Which players are a steal? Which are stealing money? Alex Marvez unveils his All-Overpaid and All-Underpaid teams for 2008.
In the last of the series, we look at 11 players on defense whose salaries are not helping their teams' causes . Be sure to see the other slideshows of All-Underpaid (Offense), All-Underpaid (Defense) and All-Overpaid (Offense).
The first of Oakland's eyebrow-raising personnel moves during the offseason, Kelly cashed in on the eve of free agency last February with a deal that helped set the market for free-agent defensive tackles. Kelly, though, has yet to prove worthy of a seven-year, $50.5 million contract that includes $18 million guaranteed. While tied for the team lead in sacks with five, Kelly hasn't proven a difference-maker on the NFL's 30th-ranked run defense. He also was arrested on a drunk-driving charge in September.
The signing of Redding to a seven-year, $49 million deal in July 2007 is another reason why Matt Millen no longer runs the Lions. After an eight-sack campaign in 2006, Redding has generated just four sacks in Detroit's past 29 games (including three this season). He also is the highest-paid player on the NFL's 31st-ranked defense. Redding clearly misses playing alongside fellow defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who was traded to Cleveland in the off-season. Redding is earning $2.9 million in base salary this year.
Green Bay considered trading with Miami for fellow defensive end Jason Taylor during the off-season but decided to stick with Gbaja-Biamila. That was a costly mistake on several fronts. Having lost the quickness that made him one of the NFL's better pass rushers, the 31-year-old Gbaja-Biamila was released after registering just one sack in Green Bay's first seven games. Gbaja-Biamila hasn't signed elsewhere but will still collect his $6.1 million salary from Green Bay for 2008. "KGB" finished his Packers career second on the team's all-time sack list with 74.5.
Desperate for veteran help at defensive end after losing Justin Smith to San Francisco in free agency, Cincinnati made a rare big-money foray into free agency and signed Odom to a five-year, $29.5 million contract that included $11.5 million guaranteed. Foot and shoulder injuries have prevented Odom from living up to his end of the bargain. After notching a career-high eight sacks for Tennessee in 2007, Odom has gotten to the quarterback only twice in nine games this season. For the 15th time in 16 seasons, no Cincinnati player will finish the season with double-digit sacks.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith has thrived signing players to long-term contracts long before their rookie deals expire. Smith, though, has never taken as big a gamble as this preseason when signing Tucker a five-year, $14.7 million deal that includes $6.5 million guaranteed. Tucker had played as a backup in just six games as an undrafted rookie in 2007. But Smith thought Tucker had potential to become the heir apparent to the injured Shawne Merriman, who is set to leave via free agency after next season, and wanted him signed long-term. The jury is still out on Smith's assessment. Slowed by an early season hamstring injury, Tucker has a pedestrian 4.5 sacks and hasn't come close to filling Merriman's shoes.
In 2007, Harris signed a six-year, $24.5 million contract that included $7.5 million guaranteed. Just one year later, Harris had fallen so out of favor with Chiefs brass that he didn't play through the first five games this season before being released. Harris still collected his 2008 base salary of $950,000 from Kansas City, which has the NFL's lowest-ranked defense. Harris has since re-signed with Minnesota, where he has started three games and played in four others.
So far, Gholston is proving another reason why NFL team owners want a rookie salary cap. As the No. 6 overall pick in April's draft, Gholston received $21 million guaranteed as part of a five-year, $32 million deal. Gholston, though, has struggled badly while trying to make the transition from college defensive end to outside linebacker in New York's 3-4 scheme and isn't even a decent special-teams contributor.
Of all the mistakes Oakland made during its offseason spending spree, Hall is considered the worst. The Raiders acquired Hall from Atlanta for second- and fifth-round picks and subsequently signed him to a seven-year contract that would have made him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. Hall, though, didn't stick around long enough to collect all of that $67 million. Regularly beaten while struggling in press coverage, Hall was released after just eight games so the Raiders wouldn't be on the hook for $16 million in guaranteed salary in 2009. Hall still collected $8 million from Oakland and could be in line for another big-money deal from Washington, where he signed a one-year deal after clearing waivers.
Teams don't sign nickel cornerbacks to six-year, $36 million contracts with a $9 million first-year payout. But that's what Florence had become before he was forced back into the starting lineup because of injuries in Jacksonville's secondary.
After five games this season, the Raiders had enough of Huff with the first-team defense. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Huff was replaced at free safety by the undrafted Hiram Eugene. The underachieving Huff was given $15 million guaranteed as part of his rookie contract.
Yes, Williams has reached five Pro Bowls. But even if he hadn't missed almost all of this season with a forearm injury, Williams still wasn't worth the four-year, $30.1 million contract extension he signed in 2006. Williams was a one-dimensional player who struggled so badly in coverage that he was described as sometimes having a "deer-in-the-headlights" look by Cowboys teammate Terence Newman. Williams could be a goner in 2009 when his base salary jumps from $3.7 million to $4.4 million.