What are the standards for determining if an NFL player is overpaid or underpaid? Is the best comparison salary vs. statistics, teammate vs. teammate or peer vs. peer?
When talking peer vs. peer, it makes sense to compare Arian Foster against Maurice Jones-Drew, or Calvin Johnson against Larry Fitzgerald. These athletes are among the best in the business.
Teammate vs. teammate can get a little murkier. Matt Schaub makes almost 14 times what T.J. Yates takes home. Does that mean he must be 14 times better to prove his worth?
If all goes well this year, Schaub will get virtually every snap and Yates will handle a clipboard for 16 games. In the end, no valid comparison may be possible.
Salary vs. stats creates a somewhat clearer picture. Adrian Peterson had a cap figure of $12.775 million in 2011 and gained 920 yards in an injury-shortened season.
Chris Johnson garnered $10.7 million in 2011, gained 1047 yards and played all 16 games. But his average was a pedestrian 4.0 per carry. Hands down, is one obviously superior to the other?
Each comparison has its place, depending on the player and situation. The following evaluation will use all three in the hope that some objective assessment will emerge.
Salary cap figures were used because they have the most effect on the overall financial picture for player personnel. Spotrac.com was the sole source for the cap hit numbers quoted for each Texan.