The Big Payday: Top 10 Highest Paid NFL Tight Ends 

John Rizzo

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Top 10 Highest-Paid NFL Tight Ends

In the dynamic world of professional football, player contracts reflect the value and impact athletes bring to the field. 

This blog post delves into the financial landscape of the NFL, specifically focusing on the Top 10 Highest Paid NFL Tight Ends. 

From seasoned veterans to rising stars, we explore the salaries that underscore the importance of these versatile players. 

This analysis sheds light on the negotiation dynamics, the influence of on-field performance, and the strategic decisions teams make to secure top talent. 

Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or someone intrigued by the business side of the game, join us as we uncover the financial playbook of the NFL’s elite tight ends. 

Who Is the NFL Tight End?

The title of the best NFL tight end is subjective and can vary based on personal opinions and the specific criteria used for evaluation. 

George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs are often considered among the top contenders. 

Kittle is renowned for his exceptional blocking and receiving skills, while Kelce’s route-running, agility, and consistency have made him a vital asset for the Chiefs. 

Other notable names include Darren Waller of the New York Giants and Zach Ertz of the Arizona Cardinals, each known for their versatility and impact in the passing game. 

The title of the best tight end is continually debated, shaped by individual preferences and on-field performances.

Responsibilities of the NFL Tight Ends

NFL tight ends play a multifaceted role in the game’s passing and running aspects. Their responsibilities include:

Receiving Threat

Tight ends must run precise routes to create separation from defenders and become viable targets for quarterbacks. Tight ends are expected to catch passes reliably, contributing to the team’s passing game.


Tight ends are often involved in run blocking, creating lanes for running backs, and providing additional protection for quarterbacks in play-action situations.

In certain situations, tight ends may be required to assist offensive linemen in pass protection, especially against blitzing defenders.


Tight ends can line up in various positions, including in-line next to the offensive tackle, in the slot, or split out wide, providing offensive flexibility. Successful tight ends need to be versatile athletes, capable of both blocking and receiving effectively.

Red Zone Target

Tight ends are often prime targets in the red zone due to their size and catching ability, providing an additional scoring threat close to the end zone.

Red Zone Target

Tight ends with good athleticism and can gain significant yardage after catching the ball, turning short passes into more extensive gains.

Yardage After Catch (YAC)

Tight ends must be adept at reading defensive coverages to find open spaces in zones or exploit mismatches in man-to-man coverage.

Leadership and Communication

Tight ends, especially veterans, often provide leadership in the locker room and on the field. They need to communicate effectively with quarterbacks and offensive linemen to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding blocking assignments and routes.

The modern NFL tight end is a hybrid player, blending the skills of a receiver with the physicality and blocking ability of a traditional tight end. 

Their versatility makes them crucial assets for offensive coordinators in designing diverse and unpredictable offensive strategies.

Top 10 Highest-Paid NFL Tight Ends

Here are the ten highest-paid NFL Tight Ends of all time. Please check out all necessary information about these players right below.

1. T.J. Hockenson

T.J. Hockenson

  • Salary: $19.39 million
  • Team: Minnesota Vikings

T.J. Hockenson, a formidable tight end for the Minnesota Vikings, has proven his worth with stellar performances on the field. 

Known for his exceptional catching ability and athleticism, Hockenson is a reliable target in both short-yardage and red-zone situations. 

His versatility makes him a valuable asset to the Vikings’ offensive strategy. The substantial salary reflects not only his current impact but also the high expectations for his future contributions. 

As a key component in the team’s passing game, Hockenson’s rapport with the quarterback and ability to create mismatches against defenders make him a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.

2. Evan Engram

Evan Engram

  • Salary: $15 million
  • Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Evan Engram, now donning the teal and black of the Jacksonville Jaguars, brings a dynamic skill set to the tight end position. Known for his speed and agility, Engram poses a constant threat as a downfield receiver, capable of stretching defenses. 

His $15 million salary reflects the Jaguars’ investment in an explosive playmaker who can create mismatches against linebackers and safeties. 

Engram’s ability to contribute in various offensive schemes and his reliable hands make him an integral part of Jacksonville’s passing attack. 

Engram’s impact on the field is expected to be a key factor in the team’s offensive success as he continues to develop in the Jaguars’ system.

3. Dallas Goedert

Dallas Goedert

  • Salary: $14.25 million
  • Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Goedert, a prominent figure in the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster, has established himself as a reliable and productive tight end. 

With a salary of $14.25 million, the Eagles have invested in Goedert’s ability to make crucial receptions and contribute as a blocker in both the running and passing game. 

His physical style of play and knack for gaining yards after the catch make him a valuable asset for the Eagles’ offense. 

Goedert’s chemistry with the quarterback and understanding of defensive coverages allow him to find open spaces, creating opportunities for explosive plays. 

As he continues to evolve as a tight end, Goedert’s impact on the Eagles’ success remains pivotal in the competitive landscape of the NFL.

4. Cole Kmet

Cole Kmet

  • Salary: $12.99 million
  • Team: Chicago Bears

Cole Kmet, a talented tight end for the Chicago Bears, has quickly become a pivotal player in the team’s offensive scheme. 

Known for his excellent route running, reliable hands, and ability to make crucial catches in tight coverage, Kmet has emerged as a go-to target for the Bears’ quarterbacks. 

With a promising blend of size and athleticism, he poses matchup challenges for opposing defenses. Kmet’s versatility enables him to contribute both as a receiver and a blocker, adding value to the team’s overall strategy. 

As he continues to develop his skills, the Bears look to him as a key component in their offensive game plan, making him a player to watch in the evolving landscape of NFL tight ends.

5. Dawson Knox

Dawson Knox

  • Salary: $12.54 million
  • Team: Buffalo Bills

Dawson Knox, a dynamic tight end for the Buffalo Bills, has carved out a significant role in the team’s high-powered offense. His athleticism, speed, and reliable hands make him a dangerous weapon in the passing game. 

Knox’s ability to stretch the field and create mismatches against defenders has been a key asset for the Bills, particularly in critical situations.

Knox has showcased his playmaking abilities as a red zone threat and a dependable target for quarterback Josh Allen

His development remains a focal point for the Bills’ offensive strategy, as they aim to maximize his impact and exploit matchups against opposing defenses. 

With each season, Knox’s presence becomes increasingly vital to the success of the Bills’ passing attack.

6. David Njoku

David Njoku

  • Salary: $12.5 million
  • Team: Cleveland Browns

David Njoku, a talented tight end for the Cleveland Browns, brings a unique blend of size, speed, and athleticism to the team’s offensive arsenal. 

Known for his ability to create mismatches against defenders and make contested catches, Njoku adds a dynamic element to the Browns’ passing game. 

As a reliable target in critical situations, he has become a trusted option for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Njoku’s versatility also extends to his blocking skills, contributing to the team’s ground game. 

Each season, he continues refining his craft, evolving into a well-rounded tight end. 

The Browns look to leverage Njoku’s skill set to enhance their offensive efficiency and create challenges for opposing defenses, making him a key asset in their pursuit of success.

7. Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce

  • Salary: $12.25 million
  • Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Travis Kelce, an elite tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, is widely regarded as one of the best in the league at his position. 

Known for his exceptional route running, reliable hands, and ability to make big plays in crucial moments, Kelce has been a linchpin in the Chiefs’ high-powered offense. 

His chemistry with quarterback Patrick Mahomes is key to the team’s success, as they consistently connect for game-changing plays. 

Kelce’s football IQ and understanding of defensive schemes make him a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. Beyond his contributions as a receiver, he also plays a crucial role as a blocker, adding value to the Chiefs’ rushing attack. 

As a perennial Pro Bowler and playmaker, Kelce’s impact extends far beyond the stat sheet, solidifying his status as a cornerstone of the Chiefs’ offensive juggernaut.

8. George Kittle

George Kittle

  • Salary: $12.25M
  • Team: San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle, a dynamic tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, is known for his exceptional blocking and receiving skills. His tenacity on the field and ability to make crucial catches have made him a pivotal player for the 49ers. 

Kittle’s impact extends beyond statistics, as he brings unmatched energy and leadership to the team. His impressive yards after catch (YAC) highlight his agility and strength, making him a nightmare for defenders. 

Kittle’s combination of speed, athleticism, and football IQ places him among the elite tight ends in the NFL, justifying his position as one of the highest-paid at his position.

9. Darren Waller

Darren Waller

  • Salary: $11.87M
  • Team: New York Giants

Now, with the New York Giants, Darren Waller has risen to prominence as a versatile and dynamic tight end. His journey from a wide receiver to a standout tight end showcases his adaptability and athleticism. 

Waller is a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses, utilizing his size, speed, and exceptional route-running to create opportunities in the passing game. 

With reliable hands and a knack for making big plays, Waller has become a crucial asset for any quarterback. His ability to stretch the field and contribute in red-zone situations has elevated him to one of the top tight ends in the league.

10. Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz

  • Salary: $10.85M
  • Team: Arizona Cardinals

Zach Ertz, now a key player for the Arizona Cardinals, has long been recognized for his consistency and reliability at the tight end position. 

Ertz’s sure hands and precise route-running make him a favorite target for quarterbacks in critical situations. 

His football IQ and understanding of defensive coverages allow him to find soft spots in opposing defenses, contributing to his impressive receptions and yardage totals. 

Ertz’s ability to come up clutch in crucial moments has been pivotal throughout his career, including his role in the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning season. 

Now, with the Cardinals, Ertz remains a reliable option in the passing game and a valuable asset for his team.


Who is currently the highest-paid NFL tight end?

George Kittle holds the title of the highest-paid NFL tight end, earning $12.25 million with the San Francisco 49ers.

How does player salary impact the team salary cap?

Player salaries contribute to a team’s salary cap, limiting how much a team can spend on players. Teams must balance contracts to ensure competitiveness while staying within the cap limits set by the NFL.

How often do player rankings change in terms of salary?

Player rankings in terms of salary can change frequently due to contract negotiations, trades, and free agency. Updates occur during the offseason as teams make adjustments to their rosters.

Are bonuses included in the reported salary figures?

Yes, player salaries often include bonuses such as signing bonuses, roster bonuses, and incentives. These additional components contribute to the total reported salary for a player.

How do performance and achievements impact player contracts?

Player performance and achievements, such as Pro Bowl selections or statistical milestones, can influence contract negotiations. 

Successful players with notable contributions often command higher salaries and may negotiate additional incentives or bonuses based on their on-field accomplishments.

Wrapping Up

As we wrap up our exploration into the financial realm of NFL tight ends, it’s evident that these players are integral to their teams’ strategies on the field and command substantial financial recognition. 

The Top 10 Highest NFL Tight Ends showcase the diverse skill sets and contributions that warrant their elevated pay grades. 

This analysis provides a glimpse into player contracts’ intricacies, the impact of achievements, and the ever-changing landscape of professional football economics. 

Whether these athletes make crucial catches in the end zone or ensure the success of running plays through solid blocking, their salaries reflect the value they bring to the gridiron.

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn