10 Highest Paid AFL Players: Earnings and Impact on the Game

Australian Rules Football (AFL) is not just a sport; it’s a multi-million-dollar industry, and the players at the pinnacle of their careers earn substantial incomes. These top athletes command hefty salaries, often reflecting their exceptional skills, leadership qualities, and marketability. Here’s a closer look at the 10 highest-paid AFL players, their earnings, and their impact on the game:

1. Dustin Martin (Richmond Tigers):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1.3 million.
  • Impact: Dustin Martin, known as “Dusty,” is a two-time Brownlow Medalist and a Norm Smith Medalist. His incredible skills, including his ability to break tackles and execute pinpoint kicks, make him one of the AFL’s brightest stars. Off the field, Martin’s marketability has secured him numerous endorsement deals.

2. Nat Fyfe (Fremantle Dockers):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1.3 million.
  • Impact: Nat Fyfe is a dual Brownlow Medalist and one of the game’s most dynamic midfielders. His leadership on and off the field has made him a central figure for the Fremantle Dockers. Fyfe’s marketability extends to his role as an ambassador for various brands.

3. Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1.2 million.
  • Impact: Lance “Buddy” Franklin is one of the AFL’s most prolific goal-kickers. His ability to find the goalposts from almost anywhere on the field makes him a constant threat. Franklin’s on-field prowess and marketability have made him a key figure for the Sydney Swans.

4. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong Cats):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1.1 million.
  • Impact: Patrick Dangerfield, a Brownlow Medalist and nine-time All-Australian, is renowned for his athleticism and versatility. He plays a crucial role for the Geelong Cats and is a sought-after figure for endorsement deals and media appearances.

5. Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1 million.
  • Impact: Marcus Bontempelli, often referred to as “The Bont,” is a rising star in the AFL. His leadership as captain of the Western Bulldogs and his exceptional skills in the midfield have made him a prominent figure in the league. The Bont’s marketability is on the rise.

6. Rory Sloane (Adelaide Crows):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1 million.
  • Impact: Rory Sloane is known for his fearless and hard-hitting style of play. As the captain of the Adelaide Crows, he exemplifies leadership and tenacity. Sloane’s marketability extends to his passionate fan base.

7. Josh Kelly (GWS Giants):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1 million.
  • Impact: Josh Kelly is a key player for the GWS Giants, known for his speed and skill in the midfield. His consistent performances and leadership qualities have earned him a significant contract. Kelly is also a sought-after endorser.

8. Brodie Grundy (Collingwood Magpies):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1 million.
  • Impact: Brodie Grundy is a dominant ruckman for the Collingwood Magpies. His agility, ball-winning ability, and work rate make him a crucial asset. Grundy’s impact on the game has translated into a lucrative contract.

9. Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood Magpies):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1 million.
  • Impact: Scott Pendlebury is a seasoned veteran and captain of the Collingwood Magpies. His composure under pressure and midfield prowess have made him a respected figure in the AFL. Pendlebury’s longevity and leadership contribute to his high earnings.

10. Jeremy Cameron (Geelong Cats):

  • Annual Earnings: Estimated at over $1 million.
  • Impact: Jeremy Cameron is a prolific goal-kicker who made a high-profile move to the Geelong Cats. His ability to impact games with his scoring and versatility in the forward line has contributed to his significant contract.

These 10 highest-paid AFL players not only excel on the field but also play a crucial role in the league’s commercial success. Their skills, leadership, and marketability continue to elevate the profile of Australian Rules Football both nationally and internationally.


What is the minimum AFL player salary?

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the minimum salary for rookie-listed players was approximately $44,000, while players on the senior list earned significantly more. Keep in mind that these figures may change over time due to player agreements and league decisions.

What is the average AFL player salary?

The average AFL player salary can fluctuate from season to season based on various factors, including collective bargaining agreements, salary cap adjustments, and other considerations. In 2021, the average AFL player salary was estimated to be around $389,000.

Who is the highest-paid AFL player?

The highest-paid AFL player can change over time as player contracts are negotiated. In recent years, players like Dustin Martin, Nat Fyfe, and Lance Franklin have commanded some of the highest salaries in the league. However, it’s essential to check the latest sources for the most up-to-date information.

What is the AFL salary cap?

The AFL salary cap is a financial mechanism designed to promote competitive balance among clubs. As of my last knowledge update in 2021, the salary cap for the senior list was approximately $13.5 million per club. Additional allowances are made for rookie players, veterans, and other exemptions.

Are there different salary caps for different AFL clubs?

No, there is a single salary cap that applies to all AFL clubs. This standardized system helps maintain fairness and competition within the league.

Can AFL players negotiate individual contracts within the salary cap?

Yes, AFL players and clubs can negotiate individual contracts within the constraints of the salary cap. These contracts may include various incentives, such as performance bonuses and marketing agreements, based on the player’s skills and marketability.

How are salary cap breaches handled in the AFL?

The AFL has rules and penalties in place to address salary cap breaches. These breaches can result in fines, loss of draft picks, or other sanctions for the offending club.

Do AFL players receive additional income from endorsements and sponsorships?

Yes, many AFL players earn substantial income from endorsements, sponsorships, and appearances. High-profile players are often sought after by companies to represent their brands, supplementing their overall earnings.

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