17 Most Overpaid Players in NFL History

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIFebruary 23, 2012

17 Most Overpaid Players in NFL History

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    Athletes are generally criticized by non-sports fans for making too much money. As a sports fan, I can agree with that statement. They make a lot of money because they are rock stars in society. Whether you like it or not, they sell tickets.

    However, there's nothing that gets under my skin more than an athlete signing a huge contract and failing to live up to the hype.

    These are the NFL players that failed to live up to the hype and were the most overpaid players in the history of the league.

17. Joey Harrington

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    Joey Harrington had an outstanding college career with the Oregon Ducks and he was supposed to resurrect the Detroit Lions.

    Harrington earned $7.3 million in his first year in the league and he had 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions to show for it.

    I wish this story had a happy ending, but Harrington would throw 22 interceptions the following year and finish his career with six more interceptions than touchdowns.

16. Heath Shuler

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    Heath Shuler was one heck of a quarterback at the University of Tennessee, but unfortunately for him, he'll be remembered as one of the biggest draft busts in the history of the NFL.

    ESPN rated Shuler as the fourth-biggest NFL draft bust of all time, and that's certainly saying something. After the Washington Redskins selected him in the first round, Shuler held out of training camp until he received a seven-year, $19.25 million contract.

    Shuler would eventually get benched and traded after his poor play, including a five-interception game against the Arizona Cardinals.

15. Mike Vanderjagt

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    Are we talking about our idiot kicker again?

    First of all, the average salary of a kicker in the NFL is approximately $850,000. The Dallas Cowboys signed Mike Vanderjagt to a three-year deal worth $5.4 million.

    Vanderjagt's kicking woes were so bad that he didn't finish the season, but he still earned $4 million from the Cowboys.

14. Paul Soliai

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    Paul Soliai received the Miami Dolphin's franchise tag in 2011, which allowed him to earn $12.4 million dollars.

    That's pretty crazy because it earned him the average of a top-five defensive tackle, and he's nowhere near making that claim.

    Last season, Soliai had 27 tackles and no sacks. That's not $12.4 million caliber. In fact, it's not even close.

13. Marc Bulger

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    The St. Louis Rams thought they had a gold mine in Marc Bulger, and that might explain the overly-priced contract they gave him.

    In three seasons, Bulger had 27 touchdowns with 34 interceptions, and he earned $31 million for his efforts.

    Bulger's salary in 2007 made him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. He would go on and retire in 2011 after his struggles on the field.

12. Russell Erxleben

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    Who drafts a kicker in the first round?

    Just to remind fans of how bad the New Orleans Saints franchise used to be, they drafted Russell Erxleben in the first round, and all it did was cost them games and more heartaches.

    After drafting him in the first round in 1979, he missed kicks that would cost them games and he made a boneheaded interception that would cost the Saints a 40-34 loss at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons.

    He didn't last long with the Saints; he was released in 1983.

11. Matt Cassel

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    Matt Cassel had a breakout season with the New England Patriots in 2008. That's all the Kansas City Chiefs needed to see to give him a big payday.

    In 2009, the Chiefs signed Cassel to a six-year, $62.7 million contract that included $28 million in guaranteed money and $40.5 million in total compensation in the first three seasons.

    That's close to an "elite quarterback" contract, and Cassel's 53 touchdowns and 32 interceptions in three seasons is far from elite.

10. Jake Delhomme

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    Just because Jake Delhomme and the Carolina Panthers had a nice run together doesn't mean you give a struggling quarterback a huge contract extension.

    In 2009, the Panthers gave Delhomme a five-year contract extension that would see him gain $42.5 million.

    The following season, he was released by the organization because of his inability to protect the football.

9. Clinton Portis

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    In 2008, Clinton Portis was guaranteed to make $15 million from the Washington Redskins.

    He also received a $9.32 million signing bonus, but Portis would never reach his potential with the Redskins.

    After being plagued with injuries throughout his career, Portis' last three seasons with the Redskins would account for less than 2,000 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns and four fumbles.

8. Dunta Robinson

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    Let's take a survey.

    Who believes that Dunta Robinson is worth being paid as a top-10 cornerback? If you don't...well, that's what he's being paid.

    Robinson signed a six-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons worth $57 million with $22.5 million in guaranteed money.

7. Carson Palmer

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    What were you thinking Oakland?

    Despite being retired and not having played any football all season, the Oakland Raiders decided to pay Carson Palmer handsomely to come and keep those playoff hopes alive.

    Eventually, the Raiders missed the playoffs, but hey, what's $14 million these days with our booming economy?

6. Mark Sanchez

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    Will Mark Sanchez ever live up to the hype?

    It's impossible to predict if he will or not, but the New York Jets have certainly invested a lot of money in the young prospect.

    After enduring three seasons with the Jets, Sanchez threw 55 touchdowns and 51 interceptions. In fact, last season he threw 26 touchdowns with 18 interceptions while raking in $14.25 million.

5. Javon Walker

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    Javon Walker just never panned out for the Oakland Raiders.

    Though he would eventually restructure his contract for $4.6 million a season, Walker originally signed a six-year, $55 million deal with Raiders.

    In return for a boatload of cash from the Raiders, Walker gave the organization 15 receptions, 196 receiving yards and a touchdown in two seasons. Seems like a fair trade.

4. Ryan Leaf

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    And to think Ryan Leaf was being compared to Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL draft.

    After the Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning, the San Diego Chargers took Leaf and signed him to a four-year contract worth $31.25 million, including a guaranteed $11.25 million signing bonus.

    The contract at that time was the largest signing bonus ever given to a rookie, and Leaf's 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in his career certainly wasn't what the Chargers had in mind when they signed him.

    Leaf will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in history.

3. Roy Williams

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    To this day, I still hold a grudge against Roy Williams for letting my fantasy team down, so I can only imagine how the Dallas Cowboys organization feels about him.

    After tearing it up in Detroit with the Lions, the Cowboys went out and got Tony Romo a primary target, or so they thought.

    Williams agreed to a six-year, $54 million contract with $26 million guaranteed. Along with the money came multiple drops and more frustration for Cowboys fans.

2. Albert Haynesworth

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    Because of his work ethic, Albert Haynesworth has become somewhat of a joke.

    Haynesworth has all of the talent in the world, but his bad attitude and dirty plays, like stomping on Andre Gurode and slinging Maurice Jones-Drew to the ground, made teams weary about picking him up.

    That didn't stop the Washington Redskins, though, as they signed him to a seven-year deal for $100 million. Haynesworth did nothing but cause problems for the Redskins.

    Really, it's what they deserve after giving him that contract knowing his past.

1. JaMarcus Russell

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    JaMarcus Russell is the most pathetic story in NFL history.

    As a fan of LSU, I really don't want to claim him, and that's bad for a former first-round pick. When Russell was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2007, he held out until they gave him a contract worth $61 million with $32 million guaranteed.

    After playing just three seasons with the Raiders, Russell finished 7-18 as a starter and had 18 touchdowns with 23 interceptions.


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