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The biggest NFL free agent contracts of all time

Way back in 1996, Rod Tidwell, in the movie "Jerry Maguire" asked his agent to "show him the money." There's isn't a phrase that summarizes NFL free agency better than that.

NFL contracts grow bigger every year, but in 2019 they are absolutely huge. Six free agency contracts in the last two years made our biggest free agent contracts of all time list, including four already from 2019.

Please note that this list is exclusively players who hit the open market. That means record-setting deals for Aaron Donald, Aaron Rodgers and Khalil Mack are exempt. Furthermore, please note that our list is based on guaranteed money.

Now without further ado, here are the most lucrative contracts in NFL history.

 
Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Two years after trading him, the Jets wanted "Revis Island" back...desperately. So they paid him handsomely, taking him away from the Patriots. During the 2015 offseason, the Jets signed Revis to a five-year, $70 million deal with $39 million guaranteed.

 
Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots aren't known for big signings, but this one certainly was huge and paid off tremendously. Since signing Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million deal in 2017, with $40 million being guaranteed, the Patriots have captured two AFC championships and won Super Bowl LIII.

 
Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have made several big free agent signings in recent years, but Jackson helped lay the first foundation for a Jacksonville defense that led the team to the 2018 AFC Championship. In 2016, Jackson signed a six-year, $85.5 million deal with $42 million guaranteed. 

 
Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears
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This contract will turn a decade old next year, but it's still just sitting outside the top 10 for the most lucrative deals in NFL free agency history. That's what happens when a future Hall of Famer reaches free agency during his prime. In 2010, Peppers signed a six-year, $91.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears; $42 million was guaranteed.

 
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Landon Collins, Washington Redskins

Landon Collins, Washington Redskins
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The Washington Redskins know a thing or two about signing free agents. Their latest big deal this week brings in a rival's best defender and a former Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Collins' six-year, $84 million deal, including $44.5 million guaranteed, became official on Wednesday.

 
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Trumaine Johnson, New York Jets

Trumaine Johnson, New York Jets
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After signing Johnson to a massive deal last year, it's hard to believe the Jets still have money in the bank to bring in more big names this offseason. The Jets added Johnson on a five-year, $72.5 million deal last March; $45 million was guaranteed.


 
Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills
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Seven years ago, Williams owned the most lucrative contract for a defensive player in NFL history. The defensive end signed this huge deal following his massive rookie contract after going No. 1 in the 2006 NFL Draft. Williams signed a six-year, $100 million deal, including $49.5 million guaranteed, with the Bills in 2012.

 
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Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars
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A Super Bowl MVP trophy certainly means something in free agency. Nick Foles definitely cashed in this week with a four-year, $88 million deal, which includes $50 million guaranteed. Foles' deal also has incentives. If all of them are hit, he could earn $102 million over the duration of his contract.

 
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Josh Norman, Washington Redskins

Josh Norman, Washington Redskins
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After making the All-Pro team in 2015, the Carolina Panthers placed the franchise tag on Norman. But unable to reach a long-term agreement, the Panthers released him in March 2016, which was well before the tender deadline. Norman didn't stay unemployed for long. Two days later he signed a five-year, $75 million deal, which included $50 million guaranteed, with Washington.

 
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C.J. Mosley, New York Jets

C.J. Mosley, New York Jets
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets lost Anthony Barr at the last moment this week, but they still landed fellow free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley. The four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $85 million contract to move to the Big Apple, with $51 million of his contract being guaranteed.

 
Olivier Vernon, New York Giants
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Like many of the players on this list, Vernon will not finish this deal with the team he signed it with originally. The Giants packaged him as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade to the Cleveland Browns. But three years ago, Vernon became a rich man. He signed a four-year, $85 million deal with $52.5 million guaranteed to join the Giants.

 
Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest contract to date this offseason, Flowers signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Lions; $56 million is guaranteed. See, free agents are more than willing to move to Detroit for the right price.

 
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Timing is everything. Without Manning for the 2011 season, the Indianapolis Colts finished with the worst record in the league and then held the No. 1 pick to draft Andrew Luck. Still, things worked out for Manning. A career-threatening neck injury wasn't enough to deter the Broncos from making him practically a $100 million man. In March 2012, Manning signed a five-year, $96 million deal with $58 million guaranteed. He went on to lead Denver to two AFC championships and the Super Bowl 50 title.

 
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Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins

Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Suh is poised to play for his third team in three years this fall, but at one point he was the most feared defender in the NFL. Following a pair of All-Pro seasons, the Lions elected to let Suh test free agency. He cashed in, becoming the highest-paid defender in the league with a six-year, $114 million deal, which included $60 million guaranteed. Suh hasn't been the same since then, though, and he played only half of that deal in Miami.

 
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings and Cousins made history last year agreeing to the NFL's first fully guaranteed contract. In a league where deals with 100 percent guarantee are avoidable, it's hard to fathom a team wanting to offer that kind of contract, but the Vikings really wanted Cousins. Or they just didn't want Case Keenum. Or Sam Bradford. Or Teddy Bridgewater. Cousins' contract was a three-year deal worth $84 million.

Dave Holcomb began working as a sports writer in 2013 after graduating from Syracuse University. Over the past six years, he has covered the NFL, NHL, MLB, fantasy sports, college football and basketball, and New Jersey high school sports for numerous print and online publications. Follow Holcomb on Twitter at @dmholcomb.

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