Highest Paid NFL Coaches: Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll

Highest Paid NFL Coaches: Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll
Image © Brad Mills / USA TODAY Sports
✍️ Written by
Alicia Butler
🗓 Updated
Aug 23rd 2023

Head NFL coaches are some of the highest-paid coaches in American sports. 

Last week, Sportico released its list of highest-paid NFL coaches, naming the 25 coaches that make more than $8 million per season. And guess who topped that list?

It’s no surprise the highest-paid NFL coaches of the 2021 season were Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll.

Why are NFL coaches paid so much?

The amount of money paid to professional coaches is generally related to how much money the sport makes in general.

NFL teams receive higher TV revenue deals simply because more people watch NFL games than other major league sports games. Yet, that doesn’t mean that other sports don’t come close to NFL Nielsen rankings, either. It’s simply a little harder to track MLB ratings since MLB is broadcast locally.

But NFL teams simply generate more money from TV sponsorships than the NBA and MLB.

The NHL makes even less money through TV sponsorships than MLB, and MLS generates the least amount of revenue.

All of this translates into better pay for the coaches and players involved.

Do NFL Players make more money, too?

The crazy thing is that it’s only NFL coaches that make more money on average than other major sports teams.

You’d expect NFL players to make more (especially since football is by far more dangerous of a sport than basketball and baseball and carries more risk of physical harm). But that is simply not the case.

NBA players dominate salaries, making on average $8.32 million per season. MLB players follow that lead, making on average $4.03 million per season, and NFL salaries come in last in the top three, with players only making $3.26 million per season.

Highest Paid NFL Coaches: Bill Belichick & Pete Carroll

Is it any surprise that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick tops off this list of highest-paid NFL coaches? The New England Patriots have played in eight Super Bowls and won six Vince Lombardi Trophies.

While the second-highest-paid coach on the list, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks has only taken his team to two Super Bowl games, winning only one — though he’s only been with the Seahawks since 2010.

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots: $18 million

We’re not surprised that New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick is the highest-paid coach in the NFL, were you?

Belichick makes a whopping $18 million per season. He has led the Patriots to the Super Bowl eight times and has sealed six Super Bowl winnings for the team. He’s currently the head coach and general manager of the Patriots, and Belichick has been with the Patriots since 2000.

Before his run with the Patriots, Belichick was with the Cleveland Browns for four years as head coach. He started his career with the New York Giants as an assistant coach to head coach Bill Parcells.

He was head coach of the New York Jets for a whopping one day.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks: $14 million

The second-highest-paid NFL coach is Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle isn’t a city that is known for dominating in sports.

The Seattle Mariners have never won a World Series (though they were home to beloved outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who is now with the New York Yankees, from 2001 to 2012). The Seattle Sonics haven’t won an NBA Championship since 1979.

But the Seahawks have thrived under Pete Carroll’s leadership.

Before joining the Seahawks in 2011, Carroll was the head coach of the USC Trojans for nine years and was a defensive coach and defensive coordinator for teams such as the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings.

We could guess that Seattle doesn’t want to backslide and intends to keep the Seahawks in Super Bowl runnings for years to come.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints: $14 million

Another one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL is Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Sants.

Payton’s $14 million is probably thanks to his experience with teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys.

Payton was assistant head coach, quarterbacks coach, and passing game coordinator with the Cowboys; quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the New York Giants; and quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The New Orleans Saints won the 2010 Super Bowl, thanks in part to Payton’s coaching throughout the 2009 season.

Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs: $12 million

Andrew Walter Reid is no stranger to coaching in the NFL. This coach certainly deserves his hefty annual salary of $12 million.

He was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for a whopping 13 years — from 1999 to 2012. Before his 13-year stint with the Eagles, Reid was an offensive assistant for the Green Bay Packers for six years.

He won one Super Bowl with the Packers and he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl once and to the NFC Championship Games four times in a row (though he never won a Super Bowl with the Eagles).

Reid is currently the head coach of the Kansas City Cheifs.

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers: $11.5 million

The head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin rounds out this list in the fifth spot, raking in a total of $11.5 annually.

Tomlin’s coaching career started in 1995 as a college university football assistant coach. He coached at the Virginia Military Institute, the University of Tennessee, the University of Memphis, and Arkansas State University — prestigious football colleges. He finished out his college football coaching stint at the University of Cincinnati before making his way to the NFL.

Tomlin entered the NFL as a defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He was the defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings before being hired as head coach for the Steelers.

With the Steelers, he has one Super Bowl win and two appearances.

Highest-Paid Coaches in US Sports

In other sports (yes, there are sports other than football!), some of the other highest-paid in U.S. sports include NBA coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr. But we can’t stop talking about football for long when it comes to coaches with million-dollar salaries.

After two NBA coaches, we’re back to football — except this time, we’re talking about college football. That’s right, there are several college football coaches that make more than major league hockey and baseball coaches.

What can we say? Americans love football!

NBA Highest-Paid Coaches

In the NBA, the two highest-paid coaches are San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr. While Popovich breaks the $10 million mark, Kerr is just shy of it. Oh well, at least they still make more than MLB and NHL coaches, right?

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs: $11.5 million

Gregg Popovich is the highest-paid coach in basketball right now. He makes $11.5 annually, and we’d have to say he deserves it. He’s been coaching basketball for decades on the professional, college, and national levels.

He is the president and head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. He was also the head coach of the U.S. national team in 2019 and 2021. He was also the head coach of Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens from 1979 to 1988.

Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors: $9.5 million

Just behind Gregg Popovich stands Steve Kerr as the second-highest-paid coach in the NBA. Kerr makes a whopping $9.5 million a year.

Born in Beruit, Lebanon, Kerr is the head coach of the Golden State Warriors and is an eight-time NBA champion. He previously coached the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs. He won five consecutive NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors.

In the 2015-16 season, he won 73 games, breaking the previous record held by the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls (also won by Kerr).

College Sports

Some of these highest-paid college football coaches still rake in more money than the highest-paid NBA coaches. Again, football reigns supreme in both TV ratings and coach salaries in the U.S.

The three college coaches that bring in the most money include football coach Nick Saban and basketball coach John Calipari.

Nick Saban, University of Alabama (Football): $10.7 million

70-year-old Nick Saban is the head coach of the University of Alabama, who makes $10.7 million a year. He has won seven national titles in his position as head coach of various college teams — which is the college football record.

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M (Football): $9.5 million

Jimbo Fisher, head coach at Texas A&M, ties with Steve Kerr for highest-paid college sports coaches.

Before Fisher was at A&M, he was the head coach at Florida State.

John Calipari, University of Kentucky (Basketball): $8.1 million 

Another highly paid college basketball coach is John Calipari, head coach of the University of Kentucky’s basketball team. He won the NCAA Championship in 2012 and was named Naismith College Coach of the Year not once — but three times.

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