NFL Players Taking the Biggest Pay Cuts for 2013
While massive free-agent contracts have already been signed by superstars like Mike Wallace and Jake Long, some of their counterparts will not be so lucky.
These players will be forced to take pay cuts that lower the types of salaries they have been accustomed to. The reasons for these cuts will vary. Age, injury history and depth of talent can all play roles in reducing a player's salary.
For instance, Charles Woodson is going to bring in less money because of his advanced age, while Nnamdi Asomugha's play last season simply did not justify the type of money he was making.
So which other players will be joining Asomugha and Woodson on this list? Let's look at 10 players who are sure to take big pay cuts once they finally ink deals and exit free agency.
10. Fred Davis
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Previous Contract: One-year, $5.446 million contract with the Washington Redskins
There is a serious hindrance to free-agent tight ends in the fact that the upcoming draft class is loaded with potential stars at the position. Players like Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame and Zach Ertz of Stanford highlight a particularly deep rookie crop.
Nowhere will this be more evident than for a player such as Fred Davis. He has battled injury and off-field issues recently and has seen fellow free agent Dustin Keller already get signed ahead of him.
Davis has all the skills and abilities that teams should be looking for. He is 6'4" and 247 pounds and can make tough catches in traffic and around the goal line. Davis has averaged 12.7 yards per reception during his five-year career and has gained 99 first downs in that time.
Still, the belief is that Davis will not garner a big deal, as was highlighted by Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com when he said that "Fred Davis is likely to end up back in Washington on a team-friendly deal."
9. Richard Seymour
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Previous Contract: Five-year, $37.5 million restructured contract with the Oakland Raiders
Richard Seymour had a pretty sweet deal with the Oakland Raiders that has now been voided due to playing-time clauses.
That is going to be a tough pill for the defensive lineman to swallow, especially once he realizes that he is 33 years old and there are plenty of younger options out there for teams to look at. Seymour is a player who can fit into virtually any scheme, but he played only eight games last season.
Will health now be a constant concern moving forward? Can Seymour ever match the 48 tackles he put up as recently as 2010?
He has reportedly not been interested in a low, one-year deal, so what is Seymour hoping to find in free agency? if he wants another big contract, then he better be prepared for a long stay on the open market.
8. Charles Woodson
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Previous Contract: Five-year, $55 million deal with the Green Bay Packers
Moving Charles Woodson to the safety position was a great way for the Green Bay Packers to extend his career. Injuries and age have slowed him over the years, making him less effective as a man-to-man cornerback.
As a safety, he can use his instincts and intelligence to roam the field in zone coverage and always be in the right place. Still, it was hard to imagine the Packers paying Woodson the $13 million that remained on his contract through the 2014 season.
He is 36 years old and has spent 15 seasons playing in the NFL. At this point in his career, any contract that Woodson signs is going to be short-term and offer little risk to a potential suitor. He still has at least two or three years of being a quality safety if he can remain healthy, but Woodson's days of being a shutdown cornerback are solidly behind him.
7. James Harrison
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Previous Contract: Six-year, $51.75 million contract extension with Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009
There are simply too many young pass-rushers in the NFL landscape for anyone to get excited about 34-year-old James Harrison being a free agent.
From 2007-2010, Harrison missed just one game. He has missed eight in just the last two seasons. Harrison is no longer a guy capable of competing for Defensive Player of the Year awards, but is instead a situational pass-rusher who can be a liability in coverage.
After registering a mere six sacks last season, it is clear that he does not have the explosiveness that he possessed earlier in his career. He could still have an impact for another 3-4 defense, but it will be in a reduced role.
6. Andre Smith
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Previous Contract: Six-year, $42 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals (rookie contract).
Andre Smith and the rest of the free-agent offensive tackle pool have been waiting for the biggest domino to fall in the form of Jake Long. Now that Long has signed a four-year, $34 million deal with the St. Louis Rams (via NFL.com's Albert Breer), everyone else can get their deals.
That contract should indicate that Smith can get a decent deal, but Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com highlighted the reality of the situation:
The market for tackles has been relatively restrained, with $8 million a year being about the high this offseason, and though these two could eclipse that, there are concerns about health in Long's case and weight and attitude with Smith.
Smith is not going to get the type of money that Long was able to pull off, especially in a deep free-agent tackle class. If he can settle his weight issues and tone down his 6'4", 335-pound frame, then perhaps his play will garner a bigger deal the next time around.
5. Ed Reed
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Previous Contract: Seven-year, $40.85 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens
There is a clear theme developing on this list and it is that aging superstars are not going to bring in the types of massive deals that they once did.
Ed Reed is going to be one of those players. He is still one of the best safeties in the game, but the clock is ticking on his career, as Reed is 35 years old. USA Today has reported that the Ravens are desperate to keep Reed in the fold, but the team has no cap space to play with.
That makes it easy for other teams (like the Houston Texans) to court Reed and not have to worry about giving him a giant contract. The good news for Reed here is that he has played in every game over the last two seasons and does not appear to be an injury liability.
Reed's numbers, however, have declined. He has just seven interceptions over the last two seasons, as compared to eight in 2010 alone.
4. Dwight Freeney
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Previous Contract: Six-year, $72 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts
Dwight Freeney simply did not fit into Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defensive scheme. He was an odd fit as a stand-up pass-rusher and was unable to wreak the kind of havoc that he frequently could in the old 4-3 scheme.
However, Freeney's stats have actually been in decline for years. His sack totals have declined from 13.5 to 10.0 to 8.5 to 5.0 over the last four seasons. Freeney is a 33-year-old player with 11 years' worth of experience.
Freeney is coming off of a six-year, $72 million contract with Indianapolis and will undoubtedly see a huge drop in his pay rate. He can still get off the ball quickly, but not at the same pace and frequency he once did. Asking Freeney to be an every-down player at this point in his career would be an extremely tall order.
There have been reports of Freeney being courted by by contenders such as the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, but his next deal will be both shorter and cheaper than his previous one.
3. John Abraham
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Previous Contract: Three-year, $16.72 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons
And the pass-rushers on this list continue with John Abraham. He is still a productive weapon, having generated 10 sacks last season, but Abraham is 34 years old and has 13 seasons worth of tread on his tires.
Are teams going to be willing to give Abraham another big contract at this point?
Abraham is a unique entry on this countdown because of that recent production. There will be questions about him slowing down, but there is no reason yet to be worried about that. Those 10 sacks last season were accompanied by six forced fumbles.
He is just in a tough position because of his age and the depth of pass-rush talent that is available. His play dictates that Abraham should warrant another solid contract, but his age could betray him. The fact that he has not yet inked a deal should be an indication of that.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick
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Previous Contract: Seven-year, $59 million contract with the Buffalo Bills
The new Buffalo Bills regime decided that Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the right man for the starting quarterback job moving forward. That is probably a consensus that will be shared by every other team in the NFL.
Although the free-agent market for QBs has been one of the worst in recent memory, Fitzpatrick is unlikely to garner much attention. He has a penchant for making ill-timed throws and did not provide the Bills with much of a vertical passing game in recent years.
Fitzpatrick threw at least 15 interceptions in each of the last three seasons and did not average more than 6.8 yards per completion.
Now he goes from being the franchise quarterback in Buffalo to someone that will be looking for a backup job somewhere in the league,
1. Nnamdi Asomugha
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Previous Contract: Five-year, $60 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles
The fact that Nnamdi Asomugha was released just two years into a five-year, $60 million contract should tell you everything you need to know about the current state of the star cornerback.
That star is quickly fading, and while Asomugha will have plenty of suitors in free agency, none will come calling with the kind of money that the Philadelphia Eagles handed out two years ago.
Asomugha's play simply did not justify that massive contract, as he struggled to adjust to the Eagles' "Wide 9" defensive scheme and looked lost in zone coverage. He was known as a stout man-to-man defender with the Oakland Raiders, so maybe it was just a matter of putting him in the wrong spot in Philly.
Even so, at 31 years old, Asomugha is going to have to prove his value on a smaller salary in 2013. The right fit could mean a return to the form that made him such an exciting free-agent prospect back in 2011.