” to earn US$16 million per season as the head coach and president of basketball operations.
He’ll essentially work two jobs and over longer campaigns than NFL coaches. Yet, the massive NBA payday sets him third overall, behind NFL coaches Belichick and Payton of the Pats and Broncos, respectively.
As a new head coach, though, Payton does need to prove himself for Denver. The Broncos lost their first game of the season by one point but are at -110 to beat the Washington Commanders -3.5 on NFL spreads.
After Popovich, it’s a long string of NFL coaches, including Pete Carroll, Sean McVay, Mike Tomlin, Andy Reid, John Hargbaugh, Kyle Shanahan, and Josh McDaniels before we meet Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors at US$9.5 million.
While NFL coaches and teams don’t often disclose details on contracts, it’s fair to assume that fat bonuses are on the table for coaches who land winning records, division wins, postseason wins, and win the Super Bowl.
*Credit for all images in this article belongs to AP Photo*