Every NFL Team's Most Overpaid Player
The 32 franchises of the National Football League are in the process of taking the necessary steps to build a championship-caliber team. With a salary cap keeping teams on the same budget, the winners are typically the front offices who don't overpay for too many players and find enough pieces to win a championship.
However, there is no franchise that doesn't use the money at their disposal to make a splash on certain players. In many of those cases, players receive record-breaking deals, even though they are not necessarily considered elite at their position.
With this idea in mind, here are my thoughts on the most overpaid player on each NFL team.
1. Arizona Cardinals: DT Darnell Dockett
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Darnell Dockett was once viewed as one of the more lethal pass-rushers in football and was most known for anchoring a defense during its successful playoff appearances.
Time has changed quite a bit since then. The fact is that Dockett is in the middle of a six-year, $56 million deal and only has 4.5 sacks the past two seasons.
While some argue that Dockett wasn't necessarily a fit in Ray Horton's defense, the entire unit as a whole improved while he was the defensive coordinator.
At age 31, this could be Dockett's final year in a Cardinals uniform as a new regime takes over. Ultimately, he has one year to prove he can still elevate his play as a top pass-rusher.
2. Atlanta Falcons: RB Steven Jackson
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When analyzing the Falcons roster, it was difficult to notice any contracts that appeared to be outrageously expensive. Atlanta cut three of the more expensive contracts in Dunta Robinson, John Abraham and Michael Turner.
This ultimately paved the way for Steven Jackson, who signed a three-year $12 million deal. While I am a fan of the former Rams running back, I am concerned about how effective Jackson can be as a quality rusher throughout the entire deal.
The first year of Jackson's deal is a non-issue, but six million guaranteed over the last two years is valuable cash that could be put to different use in the near future.
With a running back such as Eddie Lacy likely to be available, I think the Falcons could have gotten younger at the position while also paying a cheap rookie contract in the process.
3. Baltimore Ravens: QB Joe Flacco
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It's difficult for me to fully criticize the Joe Flacco extension, knowing the details of the contract and how the Ravens are still able to use the cap to the best of their ability.
Unfortunately, the idea of Joe Flacco becoming the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history is too difficult to ignore. While he displayed his potential in the postseason, he needs to prove his worth over a full season.
The departure of Anquan Boldin will be difficult to overcome. However, the responsibility will ultimately fall on Flacco as he becomes the face of the franchise in Baltimore.
Can Flacco carry his offense in a similar fashion that Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and the other elite quarterbacks in the league do? While Flacco deserved a payday, his successful run to a championship doesn't equate to a $120 million deal.
4. Buffalo Bills: WR Brad Smith
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As the Buffalo Bills head into the new era under Doug Marrone, they managed to cut their most overpaid player in Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, another head-scratching signing that general manager Buddy Nix completed was the four-year, $14.7 million deal given to Brad Smith.
Smith, who was an electrifying kick returner with the Jets, was signed by the rival Bills to hopefully improve a receiving corps that has lacked outside of Stevie Johnson.
The result last season was only one offensive target in the passing game and only one touchdown from kickoff returns.
Overall, Smith has been a major disappointment for the AFC East squad.
5. Carolina Panthers: RB DeAngelo Williams
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In a league where the play of the quarterback has become front and center, a franchise is going to face problems when they overpay a veteran running back who peaked early in his career.
DeAngelo Williams was selected by the Panthers in the 2006 draft, and in the prime of his career he proved to be a work horse that could sustain the wear and tear that ball-carriers take. However, his productivity has significantly decreased since signing a five-year, $43 million contract.
In the past two seasons, he has failed to rush for over 1,000 yards and carry an offense that primarily focuses on the running game.
As a result, the Panthers have not been able to make many additions on defense due to the high salary cap hit, and will continue to suffer from the deal they have him in.
6. Chicago Bears: OT Jermon Bushrod
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The Bears proved to be a desperate team in need of immediate offensive line help. Thus, they took a gamble with the signing of Jermon Bushrod. A former left tackle of the Saints, Bushrod signed a five-year contract worth $35.965 million dollars.
However, Chicago is offering a lot of money to a player who struggled mightily last year while protecting Drew Brees' blindside. It's tough to envision that he can become the center piece of an offensive line that was one of the worst units in football last year.
Jay Cutler continues to suffer from poor offensive line play, and I'm not sure that the Bushrod signing alone can great improve the pass protection in 2013.
7. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Rey Maualuga
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When looking at the Bengals roster, it's difficult to find an overpaid player as they typically don't offer large contracts to the majority of their own free agents.
However, the resigning of linebacker Rey Maualuga was indeed a head scratcher. Although Maualuga found success in Mike Zimmer's defense, there was optimism that the Bengals could have upgraded at his position through the draft.
Cincinnati signed the veteran linebacker to a two-year, 6.5 million dollar deal. One must be aware that his 122-tackle season in a contract year will fool you. Maualuga is viewed as one of the slower running linebackers in the league and is a non-factor in pass coverage for Cincinnati.
8. Cleveland Browns: OLB Paul Kruger
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Paul Kruger has not even played a single snap for the Browns, but he cashed in on a five-year, $40 million contract. Unfortunately for Cleveland, Kruger isn't capable of evolving into an elite pass rusher.
After disappointing for the majority of his career with the Ravens, Kruger showed promise like most players do in his contract season. However, his production did not come until Terrell Suggs returned from his Achilles injury.
Out of his 13.5 sacks during the regular season and postseason, he only recorded 1.5 sacks when the 2012 defensive player of the year wasn't in the lineup.
Kruger is a quality role player who can produce on a quality team. He is not a guy that a defense can build around, and the Browns will learn that quickly.
9. Dallas Cowboys: CB Orlando Scandrick
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The Cowboys have been very quiet during the 2013 free agency period. A big reason why has been the lack of production from players who signed hefty contracts with Dallas.
Orlando Scandrick can be added to that list. The nickelback signed extension that totaled to six years, $28 million and has not lived up to the expectations since.
While he was fourth on the depth chart, he failed to record an interception and only has one since 2011. It shouldn't be a surprise to find the Cowboys struggling when minimal contributors such as Scandrick are grossly overpaid.
10. Denver Broncos: RB Knowshon Moreno
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The Broncos were a fan of Knowshon Moreno's potential and drafted him 12th overall in the 2009 draft. As a result, they gave him a five-year around $17 million.
Thus far, Moreno has been a disappointment for Denver. In his four seasons, he has never recorded over 1,000 yards rushing and was replaced by an aging Willis McGahee as the starting running back.
His injury history is a major concern. He has not played a full season since his rookie year and has only played in 15 games combined in the past two seasons.
It's tough to give running backs valuable money in today's NFL. He is not worth his price tag.
11. Detroit Lions: WR Nate Burleson
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The Lions attempted to improve the offensive talent around Matthew Stafford. There hasn't been another contributor who can be relied upon besides All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson.
In 2010, Detroit took a gamble with veteran receiver Nate Burleson, who showed some promise during his time with the Seahawks. His five-year, $25 million deal seemed to be worth it at the time.
After a solid first year as the second receiver on the depth chart, Burleson began to show his decline. He only managed to catch three touchdowns in 2011 despite the opportunities that opened up due to Johnson's presence on the field.
This past season, Burleson only played six games and was a non-factor during Detroit's losing season. It has been mixed results so far, but overall it's tough to envision Burleson playing up to his contract anytime soon.
12. Green Bay Packers: LB A.J. Hawk
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The Packers made A.J. Hawk a center piece of the team's defense when selecting him back in 2006. In 2011, Green Bay signed the former first-round pick to a five-year, $33 million dollar contract which includes an $8 million signing bonus.
Although Hawk has looked impressive due to the amount of tackles he has sustained over his career, there has never been a vibe about him becoming one of the elite players at his position.
As one of the more higher-paid players on the team, Hawk does well against the run but has never impressed in coverage. Overall, he is a solid player on a playoff caliber team, but he has never shown the capability of becoming a reliable building block to a defense. The Packers pay him as such.
13. Houston Texans: S Ed Reed
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There is no denying that Ed Reed is one of the greatest defensive play makers in the history of the NFL. However, this signing by the Texans seems more about the name than the actual production.
Houston, you have a problem. Reed virtually is a non-factor as a tackler due to the wear and tear on his body. While he still displays the instincts of an elite safety, he only had one defensive touchdown last season.
It also speaks volumes why the Ravens would neglect to re-sign a man who has been one of the iconic figures of the franchise during the past decade.
Ultimately, it's a hefty price for the Texans to pay Reed an average salary of five million a season.
14. Indianapolis Colts: OT Gosder Cherilus
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The Indianapolis Colts were determined to improve the subpar pass protection for Andrew Luck, but did they overpay for an average offensive lineman?
Gosder Cherilus did perform at a pretty high level in his final year with the Detroit Lions, but there has always been a concern about his lack of consistency as a pass protector. He wasn't exactly a non-issue when it came to Detroit's porous offensive line in recent years.
However, he did cash in by signing a five-year, $34.5 million dollar contract. Although the Colts had the cap room to pay such a deal, time will tell if Cherilus proves to be a noticeable upgrade on the offensive line.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Marcedes Lewis
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Marcedes Lewis has proven to be a serviceable tight end and has quietly become a quality role player during his eight years in Jacksonville.
However, his five-year, $35 million deal is extremely pricey for a man who had one quality year as a legitimate target. Last season, he was paid a whopping $9.6 million. He ended up catching 52 passes for 540 yards and four touchdowns.
As the Jaguars continue the long rebuilding process, it may be wise to draft some young skill players who can produce for one of the league's worst offenses. Clearly, free agency hasn't worked in their favor.
16. Kansas City Chiefs: QB Alex Smith
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The price for quarterbacks continues to skyrocket at an alarming rate. As the Chiefs traded for former 49ers starter Alex Smith, there is a very distinct possibility that his new team may be looking for him to take a reconstructed contract.
While the three-year, $24 million deal he signed while with San Francisco doesn't look too outrageous, there is no guarantee how long he can stay the starter in Kansas City. The Chiefs signed Chase Daniel to provide some quarterback competition and could be viewed as the starter in 2014 if Smith disappoints.
The reality with Smith is he played his best football with an elite team in Jim Harbaugh's system. Now, he leaves that scenario entirely and joins a roster with plenty of unknowns across the board. He needs to prove he is capable of becoming an above average quarterback without having elite talent on the offensive side of the football.
This year could make or break Smith's career as a starting quarterback.
17. Miami Dolphins: LB Dannell Ellerbe
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Dannell Ellerbe was among the multiple starters on the Ravens defense who have found new teams in 2013. His five-year, $35 million deal came as a surprise around the league.
Miami is hoping Ellerbe brings his 2012 production of 92 tackles and his 5.5 sacks to a defense that wanted to get younger at the linebacker position.
However, Ellerbe is another former Ravens linebacker that one needs to take caution of when evaluating him. Not only did he manage to consistently produce for the first time in his career, his durability will continue to become a concern.
Ellerbe has never played an entire 16-game regular season, which includes his final year with Baltimore. The Dolphins' big acquisitions will make or break the direction of this franchise. As of now, there's no certainty as to whether Ellerbe can continue this production.
18. Minnesota Vikings: TE John Carlson
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As the Vikings continue adding talent around quarterback Christian Ponder, the signing of veteran tight end John Carlson is a signing that the Vikings are regretting.
Minnesota signed him to a five-year, $25 million contract in 2012, with $9.1 million guaranteed. His first season coming off the contract wasn't abysmal, as he only caught eight passes for 43 yards.
Meanwhile, Kyle Rudolph has emerged as the No. 1 tight end and one of Ponder's favorite targets.
Certainly, the Vikings could have been better off not re-signing Carlson and could have put that effort towards building a defense that still has plenty of holes.
19. New England Patriots: WR Danny Amendola
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While it may seem unfair to ridicule the Danny Amendola contract before he has even played a game with the Patriots, I find it tough to believe that the Patriots would invest five years, $28 million in a receiver who has only played one full season his entire career.
With Rob Gronkowski already an injury concern heading into the future, the Patriots could have re-signed Tom Brady's most reliable target in Wes Welker for fewer years and less money.
I believe too many people are assuming that Amendola, if he can somehow manage to produce to his full potential by staying healthy, is a sure bet to match Welker's productivity over the long haul.
Ultimately, until Amendola can to prove to meet that production and be able to stay on the football field, this contract could be one the Patriots regret in a few years.
20. New Orleans Saints: DE Will Smith
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In order to keep his job, Will Smith took a massive pay cut to stay with the Saints. However, Smith's deal is only cap friendly for 2013 at three million dollars.
The 2014 salary skyrockets to around $10.4 million, which is a ton considering how Smith has declined as a pass-rusher.
In 16 games this season, Smith only recorded six sacks despite being the most notable defensive end on the New Orleans defense. In fact, he has only earned 12.5 sacks combined for the past two seasons.
There is a very good chance 2013 could be his last season with the Saints. His production isn't meeting the salary he's earning with the Saints.
21. New York Giants: CB Corey Webster
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The Giants missed the postseason after winning the Super Bowl due to a lot of underachievers on the defensive side of the football.
Corey Webster certainly deserved the heavy amount of criticism for his pitiful 2012 season, most notably against the Ravens when Joe Flacco focused on attacking the weakest link of the Giants secondary.
Webster is approaching the final year of a five-year, $43.5 million deal. His startling decline this past season has to be a concern for a Giants front office that typically makes smart decisions when dealing with its players.
Unfortunately, this time wasn't the case. Webster has passed his prime and is continuing on a trend that will only get worse in his likely final year with New York.
22. New York Jets: QB Mark Sanchez
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His contract is arguably the most overpaid deal in the NFL today. Two straight disappointing seasons for the Jets has led to two seasons where Sanchez has regressed. Last season, his 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions was alarming for a franchise that was in the AFC championship two years ago.
Due to Sanchez's contract, the Jets are in an extremely difficult cap situation, which has to lead many of the marquee players from last year's team finding a deal elsewhere.
With his contract becoming too big for another team to take on in a trade, the circus surrounding Sanchez and the Jets will continue for another season.
23. Oakland Raiders: LB Rolando McClain
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Rolando McClain displayed plenty of potential during his time at Alabama and was expected to have a bright future as a centerpiece to the Raiders organization. Due to the old CBA, McClain had no trouble cashing in as a first-round pick. His five-year, $40 million deal made him one of the higher-paid rookies in the NFL.
Three years later, it's evident his time never panned out in Oakland. Although his 2011 campaign where he had 99 tackles and 5.5 sacks was impressive, the trouble he caused off the field never proved to be worth the headache. He has been arrested three times since 2011 and caused tension between himself and the Raiders' locker room this past year.
Another former first-round pick of the Raiders bites the dust.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: OLB Connor Barwin
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The Eagles began cleaning house this offseason as the Chip Kelly era begins in the "City of Brotherly Love." Certainly, they showed the love to Connor Barwin by signing the former Texans line-backer to a six-year deal worth up to $36 million.
The question now remains whether Barwin can be a defensive center piece, or was last year's disappointing season a sign of things to come.
Though, his stat line from last season speaks volumes to the kind of player he can be. Barwin only recorded 44 tackles and three sacks. Once again, he is another defensive player who is a product of being surrounded by a talented group of players.
When the Texans defense thrived two years ago, Barwin was feared as a consistent pass-rusher. This changed quickly when Houston's defense did decline, and he suffered along with the rest of his teammates.
The Eagles will regret committing that amount of money to him in two years.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: SS Troy Polamalu
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Troy Polamalu has been one of the more impactful safeties during our generation. Though, he has slowly deteriorated and his contract has put the Steelers in a very complicated situation.
Polamalu's deal was worth four years, $36.5 million dollars. Though, the worst part of the deal has yet to come and will create even more cap woes for the Steelers. His base salary rises from $7.5 million in 2013 to $8.5 million in 2014. In both of those years, the combination of base salary and signing bonus will result in a $10 million dollar cap hit.
The question remains how long will the Steelers be willing to keep him around. Last season, Polamalu only played in seven games and had one interception.
In the end, it's unfortunate to watch the decline of Polamalu's career, which will leave the front office to make some very tough decisions in the next few years.
26. St. Louis Rams: TE Jared Cook
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Jared Cook displays the athleticism to become one of the more explosive tight ends in the NFL. However, he has failed to live up to expectations as a receiver on a consistent basis.
In four seasons with the Titans, Cook had 1,717 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Fisher is taking a risk with Cook, who secured the highest contract for any tight end on the market.
27. San Diego Chargers: QB Philip Rivers
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Philip Rivers' regression as the quarterback for the Chargers has been staggering, especially since he has become the building block of the franchise.
Rivers signed a six-year extension with the Chargers that totaled up to a seven year, $98 million contract. At the time, the Chargers had a quarterback who was in the "elite" discussion as his team was a consistent contender in the AFC.
However, after missing the playoffs for three straight years, it's evident that Rivers has deteriorated in a major way. In 2012, Rivers had more turnovers (28) than passing touchdowns (26). One could get the sense that Rivers has lost a bit of his arm strength, which isn't a positive sign for his receivers.
With $38 million in guaranteed money, the Chargers have no choice but to stick with him. Though, the future does not look bright for this declining quarterback.
28. San Francisco 49ers: C Jonathan Goodwin
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The 49ers have been a team that has worked their salary cap very well over the recent years and has utilized the draft towards their success.
A priority for San Francisco needs to draft a center to replace Jonathan Goodwin who, at age 34, is one of the higher paid lineman on the league's most talented offensive line.
His three-year, $10.9 million contract includes a salary of $3.70 million in 2013. While he has been a solid veteran on a championship team, the 49ers have a strong enough offensive line where they could have found a younger and cheaper option at the center position.
29. Seattle Seahawks: WR Sidney Rice
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The argument has been made in favor of Sidney Rice that, despite the consistent lack of production, he has played up to the contract he signed with the Seahawks.
Since he has arrived to Seattle, he's played like the wide receiver we have seen the majority of his career. Rice's inability to stay on the field was a major concern. It took him until 2012 for him to play his first full season, and even then he was unable to eclipse more than 50 receptions or 1,000 receiving yards.
While Rice was never considered a legitimate downfield threat, his lack of production has spoken volumes when the team went out and acquired Percy Harvin to become their No. 1 receiver.
Rice can be a potential quality contributor to a team but should not be the focal point of a passing attack.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Eric Wright
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There has never been a question as to whether Eric Wright has talent. Instead, it was only a matter if he could stay focused on the football field and reach his potential.
Since drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Wright hasn't been able to fill that void. He has managed to fool his first two teams in the Browns and Lions by having four or more interceptions in a season but underachieving tremendously in pass coverage.
It's also worth noting that his inability to stay on the football field due to his immature behavior should be a sign. Apparently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers never got the memo.
After signing Wright to a five-year, $37.5 million contract, the Buccaneers have already begun shopping Wright to other teams after one season. It will be tough for the Buccaneers to erase the mistake that they made here.
31. Tennessee Titans: Safety Michael Griffin
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Based on his contract, people could assume that Michael Griffin is one of the elite players at his position. Griffin signed a five-year, $35 million deal back in 2011.
How has that gone so far? Besides recording six interceptions the past two seasons, Griffin's production as a safety has declined significantly. It became most notable last season, which was the first season without Jeff Fisher or teammate Cortland Finnegan.
His liability in coverage has made him one of the weaker spots on the team. Unfortunately for the Titans, Griffin is preparing to enter year three of his contract and will be around for awhile at that salary.
32. Washington Redskins: WR Pierre Garcon
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Pierre Garcon did prove to be a valuable receiver for the Washington Redskins, who needed to improve the talent around Robert Griffin III. Though, the Redskins' problem of overpaying for players is a continuing trend.
Garcon signed a five-year, $42.5 million dollar contract after his tenure in Indianapolis as the second-best receiver on the depth chart. This season, his durability was very concerning due to the fact he missed six games and didn't hit his stride towards the end of the season.
Garcon is earning money that isn't too far off from the likes of Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace, who have proven to be dominant play makers on a consistent basis. He has a long way to go in order to live up to this massive deal.