NFL Moneyball: The Best and Worst Valued Contracts on All 32 Teams for 2012

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIJanuary 22, 2013

NFL Moneyball: The Best and Worst Valued Contracts on All 32 Teams for 2012

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    Your team is overpaying its players. At least, that's what Moneyball concepts would say. Looking at Moneyball as it relates to the NFL means exploring contract situations and who is over and under valued.

    Moneyball is a concept that has been thrown around NFL circles recently. While the concepts are simple, it's basically getting the most bang for your buck. These contracts are the best and worst bang for your buck that you can get on each team.

    With help from our good buddies at Spotrac for contract information, we'll take a look at the best and worst contracts in the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Best Value Contract

    WR Andre Roberts

    Four years, $2.521 million

    Andre Roberts is a No. 2 wide receiver in the Arizona offense now. He also has improved every season since he got there. His receptions went up from 24 to 51 to 64. His yards went up from 307 to 586 to 759, and then, touchdowns increased from two in each of his first two years to five this season. 

    Constant improvement is good. Turning in at least 759 yards and five touchdowns with the weakest quarterbacks in recent memory piloting the Cardinals plane? That's definitely worth the minimal dime they are paying Roberts to be the No. 2 receiver.


    Worst Value Contract

    QB Kevin Kolb

    Six years, $63.5 million

    In two years, Kevin Kolb has been paid over $20 million to play a total of 800 snaps. That's less than 40 percent of the offensive snaps for someone who is supposed to be the starting quarterback. His issue has been injuries, though.

    Kolb still has the talent to right the ship and turn around this poor contract situation. But it will take him more than just a single season. The Cardinals also need to get him some sort of protection, or he will be the biggest waste of almost $64 million ever.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Best Value Contract

    CB Robert McClain

    One year, $540,000

    For someone who has been a journeyman his first two years in the NFL, Robert McClain has earned his spot for as long as he wants it on an NFL roster this season. Specifically in the Atlanta defense, he has been tremendous. 

    He's allowed just 335 yards on 64 targets his way for a yards per attempt average of just 5.23. He also hasn't allowed a touchdown all season. If he had better hands and had more than just the one interception, he'd likely be looking at offers from teams this offseason for a starting role.


    Worst Value Contract

    DE Ray Edwards

    Five years, $27.5 million

    The Falcons made their biggest misstep in the Thomas Dimitroff era with this contract. Sure Edwards had 3.5 sacks his first season. But he was unable to reach the quarterback in 2012. His game and attitude regressed so far that the Seattle Seahawks signed Patrick Chukwurah over him. 


Baltimore Ravens

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    Best Value Contract

    WR Torrey Smith

    Four years, $3.389 million

    Think Andre Roberts but slightly faster and more productive as a deep threat and you have Torrey Smith. He's a top-notch target who has been able to give the Ravens production that other teams are paying out the nose for and still not receiving from their No. 1 options.

    His 1,696 yards and 15 touchdowns on 99 catches in his first two seasons is an excellent start to a career that has already drawn him great praise. At just under $850,000 per season, he has proven to be more than worth what the Ravens are paying him.


    Worst Value Contract

    LB Ray Lewis

    Seven years, $44.5 million

    The only thing that makes this contract truly a poor value is how much Ray Lewis' game fell off in the final two years of his career. He's still an excellent emotional leader, but he's going to be leaving the NFL with three years left on his contract.

Buffalo Bills

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    Best Value Contract

    S Jairus Byrd

    Four years, $4.15 million

    Getting the NFL's best free safety for just over $1 million a year is a total steal. His 56.9 passer rating allowed and his just missing four tackles show that he is the best at minimizing the damage that other teams try to throw his way.

    He's been targeted only 21 times all season. That alone makes the five interceptions he has even more spectacular. But even more important, he didn't give up a touchdown all season. He should be rewarded handsomely once his contract expires with a new deal.


    Worst Value Contract

    QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Seven years, $62.195 million

    Buffalo signed Fitzpatrick for over $60 million? What is, "How do you waste $60 million in the NFL, Alex?" 

    While Fitzpatrick has looked terrible in Buffalo since his extension was signed, he did look great before hand. However, if Doug Marrone wants to do big things in Buffalo, quarterback should be at the top of his wish list.

Carolina Panthers

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    Best Value Contract

    DE Greg Hardy

    Four years, $1.906 million

    While Charles Johnson makes the big money and gets 12.5 sacks, Greg Hardy makes less than half-a-million dollars a year and gives Carolina 11.0 sacks. Hardy's performance has well overshadowed his loud mouth, but he will have to start acting more sportsmanlike once he gets a new contract.

    His ability doesn't stop at the 11 sacks, 12 QB hits or 36 QB hurries. He can also play the run exceptionally well on the outside. He earned 38 stops either at or behind the line in 2012 and 25 of those came in the run game, showing his prowess as a run defender.


    Worst Value Contract

    RB DeAngelo Williams

    Five years, $43 million

    Despite running for over 750 yards in each of the first two years of his contract, DeAngelo Williams has shown to be one of the worst contracts in all of the NFL. Over $8.5 million a year for a guy who isn't even able to surpass 1,000 yards on the ground or get over seven touchdowns is not good cap management.

    By giving him a ridiculous contract and overpaying running backs in general, former GM Marty Hurney lost his job. It would not shock anyone to see Williams lose his this offseason once a new GM is signed.

Chicago Bears

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    Best Value Contract

    DE Israel Idonije

    One year, $2.5 million

    Israel Idonije was one of the best values in the entire NFL as a pass-rusher. To pay a guy $2.5 million to go out there and get 7.5 sacks is unheard off. Add in his five QB hits, 37 QB hurries and some excellent run defense and you have the best bargain at defensive end in the NFL.

    The 32-year-old defensive end doesn't have much left in the tank after this past season, but it's hard to argue that the Bears didn't get their money's worth for the spot across the field from high-priced DE Julius Peppers.


    Worst Value Contract

    WR Devin Hester

    Four years, $40.975 million

    Over $10 million a year for a returner? No offense to Mr. Hester but this highlights a good bit about why Jerry Angelo got fired. Spending that much money on an aging return specialist is not a good idea in the first place. 

    Hester has shown that he couldn't turn into a top-notch receiver, and they gave him top-receiver money. The best move they could have made would have been to let Hester walk because his return game hasn't meant the difference in winning or losing games since he signed the contract.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Best Value Contract

    OG Kevin Zeitler

    Four years, $7.544 million

    For how good the Bengals offensive line has been this year, look mainly at the hulking offensive guard Kevin Zeitler's addition and compare it to last year. He's helped that offense tremendously in both the running game and the passing game.

    However, his overall value is much, much more than what the Bengals are paying him on his rookie contract. The under-$2-million-a-year average for a player who is a fringe Pro Bowl talent is pretty ridiculous and is easily one of the best values for a guard in the NFL.


    Worst Value Contract

    DE Robert Geathers

    Six years, $33.75 million

    On the flip side of the coin, Robert Geathers has been completely useless for the Bengals during his contract. Almost $6 million a year for a guy who can't even get to the quarterback but four times all year is ridiculous—especially since his run defense is average at best.

Cleveland Browns

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    Best Value Contract

    C Alex Mack

    Five years, $12.2 million

    Cleveland's offensive line has been one of the biggest bright spots for a team that's otherwise mediocre. Alex Mack is a big reason why. His leadership and talent level is more than worth a contract that would make him the highest-paid center in the NFL.

    However, he's making a total of $2.44 million a season and is proving that he's the most underpaid center in the league. Underpaid is a good thing from a team perspective, but he should be getting quite a bit more money on his second contract.


    Worst Value Contract

    DE Frostee Rucker

    Five years, $20.5 million

    Frostee Rucker is the Robert Geathers of the Browns. Why he's getting paid so much money to do so little is beyond me. His overall talent level is that of a backup. Yet, he's getting $4.25 million a year. That money would be much better spent on someone who could actually rush the passer from the right end position.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Best Value Contract

    RB DeMarco Murray

    Four years, $2.97 million

    Paying just under $750,000 a year for a starting running back who makes the team better? Sign me up. DeMarco Murray has some injury issues. But for a back who can average 4.8 yards per carry and 7.8 yards per catch and has averaged 1,000 total yards from scrimmage in his first two seasons, he's more than worth it.

    If he can get over the injury bug that he's been fighting his first two seasons, he could end up as one of the top running backs in the league. It wouldn't shock anyone to see him put up over 1,300 yards if he could stay healthy for a full 16 games and get over 300 carries.


    Worst Value Contract

    OT Doug Free

    Four years, $32 million

    Maybe it's me, but paying $8 million a year for a guy who's going to fail as a right tackle doesn't seem like a good investment. It's especially true, considering Tyson Clabo has been playing like a Pro Bowl right tackle in Atlanta for just $5 million a year.

    Doug Free has allowed 52 quarterback disruptions this season and is one of the worst pass-blockers in the NFL at right tackle. His only saving grace is his ability to knock people around in the run game. Even that isn't worth $8 million a year though. 

Denver Broncos

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    Best Value Contract

    OLB Von Miller

    Four years, $21 million

    Von Miller—one of the best all-around linebackers in the NFL today—is showing that he's worth any amount of money to be on a team. He's got a ridiculously high Pro Football Focus grade of plus-78.5, which includes a plus-51.4 pass rush and plus-31.9 run defense grade.

    His 18.5 sacks, 15 QB hits and 52 QB hurries show that he's far and away the best pass-rusher whom the Broncos have. His play has drawn Derrick Thomas comparisons (via Mike Klis of The Denver Post), and that alone is worth more than the $5.25 million a year he will be making.


    Worst Value Contract

    LB D.J. Williams

    Six years, $32 million

    So why pay a linebacker over $6.5 million to play just 131 snaps in a season? D.J. Williams has earned a good bit of his contract before he signed it. However, the last two seasons on it look like they could be cut out completely.

    Whenever you pay someone $32 million, you expect them to play every snap in the six seasons you pay them for and play well. Williams has been below-average for a middle linebacker and has been making top-notch pay. That's always a bad move by a front office.

Detroit Lions

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    Best Value Contract

    OG Rob Sims

    Five years, $8.051 million

    Rob Sims is an extremely underrated player on the Detroit line. He earned a plus-2.7 grade playing all 1,138 snaps in 2010, plus-11.3 playing all 1,143 snaps in 2011 and a plus-13.8 playing all 1,230 snaps in 2012.

    His ability to not just be an iron man but also be one of the better left guards in the league makes him one of the best values in the entire league. His play is that of a Pro Bowl-caliber guard the past two seasons, and his pay says quality backup. It's tough to find values like that in the NFL.


    Worst Value Contract

    DE Kyle Vanden Bosch

    Four years, $26 million

    I will never understand the love for aging defensive ends and paying them over $6.5 million a year when they obviously are over the hill. Kyle Vanden Bosch's been the worst or second-worst defender for the Lions each of the last three years, according to Pro Football Focus' grading metrics.

    Since when is the worst player on the field worth one of the highest-paid contracts? The fact of the matter is that he isn't. Vanden Bosch has likely seen his last snap as a Lion this past year as they should free themselves of his terrible contract once and for all.

Green Bay Packers

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    Best Value Contract

    WR Randall Cobb

    Four years, $3.209 million

    Rookie contracts tend to dominate this for good reason. Where else can you find a game-changer who gives you over 2,000 all-purpose yards in his second season in the NFL? And where else can you do that for next to nothing?

    Moneyball is about the draft just as much as it is about brilliant free-agent signings. Randall Cobb has shown that he could easily be a No. 2 wide receiver at the NFL level. When it comes to value and the true theory behind a good contract, someone who can be a Swiss Army knife like Cobb for cheap will always be a great value.


    Worst Value Contract

    C Jeff Saturday

    Two years, $7.705 million

    Paying over $1 million for a center who gets benched after 15 games in the season is not a good investment. He was the worst run-blocking centers in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. He also allowed three sacks, two hits and five hurries in the passing game.

    His overall contract has proven to be a terrible value. And with the Packers getting knocked out of the playoff so early, it's safe to say they could be looking for a true center in the draft this year to replace the failed Saturday experiment.

Houston Texans

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    Best Value Contract

    DE J.J. Watt

    Four years, $11.23 million

    If you told any NFL fan that J.J. Watt was making the No. 52 base salary of all defensive ends in the NFL, they'd tell you that he more than deserves a raise. I agree 100 percent with that sentiment.

    Watt has been tremendous in 2012 as a pass-rusher with 20.5 sacks, 26 hits and 34 hurries on 687 pass rushes—or one quarterback disruption every 8.5 snaps. He also has been tremendous against the run, earning a 47.5 grade from Pro Football Focus which was best in the NFL for all 3-4 defensive ends.


    Worst Value Contract

    OLB Whitney Mercilus

    Four years, $7.634 million

    The worst value on a team is making less than the best value? Why, yes. Yes he is. The reasoning for that is that the worst value was a first-round pick just like the best value. However, he hasn't earned his keep yet. 

    With just six sacks this season, he looks like he provided another rotational option. However, when Brian Cushing went down, he should have been on the field more, and Brooks Reed or Connor Barwin should have been moved inside. Spending a first-rounder on a rotational guy is a bad value.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Best Value Contract

    TE Dwayne Allen

    Four years, $3.08 million

    I will never argue against a team for using a pair of draft picks to fill a need—especially when they take the top two players at the position the way the Colts did in 2012. While Coby Fleener was selected at the top of the second round, the top tight end for Andrew Luck was actually Dwayne Allen.

    Allen, in his rookie year, was targeted just 66 times. However, he was highly effective catching 45 balls for 521 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught four balls on six targets in the playoff game this year for 51 yards. I'll gladly pay $752,000 a year for a tight end who can produce like that.


    Worst Value Contract

    DE Dwight Freeney

    Six years, $72 million

    In four of his first five years, he had 10 or more sacks and four or more forced fumbles. In three of his last six years, he's been able to hit the same mark. Unfortunately, in years where he has been paid more than $10 million, he's given the Colts average production at best.

    This past year was very forgettable as he had trouble playing in the new 3-4 scheme that Chuck Pagano installed and only got five sacks. The best fit is a 4-3 Tampa 2-style defense, and he should take his chances this season trying to latch onto a team like Chicago or even Buffalo. But he didn't earn his money this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Best Value Contract

    WR Cecil Shorts

    Four years, $2.643 million

    In his rookie year, Shorts was average at best as a return specialist and barely saw the field as a receiver. However, as a sophomore in the NFL, he was able to take 106 targets and turn them into 55 catches for 979 yards. He also had seven touchdowns.

    He was the leading receiver for the Jaguars and should give the new head coach a good No. 2 option to team with Justin Blackmon and Mercedes Lewis. Should the Jaguars get a solid quarterback early in the draft, they could end up enjoying their best value player.


    Worst Value Contract

    S Dawan Landry

    Five years, $27.5 million

    Despite performing well in Baltimore the first five years of his career, he hasn't been worth $5.5 million a year as a starting safety in Jacksonville. His abilities have been solid in the run game, but he has shown lapses in pass coverage.

    It was more than apparent in 2012 when he allowed three touchdown passes and was able to only secure one interception. His tackle totals are high, but that tends to happen when a team plays over 1,150 snaps on defense, and he's the guy who's on the field 100 percent of the time.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Best Value Contract

    OG Jon Asamoah

    Four years, $2.702 million

    The starting right guard for the Chiefs has proven to be one of the top offensive linemen on the Chiefs. Pro Football Focus rated him the second-best linemen with a plus-15.0 grade for his blocking and ability to avoid penalties.

    His pass-blocking was solid with a plus-3.7 grade, allowing just three sacks, two hits and 18 hurries over 491 pass-blocking plays. However, his run-blocking was amazing in tandem with Pro Bowl right tackle Eric Winston to earn him a plus-eight grade.

    This is all more than worth way more than the $675,500 he's averaging every season as the starting right guard.


    Worst Value Contract

    QB Matt Cassel

    Six years, $63 million

    How Matt Cassel duped the Kansas City Chiefs into paying him over $10 million a year is beyond me. He's been terrible in three of his four years for the Chiefs. The only good year that he had was 2010 where he had over 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

    In the past two years, he's only played nine games. He's also been benched or injured in both seasons and doesn't deserve to be the starting quarterback of the Chiefs at all. Compound in that Cassel also cost a second-round pick, and the Chiefs completely got duped by him.

Miami Dolphins

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    Best Value Contract

    DE Cameron Wake

    Five years, $34.53 million

    He's been the Dolphins best defensive player for three years now. He's one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. And he's only making $7 million a year compared to guys who give much less production making over $10 million a year.

    And in the first year of his new contract, he doesn't decline like most players do. He gives the Dolphins the best year of his career. Fifteen sacks, 23 hits and 46 hurries on 559 pass rushes means he was disrupting the quarterback once every 6.65 plays. That's insane production for any price and more than worth his mid-level contract.


    Worst Value Contract

    CB Dmitri Patterson

    Three years, $16.05 million

    If you are saying, "Who?" I am right there with you. Patterson has been an average, at best, corner in his career. However, his 92 snaps for the Dolphins this season weren't worth the over $5-million-per-year average that he has been given. It's a complete overpayment. It would not shock anyone to see him cut this offseason.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Best Value Contract

    RB Adrian Peterson

    Seven years, $96 million

    Adrian Peterson is bionic. Seriously, he really is. He's the best running back in the NFL and has been since his initial selection in the 2007 NFL draft. His 8,849 yards in his first six years puts him in position to be one of the players who was fastest to reach the 10,000-yard rushing mark.

    Add in that he has never had a season under 970 yards rushing, 4.4 yards per carry or 10 touchdowns, and you have the best running back to have played in the 21st century. He's the highest-paid running back.

    Moneyball is about spending money wisely and paying the top running-back contract to the best running back in the NFL is spending wisely.


    Worst Value Contract

    DT Letroy Guion

    Three years, $9 million

    Paying $3 million for a rotational, poor-playing defensive tackle is not a wise way to spend money. Yes, he has two sacks, two hits and 11 pressures on 273 pass rushes, but that's not good for a defensive tackle.

    He needs to get more pressure and stop the run better when he gets his opportunities on the field. His -9.4 run defense grade by Pro Football Focus explains why he was a target for teams to rush at all season.

New England Patriots

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    Best Value Contract

    CB/S Devin McCourty

    Five years, $10 million

    Devin McCourty is in the third year of his five-year rookie deal. His ability to post a combined 53.6 passer rating this season at a cornerback and safety role has been amazing. His 14 stops in the run game hasn't gone unnoticed either as it earned him a plus-4.6 rating in the run game.

    However, his overall play is worth well over the $2 million a year he is making. He's easily the best value on the Patriots defense and has been more than worth the first-round pick that the Patriots spent on him in the 2010 NFL draft.


    Worst Value Contract

    S Steve Gregory

    Three years, $7.05 million

    He's given up three touchdowns and 324 yards in coverage this year. He also has three interceptions. However, he's been mediocre as a whole and one of the worst players on the Patriots this season. That being said, he's on here by default.

    He's worth his contract, but he's on here as the worst value because the Patriots are smart with their money, and getting a mediocre player for just over $2 million a year is a bad decision by their standards.

New Orleans Saints

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    Best Value Contract

    OL Brian De La Puente

    One year, $540,000

    As a center, he allowed just two sacks, four hits and 10 pressures in 728 pass blocks. That means he allowed just one pressure for every 45.5 pass-blocking snaps. He's one of the best pass-blocking centers in the NFL because of it.

    Add in a Pro Football Focus run-blocking rating of plus-13.6 and you have one of the best all-around centers in the NFL. Add in that he's being paid just $540,000 for an exclusive-rights contract for his efforts, and his overall value shoots up to the best in the NFL as a center.


    Worst Value Contract

    DE Will Smith

    Six years, $61.4 million

    Since signing his contract, he's only had 10 or more sacks once, and that was in 2008 when he had 13.0 sacks. He's not the pass-rush specialist that they think they had when he signed the contract. It would not surprise me to see him cut this offseason with $19.5 million of non-guaranteed money still left on the contract.

New York Giants

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    Best Value Contract

    WR Victor Cruz

    Three years, $1.215 million

    In two years, Victor Cruz has caught 168 passes on 274 targets. He's gained 2,628 yards, 19 touchdowns and has been arguably the best option in the passing game for Eli Manning the past two seasons. His 111 first downs are no joke either.

    Paying someone just over $400,000 a year to be the No. 1 wide receiver is ridiculous value. Cruz deserves an extension. However, he's only had two seasons in the league,so it's unlikely that the Giants will give him a huge deal until he holds out.


    Worst Value Contract

    CB Corey Webster

    Six years, $43.5 million

    Giving a corner who isn't a top-15 corner in the NFL a top-six contract is a pretty terrible value. He allowed a passer rating against of 106.6 this season, and his tackling skills led to six missed tackles as well.

    Paying over $7 million a year to a corner would be better spent if that corner was actually worth it. His $7 million salary in 2013 should be either restructured, or Webster could be looking at being cut for the first time in his career.

New York Jets

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    Best Value Contract

    OT Austin Howard

    Two years, $706,944

    He did allow 10 sacks, 10 hits and 30 hurries in the passing game. His terrible pass-blocking came mainly in the first eight games of the season. He allowed six sacks and 10 hurries in the last eight games and has shown marked improvement.

    In the running game, he was truly one of the stronger players for the Jets. His plus-9.6 run rating by Pro Football Focus shows he is more than worth the two year, minimum salary contract that he signed before the 2012 season.


    Worst Value Contract

    QB Mark Sanchez

    Five years, $58.25 million

    When you pay for a starting quarterback, you want that quarterback to actually be good. When you pay him almost $12 million a year, he better at least be starting caliber. Mark Sanchez is the worst quarterback who is still an unquestioned starter in the NFL.

    His highest passer rating is 78.2, and this past season, he only achieved a paltry 66.2 rating. His 69 career interceptions compared to his 68 career touchdowns doesn't bode well for him either. And his completion percentage of 55.1 percent is one of the worst in the NFL for all starters.

Oakland Raiders

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    Best Value Contract

    OT Jared Veldheer

    Four years, $2.685 million

    Someone asked me recently, "Who is the best player on the Oakland Raiders?" I had trouble for about five minutes thinking about who it was. Richard Seymour has been mediocre this season, and Carson Palmer has been awful. 

    Then it hit me, their left tackle Jared Veldheer is one of the top-10 players at his position in the NFL. It was an excellent pick by the Raiders to select him in the third round of the 2010 draft and develop him. Now he's making peanuts to be a NFL top-10 left tackle.


    Worst Value Contract

    RB Darren McFadden

    Six years, $60 million

    On the flip side, Darren McFadden is the showing of what you don't want to spend $10 million a year on. He's been injured almost every season. He has just one 1,000-yard season and one 500 yards receiving season—and those came in the same year.

    He hasn't shown his value as the No. 3 overall pick and will likely be cut before this coming season if the Raiders are looking at his value. A $5.85 million salary is way too much for someone who isn't even giving you 750 yards in a season.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Best Value Contract

    OG Evan Mathis

    Five years, $25 million

    If you are going to pay someone $5 million a year, you make sure he's the right guy to pay that much to. When you get rewarded with a guy who is the best at his position after earning his big pay day, that's just icing on the cake. 

    Evan Mathis is a great offensive guard and has been the only guard to earn a plus-40 or higher all-around grade from Pro Football Focus each of the past two years. This year, his plus-51.3 grade was double what the second-best offensive guard was. That looks like good value to me.


    Worst Value Contract

    QB Michael Vick

    Five years, $80 million

    Just one-and-a-half seasons into his second contract for $16 million a season, he's already been benched for Nick Foles, the 2012 third-round pick. This could be looked at as a case of how the once mighty have now fallen.

    However, Vick has only had a couple of good years in the NFL that have even come close to showing that he's worth a contract like that. Philadelphia could easily part ways with him and his overpriced contract this offseason.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Best Value Contract

    CB Cortez Allen

    Four years, $2.4315 million

    In his first two seasons, he hasn't played every snap as he's been more of the nickel and dime corner. However, he's earned every penny of his contract as a key contributor in 2012 who rarely misses tackles and plays extremely well in coverage.

    He allowed a passer rating against of just 68.5, as he allowed just one touchdown, 5.82 yards per attempt and had two interceptions. He can blitz, too, as he has four hits and one pressure on just 24 pass rushes. Add in the paltry salary that is just over $600,000 a year and he's a tremendous value for the Steelers.


    Worst Value Contract

    OL Willie Colon

    Five years, $29 million

    Paying over $5 million a year for someone who is mediocre at their position is a terrible value. Willie Colon has fit that example perfectly. His mediocre play on the field is compounded by his inability to get on the field with just 74 snaps played in 2011 and just over 700 in 2012.

    With salaries of $5.5 million in 2013 and 2014 and a salary of $6.0 million in 2015, Colon has become a prime target to be cut (via Ed Bouchette of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) as part of the post-June 2 designated cuts. To cut him in that manor would save $5.5 million in 2013, $2.4 million in 2014 and $6.0 million in 2015.

San Diego Chargers

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    Best Value Contract

    S Eric Weddle

    Five years, $40 million

    If you are going to pay a man like he is the best safety in the NFL, he better perform like a top-five NFL safety at a minimum. Well, Eric Weddle is definitely in the top three every single season of his career. 

    This past season, he definitely earned his spot there with a passer rating allowed of just 54.3, a yards per target allowed of just 4.29 and just two touchdowns allowed all season. He also created turnovers and led one of the least talented defenses in the NFL to play better than it really was.


    Worst Value Contract

    QB Philip Rivers

    Seven years, $98.25 million

    As his cap hit rises, his play declines. As of now, Philip Rivers has earned his money, but he needs to do something to make sure he lives out the rest of his contract. The mediocre season that he had this year led the Chargers to go 7-9 and finally fire Norv Turner.

    New head coach Mike McCoy, new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and new quarterbacks coach Frank Weich were all brought in to bring Rivers back to the player he was from 2008 to 2010 when the Chargers won two out of three AFC West titles.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Best Value Contract

    OT Joe Staley

    Six years, $28.12 million

    A franchise left tackle is almost as invaluable as a franchise quarterback is. However, it's tough to find value like Joe Staley at left tackle to take a contract under $5 million a year for any time period after their rookie contract.

    Staley is one of the best pass-blocking left tackles in the NFL. Despite allowing nine sacks, he allowed just one hit and 17 pressures over the 49ers' 18 games and 579 pass-blocking plays. That's one disruption allowed every 21.4 plays—or 1.5 disruptions a game.


    Worst Value Contract

    SS Donte Whitner

    Three years, $11.75 million

    On the flip side, Donte Whitner is one of the most overrated NFL players at his position. He's making almost $4 million a year, but he hasn't earned a dime of that money, despite being voted to the Pro Bowl on false pretense of him actually being good.

    He's missed 13 tackles this season. But more than that, he's allowed a passer rating against of 128.4. He's allowed a completion percentage against of 77.1 percent, 10 touchdowns and 9.7 yards per catch as one of the bottom-five coverage safeties in the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Best Value Contract

    QB Russell Wilson

    Four years, $2.99 million

    Getting drafted in the third round doesn't mean you are guaranteed to even start a single game in your career in the NFL. However, Russell Wilson not only started every game his rookie season, he beat out a high-priced free agent and helped his team win 11 games in the regular season and a Wild Card Weekend game.

    He's proven his mettle as a franchise quarterback in just his rookie season with a 64.1 percent completion percentage for 3,118 yards passing, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also had 94 runs for 489 yards to complement his passing.

    A franchise quarterback for under $3 million over his first four years, though? Sign me up and give me the cap to spend on weapons for that franchise quarterback before he asks for a new deal after his third year.


    Worst Value Contract

    QB Matt Flynn

    Three years, $19.5 million

    The best- and the worst-valued players at the exact same position? In this case, it makes more than enough sense. Matt Flynn was brought in as the guy who should have started for the Seahawks all season as their quarterback. 

    However, he only played 38 snaps all season. He was beat out by a rookie third-round pick who was considered to be too short by NFL teams to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. It's OK, though. The Seahawks should be able to trade Flynn to a team that will be willing to put him on the field this offseason.

St. Louis Rams

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    Best Value Contract

    DE William Hayes

    One year, $900,000

    It's not often that you can pay a player less than a $1 million to get you seven sacks, six hits and 11 hurries on a quarterback on just 224 pass rushes and just 378 snaps. It's tough to find guys to produce that kind of production for so cheap.

    He was even better as a run defender, earning a plus-11.5 grade through the season by Pro Football Focus for his efforts in that regard. When it comes to Moneyball, this is about as brilliant as it comes. This is true value and the kind of key contributor whom you try to find.


    Worst Value Contract

    DT Kendall Langford

    Four years, $24 million

    Kendall Langford earned a -6.1, according to Pro Football Focus, in run defense and provided less pressure than William Hayes, despite being paid over 26 times more than what Hayes is making. The defensive tackle was able to sack the quarterback just twice all season.

    Add in just three hits and 13 pressures on his total of 408 pass rushes and he's one of the most ineffective NFL pass-rushers and run stuffers at the 3-technique defensive tackle role. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Best Value Contract

    DE Michael Bennett

    One year, $2.742 million

    Most teams have to pay much more than just $2.742 million in a season for nine sacks, 14 hits and 49 pressures on 601 pass rushes—or one disruption every 8.35 snaps where he was designed to go after the quarterback.

    Now that Michael Bennett has a chance to get a big payday, he more than deserves it. However, Bennett could end up getting franchised by the Buccaneers as they try to keep control of him after this season.


    Worst Value Contract

    CB Eric Wright

    Five years, $37.5 million

    If you pay someone a starter salary, he better not get suspended for four games in a season or play only half of the defensive snaps all season. When Eric Wright was on the field, he was awful as he allowed 9.11 yards per target.

    Getting targeted 56 times on just 323 coverage snaps is a bit much. That's over 17.3 percent of the time he was on the field or once every six snaps. He also allowed a passer rating against of 96.6 and two touchdowns to opposing offenses. That's not worth the $7.5 million he was paid at all.

Tennessee Titans

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    Best Value Contract

    OL Fernando Velasco

    One year, $615,000

    After Eugene Amano got injured, there were questions about how the Titans would respond with someone who was just as good. It turns out that Fernando Velasco is a much better center than Amano has been over the past few years.

    He allowed no sacks and just two quarterback hits all season. He also allowed just nine pressures on the 644 pass-blocking snaps he played. That means the quarterback got disrupted once every 58.5 plays from Velasco failing his assignment—or one of the best in the league. For just $615,000, that's a true steal.


    Worst Value Contract

    S Michael Griffin

    Five years, $35 million

    Michael Griffin just got a huge payday this past offseason for $7 million a year and could not live up to it at all in the first year of it. He missed 22 tackles and graded out with a -5.6 in the run game according to Pro Football Focus. They also rated him a -10.1 in his pass coverage.

    The 103.6 rating, seven touchdowns and 11.25 yards per attempt allowed by Griffin shows just how poor he was against the pass. He wasn't bad in every game as he had three games where he had at least one interception and allowed a total of one catch over those games.

    But the season is 16 games long, and he didn't earn his paycheck this year. At least, he didn't earn all $7 million of it for the Titans.

Washington Redskins

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    Best Value Contract

    RB Alfred Morris

    Four years, $2.223 million

    Let's take a guy in the sixth round of the draft, pay him the minimum salary, put him in the perfect scheme for his talents and then watch him almost make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. His 4.8 yards per carry average led him to gain over 1,600 yards this season.

    Outside of the four fumbles this season on his 335 carries, Morris was a pillar of reliability in the offense. He was why Robert Griffin III was able to run the zone read so effectively as he could take the dive play and gain effective yardage on it. That alone is priceless, so he's worth any and every penny.


    Worst Value Contract

    DL Adam Carriker

    Four years, $20 million

    After signing his big-money contract this past offseason, Adam Carriker played just 43 snaps during the 2012 season. Getting injured in the first game of the season wasn't his plan, but he will have to get healthy and log actual playing time and results to earn the rest of the money on his contract.

    The defensive lineman had earned a year-long grade of -9.7 according to Pro Football Focus in 2011 before signing his contract this past offseason. So the question of whether he even earned the contract in the first place is questionable and questionable does not add up in Moneyball.


    All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium, or All contract information used was from

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.