Meet the NFL's highest-paid players, now including Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow

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Well, that didn’t take long.

A few days after Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes said the team was focused on finishing off a contract extension with center Frank Ragnow — the team’s top pick in 2018, at No. 20 overall — the two sides agreed on a four-year deal Thursday that will make Ragnow the highest-paid center in the NFL, at $13.5 million per year. That's a lot of fish tacos!

Here’s a look at the other top-paid players, by average annual value (according to spotrac.com) at every position:

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Offense

QB: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs, $45 million

Patrick Mahomes was on the run all night in the Super Bowl in February, a 31-9 shellacking vs. the Bucs.
Patrick Mahomes was on the run all night in the Super Bowl in February, a 31-9 shellacking vs. the Bucs.

The 2018 MVP, and MVP of the Chiefs’ victory in Super Bowl 53 to end the 2019 season, but what has he done lately? Oh, passed for 4,740 yards, 38 touchdowns and six interceptions over 15 games in 2020 after signing a 10-year contract extension in July.

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RB: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers, $16 million

McCaffrey parlayed a 2019 season in which he led Carolina in yards rushing (1,387) AND receiving (1,005) into a four-year extension, signed in April 2020. The first season of that contract didn’t work out as planned, as injuries limited the former Stanford star to three games and 374 yards from scrimmage. Sorry, fantasy owners.

FB: Kyle Juszczyk, 49ers, $5.4 million

The 130th overall pick in the 2013 draft (by the Ravens) earned a five-year extension in San Francisco in March 2021, a reward for the Niners finishing 15th in rushing yards (1,889) despite no one back topping 600 yards.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals, $27.25 million

Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

The Cardinals gave Hopkins a two-year deal a few months after liberating him from the Texans via trade and a few days before the start of the 2020 season. He paid them back handsomely with 115 catches for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns en route to his fifth Pro Bowl nod.

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TE: George Kittle, 49ers, $15 million

After 216 catches for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns over 37 games in his first three seasons, Kittle hauled in a five-year extension in August 2020. His 2020 season wasn’t as productive, however, as injuries limited him to eight games, 48 catches, 634 yards receiving and two touchdowns in 2020.

LT: Trent Williams, 49ers, $23 million

Williams made the Pro Bowl in the final seven seasons of his nine spent in Washington, then forced his way out and was dealt to San Francisco for a pair of draft picks. He made the Pro Bowl again with the Niners in 2020, then got a six-year extension in March 2021.

RT: Lane Johnson, Eagles, $18 million

Talk about Thanksgiving leftovers: Johnson signed a four-year extension on Nov. 29, 2019, in the middle of his third consecutive Pro Bowl season. The 2013 No. 4 overall pick missed the final three games of that season with an ankle injury, as well as nine games to end 2020 after reinjuring the ankle and requiring surgery.

C: Frank Ragnow, Lions, $13.5 million

Frank Ragnow.
Frank Ragnow.

Ragnow’s four-year deal comes after playing 93.7% of the Lions’ offensive snaps over 45 games in three seasons, including several games in 2020 in which he played with, ahem, a broken throat.

G: Brandon Scherff, Washington, $18 million

Scherff has four Pro Bowl berths in six seasons with Washington – despite missing 16 of 48 games over the past three seasons – and was franchised in March for the second consecutive season after getting his first All-Pro nod for the 2020 season. Washington has until July 15 to sign Scherff to a long-term deal; a third straight franchise tag would be prohibitively expensive.

Defense

DE: Joey Bosa, Chargers, $27 million

Bosa held out until late August 2016 on his rookie deal; there was no such delay on his first extension, as the Chargers locked him up for another five years in July 2020 after he produced 40 sacks in 51 games over his first four seasons. Last season — the last of his rookie contract — he produced 7.5 sacks in 12 games.

DT: Aaron Donald, Rams, $22.5 million

“Eric Ebron instead of Aaron Donald” has been brought up so much in Detroit, you almost forget how dominant Donald has been: Seven Pro Bowls, six All-Pro nods, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, ’18 AND ’20 and a spot on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-2010s Team. The Rams didn’t forget, though, giving Donald a six-year extension in August 2018, which wraps up after the 2024 season.

OLB: Khalil Mack, Bears, $23.5 million

The Bears locked up Mack for an extra six seasons soon after acquiring him from the Raiders in September 2018. Since then, he has averaged 10 sacks a season, with three Pro Bowl berths and an All-Pro nod in 2018.

ILB: Bobby Wagner, Seahawks, $18 million

Bobby Wagner.
Bobby Wagner.

Wagner is on his second big-money deal with the Seahawks, signing a four-year extension in 2015 and a three-year one in 2019. Hard to argue he hasn’t been worth it, with a seven-year stretch with seven consecutive Pro Bowl berths, five consecutive All-Pro nods and at least 133 tackles every year.

CB: Jalen Ramsey, Rams, $20 million

Ramsey was already among the NFL’s top corners – albeit one producing poorly with the Jaguars – when he essentially forced a midseason trade to the Rams in 2019. A nine-game run in L.A. convinced the Rams to hand out a five-year extension just before the start of the 2020 season; he responded with a spot on the Pro Bowl squad, the All-NFL team and a 68.1 passer rating on 71 throws his way in 15 games.

FS: Justin Simmons, Broncos, $15.25 million

After franchising Simmons at $11.4 million for the 2020 season and getting a Pro Bowl season, the Broncos tried to franchise him again at $13.73 million before striking a four-year extension in March 2021. The 27-year-old had 96 tackles in 2020 and picked off a career-high five passes on 54 targets.

SS: Landon Collins, Washington, $14 million

Rams receiver Robert Woods scores a touchdown past Washington's Landon Collins in 2020.
Rams receiver Robert Woods scores a touchdown past Washington's Landon Collins in 2020.

After a rookie season spent at free safety, Collins moved back to strong safety in 2016 and made the All-Pro team and three straight Pro Bowls, despite a shoulder injury that limited him to 12 games in 2018. The Giants opted not to franchise him and he signed a six-year deal with Washington before the 2019 season. His play there has been less than stellar, even before a torn Achilles ended his 2020 after seven games.

Special teams

K: Justin Tucker, Ravens, $5 million

No kicker in NFL history has been more accurate on field goals than Tucker’s career mark of 90.7%. He also has four Pro Bowl berths, four All-Pro nods and the kicker spot on the Hall of Fame’s All-2010s team. His four-year extension in April 2019, which came with one year remaining on a four-year, $16.8 million deal signed in 2016, shows the Ravens value peace of mind more than savings at kicker.

P: Johnny Hekker, Rams, $3.76 million

His passer rating on fake punts isn’t as good as you might think — 82.4 on 22 attempts — but the Rams are likely happy with their five-year investment in their four-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro punter, especially considering his career 46.9 yards per punt is No. 2 in NFL history.

LS: Seven tied at $1.212 million

How do you become the league’s best-paid long-snapper? One year at a time, mostly: Take Cincinnati’s Clark Harris, who was drafted by the Texans in 2007 and has signed a series of one- and two-year contracts since a five-year deal in 2013 ran its course. Longtime Lions LS Don Muhlbach, who has a seemingly perpetual one-year deal in Detroit, is ninth overall at $1.175 million, but No. 1 in long-snapper career earnings (about $530,000 ahead of Harris).

Contact Ryan Ford at rford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @theford.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions' Frank Ragnow's new club: The NFL's highest-paid players