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10 Highest-Paid NFL Defensive Players.

The 2018 NFL season will start in less than 10 days, and the last two Defensive Player of the Year award  winners have yet to take the field. Both Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack are holding out as they look to sign contracts that will make them the highest-paid players at their respective positions.

Donald is expected to sign a new contract soon that could pay him an average salary of $22 million per year, according to(https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2018/08/26/rams-aaron-donald-remain-on-verge-of-record-setting-deal/) Pro Football Talk . For Mack and the Raiders, an agreement on a new deal doesn't appear to be in sight.

Von Miller signed a record-setting deal two years ago when he agreed to a six-year, $114 million contract, though he technically isn't among the highest-paid defenders this year because his deal was (https://www.denverpost.com/2018/03/15/von-miller-restructures-contract-lowers-2018-cap-hit/) restructured in the offseason to clear cap space for the Denver Broncos. Ten defensive players have an average yearly salary of at least $12 million, and all of them are defensive ends.

Let's take a look at the defensive players with the 10 highest average salaries in the NFL, per (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/defensive-end/) Spotrac.

1) Ezekiel Ansah, $17.143 million

The Detroit Lions used their franchise tag this offseason to make Ansah the highest-paid defensive player in the league. He's coming off a productive 12-sack season, though the former No.5 overall pick had just two sacks in 2016 and has missed five games in the last two seasons.

1) DeMarcus Lawrence, $17.143 million

Lawrence also received the franchise tag after having the best year of his career. The Dallas Cowboys' defensive end saw his sack total rise from just one in 2016 to 14.5 in 2017, making the first Pro Bowl of his career.

3) Olivier Vernon, $17 million

In his first season after the New York Giants gave Vernon a five-year, $85 million contract, the defensive end recorded 8.5 sacks while putting constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks. His production decreased significantly last year as he missed four games and battled injuries for much of 2017.

4) J.J. Watt, $16.667 million

When the Houston Texans gave Watt a six-year, $100 million contract before the start of the 2014 season, the pass rusher rewarded the team by winning two straight consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards. Injuries have since slowed down one of the most dominant defenders in league history, forcing him to miss 24 games in the last two seasons.

5) Jason Pierre-Paul, $15.5 million

The New York Giants sent Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March, less than a year after the team signed him to a four-year contract. Once an elite pass rusher, the veteran hasn't been the same player since a fireworks incident left him with a deformed hand.

6) Calais Campbell, $15 million

It sure looks like the Jacksonville Jaguars made a smart decision by giving Campbell a four-year, $60 million contract a year and a half ago. He led the AFC with 14.5 sacks and finished second in voting for the 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

7) Everson Griffen, $14.5 million

The Minnesota Vikings locked up Griffen with a four-year deal in the 2017 offseason. He recorded a career-high 13 sacks, making his third straight Pro Bowl.

8) Danielle Hunter, $14.4 million

It should be no surprise that the Vikings are the only team with two players on the list since they had the NFL's No.1 ranked defense last season. Minnesota gave Hunter a five-year, $72 million deal this offseason after he totaled seven sacks as a 23-year-old.

9) Stephon Tuitt, $12 million

After signing a five-year, $60 million contract in 2017, Tuitt was hampered by a torn biceps and recorded just three sacks in 12 games. The defensive end set career highs with 6.5 sacks and 54 tackles in 2015, but he's missed eight games over the last three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

10) Akiem Hicks, $12 million

Hicks posted a career-high 8.5 sacks in 2017 after the Chicago Bears gave him a four-year contract worth $48 million. In two seasons with Chicago, he's totaled more sacks than he did when he played for the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints in the first four years of his career.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Aug 29, 2018
Words:745
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