Russell Wilson will be a bargain for the length of his rookie contract.
If you ask any NFL player, he will probably not hesitate to tell you that he is not paid what he is worth. Safe to say that you need a pretty big ego to succeed in the NFL and put up with the abuse you get from coaches, fans and the opposition.
However, who are the players who will truly be the most underpaid on the rosters of all 32 NFL teams in 2013? Where an NFL player is drafted, if he is even drafted, will determine how well he is compensated.
We are only interested in looking at players who are already under contract for the 2013 season.
All contract information used in the presentation is courtesy of Rotoworld.com.
LB Sam Acho had a productive 2012 season.
When you view the 2013 contracts for the Arizona Cardinals, you would like to see more bargains up and down the roster, instead of guys that are getting paid for more than they produce.
Our choice for the most underpaid player on the Arizona roster is linebacker Sam Acho.
In 2013, Acho is scheduled to earn a base salary of $550,000. In 2012, he showed that he is a playmaker as he filled up the stat line across the board.
Acho had 48 tackles, four sacks, three tackles for loss, three pass deflections, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. For the production that Arizona received compared to what it is paying him, Acho is a bargain.
Jacquizz Rodgers represents great value based on his contract.
The Atlanta Falcons' most underpaid player is running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers took on a larger role in the Falcons offense in 2012, and no doubt will continue to see more touches as he gains experience.
The first thing that struck me about Rodgers is how good his hands are. He caught 53 out of the 59 passes that were thrown to him in 2012. The other big statistic is that Rodgers picked up 387 yards after the catch, which shows how much value he has.
Rodgers is due to make a base salary of $555,000 in 2013. That is a bargain for the Falcons.
In regards to rushing the ball, Rodgers picked up 362 yards on 94 carries in 2012. The Falcons would like to see the average pumped up to above 4.0 yards per carry (it was 3.9 this year). He scored one rushing touchdown, and he scored one touchdown as a receiver. Rodgers had four plays that went for 20-plus yards this season, two on runs and two as a receiver.
Torrey Smith is a steal for the Ravens, in more ways than one.
The Baltimore Ravens are blessed with some great contracts that involve players producing much more than what they are currently being paid.
In 2013, a couple of these bargains include wide receiver Torrey Smith (due to earn $683,000 in salary), running back Bernard Pierce (due to make $480,000 in 2013) and guard Kelechi Osemele (will make $542,000 in 2013).
Of the three contracts, the player that is the biggest bargain is Smith. He excels at blocking downfield to spring Ray Rice and Pierce on their runs. In 2012 Smith led the Ravens with eight touchdown receptions and averaged 17.4 yards per catch.
Smith came up with 38 receptions that resulted in a first down and had 16 catches that went for more than 20 yards. He picked up 238 yards after the catch and gained 855 yards in receptions during the season. Smith's strong season keeps defenses honest, as they can't overload coverage on Anquan Boldin, or Smith will burn them long.
Alex Carrington blocked four kicks during the 2012 season.
The Buffalo Bills are suddenly becoming a much younger organization overnight, thanks to Russ Brandon taking over as president, Doug Marrone as the head coach, Nate Hackett as offensive coordinator and Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator.
For the most underpaid player, we will stay with the youth movement. Three Bills seem to fit the description quite well. We have defensive lineman Alex Carrington (due to earn $575,000 in 2013), starting left tackle Cordy Glenn ($561,000 salary in 2013) and linebacker Nigel Bradham (will earn $480,000 in 2013).
Of the three players, we will go with Carrington, who really came on strong in the second half of 2012. Carrington has been caught in a defensive scheme time warp where the team kept switching from 4-3 to 3-4 back to 4-3, and now who knows what Pettine will do since he ran a 3-4 with the New York Jets.
Carrington has developed a special knack for learning how to block kicks, as he pulled the feat off four times in the 2012 season. He also contributed 19 tackles, two sacks, three pass deflections and one forced fumble. On top of that, he was tied for second on the defense with five tackles for loss despite getting limited snaps in the defensive rotation.
You can be sure Carrington will take on a bigger role in 2013.
Luke Kuechly is more than just a tackling machine.
The Carolina Panthers knew they were getting a very good linebacker when they drafted Luke Kuechly in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. They just didn't know how good.
Kuechly wound up leading the NFL in tackles as a rookie with 164 for the year. The next-closest player to him was San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman with 149.
In addition to all the tackles, Kuechly made 11 tackles for a loss, one sack, eight passes defended, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Kuechly is scheduled to earn $961,755 in 2013. For the kind of production that he generated, he is a steal.
Major Wright makes a big hit in the Seattle game.
The Chicago Bears have a couple players that appear to be up for the honor of "most underpaid." We have one player on offense, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and one player on defense, safety Major Wright.
Jeffery didn't see nearly the number of targets that Brandon Marshall received from quarterback Jay Cutler, but that was to be expected. Cutler and Marshall have plenty of history together and a strong chemistry with each other.
Jeffery came up with 24 receptions this year for 367 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 15.3 yards per catch, which led the Bears offense in 2012. In 2013, Jeffery will earn a base salary of $596,719. Compare that to the $9.1 million figure for Marshall, and you realize that Jeffery is a bargain.
With regards to Wright, his base salary in 2013 will be $575,000. Wright was No. 3 in tackles for the Bears with 71 and had five tackles for loss, eight passes defended, four interceptions, one pick-six return, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Any team in the NFL would gladly pay a safety $575,000 to make that many plays across the board. Our choice for the Bears' most underpaid player is Wright.
Vontaze Burfict led all Bengals with 127 tackles in 2012.
The Cincinnati Bengals' most underpaid player is rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict was an undrafted rookie free agent who hurt his draft stock due to his conduct on and off the field in college.
Marvin Lewis decided to take a chance on him and was rewarded with a solid year of play. Burfict led the Bengals with 127 tackles, along with one sack, six tackles for loss, two pass deflections and two fumble recoveries.
For 2013, Burfict is slated to earn a base salary of $480,000. If he comes back with another performance like this next year, he will earn the most underpaid honor again.
We should also point out that the Bengals have an absolute steal in 2013 with All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who will only be earning a base salary of $575,000.
Atkins came up with 12.5 sacks in 2012, which is the most by a defensive tackle in the last 10 years.
Josh Gordon led the Browns in receiving in 2012.
The Cleveland Browns were led in receiving in 2012 by rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon was selected as a supplemental draft pick and wound up with 50 receptions for 805 yards and an average of 16.1 yards per catch.
Gordon scored five touchdowns for Cleveland and came up with 12 receptions that went for 20-plus yards. Forty of his 50 receptions went for a first down.
As you can see, Gordon had a big impact on the Browns offense in 2012. In 2013, he is scheduled to earn a modest $632,802 salary, which makes him the most underpaid player in Cleveland.
To get a No. 1 wide receiver for that small a salary is hard to do, so the Browns better enjoy it while they can.
DeMarco Murray is one of Cowboys' biggest bargains.
The Dallas Cowboys have two contracts in 2013 that seem to be bargains for the team.
Running back DeMarco Murray is scheduled to earn $620,000 in salary in 2013. Murray needs to complete a season injury-free (can he do that considering his history at Oklahoma?), but for the games that he is active he brings some excitement to the Dallas offense.
The other bargain is wide receiver Dez Bryant, who is going to earn $1.6 million, which is a pretty good deal for the Cowboys. The team relied heavily on Bryant down the stretch, and he stepped up his game despite playing with a broken finger.
For the purposes of this article, we will select Murray as the biggest bargain, but you could take either player.
Eric Decker caught 13 touchdown passes in 2012.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones led the NFL in 2012 with 14 touchdown receptions. Ranked right behind him with 13 touchdown receptions was Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker.
Decker turned in a 1,000-yard-plus season (1,064 yards) on 85 catches with an average of 12.5 yards per catch. He had 11 receptions that went for 20-plus yards and came up with 52 receptions that resulted in a first down.
In 2013, Decker is scheduled to earn a base salary of $575,000, which is an absolute steal. He is clearly the most underpaid player on the Broncos.
Mikel Leshoure led the Lions in rushing in 2012.
The Detroit Lions don't have many players that would be considered a bargain price for 2013, but there are still two players that we will highlight. The problem is, both of them are building up an injury history that detracts from what would be a bargain contract.
The players in question are wide receiver Ryan Broyles and running back Mikel Leshoure.
Broyles was making progress in his rookie season in 2012 but then tore his ACL in Week 13. Due to the severity of the injury, he might not be ready for the start of the 2013 season. His 2013 salary is set at $557,205, but if he misses multiple games, it's much less of a bargain deal.
The 2012 season marked the eighth straight season where the Lions failed to come up with a 1,000-yard rusher. Leshoure led the team with 798 yards on 215 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per carry. He did score nine rushing touchdowns and came up with 46 first downs on his rushes this year.
For the sake of the presentation, we will go with Leshoure since he should be the healthier option in 2013. He will earn a base salary of $555,000 next year.
Randall Cobb had plenty of reasons to celebrate in 2012.
The Green Bay Packers have a number of sweetheart contracts coming into the 2013 season, so we will lay out the top three for you.
First up is wide receiver Randall Cobb, who led the Packers in receiving yards (954) and receptions (80). Cobb scored eight touchdowns and averaged 11.9 yards per reception. He is due to earn just $666,766 in base salary in 2013.
Next we have safety Morgan Burnett, who led the Packers in tackles with 123. Burnett added two sacks, three tackles for loss, five passes deflected, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. The playmaker will only be making $575,000 in 2013.
Finally, there is rookie cornerback Casey Hayward, who led all NFL rookies (as well as all Packers) with six interceptions in 2012. He also led the team with 21 pass deflections and should be in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Hayward is due to earn a base salary of $540,451 in 2013.
Our choice for the Packers player that is the most underpaid is Cobb, but you could make a case for any of the three players we highlighted.
J.J. Watt wags his finger after swatting another pass.
The Houston Texans were fortunate that J.J. Watt was still on the big board when they were on the clock with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Because they didn't draft Watt in the top 10, his 2013 contract comes in at just $1.396 million.
When you think about the amount of damage he causes to offenses with sacks, tackles for loss, pass deflections that result in turnovers and pressure on the quarterback, his performance far outweighs his compensation.
Watt is revolutionizing the way that defensive ends are playing now in the NFL. Until his rookie contract expires, the Texans will have one of the best bargains in the entire league. Watt has an excellent chance to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award this year. When you look at the amount of money the Texans are paying him, it is peanuts compared to what he is actually worth to the team.
If you prefer underpaid contracts that are under $1 million, there is running back Ben Tate, who will earn $575,000 in 2013.
Vick Ballard led the Colts in rushing in 2012.
The Indianapolis Colts were busy bringing in 33 new players to turn over their roster in 2012, and general manager Ryan Grigson is to be applauded for signing some very good talent for very reasonable contracts.
There are at least four players in 2013 worth mentioning. We start on defense with linebacker Pat Angerer, who will earn $575,000 in 2013.
On the offense, there are three contracts that stand out. Running back Vick Ballard led the Colts with 814 yards in 2012, and he will be earning $480,000 in 2013.
Tight end Dwayne Allen is another great contract, as the productive tight end will make $527,000 next season.
Finally, there is wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who will be earning $485,000 in 2013. Hilton came up with 861 receiving yards and averaged a whopping 17.2 yards per reception.
The future is definitely looking up for the Colts. For our "most underpaid" designated player, we will go with Ballard, who churned out some tough yards for the Colts this year.
Cecil Shorts will be a bargain for the Jaguars in 2013.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were pleasantly surprised by the production they received from wide receiver Cecil Shorts.
Consider that Shorts led the team in receiving yards (979), touchdown receptions (seven), average yards per catch (17.8), receptions of 20-plus yards (17) and yards after catch (349).
Shorts will earn a base salary of $617,922 in 2013, which is a steal for a No. 1 wide receiver.
Tony Moeaki is the Chiefs' best contract bargain in 2013.
The Kansas City Chiefs' most underpaid player for 2013 will be tight end Tony Moeaki.
Moeaki wound up being the No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs in 2012 despite playing in an offense that struggled to find a quarterback that could get the ball to the receivers on a consistent basis.
Moeaki made 33 receptions for 453 yards and had an average of 13.7 yards per reception. He scored one touchdown on the year and had seven catches that went for 20-plus yards. He also hauled in 24 passes that went for a first down.
In the 2013 season, Moeaki will earn a base salary of $575,000, making him the best bargain on the team.
Ryan Tannehill's 2013 base salary is just $480,000.
The Miami Dolphins have a bargain on their hands with starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
In 2013, Tannehill will only make a base salary of $480,000. In addition, he will qualify for a roster bonus of $484,841, but that still puts him at less than $1 million for a starting quarterback.
That is a steal in today's NFL.
With the money that they are saving on Tannehill, the Dolphins shouldn't have much trouble upgrading their wide-receiver corps to improve the weapons around Tannehill for the 2013 season.
Blair Walsh was 10-of-10 on field goals of 50 yards or longer in 2012.
The Minnesota Vikings got a steal of a deal when they drafted kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft.
Walsh had an amazing debut as a rookie for the Vikings, as he succeeded with 35 field goals out of 38 attempts. Walsh had 10 opportunities from 50 yards and beyond and nailed all 10 of them.
With so many NFL games coming down to the wire, it has to be a huge positive for the Vikings to know that they have a strong leg ready to come in and drill a kick from 50 yards and even further.
In 2013, Walsh is scheduled to earn $480,000, which is a bargain for what he produces for Minnesota.
Rookie Alfonzo Dennard came up with three interceptions in 2012.
The New England Patriots found CB Alfonzo Dennard still available on the big board when they were on the clock with the 224th overall draft pick last year.
The Patriots selected Dennard and were delighted with what he produced as a seventh-round rookie.
Dennard came up with 35 tackles, two tackles for loss, seven pass deflections, three interceptions, a pick-six that went for 87 yards and one forced fumble.
That is strong production for a seventh-round rookie that you are trying to ease in to the NFL.
In 2013, Dennard will earn a base salary of $480,000. He qualifies as the most underpaid player on the Patriots roster.
Jimmy Graham is another steal in 2013.
New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in the 2013 season. This is the last year that the Saints will be able to retain Graham for a cheap salary.
In 2013, Graham is scheduled to make just $575,000. If you were to ask any NFL GM if he would be willing to roster Graham for $575,000, he would not only jump at the chance but probably throw in a first-round draft pick on top of it.
With all of the weapons at Drew Brees' disposal, Graham is able to exploit weaknesses in the opposition's secondary with his size, strength and leaping ability. When his rookie contract expires, Graham will be getting a sizable raise.
Jason Pierre-Paul will not be much of a salary cap hit in 2013.
The New York Giants' most underpaid player is defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who will be earning only $1.175 million in 2013.
Pierre-Paul signed a five-year deal back in 2010, but the compensation he receives in 2013 is a steal compared to the production that he typically generates.
That distinction went to wide receiver Victor Cruz last year, but Cruz will be getting a new contract, as he is a restricted free agent in 2013.
For Pierre-Paul, his compensation jumps up to $2.111 million in 2014, which is the final year of his deal.
Jeremy Kerley is one of the Jets' few value contracts.
The New York Jets are facing some difficult decisions in 2013 due to salary-cap issues. The Jets have a number of expensive contracts that are going to tie their hands and make it difficult to add talent unless some expensive veteran players are released.
One player the Jets won't have to worry about from a financial standpoint in 2013 is Jeremy Kerley, who will be the most underpaid Jets player in 2013.
Kerley will earn a base salary of $555,000 in 2013. In 2012, Kerley led the Jets in receptions (56), receiving yards (827), average yards per catch (14.8) and receptions that went 20-plus yards (14).
In addition, Kerley increased his worth to the team due to his kick-return skills. He had one special-teams touchdown along with two touchdown receptions.
Denarius Moore caught seven touchdown passes in 2012.
The most underpaid player on the Oakland Raiders roster is wide receiver Denarius Moore.
Moore came up with a solid 2012 season, as he was the second-leading receiver on the Raiders. He caught 51 passes for 741 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He averaged 14.5 yards per catch and came up with 12 catches of 20-plus yards.
The Raiders had a number of salary-cap issues that handcuffed the team in 2012. One player they won't have to worry about in 2013 is Moore, who is due to earn a base salary of just $555.000.
Nick Foles has a good chance to be the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2013.
The Philadelphia Eagles have some attractive contracts that give them some degree of financial flexibility for 2013.
The three that look like they are in the running for most underpaid player are quarterback Nick Foles, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and running back Bryce Brown.
While we await the decision to see who will emerge as the new head coach in Philadelphia, it is too early to tell if Foles or Michael Vick will be the starter for 2013. If it is in fact Foles, he will come in with a bargain price of $500,000 for next year.
Brown has to cure his fumbling issues, but he gained 564 yards on 115 carries, which is good for an average of 4.9 yards per rush. He scored four touchdowns and had six runs of 20-plus yards.
Kendricks was No. 3 on the Eagles in tackles with 75. He had one sack and deflected nine passes in 2012.
For our presentation, we will opt to go with Foles as the most underpaid Eagle for 2013.
Cortez Allen had a solid 2012 season.
The most underpaid member of the Pittsburgh Steelers is cornerback Cortez Allen.
Allen turned out to be something of a playmaker in 2012, as he led the Steelers with three forced fumbles and was tied for second on the defense with two interceptions. He made 55 tackles, deflected 10 passes and recovered a fumble.
In 2013, Allen will earn a base salary of $555,000. For a defense that has reduced the number of turnovers it creates compared to what it was accustomed to, Allen is a welcome addition.
Donald Butler is the most underpaid Charger.
The San Diego Chargers' most underpaid player for 2013 is linebacker Donald Butler.
Butler wound up contributing 77 tackles in 2012, to go along with three sacks, four tackles for loss, four pass deflections, one interception, one defensive touchdown on a return and two forced fumbles.
The best part of Butler, besides being a playmaker, is that he will only cost the Chargers $575,000 in 2013, which qualifies him as the most underpaid player.
Kendall Hunter averaged 5.2 yards per carry in 2012.
The San Francisco 49ers have two players that could arguably be called the most underpaid. They are running back Kendall Hunter and cornerback Chris Culliver.
Hunter gives valuable relief to Frank Gore. In 2012, Hunter ran the ball 72 times for 371 yards, which equals a very healthy average of 5.2 yards per rush. Hunter will earn a base salary of $555,000 in 2013.
Culliver demonstrated that he is a playmaker, as he came up with 47 tackles, 14 pass deflections (tied for No. 1 on the 49ers defense), two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Culliver will earn a base salary of $555,000 for 2013.
Since they are both earning the same amount, you could say that they are co-most underpaid. If you prefer defense, you pick Culliver, and if you are offensive-minded, you take Hunter.
Russell Wilson is a financial bargain for the Seahawks.
The Seattle Seahawks' most underpaid player was pretty easy to determine. It is starting rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
In 2013, Wilson will earn a base salary of $526,217. For an NFL starting quarterback that led his team to the playoffs as a rookie, that is one heck of a sweetheart deal.
Wilson plays like he is a four- or five-year veteran quarterback. His ability to make defenders miss and move around in the pocket to find the right passing lane to throw in allows him to be successful, despite what the talent evaluators believed.
With his current contract, Wilson will be vastly underpaid until his rookie contract expires.
Chris Givens led the Rams with 698 receiving yards in 2012.
The St. Louis Rams' most underpaid player is wide receiver Chris Givens.
Givens led the Rams in receiving yards with 698 this season on 42 receptions for an average of 16.6 yards per catch. He scored three touchdowns and came up with 10 receptions that went for 20 yards or longer. In addition, Givens had 253 yards after the catch.
In 2013, Givens will earn a base salary of just $480,000, which makes him the most underpaid player on the team. There are a few No. 1 wide receivers that are bargains around the league, and Givens is just one more example.
Lavonte David led the Bucs with 139 tackles in 2012.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' most underpaid player in 2013 will be linebacker Lavonte David.
David had an impressive rookie year, as he led the team with 139 tackles. In addition, he came up with 19 tackles for loss, two sacks, five pass deflections and one interception.
From a compensation standpoint, David will earn a base salary of $547,806 in 2013, which is a bargain for the Buccaneers.
Zach Brown headed to the end zone with a pick-six.
The Tennessee Titans' most underpaid player is linebacker Zach Brown.
Brown, a rookie in 2012, is gifted with blazing speed. He used that speed to return two interceptions for touchdowns this season. In addition, Brown came up with 93 tackles, 5.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, five pass deflections, three interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Making plays across the board is what you hope for with your linebackers, and Brown didn't disappoint. In 2013, he will earn a base salary of $565,377, which is a steal for the Titans.
Alfred Morris is worth his weight in gold to the Redskins.
The Washington Redskins came up with a steal in the 2012 NFL draft when they nabbed running back Alfred Morris in the sixth round.
Morris wound up with 1,613 rushing yards in 2012, finishing No. 2 in the league behind only Adrian Peterson. Morris was able to keep defenses honest and keep pressure off Robert Griffin III. The Redskins' playoff berth wouldn't have been possible without the dynamic running ability of Morris.
In 2013, Morris will earn a base salary of $480,000. Good thing that he is so underpaid, as the Redskins are still going to be dealing with a reduced salary cap in 2013 due to the penalties that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell levied against them for prior contracts that went against league wishes.
Thanks for checking out the presentation.