Every year, high-priced and big-named NFL free agents hit the open market looking to strike it rich with the right team. Most of the time, though, careless free-agent spending will end up hurting a team for years to come, costing them millions of dollars in dead money. The wrong decision in free agency could lead to money wasted on paycheck players who have long decided to cash it in.
But what about those lesser-known guys who are often forced to settle for little salary and a backup role? Some of these players actually end up becoming key contributors on a Super Bowl roster.
For example, guys like Jacoby Jones and Paul Kruger were not marquee names a year ago, but were key players in the Ravens' Super Bowl championship this season. The latter is set to cash in for himself during this year's free agent period.
It's those great, under-the-radar additions who really determine a team's success in the long run, and maximizing a player's value is the true key to building a winner in today's salary cap era. The team that can find the best cheap labor in the free-agent market is most likely to succeed, not just for today, but for years to come.
So, with that in mind, here is a list of guys who should drastically out-perform their free-agent contracts this offseason. They can provide much more value than simply a one-year rental and yield several years of steady, high-level production at an affordable cost.
Read on to find out who the most underrated players are in the 2013 NFL free agent class.
All statistics were attained via Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.