The Cost of Injuries to NFL and NBA Players Revealed

Updated: 784 Basketball

The Cost of Injuries to NFL and NBA Players Revealed
Steve Madgwick Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

Sports stars often earn rather lucrative wages, especially when playing sports such as football and basketball at the highest level. This is primarily due to the owners of these sports teams having the money to spend. 

However, considering players' injuries, it could be justifiable. Even while injured and not playing on the field, their teams still pay these huge wages, with little benefit to the owners of these teams. 

We have looked at the injuries of NFL and NBA players from the last year to calculate which players' injuries have cost the most, and which teams have spent the most money due to player injuries. 

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NFL Players With the Most Expensive Injuries

NFL Players With the Most Expensive Injuries

1. DeMarcus Lawrence - Dallas Cowboys

  • Weeks Injured: 11 
  • Total Earned While Injured 2021-22: $10,388,884
  • Daily Earnings While Injured: $134,921

2021, unfortunately, cast a shadow over DeMarcus Lawrence’s season as a broken fifth metatarsal saw him miss 11 weeks of the season. During this period, he earned a total of more than $10.3 million, which worked out at $134,921 per day, making his injury the most expensive in the NFL over the past year. He ended up returning late into the season, kitting up for the final seven games of the season. 


2. Trey Flowers - Detroit Lions

  • Weeks Injured: 6
  • Total Earned While Injured 2021-22: $4,791,666
  • Daily Earnings While Injured: $114,087

As of this season, Flowers plays for the Miami Dolphins. However, during the 2021-22 season, he was with the Detroit Lions, where he spent six weeks injured. He suffered a knee injury, which had reportedly caused him quite a bit of trouble throughout the season until it resulted in him being placed on the injured reserve. During this period, Flowers earned $114,087 daily whilst injured, making this the second most expensive injury in the NFL over the past year. 


3. Marcus Maye - New York Jets

  • Weeks Injured: 9
  • Total Earned While Injured 2021-22: $5,306,004
  • Daily Earnings While Injured: $84,222

Whilst playing for the New York Jets during the 2021-22 season, Maye suffered a season-ending injury during a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, a torn Achilles tendon. He missed the final nine weeks of the season, and despite doing so, he earned $84,222 daily and more than $5.3 million during the whole nine weeks. 


4. Derrick Henry - Tennessee Titans

  • Weeks Injured: 10
  • Total Earned While Injured 2021-22: $5,833,330
  • Daily Earnings While Injured: $83,333

Derrick Henry missed 10 weeks of the 2021-22 NFL season, during that period he missed nine games, due to a broken bone in his foot. He did, however, return for the playoffs, but the Titans lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. During his time injured, Henry earned around $5.8 million, which comes to a total of $83,333 daily, making him the fourth most expensive NFL injury of the past year. 


5. Jack Conklin - Cleveland Browns

  • Weeks Injured: 9
  • Total Earned While Injured 2021-22: $5,000,004
  • Daily Earnings While Injured: $79,365

Conklin suffered two separate spells of injury during the 2021-22 NFL season, the first came when he dislocated his elbow. And then in December, he suffered a season-ending knee injury, tearing his patellar tendon and had to undergo surgery, missing the final five games of the season. Conklin, however, earned around $79,365 daily whilst he sat on the sidelines, though he also seemed to put in a gargantuan amount of effort to return to fitness. 

NFL Teams Spending the Most on Injured Players

NFL Teams Spending the Most on Injured Players Infographic 

1. Dallas Cowboys    

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $19,069,515

The Dallas Cowboys had to put 16 of their players on the injured reserve over the last year, including DeMarcus Lawrence, the most expensive NFL injury of the year. Overall, they spent around $19 million on injured players' salaries for the whole year. Which is obviously an absolutely huge amount of money to spend on players stuck on the sidelines. 


2. New England Patriots

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $18,574,447

Following closely behind Dallas, the Patriots also had a large number of players placed on the injured reserve over the last year, with 14 total. The most expensive of those was Jabrill Peppers, costing the team around $53,730 daily whilst he was on injured reserve. Overall, throughout the entirety of the last year, the Patriots spent a little over $18.5 million on injured players' salaries.


3. Baltimore Ravens

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $17,809,834

Spending the third most of any team in the NFL in the past year on injured players' salaries was the Baltimore Ravens. Over the past year, they have had a whopping twenty players placed on injured reserve, which is an astonishing number. During this period, those twenty players had $17.8 million spent on their combined salaries while on the touchline. 


4. Detroit Lions

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $16,333,070

Of all the NFL players we looked at who were injured in the last year, 21 of those played for the Detroit Lions and in turn, this contributed to them spending the fourth-most on injured player salaries in the NFL during 2021-22. The total spend on injured players' salaries for them was over $16.3 million for the past year. 


5. Miami Dolphins

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $14,681,390

The Dolphins had just 12 players placed on injured reserve in the past year, the lowest of this top five ranking. Despite having a lower amount of players out injured, they still managed to spend the fifth most on injured player salaries in the NFL from 2021-22. The total sum came to more than $14.6 million, with the combined earnings of those 12 players. 

NBA Players With the Most Expensive Injuries

NBA Players With the Most Expensive Injuries Infographic

1. James Harden - Brooklyn Nets

  • Total Games Injured: 12
  • Total Earned Whilst Injured 2021-22: $8,149,120
  • Total Earned per Game While Injured: $679,093

James Harden suffered a few different injuries in the last year, keeping him sidelined for 12 games. The biggest of those injuries was to his hamstring, which persisted through late 2021 and January 2022. During this time injured, Harden earned a total of more than $8.1 million, or $679,093 per game, which is a substantial sum, however, he has been considered one of the best NBA players for years. 


2. Kevin Durant - Brooklyn Nets

  • Total Games Injured: 22
  • Total Earned Whilst Injured 2021-22: $11,287,968
  • Total Earned per Game While Injured: $513,089

Kevin Durant, who like Harden, plays for the Brooklyn Nets and spent a total of 22 games injured over the past year. This was primarily due to first a shoulder injury suffered in the early 2021-22 season and then later a knee injury, during the early stages of 2022. This time on the sidelines still saw Durant earn a total of $513,089 per game for a total of more than $11.2 million. 


3. Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors

  • Total Games Injured: 16
  • Total Earned Whilst Injured 2021-22: $8,156,379
  • Total Earned per Game While Injured: $509,774

Playing as a point guard for the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry has missed 16 games in the last year due to injury. He suffered through an injury ridden 2021-22 season, having time on the sidelines for an ankle injury, then further injuries to his hip, quadriceps and hand. Though, his time injured still saw him earn a total of more than $8.1 million, or $509,774 for each game he missed. 


4. Paul George - Los Angeles Clippers

  • Total Games Injured: 49
  • Total Earned Whilst Injured 2021-22: $23,742,600
  • Total Earned per Game While Injured: $484,543

LA Clippers small forward Paul George spent a huge 49 games injured over the last year. Much of this was during the 2021-22 season, where he missed a lot of games due to “injury management” and then later in the season he suffered an elbow injury. Of these top five, he amassed the greatest total earnings whilst injured, at over $23.7 million, which comes to $484,543 per game. 


5. Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks

  • Total Games Injured: 10
  • Total Earned Whilst Injured 2021-22: $4,748,520
  • Total Earned per Game While Injured: $474,852

Giannis Antetokounmpo plays as a power forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and during the last year, he may have only spent  10 games injured, he earned the fifth most in the NBA whilst being out, at $474,852 per game. The two major injuries he suffered were a knee and ankle injury, though neither kept him out for a particularly long period. 

NBA Teams Spending the Most on Injured Players

NBA Teams Spending the Most on Injured Players Infographic

1. Los Angeles Clippers    

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $69,450,091

The Los Angeles Clippers have come out as the NBA team that has spent the most on injured players' salaries over the past year. Despite only having added 10 players to the injured reserve, they managed to spend more than $69.4 million on injured players alone, which is an astronomical number to spend on players on the sidelines. 


 2. Portland Trail Blazers

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $55,509,341

The Portland Trail Blazers take the second spot, having spent more than $55.5 million on their injured players during 2021-22. The past year saw them have a total of 12 players out on the injured reserves, with many of those players missing more than 20 games due to their injuries. 


3. Golden State Warriors

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $52,358,358

They may have only added 10 players to the injured reserves during the last year, but 2021-22 saw the Golden State Warriors spend the third most on its injured players’ salaries. Those players managed to amass a total of more than $52.3 million spent on their salaries, whilst out injured, with their own player Stephen Curry, being the third most expensive NBA injury of the past year. 


4. Indiana Pacers

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $45,916,426

During the last year, the Indiana Pacers have had 12 of their players on the injured reserve list, which in turn made them the NBA team with the fourth highest spend on injured players. In total, for 2021-22, the Pacers spent more than $45.9 million on the salaries of their 12 injured players. 


5. Brooklyn Nets    

  • Amount Spent on Injured Players 2021-22: $44,231,754

With the Brooklyn Nets having the two most expensive NBA injuries from the last year, it comes as no surprise that they have one of the highest spends on injured players. During the 2021-22 season, the Nets had just eight players on the injured reserve, which accumulated a total of more than $44.2 in expenditures on salaries whilst injured. 

Methodology -

To get our list of injured players, we used the Spotrac for their NBA and NFL injured reserve trackers, taking the players injured during the 2021-22 seasons. The injuries for the 2022-23 season were not taken as they are only on gameweek 2. We also omitted players that were injured for less than five games, to better represent the totals.

From their injury trackers, we took the number of weeks players were injured for the NFL and the number of games players were injured for the NBA (as that was what Spotrac provided). We then took the total amount each player earned during their time spent injured, then calculated a daily earnings for the NFL and per game earnings for the NBA and then did two rankings for each sport. 

Finally, we added up the total amount each NFL and NBA team had spent on injured players' salaries and then ranked each team on that sum. 

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