Rarely, if ever, are the salaries of NFL players directly related to their respective on-field production. Just as there are plenty of guys who are getting paid more than their play would suggest, the opposite is true as well: Some players aren’t getting paid enough compared to their contemporaries.
Excluding rookie deals, which are now designed to underpay young performers rather than ridiculously rewarding players simply because they were drafted highly, there are guys that aren’t seeing their pockets lined as much as their stats would suggest.
Tim Jennings is on a two-year deal with the Chicago Bears worth $6.6 million. Not bad for a guy that leads the NFL with eight interceptions—and it’s not really close. The guys tied for second place have five.
The former second-round pick likely won’t get much consideration for Defensive Player of the Year playing opposite Charles Tillman, who is terrorizing NFL offenses with 10 forced turnovers this season. Jennings is still outplaying his contract.
Cameron Wake is another defensive statistical presence in 2012 who isn’t getting paid like one. Wake’s 11.0 sacks on the year rank fourth behind Aldon Smith (17.5), Von Miller (16.5) and J.J. Watt (15.0). He’s currently the top sacks guy who isn’t still on his rookie deal.
Who's the most underpaid player in the NFL entering next season?
The Green Bay Packers got their discount double-checked by one of the top—if not the unquestioned top—quarterbacks in the game, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers leads the NFL in passer rating (105.0) behind questionable protection. He’s been sacked more than anyone else in the league, but has yet to throw double-digit interceptions like many of the guys getting hit less often.
Rodgers has thrown for 3,124 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions this year. The former MVP is, at worst, one of the best players in the game today. He’s still waiting on a deal like the one Drew Brees agreed to with the New Orleans Saints.
In the meantime, based on average salary, Rodgers is the 14th-most richly compensated QB in the NFL.
For more NFL analysis, follow Jamal on Twitter: Follow @StatManJ