It has long been understood around the National Football League that Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one of the top wideouts in the league. Now, he’ll be paid like it.

On Aug. 20, the Cardinals made the eighth-year pro out of Pittsburgh the highest-paid receiver in the NFL with an eight-year extension that could pay as much as $120 million with at least $50 million in guaranteed money. The contract is the richest in franchise history and puts the 27-year-old receiver among the highest-paid athletes in the NFL.

With an average of $15 million per year, Fitzgerald now makes $4 million more per season than the next closest receiver and just a shade less than four other players, all quarterbacks. Indianapolis Colt Peyton Manning, New England Patriot Tom Brady, San Diego Charger Philip Rivers and New York Giant Eli Manning currently are the only players making more than the soft spoken Arizona receiver, who was reluctant to open up about his recent extension.

“Growing up, since I was 7 years old, this has been the game I love and something I have been so passionate about,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “And to have to talk about it on the business side is a little bit uncomfortable. But I am really happy to put it behind us and it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the Bidwill family’s hard work in making this thing happen.”

After a stellar career at the University of Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald entered the NFL at the tender age of 19 in 2004 but quickly established himself as one of the premier targets in the game. Fitzgerald, who turns 28 Aug. 31, has averaged 87 catches, 1,172 yards and just over nine touchdowns in each of his first seven seasons.

Playing alongside Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, the prolific duo was central to the club’s first Super Bowl appearance in 2008, as Fitzgerald went on a postseason tear. In four games in the 2008 playoffs, Fitzgerald totaled 30 catches, 546 yards and seven touchdowns, establishing himself not only as a top receiver but a top player in the NFL.