Craig Counsell

Where Craig Counsell's record-setting Cubs contract ranks among coaches in major sports

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Chicago Cubs manager Craig Counsell was hoping to reset the market for Major League skippers with his new contract, and he did just that thanks to the North Siders this week.

Counsell, who had managed the Milwaukee Brewers for the last nine seasons, left the organization and jumped to the rival Cubs, signing a contract that will pay him $8 million a season.

That deal not only makes him the highest-paid manager right now, but also gives him the biggest salary in MLB history for a skipper.

The question, however, is where that ranks among the major sports.

While Counsell will make more than the top-paid NHL head coach, coaches in other sports are making even more than the Cubs’ new boss, and in some cases, quite a bit more.

Here is what the top coach makes in six major sports leagues.

NFL: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick - $20 million

NBA: Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams - $13.05 million

NHL: Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McClellan - $5 million

MLB: Chicago Cubs manager Craig Counsell - $8 million

NCAA Football: Alabama head coach Nick Saban - $11.4 million

NCAA Men’s Basketball: Kentucky head coach John Calipari - $8.5 million

Here is a more detailed breakdown by sport.


While Belichick is top dog in the sports world, several other coaches would also rank higher than leaders in any other sport. That includes Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton and his $18 million salary in the Mile High City.

Seattle’s Pete Carroll makes $15 million a year, while Rams boss Sean McVay ($14 million) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin ($12.5 million) round out the top-five, according to NBC Sports.


Williams’ new deal with the Pistons made him the highest-paid coach in the league, with San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich earning $11.5 million per season.

Two other coaches, Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, both make more each season than Counsell, according to NBC Sports.

Just in case you’re curious, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan makes a reported $6 million per season.


While McClellan holds the top spot, several other coaches are close to him, according to CapFriendly. Dallas Stars head coach Peter DeBoer makes $4.25 million per season, while New York Rangers coach Peter Laviolette makes $4.9 million per season in the Big Apple.

Bruce Cassidy, head coach of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights, makes a reported $4.5 million.

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson earns $1.5 million per season, according to reports.


Counsell reset the market in a big way for Major League managers with his $8 million salary, and in fact he reportedly makes double what the next-highest paid coach earns.

That honor belonged to Bob Melvin last season, who collected $4 million a season with the San Diego Padres. He has since moved over to the San Francisco Giants, replacing Gabe Kapler in that role.

According to Bob Nightengale, MLB managers as a whole make significantly less than many of their counterparts, with half of the league’s skippers, 15 in all, making $1.75 million or less per season. Six managers make less than $1 million.

NCAA Football

It costs big bucks to keep top coaches happy in NCAA football, and while Saban is the top earner at $11.4 million per season, he’s far from alone in cashing in.

According to Front Office Sports, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney earns $10.9 million per season, just ahead of Georgia’s Kirby Smart, who earns $10.7 million. Ohio State’s Ryan Day is at $10.3 million.

In all, 14 coaches are estimated to make more than Counsell’s $8 million salary, with Wisconsin’s Luke Fickell and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy close behind.

NCAA Men’s Basketball

Only one coach makes more than Counsell, with Calipari taking those honors, according to BetMGM.

Kansas’ Bill Self earns a reported $6 million per season, while Michigan State’s Tom Izzo makes $5.7 million per year.

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