#1 Peyton Manning ($18,000,000)
Peyton Manning was not just the biggest name in the 2012 free agency period this year, he was easily the biggest free agent of this decade. So you'd better bet anyone who wanted to land this 4 time NFL MVP was going to pay top dollar for his services. That team was the Denver Broncos dishing out a whopping $96 million for 5 years. What they receive in return is an 11 time pro bowl quarterback who will immediately lift and offense that most talked about because of Tim Tebow but really wasn't that productive in 2011.
#2 Drew Brees($15,760,000)
Although Drew Brees is holding out for a new contract, his current contract, which is in its final year, has Brees as the second highest earning player this year. Brees is coming of a historic season where he shattered several passing records, two most notably being Dan Fouts' record of averaging 320 yards passing per game, and Dan Marino's record for most passing yards in one season (5,084). With Bounty gate hitting the New Orleans Saints pretty tough this season, Drew Brees is all the Saints have left, so making him happy should be their top priority.
#3 Dwight Freeny ($14,035,000)
Like Brees, Defensive End Dwight Freeny is entering the final year of his contract which will cost the Indianapolis Colts a little over 14 million dollars. While no one knows what the future may hold for this crafty veteran who just turned 32, one thing we all know is he has been the heart and soul of that Colt defense. Even though he is getting up there in age, it would be tough for the Colts to let their leader walk after this season.
#4 Elvis Dumervil ($14,000,000)
During the 2011 season, all the talk with the Denver Broncos was about Tim Tebow's amazing come from behind victories. What most NFL experts knew was even though Tebow was getting all the publicity, there was a unit on the defensive side of the ball that was keeping its team in the game by shutting down opposing offenses and keeping the game within reach. Elvis Dumervil played a vital role in that success. While most view it as a step back from his remarkable 2009 season in which he was rewarded a six-year $61.5 million contract extension, Dumervil is a staple to one of the league’s best defenses.
#5 Michael Vick ($12,000,000)
In 2009 Michael Vick was released from Jail for his involvement in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring. At that point in his life he found himself out of a job and over 20+ million dollars in debt. Looking for anyone to give him a chance to redeem himself in professional football, the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a 1 year 1.6 million dollar contract. He would go on to wow teams and fans alike making the Eagles one of the hottest teams in the NFC. The Eagles would eventually sign him to a long term contract of 6 years 100 million dollars which should surely help pay off all his debt.