Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and 5 More Inflated NFL Contracts

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent INovember 23, 2011

Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and 5 More Inflated NFL Contracts

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    When the Minnesota Vikings signed Adrian Peterson to a seven-year contract worth $100 million ($36 million guaranteed) in September, I thought it was a bad move. In my mind, no running back is that valuable to any team in this era of the NFL.

    When the Tennessee Titans acceded to Chris Johnson's holdout by giving him a big-time deal, I felt pity for them. They might have better runners on their own roster than Johnson at this point. 

    Both teams are in the midst of the always-daunting task of rebuilding a franchise (they have been trying for a while). Both teams haven't had much success lately either, and it's because the folks in their front office have been drawn in by the dark side of the force and believed they were making a smart investment. 

    Both running backs, no matter how good they are, don't add up in overall value to the contracts they have been given. 

    General manager of the San Francisco 49ers Trent Baalke handled things differently when his star running back threatened to hold out. Frank Gore and the 49ers both got a reasonable deal, and both parties were able to save face, if you will. 

    There are other teams that face the same burden: What to do about those inflated contracts?

Mark Sanchez: $13.5 Million

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    It's been a rough 2011 NFL season for both the New York Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer have put way too much pressure on Sanchez to be something he's not.

    I don't fault Sanchez for having signed the inflated rookie contract his agent was able to negotiate with the Jets. Still, the Jets are looking surprisingly average this year, and that is due to the fact that there are a lot of holes to fill on their roster. They can't run the ball, and they aren't stopping it either.

    The big question I have for the Jets is whether they will be able to renegotiate a better deal with Sanchez after the season, or if they will just go ahead and cut him. Either way, something's got to give in New York for the Jets.

Elvis Dumervil: $14 Million

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    Elvis Dumervil had one monster year in 2009 when he recorded 17 sacks for the Denver Broncos. In July of 2010, the Broncos signed him to a six-year extension worth $61.5 million. He promptly went out and suffered a torn pectoral muscle that kept him out of the entire 2010 NFL season.

    This year, Dumervil is back in the lineup for the Broncos, but his production isn't up to the standard he set for himself in 2009. Through 10 games, he has only recorded 3.5 sacks.

Michael Vick: $15.9 Million

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    The Philadelphia Eagles front office suffered what I like to call "What-if-we-can't-keep-him-itus" this past offseason when they offered Michael Vick the humongous contract extension that he gladly signed. How in the world are you going to give such an injury-prone player such an inflated contract?

    The organization got bewitched by the hype that is Michael Vick. He is the most dazzling player in the NFL when he is on his game. But when he is off of it, things get ugly quickly. He starts to press his luck, trusting in his freakish athletic talents and ends up getting absolutely creamed by some guy who is at least 50 pounds heavier than him and twice as strong.

    The way the Eagles have played this year, it makes you wonder what they will try and do next to clean up the mess they have created.

Sam Bradford: $18.4 Million

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    The St. Louis Rams franchise must feel like they got punched in the collective stomach. Sam Bradford was the final benefactor to the old system of rookie salary rules, and the weight of his contract is dragging the team down.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the world of Bradford. I think he'll be an excellent quarterback for a long, long time (provided he gets a modicum of pass protection). It's just that he isn't worth his inflated contract.

    The Rams are one of the thinnest teams in terms of athletic talent in the NFL. The team could do a lot with half of Bradford's current salary.

Peyton Manning: $23 Million

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    When Bill Polian signed Payton Manning to his enormous contract extension, he did so with the knowledge that Manning wasn't 100 percent healthy. Obviously, they didn't expect Manning to miss the whole 2011 NFL season, but they didn't do enough to investigate the security of their costly investment.

    As a result, the team now faces a decision in the offseason I'm sure nobody predicted. They will undoubtedly be holding the No. 1 draft position. What will they do?

    Will they trade Manning? Who would take him and his inflated contract? Would they ignore the obvious need to groom his successor and trade away that pick? 

    Either way, the Colts made a terrible decision, and now they are reaping the consequences of their actions.