When it comes to talking about the salaries of professional athletes, most fans and observers would suggest that there is no such thing as being 'underpaid.'
For the most part, that argument would be valid, as even those players at the lower end of the salary spectrum will earn nearly 10-times the per capita income during a single season.
That said, there are certainly players at or near the lower end of the scale that have exceeded their expectations and outperformed their contracts.
Conversely, there are also players at the other end of the scale—those earning six figures or more per game—that haven't lived up to the hype and have underperformed.
As for the Buccaneers, I've highlighted six players—three overpaid, three underpaid—that have either justified their arguments for pay raises, or have left the door open for scrutiny and questions of their abilities.
As for the means of assessing their cost to the Bucs, I will be using their 2012 "cap hit"—the charge the team is on the hook for—rather than their base salary.
It should come as little surprise that McCoy finds himself at the top of this list, as quite frankly he has spent more time in the trainer's room than in opposing backfields. Yes, he has shown flashes and glimpses of what led him to being selected third overall in 2010, but thus far, those moments have been few and far between.
For someone with as much raw athletic talent and speed as Quincy Black, he has looked out of place and lost on the football field far too often during his career. 2012 will be a make-or-break season for Black, as the Bucs will have other young players they'll be looking to sign long-term, so they cannot afford to pay good money to bad players.
Like Black, Trueblood has far too much talent and ability to continue to wallow in mediocrity for much longer. His penchant for committing bonehead mistakes and drawing countless penalty flags has cost the Bucs in the past, but if that behavior isn't corrected soon, it will cost him in the near future.
Since joining the Bucs as an undrafted free agent, Blount has returned the favor by rushing for nearly 1,800 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons. Yes, he has had issues with turnovers and short-yardage situations. And yes, he has been unable to contribute in passing situations. However, he has exceeded even the wildest expectations with his otherwise solid play and highlight-reel runs.
Parker is another former UFA who has since found solid ground with the Bucs, as last season he hauled in 40 passes for more than 550 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, only Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams had more receiving yardage than Parker last season. Not only that, but reports from One Buc Place suggest Parker is biding for an increased role over the likes Williams and Arrelious Benn.
As for Williams, he too makes my underpaid list, as he caught 130 passes for more than 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first two seasons out of Syracuse. Originally a fourth-round pick in 2010, Williams arguably stands to benefit the most from the signing of receiver Vincent Jackson, as opposing teams will have to honor Jackson's ability, thus granting Williams opportunities to exploit coverages.
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