The highest paid GM in sports history is a title that has been held by many different people over the years. Some of the most famous and successful GMs have made a lot of money in their careers, so it is no surprise that the title of highest paid GM in sports history is one that is often contested.
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The title of highest paid GM in sports history goes to MLB’s Theo Epstein, who is currently in his second stint as the president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. Epstein’s total compensation for his work with the Cubs is a reported $50 million.
Theo Epstein – Chicago Cubs
Theo Epstein is the current President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, a position he has held since 2011. Epstein is widely considered one of the most successful and innovative front office executives in baseball history, helping lead the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 as their General Manager. In October 2011, Epstein agreed to terms with the Cubs to become their President of Baseball Operations, making him the highest-paid General Manager in baseball history at that time.
Epstein’s success with the Red Sox and Cubs has led to him being nicknamed “Theo-babwe” by some in the baseball community, a reference to his boundless energy and ability to rapidly rebuild struggling organizations into competitive contenders.
Andrew Friedman – Los Angeles Dodgers
In baseball, the general manager (GM) is responsible for the operations of the team on both the business and baseball sides. Andrew Friedman is currently the highest paid general manager in MLB, earning an annual salary of $10 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Friedman’s total compensation package is worth $35 million over five years.
Friedman’s record-setting contract includes a $1 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $5 million in each of the first three years and $9 million in each of the final two years. The total value of the contract could increase to as much as $50 million if certain performance bonuses are achieved.
Friedman’s background is in Sabermetrics, which is the statistical analysis of baseball data. He played a major role in popularizing this approach to evaluating players and teams, and he has used it to build successful teams in both Tampa Bay and Los Angeles.
Friedman’s hiring by the Dodgers was a controversial move, as he had no prior experience working in baseball operations for an MLB team. However, his success with the Rays and his innovative approach to team building has proven that he is one of the best minds in baseball today.
Pat Riley – Miami Heat
In 2014, the Miami Heat made Pat Riley the highest paid GM in sports history, signing him to a five-year extension worth $70 million. Riley had originally joined the Heat in 1995 as head coach, leading the team to the NBA Finals in his first season. He then took over as president of basketball operations in 1997, overseeing the construction of a dynasty that won three championships between 2006 and 2014.
Riley’s contract is significantly higher than those of his peers around the league. The next highest-paid GM is Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets, who signed a four-year extension worth $30 million in 2017. Morey is followed by R.C. Buford of the San Antonio Spurs ($18 million over four years) and Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers ($12 million over five years).
The highest paid GM in MLB history is Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees, who signed a three-year extension worth $21 million in 2016. Cashman’s contract is more than double that of baseball’s second highest-paid GM, Dave Dombrowski of the Boston Red Sox ($10 million over five years).
Gregg Popovich – San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich is the highest paid general manager in sports history. He makes an annual salary of $13 million, which is more than twice the next highest-paid GM in the NBA.
Popovich has been with the Spurs since 1996 and has been their head coach since 1997. He has led them to five NBA championships, and they are currently the defending champions. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest coaches in NBA history.
NHL general managers are paid well for their services, but no one GM has ever been paid as much as Lou Lamoriello. Lamoriello is currently the highest paid GM in the NHL, making $2 million per year with the New York Islanders.
David Poile – Nashville Predators
David Poile is currently the highest paid general manager in sports history. He is in his 37th season as an NHL GM, and has been with the Nashville Predators since they began play in 1998. He has a base salary of $4 million, and can earn up to $6 million in incentives.
Stan Bowman – Chicago Blackhawks
Stan Bowman – Chicago Blackhawks: $6 million
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is the highest-paid general manager in sports history, with an annual salary of $6 million. That’s more than double what the next highest-paid GM, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, makes at $2.5 million.
The Blackhawks are one of the most successful NHL teams of the past decade, winning three Stanley Cups since 2010. And while Bowman’s large salary might seem like a lot, it’s worth noting that the team is estimated to be worth $1 billion.
So what does a GM do to earn such a large salary? In short, they are responsible for building a winning team. This includes drafting players, making trades, signing free agents and hiring coaches. A GM also has to manage the salary cap and make sure the team stays within its budget.
With so much responsibility, it’s no wonder that GMs are some of the highest-paid executives in all of sports.
Rick Spielman of the Minnesota Vikings is the highest paid general manager in NFL history, making an average of $4 million per year. Spielman has been with the Vikings since 2006 and has helped the team to 10 playoff appearances.
John Elway – Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos made John Elway the highest paid GM in NFL history in 2017, when they signed him to a five-year deal worth $35 million. That averages out to $7 million per year, which is nearly double what the next highest-paid GM, the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick, makes.
Elway’s background is in quarterbacking, not management. He was drafted #1 overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1983, but he refused to play for them and was promptly traded to the Broncos. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the team, winning two Super Bowls.
In 2011, Elway came out of retirement to take over as the Broncos’ VP of football operations. He was promoted to GM in 2014. Under his leadership, the team has won four division titles and made two Super Bowl appearances (winning one).
The $35 million contract extension Elway signed in 2017 runs through 2021. It includes a $10 million signing bonus and $15 million in guaranteed money.
Ozzie Newsome – Baltimore Ravens
Ozzie Newsome became the highest-paid GM in NFL history when he signed a 5-year, $35 million extension with the Baltimore Ravens in 2002. Newsome has been with the Ravens since their inception in 1996 and has served as their GM since 2002. He is a 2-time Super Bowl champion and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.