It was reported on Tuesday that as many as six AFL players earned a seven-figure sum in 2021 - a significant portion of the $13.4m salary cap.

But while fans and media alike love to debate who is worth what, it's not as simple as ranking the six best players in the competition and paying them accordingly.

In addition to what a player offers on the field, there are a number of factors that determine just how much they're worth - age, whether they're on an upward or downward spiral, other star players to pay at their club, whether they're in their 'home' state and when they signed their contract, to name but a few.

Here, we look at the players reported to be on $1m or more in 2021 - Dustin Martin, Lance Franklin, Jeremy McGovern, Brodie Grundy and Nat Fyfe - plus a couple tipped to reach that mark in 2022 - Christian Petracca and Tom Lynch - and determine whether it's money well spent ...

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1. Dustin Martin

'Dusty' is a superstar, that isn't up for debate. In fact, he's arguably the best player in the game.

The 30-year-old is a three-time premiership player and three-time Norm Smith medallist - the only player in the game's history to win the Norm Smith three times.

In 2017, when he signed his latest contract with the Tigers, AFL great Leigh Matthews suggested Dusty had played the greatest season in the history of the game.

While debate raged over Matthews' claim, Dusty would go on to win the Brownlow Medal, a premiership, the Norm Smith Medal, Richmond's best and fairest, the AFLPA Leigh Matthews Trophy, the AFLCA champion player of the year award and, of course, selection in the All-Australian team.

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Dusty was the best player in the game in 2017, in the prime of his career as a 26-year-old and reportedly had a monster offer on the table from North Melbourne - above $1.5m a season.

Not only does that show his market value at the time, but it meant Richmond had to come to the table with a near-equally large offer.

They did, Dusty re-signed, and the Tigers went on to create a mini-dynasty - winning premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Including 2022, Dusty still has three years to run on his contract. But you could make an argument he's already justified that deal - and that's before we even take into account his marketability off-field.

Verdict: An easy one, this - Dusty is worth every cent. In fact, the rumoured $1.2 - $1.3 million is probably unders given what he's already done for the club.

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