Tom Brady might not be the highest-paid player in the NFL, but he is the highest-paid player in the league when it comes to at least one category: royalties.
Although Brady’s contract makes him one of the most underpaid quarterbacks in the league, you don’t have to worry about him going broke anytime soon, and that’s because he’s pulling in plenty of royalty money.
According to The Athletic, Brady pulled in more royalty money during the 2018 season than any other player in the NFL with a total of $2.35 million, which made him one of just two players in the league who made more than $2 million.
The royalty numbers come from the NFL Players Association and they only take into account endorsements that the NFLPA licenses, such as jerseys, video games, and trading cards (Brady likely made millions more doing endorsements for companies like Aston Martin and UGGs, but those aren’t included in the total since those companies don’t sell NFLPA licensed merchandise).
The fact that Brady pulled in the most royalty income almost seems impossible, and that’s because he’s been in the NFL for 19 seasons. As explained by sports marketing expert Russ Spielman, it made sense for a player like Peyton Manning to do well in the royalty department, because he switched teams during his career, which means Colts fans and Broncos fans were both clamoring for his merchandise. On Brady’s end, you’d think everyone who wants Brady merchandise at this point would already have it.
“[It’s] just truly staggering, because he’s been in the same market, selling the same jersey,” Spielman told The Athletic. “You see, Peyton Manning moves markets when he did, and you understand when his jersey goes to the top of the sales. But for Tom, I mean, how many more Patriot fans are there that don’t own his jersey at this point, but it keeps going. It’s awesome to watch.”
The only other player to crack the $2 million mark in royalties was Dak Prescott, which shows that it definitely pays off to be the starting quarterback for America’s team. Prescott pulled in $2 million exactly. The highest ranked non-quarterback when it comes to royalties was Antonio Brown, who pulled in $1.5 million, which ranked third overall.
As for retired players, Manning could probably just live off of his royalties if he wanted to. The two-time Super Bowl winner led all former players by raking in just over $902,000 in royalties. That number also put Manning ahead of the two highest ranking defensive players on the list: J.J. Watt ($819,958) and Von Miller ($795,412).