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Highest paid afl player

20 Highest Paid AFL Players for 2021

With footy’s biggest day just around the corner and a gargantuan off-season looming, the big talk remains, just how much are the highest-paid AFL players really worth? Back in 2013, when Sydney announced its plan to derail the competition, landing key forward Lance Franklin with a monster nine-year deal worth a whopping AUD$10 million, the football world was turned on its head. The Buddy Franklin contract dilemma forced the AFL’s hand, prompting many to question if the deal was competitive or not. Now in its penultimate year, the masterstroke still sees Lance Franklin as the highest-paid AFL player in the game, and while it may not have paid off premiership-wise, it has put the question of just what the average AFL salary looks like back on the table.

The Business of Footy

Footballers have always had the benefit of money, at least since the early 1980s, when players become trading pieces and sponsors took the limelight. By the time the Greg Williams and Sydney Swans undeclared payments saga took hold, the damage was already done – the AFL player salary expectation had skyrocketed and fans were champing at the bit for a new superstar to join their team.

Similarly, Lance Franklin’s 2013 deal with the Swans did raise eyebrows at the time, but it has sinced served as the benchmark for all other contract negotiations. The Dustin Martin salary conversation has been circling for many months, with some analysts suggesting the Richmond superstar and Brownlow Medalist is worth whatever figure you throw at him. It’s true, while the superstars have earned more, the average AFL salary has actually decreased, but not for lacking of negotiation.

Average AFL Salary

Last year’s COVID-19 cutbacks saw a 29.17 per cent cut due in Total Player Payments, dropping $72 million to $170 million. The average AFL player salary for a listed player in 2020 was $259,651 decreasing from $363,430, for the 2019 year. The 2020 season saw just three players earn seven figures, compared to seven in the previous year. However, with games back up and running and stadiums slowly returning to capacity, the highest paid AFL players are back in the rich list circles for 2021.

Highest Paid AFL Players 2021

The rich list has been named and for the 2021 season, the highest paid AFL player is Lance Franklin. The Sydney Swans superstar came in just ahead of West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern and Richmond’s Dustin Martin, according to reports from The Herald Sun. In its annual review of player salaries and contracts, the publication revealed the top-earning AFL players for this season. Here is the top 20.

Lance franklin

1. Lance Franklin – AUD$1.5 Million

So what you will about the big left-footer, but Lance Franklin is still worth the price of admission. In his first year without major injury in some time, the eight-time All-Australian showed why he is still the highest-paid AFL player, snagging 51 goals in just 18 games. Needless to say, the Buddy Franklin contract chat will carry on long after the tall forward has retired.

Salary: AUD$1.5 Million
Team: Sydney Swans
Born: 30 January 1987 (age 34 years), Perth
Height: 1.99 m
Spouse: Jesinta Franklin (m. 2016)
Draft: No. 5, 2004 national draft
Parents: Ursula Franklin, Lance Franklin Sr.
Siblings: Bianca Giteau

Jeremy mcgovern

2. Jeremy McGovern – AUD$1.2-$1.25 million

The big defender with the golden hands, Jeremy McGovern reeled in a handy AUD$1.25 million for the 2021 season. His six-year deal has an average of $1.2 million a season and while Eagles players took seven per cent pay cuts across the board this year, this is a year where his pay is back-ended. Contracted to 2024, you can expect to see McGovern feature prominently in these AFL rich lists for years to come.

Salary: AUD$1.2-$1.25 million
Team: West Coast Eagles
Born: 15 April 1992 (age 29 years), Western Australia
Height: 1.9 m
Weight: 96 kg
Partner: Madison Williams
Parents: Andrew McGovern
Number: 20
Siblings: Mitch McGovern

Dustin martin salary

3. Dustin Martin – AUD$1.2-$1.25 million

At around AUD$1.25 million a year, you could argue Dustin Martin’s salary is a steal. The three-time Norm Smith Medal winner is just about the best player in the game and a key reason while the Tiger’s dynasty was so strong. He battle injury this year, cutting his season short, but you can expect to see him back up and running next year.

Salary: AUD$1.2-$1.25 million
Team: Richmond Tigers
Born: 26 June 1991 (age 30 years), Castlemaine
Height: 1.87 m
Number: 4
Draft: No. 3, 2009 national draft
Awards: Brownlow Medal, All-Australian team, Norm Smith Medal
Siblings: Tyson Martin, Bronson Martin
Parents: Shane Martin, Kathy Martin

Nat fyfe

4. Nat Fyfe – AUD$1,075,000-$1.1 million

Two Brownlows and arguable the best set of biceps in the game, Fremantle champion Nat Fyfe is worth the AUD$1.1 million he demands. Fyfe is currently on a six-year deal signed in 2017 that runs through to 2023. Most importantly, it is not believed to be back-ended, so the Dockers clearly have cash to spend, once Adam Cerra heads home.

Salary: AUD$1,075,000-$1.1 million
Team: Fremantle Dockers
Born: 18 September 1991 (age 29 years), Western Australia
Height: 1.9 m
Weight: 88 kg
Date joined: 2010 (Fremantle Football Club)
Number: 7
Parents: David Fyfe, Christine Fyfe
Siblings: Sheridan Fyfe, Liam Fyfe

Brodie grundy

5. Brodie Grundy – AUD$925,000-$975,000

When Brodie Grundy signed his seven-year mega-contract he was locked in a battle for ruck supremacy with Melbourne captain Max Gawn. The latter may have eclipsed him now, but Grundy is still a force to be reckoned with and he is racking in the cash to prove it. Naturally, some have questioned the length of the deal, particularly for a player in the often injury-prone position of ruckman, but time will tell.

Salary: AUD$925,000-$975,000
Team: Collingwood Magpies
Born: 15 April 1994 (age 27 years), Adelaide
Height: 2.02 m
Partner: Rachael Wertheim
Number: 4
Draft: No. 18, 2012 AFL Draft, Collingwood
Position: Ruckman
Weight: 108 kg (238 lb)

Patrick dangerfield

6. Patrick Dangerfield – AUD$900,000 – $950,000

Arguably the best player in the game, Patrick Dangerfield’s contract is surprisingly affordable, which is handy for Geelong considering how many of Danger’s teammates made the AFL rich list this year. Reportedly earning around AUD$950,000 per year, Dangerfield doesn’t come cheap but in an ageing side with a transitionary period looming, he plays an important role.

Salary: AUD$900,000 – $950,000
Team: Geelong Cats
Born: 5 April 1990 (age 31 years), Moggs Creek
Height: 1.89 m
Weight: 91 kg
Spouse: Mardi Harwood
Children: George Patrick Dangerfield
Parents: John Dangerfield, Jeanette Dangerfield
Siblings: Bethany Dangerfield

Patrick cripps

7. Patrick Cripps – AUD$900,000 – $950,000

With the ‘will he, won’t he’ talk officially over, Patrick Cripps can focus on football. Despite another disappointing season, Carlton looks primed for a positive return in 2022 and with Cripps signed on for the next few seasons, Blues fans can rest a little easier, particularly if Adam Cerra makes the move.

Salary: AUD$900,000 – $950,000
Team: Carlton Blues
Born: 18 March 1995 (age 26 years), Perth
Height: 1.95 m
Weight: 93 kg
Draft: No. 13, 2013 national draft
Number: 9
Debut: Round 5, 2014, Carlton; vs. Melbourne, at the MCG
Parents: Brad Cripps, Cath Cripps

Stephen coniglio

8. Stephen Coniglio – AUD$900,000 – $950,000

An up and down year for the GWS captain, Stephen Coniglio was in and out of the team due to injury and form. That hasn’t stopped the midfielder from making some serious cash this year, however, taking home just shy of $1 million per season, courtesy of his massive seven-year deal signed in 2019.

Salary: AUD$900,000 – $950,000
Team: Greater Western Sydney
Born: 15 December 1993 (age 27 years), Greenmount
Height: 1.82 m
Parents: Sandro Coniglio
Number: 3
Draft: No. 2, 2011 National Draft, Greater Western Sydney
Position(s): Midfielder
Siblings: Jacob Coniglio

Marcus bontempelli

9. Marcus Bontempelli – AUD$900,000 – $950,000

He fell agonisingly short of a maiden Brownlow this year, but Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli could wrap up 2021 with a premiership. one of the elite midfield/forwards in the game, the lanky Dog has a new contract that kicks in next season, likely to push him up the highest paid AFL players list for years to come.

Salary: AUD$900,000 – $950,000
Team: Western Bulldogs
Born: 24 November 1995 (age 25 years), Melbourne
Height: 1.92 m
Nationality: Australian
Draft: No. 4, 2013 national draft
Number: 4
Weight: 93 kg (205 lb)
Parents: Carlo Bontempelli, Geraldine Bontempelli

Jeremy cameron

10. Jeremy Cameron – AUD$850,000 – $900,000

Cameron’s back-ended deal with GWS saw him named as the highest paid AFL player last year, but this year, a new club and a new contract have seen him fall slightly. The key forward is earning around AUD$900,000 at the Cats, despite playing just 13 games this year.

Salary: AUD$850,000 – $900,000
Team: Geelong Cats
Born: 1 April 1993 (age 28 years), Dartmoor
Height: 1.96 m
Number: 5
Weight: 96 kg (212 lb)
Draft: 2010 GWS under-age selection
Position(s): Key Forward
Parents: Leon Cameron, Kelly Cameron

Adam treloar

11. Adam Treloar – AUD$850,000 – $900,000

In his first season with the Western Bulldogs, Adam Treloar has the chance to do something he never did at Collingwood. The midfield superstar may have struggled with injury in 2021, but a premiership will more than make up for it. Interestingly, Treloar’s salary is made up of a few components, with The Herald Sun reporting that Collingwood will contribute an average of $300,000 per season over the life of Treloar’s five-year deal. That will likely be around $275,000 in the first year and round out at about $325,000 in the last.

Salary: AUD$850,000 – $900,000
Team: Western Bulldogs
Born: 9 March 1993 (age 28 years)
Height: 1.81 m
Partner: Kim Ravaillion
Number: 1
Weight: 89 kg (196 lb)
Position(s): Midfielder
Children: Georgie Olive Treloar

Rory sloane

12. Rory Sloane – AUD$825,000-$875,000

Adelaide’s Rory Sloane sneaks into the top 12 for AFL salaries in 2021. His five year deal signed in 2018 put an end to any conjecture around his future and sees him remain a Crow until 2023. For Crows fans, a slight return to form in the second half od the 2021 season could be a foundation for the team to return to finals football earlier than expected.

Salary: AUD$825,000-$875,000
Team: Adelaide Crows
Born: 17 March 1990 (age 31 years), Melbourne
Height: 1.83 m
Spouse: Belinda Riverso (m. 2016)
Number: 9
Draft: No. 44, 2008 national draft
Children: Leo Rory Sloane
Siblings: Shae Sloane

Isaac heeney

13. Isaac Heeney – AUD$825,000-$875,000

The Sydney Swans may have put their eggs in the Heeney basket early, but in 2021, it finally started to pay off. The midfield/forward has shown glimpses of the player Sydney hoped he would become, particularly after he rejected monster offers from rival clubs, including North Melbourne back in 2016 as a plucky 20-year-old.

Salary: AUD$825,000-$875,000
Team: Sydney Swans
Born: 5 May 1996 (age 25 years), Maitland
Height: 1.84 m
Number: 5
Draft: No. 18, 2014 national draft
Weight: 85 kg (187 lb)
Parents: Rochelle Heeney, Adam Heeney
Siblings: Beau Heeney

1 christian petracca

14. Christian Petracca – AUD$800,000-$850,000

The game’s most electrifying talent is showing why he’s worth the big bucks. As the future face of the game, Petracca followed up his breakout 2020 with another stellar season. Naturally, the Dees locked him up with a seven-year contract believed to be around AUD$900,000 a year.

Salary: AUD$800,000-$850,000
Team: Melbourne Demons
Born: 4 January 1996 (age 25 years)
Height: 1.86 m
Draft: No. 2, 2014 national draft
Number: 5
Weight: 97 kg (214 lb)
Parents: Tony Petracca, Elvira Petracca
Siblings: Robert Petracca, Julian Petracca

Lachie whitfield

15. Lachie Whitfield – AUD$800,000-$850,000

The running machine is tallying up a serious bank account figure as well. Giants star Lachie Whitfield is another player on a long-term contract. He signed a lucrative deal that runs through until the end of the 2027 season, keeping him as a Giant practically for life.

Salary: AUD$800,000-$850,000
Team: Greater Western Sydney
Born: 18 July 1994 (age 27 years)
Height: 1.87 m
Weight: 74 kg
Draft: No. 1, 2012 national draft
Number: 6
Position(s): Half-back / Midfielder
Parents: Richard Whitfield, Maryanne Whitfield

Toby greene

16. Toby Greene – AUD$800,000-$850,000

Contentious by nature, GWS’ Toby Greene is perhaps the team’s most important player. Back in 2018, the All-Australian signed a six-year deal to stay with the club, before adding another two years that will see him remain a Giant until the end of 2026. The Herald Sun suggests that if he had returned to Melbourne, or was a little less injury prone, he would be a worthy $1 million man.

Salary: AUD$800,000-$850,000
Team: Greater Western Sydney
Born: 25 September 1993 (age 27 years)
Height: 1.81 m
Number: 4
Position(s): Forward
Draft: No. 11, 2011 national draft
Weight: 84 kg (185 lb)
Parents: Michael Greene, Kate Greene

Josh kelly

17. Josh Kelly – AUD$800,000-$850,000

Another Giant with a fittingly massive pay-cheque, Josh Kelly demands a salary in excess of AUD$800,000. The silky smooth operator recently signed a mega eight-year deal with the Giant’s worth a reported $1 million per season, meaning he’ll be in Greater Western Sydney for some time.

Salary: AUD$800,000-$850,000
Team: Greater Western Sydney
Born: 12 February 1995 (age 26 years)
Height: 1.83 m
Career start: 2014
Number: 22
Position(s): Midfielder
Weight: 83 kg (183 lb)
Parents: Phil Kelly, Trish Kelly

Max gawn

18. Max Gawn – AUD$800,000-$850,000

The 2021 All-Australian captain, Max Gawn is worth the cash you put into him. The tall ruckman signed a four-year contract extension with the Melbourne Demons earlier this year, helping to establish the Dee’s sublime midfield core.

Salary: AUD$800,000-$850,000
Team: Melbourne Demons
Born: 30 December 1991 (age 29 years), Victoria
Height: 2.08 m
Weight: 108 kg
Draft: No. 34, 2009 national draft
Number: 11
Debut: Round 11, 2011, Melbourne; vs. Essendon, at MCG
Position(s): Ruck

Stephen hill

19. Brad Hill – AUD$800,000-$850,000

A smooth mover, Bradley Hill made the move over from Fremantle this year and he didn’t come cheap. With an estimated salary of around AUD$850,000 this season, Hill hasn’t had the impact his pay-cheque might suggest, but as an outside player, he’s only as good as the midfielders that feed him.

Salary: AUD$800,000-$850,000
Team: St Kilda Saints
Born: 9 July 1993 (age 28 years), Western Australia
Height: 1.79 m
Number: 8
Weight: 78 kg (172 lb)
Draft: No. 33, 2011 national draft
Position(s): Midfielder
Siblings: Stephen Hill

Joe daniher

20. Joe Daniher – AUD$800,000-$850,000

The Lions had to spend up big for Joe Daniher and the jury is still out whether the tall forward was worth it. After it was suggested the ex-Essendon star was on his way to Sydney, Brisbane emerged as a new home for Daniher, who had a stellar, albeit not-spectacular season. Nevertheless, the 2017 All-Australia is reportedly earning close to AUD$800,000 for his on-field efforts.

Salary: AUD$800,000-$850,000
Team: Brisbane Lions
Born: 4 March 1994 (age 27 years)
Height: 2.01 m
Parents: Anthony Daniher
Number: 3
Weight: 99 kg (218 lb)
Siblings: Darcy Daniher

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General FAQs

Who is the highest-paid AFL player in 2021?

Lance Franklin is the highest paid player in the AFL. In the penultimate year of his monster deal with the Sydney Swans, Franklin demands a pay cheque of AUD$1.5 million.

What is Dustin Martin's salary?

According to The Herald Sun's AFL Rich 100, Martin had a salary of around AUD$1.2-$1.25 million, good enough for the third highest-paid player in the game.

How much do AFL umpires get paid?

In junior leagues, AFL umpires get paid around $25 for a 48 minute Under game, and can reach $130 for a Senior Field Umpire. As a fully-fledged AFL umpire, you can be paid up to $90,000 a year.

About the author

About the author
DIGITAL EDITOR

Nick Hall

Nick Hall is the Digital Editor of Man of Many and an accomplished journalist. He completed a Bachelor of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology, with a double major in Journalism and Music. Prior to working at Man of Many, Nick spent two years as a journalist with Inside Franchise Business, focusing on small business, finance and legal reporting. In 2021, Nick was named B&T's Best of the Best Journalist of the Year. With an extensive background in the media industry, Nick specialises in feature writing, fashion, lifestyle and entertainment content. A qualified barber and men's stylist, Nick also holds a Cert III in Barbering from the Queensland Hairdressing Academy.