5 Players Not Worth Their Big-Money Contracts
Robbery is illegal in the U.S.A., but not the NFL. Just like many Fortune 500 CEOs, there are players getting big bucks without earning their paychecks.
Or for a more local comparison, there's the manager at your job who makes more than you and does less. We all know that guy.
Here are a few quick notes before we get to the people pulling Ponzi schemes on their franchises.
First off, I stayed away from rookie deals under the old CBA. That’s an issue pertaining to a poor economic model and even worse scouting. The difference from the deals included here is, teams were free to strike their own bargains. They weren’t forced to beat last year’s deal for a draftee in the same slot.
Wallace is in a great spot to regain his fantasy-football, golden-boy status with the Miami Dolphins. He’s a good fit with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense.
And Harvin will get one medical pass before I completely throw in the towel on him. His ridiculous nine-game stretch in 2012 (62 receptions) grants him just enough leeway to make him a late cut here.
Lastly, I’m not going to dump on Joe Flacco yet. The last time we saw him, he was killing it, and he has earned the right to prove worthy of his deal.
But everyone else is fair game. So click through to find out which five guys are not holding up their end of the deal.
Atlanta Falcons Guard Justin Blalock
It’s hard to knock Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. He’s built a serious contender that is set up for long-term success.
But giving offensive guard Justin Blalock an average of $6.4 million wasn’t his best move—or even in his top 50.
Blalock’s deal is huge for a guard. To put it in context, he’s pulling in the same pay as Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda.
However, the Falcons aren’t getting Yanda-like production. Blalock was very average last year, ranking as the 45th-best guard out of 81, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
And if he doesn’t pick up the slack soon, Dimitroff won’t be able to get rid of him. Thanks to a restructuring last year, Blalock will be carrying $7.2 million of dead money next year and just over $4 million the season after.
St. Louis Rams Tight End Jared Cook
Just because others have hammered the point home already doesn’t mean I’m going to grant the St. Louis Rams a reprieve.
The contract they gave Jared Cook was generous—at best.
Cook will make more than $7 million a year, meaning he’s going to be the third-highest-paid tight end. He will make more cash than Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez and Heath Miller.
What has he done to earn that reward? Not much. He’s never had more than 79 catches and has a grand total of eight touchdowns in four years.
Granted, NFL contracts are doled out based on projected production, but smart economics should, at a minimum, reference past performance as a baseline.
San Diego Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers
To be fair, hindsight is 20/20. When Philip Rivers was inked to a deal paying him $14 million a year, it didn’t seem so crazy.
But that’s the gamble you make with big-money, multi-year deals. And that gamble has resulted in the San Diego Chargers getting evicted from their comped penthouse suite to some off-the-strip motel.
To be fair, Rivers hasn’t completely derailed. He’s averaging almost 28 touchdowns a year since 2008.
But he also began tossing interceptions and fumbling the ball at an alarming rate.
Last year alone, he accounted for 15 picks while fumbling 15 times. In 2011, he put the ball on the ground only nine times but completed passes to the defense 20 times.
Philadelphia Eagles Linebacker Connor Barwin
The Philadelphia Eagles have that new-car smell. Linebacker Connor Barwin’s contract is the leftover Mediterranean takeout that has been left inside the car on a hot summer day.
(For the record, I love Mediterranean food, but it can smell like a teenager who doesn’t realize he needs to use deodorant.)
The Eagles will be shelling out $6 million a year. While he isn’t on the list of top-10 best-paid linebackers, that number is still high enough to drastically affect the salary cap.
In exchange for that hefty chunk of change, Philly can expect production more like last year’s three sacks than the 11.5 he had in 2011.
The Eagles are basically paying for a career year, which, as Grantland’s Bill Barnwell explained, is a terrible idea.
St. Louis Rams Cornerback Cortland Finnegan
There’s something to be said for bringing attitude to a team. There’s a real value in instilling toughness in your new comrades.
But there’s also a price point that shouldn’t be exceeded when securing such services. And the St. Louis Rams blew past that mark when they decided to give cornerback Cortland Finnegan $10 million per season.
Finnegan paid the Rams back by turning in possibly the worst season of his career. He finished 86th out of 113 cornerbacks in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Some might say the Rams couldn’t have seen such a drop-off coming. I respond by pointing to 2010, when he was regularly beaten like a drum, allowing quarterbacks to complete two-thirds of their passes thrown at him for a quarterback rating of 97.1, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).