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Making millions in the AFC East

3/4/2011
Mark Sanchez is set to earn $14.75 million in base salary next season, the most in the AFC East. Richard A. Brightly/Icon SMI

Sports labor squabbles often are described as billionaires arguing with millionaires over money.

While that's a catchy rhyme that sums up fan frustration, the phrase is not entirely true.

Inspired by a blog entry from the minister of all things AFC South, Paul Kuharsky, I looked at NFL Players Association files to count up the number of AFC East players scheduled for $1 million base salaries in 2011.

Granted, up-front bonuses and incentives can make base salaries misleading. But base salaries are the only figures that create a common ground, player for player.

You'll see a vast majority of NFL players make much less than $1 million a year. Although many will make seven figures before they walk away from the game, careers are short and treacherous. They'll never see that kind of cash again for the rest of their lives.

That's why they're fighting for every dollar now.

Of the 226 players under contract in the AFC East, only 62 of them (27.4 percent) will make base salaries of $1 million or more.

The NFLPA hasn't acknowledged any franchise tags that have been signed. Those players are marked with an asterisk and not factored into the totals.

Buffalo Bills

Base salaries of $1 million or more: 19

Players under contract: 54

Percentage of roster making $1 million or more: 35.2

Miami Dolphins

Base salaries of $1 million or more: 15

Players under contract: 55

Percentage of roster making $1 million or more: 27.3

New England Patriots

Base salaries of $1 million or more: 14

Players under contract: 60

Percentage of roster making $1 million or more: 23.3

New York Jets

Base salaries of $1 million or more: 14

Players under contract: 57

Percentage of roster making $1 million or more: 24.6