As the NFL offseason begins, who are the highest-paid centers in the league? Center is traditionally the lowest-paid position along the offensive line, but salaries have started to creep past $13 million per year. Which pivots have the NFL’s highest annual average value (AAV)?
Who Is the Highest-Paid Center in the NFL?
Frank Ragnow has been the NFL’s highest-paid center for nearly two years after agreeing to a four-year, $54 million extension with the Lions in May 2021 — $13.5 million AAV. Detroit has reaped the benefits of having Ragnow at low cap charges for his entire career, but his cap figure will rise to $16.45 million in 2023.
Next season, Ragnow is due an $11.55 million base salary, $2.55 million of which will fully guarantee on March 17. His cap hit is also comprised of $1.2 million in prorated signing bonus money and $3.6 million in prorated option bonus money. Ragnow can earn $100,000 in workout bonuses annually from 2023 through 2026.
Highest-Paid Centers 2-10
2) Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | AAV: $13 million
Ryan Jensen re-signed with the Buccaneers on the eve of 2022 free agency but subsequently missed the entire regular season with a knee injury before returning for Tampa Bay’s Wild Card loss. He’s under contract for two more seasons with cap charges of $15 million. The Buccaneers inserted two void years (2025 and 2026) into Jensen’s deal to help with signing bonus proration.
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Tampa Bay has already released veteran left tackle Donovan Smith and could be looking at a rebuild. Jensen is unlikely to be released, but he could theoretically be traded. A trade before June 1 would open up $5 million in cap space for the Buccaneers.
3) Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers | AAV: $12.5 million
The Chargers made Corey Linsley the highlight of their 2021 offseason, signing the veteran center to a five-year, $62.5 million extension that featured $17 million in fully guaranteed money. Linsley’s deal is relatively straightforward, comprised solely of base salaries and a signing bonus until 2025, when he’s due a $2.5 million roster bonus.
Linsley dealt with injuries in 2022, but there’s been no indication Los Angeles is planning to release him. If the Bolts cut Linsley after the 2023 campaign, they would take on $5.2 million in dead money while creating $8.9 million in additional cap room.
4) Ryan Kelly, Indianapolis Colts | AAV: $12.413 million
Ryan Kelly has two seasons remaining on the four-year, $49.65 million extension he signed with the Colts in 2020. That deal included more than $25 million in full guarantees and $34 million in injury guarantees.
Kelly doesn’t have any more guaranteed salary left on his contract, but he does have a $1 million roster bonus due in 2023 and 2024. This season, he will earn a $9.125 million base salary and carry a $12.375 million cap charge. In 2024, Kelly’s salary and cap hit will increase by $2.5 million.
5) Erik McCoy, New Orleans Saints | AAV: $12 million
Erik McCoy is the most recently extended center on the list, as he agreed to a new deal with the Saints during the 2022 season. In true New Orleans fashion, the Saints have already restructured his deal to open up more cap space in 2023.
As a result, McCoy’s cap figure for next season sits at just $4.68 million. But because New Orleans moved money from 2023 into future years, his cap charges will rise to north of $13 million from 2024 through 2027.
McCoy is due a $10 million roster bonus on March 19 that is already fully guaranteed. In 2024, his $9.6 million base salary will fully guarantee on the third day of the league year, while his $500,000 roster will become guaranteed two days later.
6) Chase Roullier, Washington Commanders | AAV: $10.125 million
Chase Roullier inked a four-year, $40.5 million extension with Washington in advance of the 2021 campaign that will keep him under contract through 2024. While his cap charges remained under $7 million in each of the past two seasons, they will jump to $12+ million in 2023 and 2024.
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Injuries have held Roullier to just 10 games since he signed that deal, making him a potential candidate for release. The Commanders restructured Roullier’s contract during the 2022 season, adding more dead money in the event of a cut. Still, Washington would clear $4.3 million in cap space by releasing Roullier this offseason and nearly double that if it uses a post-June 1 designation.
7) Rodney Hudson, Arizona Cardinals | AAV: $10 million
Rodney Hudson may not be on this list for long. Recent reports have indicated that the 12-year veteran is ready to retire instead of playing his age-34 season in 2023. Arizona is expected to formally release Hudson in the coming days.
The Cardinals restructured Hudson’s contract in January with an eye toward making him a post-June 1 cut. By dropping his salary to $2.05 million, Arizona can now open up $3.05 million in cap space when they part ways with the veteran center. $2.05 million also represents 2023’s maximum injury protection benefit, which Hudson should be able to claim once he’s released.
8) Mitch Morse, Buffalo Bills | AAV: $9.75 million
Mitch Morse was the NFL’s highest-paid center when he inked a four-year deal to join the Bills in 2019, but he’s since signed an extension that bumped him down the ranks. Morse is now tied to Buffalo through 2024 thanks to the two-year, $19.5 million deal he agreed to last March.
He’ll collect a $1 million roster bonus on March 19. Add in his base salary, prorated signing bonus, a $100,000 workout bonus, and the $200,000 incentive he earned for making the Pro Bowl in 2022, and Morse will count for $11.36 million on the Bills’ 2023 cap. Buffalo could move on next offseason while taking on $3 million in dead money and creating $8.5 million in cap space.
9) Brian Allen, Los Angeles Rams | AAV: $6.012 million
Brian Allen has been the Rams’ starting center since 2019, and Los Angeles re-signed him to a three-year extension in 2022. That deal was worth $18 million and included $6 million in full guarantees. The Rams were able to keep Allen’s 2022 cap number low, but it will reach $6 million in each of the next two seasons.
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Allen’s 2023 base salary ($4 million) is already guaranteed for injury but will become fully guaranteed on March 19. His $1.4 million roster bonus for 2023 is already guaranteed as well. Allen’s contract contains two void years in 2025 and 2026, which helped the Rams spread out his signing bonus money.
10) Ted Karras, Cincinnati Bengals | AAV: $6 million
The Bengals set out to overhaul their offensive line in 2022, and adding Ted Karras as a free agent from the Patriots was a key part of that effort. Cincinnati gave Karras a three-year, $18 million deal that included $5 million guaranteed at signing.
Karras’ guarantee was comprised of a $3 million signing bonus and a 2022 roster bonus, both of which he’s already earned. The Bengals could escape this contract at essentially any time with limited dead cap on their books. But Karras was good enough in his first season in Cincinnati that a release won’t occur this offseason.
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