Drew Brees near top of SI's Fortunate 50 list

A massive $37 million signing bonus catapulted New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to near the top of Sports Illustrated’s annual Fortunate 50 list of the highest-paid athletes in the past year.

Brees ranks third overall, ahead of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and is one of only two NFL players to crack the top 10. Brees was not in the top 50 a year ago but his pay day shot him way up the chart.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather was first at $90 million and Miami Heat star LeBron James was next at $56.545 million. The report indicates Brees earned $40 million from salary and winnings and $7.8 million from endorsements.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning comes in eighth at $31 million -- $18 million from on-field action and $13 million in endorsements. He’s ahead of the highest-ranked Major League Baseball player – New York Yankees third basement Alex Rodriguez ($29.9 million).

In all, the list includes eight NFL players and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only team with two representatives – wide receiver Vincent Jackson (No. 15) and guard Carl Nicks (No. 21).

The other four NFL players: Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams (No. 18), Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (No. 27), Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (No. 29) and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (No. 48).

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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