NFL Players Who Have Yet to Justify Their Contracts

Greg Maiola@Gom1094Senior Analyst IISeptember 15, 2012

NFL Players Who Have Yet to Justify Their Contracts

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    The NFL has plenty of high-profile players making huge bucks. But unfortunately, there is an abundance of mediocre players making the same money as the game's elite.

    This list takes a look at a few NFL players who have not proved they are worth the big contract that they have inked.

    Some teams pull the trigger too early, some players slump after terrific play. For a variety of reasons, there happens to be a lot of players who are not worth their contracts.

    Here are four players who have done little to reward their franchises for their financial investments.

Chris Johnson

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    Contract: Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans agreed to a four-year $53.5 million contract with $30 million guaranteed.

    What led to the contract: Johnson had held out during the 2011 preseason before earning his big payday. He became one of six players in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season in 2009 and was one of the game's most electrifying players up until the 2011 season.

    What has happened since: CJ2K followed up his remarkable 2009 with a disappointing 1,364-yard season in 2010. He had a 1.3 yards per carry dropoff and looked out of form. In 2011, Johnson needed the 16th game to reach the 1,000 yard mark and finished the year with 1,047 yards on the ground.

    In the 2012 season opener, Johnson rushed 11 times for four yards, a 0.4 yards per carry average. Though the game was most likely a fluke and Johnson is one of the game's better backs, he has certainly done little to prove he is worth all of the money. His 2009 season was a gem, but he has simply looked average since.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

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    Contract: Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills agreed to a six-year $59 million contract with $24 million guaranteed.

    What led to the contract: The Bills were pleased with Fitzpatrick after the first six games of the 2011 season. Fitz had the Bills at 4-2, with dramatic wins over the Raiders and Patriots and a solid victory over the Eagles.

    What has happened since: Fitzpatrick led the Bills to 5-2 with a victory over Washington, then stumbled to finish 2011 6-10. He tossed 24 touchdowns along with 23 interceptions, becoming increasingly sloppy with the football as the season progressed. Regardless of his rib injuries, 23 interceptions and seven fumbles (two lost) is way too poor of a performance from a franchise quarterback.

    Fitzpatrick continued his horrendous play into 2012 and threw three interceptions in a blowout loss to the Jets. He has shown few glimpses of the player deserving of his contract and ironically has played horrible since he inked his deal.

     

    While he isn't exactly J.P. Losman, he doesn't appear to be the next Jim Kelly.

Kevin Kolb

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    Contract: Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $63.5 million and $21 million guaranteed.

    What led to the contract: Kolb had shown glimpses of being a franchise quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles. After being stuck behind Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick, Kolb was acquired by Arizona and paid like a franchise quarterback since day one.

    What has happened since: Kolb has not only struggled to fight through injuries, he has struggled to keep John Skelton from stealing his spot. In nine starts in 2011, Kolb threw for 1,955 yards with nine touchdowns and eight picks.

    In 2012, Kolb found himself in a heated quarterback competition. Skelton was a fifth-round pick from Fordham in 2010, but initially beat out Kolb to be the starting quarterback this season. However, an injury to Skelton and heroics by Kolb led to Kolb regaining the spot.

     

    Regardless of how this quarterback drama works out, a $21 million guaranteed "franchise" quarterback should never find himself in this position in the first place.

Zach Miller

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    Contract: Zach Miller and the Seattle Seahawks agreed to a five-year $34 million contract with $17 million guaranteed heading into the 2011 season.

    What led to the contract: Miller had been a big-play pass-catching threat in Oakland who was expected to be a game-changer for Seattle.

    What has happened since: Miller recorded 25 receptions for 233 yards and zero touchdowns in his 15 starts in 2011. After inking his huge deal, Miller has looked nothing like the elite tight end he was believed to be.

    He recorded three receptions for 40 yards to open to 2012, but has yet to record a touchdown in Seattle, The Seahawks even traded for Kellen Winslow to upgrade the position, though he was ultimately released.

     

    There is still time for Miller to make plays, but he has a lot of plays to make to match his ridiculous contract.