Every NFL Team's Most Overpaid Player
If your favorite NFL team was suddenly forced to create a chunk of salary-cap space, which player would you want to see go?
Players on the back end of the roster and part-time contributors aren't realistic options because these players don't typically carry large contracts. If you're like most fans, you'd be willing to relinquish an overpaid player—one who may be good but whose value to the team doesn't match the value of his contract.
It's not typically the player's fault, as teams regularly hand out hefty contracts after a breakout season or to secure a player on the open market. You're never going to see a player say, "Nah, I haven't earned that kind of money yet." Considering the short career span of NFL players, it's unfair to fault them for taking the money when they can get it.
The fact remains, though, that some players are considerably overpaid and could be considered expendable if a dire cap situation were to arise. The question is, which player on your favorite team is the most overpaid, and why? That's precisely what we're here to examine.
*All salary information via Spotrac.
Arizona Cardinals: OT D.J. Humphries
The Arizona Cardinals drafted former Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries 24th overall back in 2015. He's set to play on his fifth-year option, which carries a cap hit of $9.6 million.
This is problematic, not because Humphries is a bad player—he's been more than serviceable when he's healthy—but because Humphries has struggled to stay on the field. He played in just nine games last season and has played in only 27 games during his four years in the NFL.
It's hard to justify paying a guy nearly $10 million when history suggests he'll only play for half the year. Of course, it's also hard to fault the Cardinals for doing so. They still don't know if Humphries can be their franchise left tackle, and picking up his fifth-year option was the easiest way to give him one more chance to prove himself.
Until/unless Humphries does prove that he can anchor the line for a full season, however, he will be considered overpaid.
Atlanta Falcons: DE Vic Beasley
Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher Vic Beasley is another player set to perform on his fifth-year option. The difference between him and Humphries is that Atlanta largely knows what it has in the former eighth overall pick.
Beasley has missed just two games in his four NFL seasons. The problem is that he's only been a top-tier defender in one of them. Beasley had an impressive 15.5 sacks in 2016 but just 14.0 sacks in his other three campaigns combined.
On top of not being an elite pass-rusher, Beasley doesn't offer a lot as a run defender. In 2018, he produced a mere 20 tackles to go with 5.0 sacks and three passes defended. This isn't the kind of production that warrants $12.8 million fully guaranteed—but that's exactly what Beasley will receive in 2019.
Baltimore Ravens: WR Willie Snead
The Baltimore Ravens probably knew they were overpaying to pry wideout Willie Snead away from the New Orleans Saints last offseason. They gave Snead a two-year deal that was heavily skewed toward the second season.
Snead is set to carry a cap hit of $7.2 million in 2019.
While Snead is a fine complementary receiver, Baltimore's offseason moves could push him down the depth chart. The Ravens drafted Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin and signed Lamar Jackson's college teammate, Jaylen Smith, as an undrafted free agent.
Snead's contract already appeared to be a bit too much—he had just 651 yards and one touchdown last season—and it will look even worse if he's pushed into the third- or fourth-receiver role in 2019.
Buffalo Bills: RB LeSean McCoy
This one probably doesn't come as a surprise. Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is entering the final year of a five-year, $40 million contract that he signed when he was still one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league. He's set to earn more than $9 million in 2019.
The problem is that McCoy is no longer as reliable or as explosive as he once was. He produced just 514 yards on the ground last season while averaging a mere 3.2 yards per carry. Still, Buffalo appears ready to keep him for one more season.
"McCoy is still here and he's still the starter," general manager Brandon Beane said, per Sal Capaccio of WGR 550.
Whether McCoy will still be in Buffalo in Week 1 is another story. The Bills signed free agent Frank Gore and drafted Devin Singletary in Round 3. This suggests that the Bills are prepared to move on from McCoy soon. Given his recent production and his salary, few would blame them if they did.
Carolina Panthers: DE Bruce Irvin
Bruce Irvin has never been one of the NFL's top pass-rushers, but he's had moments in the spotlight. He had 15.0 sacks with the Oakland Raiders between 2016 and 2017 and had 8.0 sacks with the Seattle Seahawks as a rookie in 2012.
Over the last two seasons, however, Irvin has been far less productive as an edge-rusher. He was released by the Raiders midseason in 2018 and had just 6.5 sacks with the Raiders and Falcons. Yet, the Carolina Panthers were still willing to give Irvin a one-year, $4 million deal this offseason.
Good pass-rushers are hard to find, so it's not hard to see why the Panthers were willing to take a chance on Irvin. Given his recent production and his age (31), however, Irvin is overpaid.
Chicago Bears: WR Allen Robinson II
The Chicago Bears made a huge gamble on wide receiver Allen Robinson II. He played in just one game in 2017 due to a torn ACL, yet Chicago still gave him a three-year, $42 million deal in free agency. Based on Robinson's first season in Chicago, the Bears overpaid.
Robinson was good when he was healthy, but he wasn't great. Injuries limited him to 13 games in 2018, and he caught 55 passes for 754 yards and four touchdowns. Prorated over a full season, Robinson would have had a 928-yard campaign.
This is low production for a No. 1 receiver, which isn't what the Bears are paying for. Robinson's 2019 cap hit of $15 million suggests he should be an elite No. 1 receiver, but that is not what he has traditionally been—Robinson has only had one 1,000-yard season in his career—and he wasn't that last season.
Cincinnati Bengals: CB Dre Kirkpatrick
Dre Kirkpatrick is a good cornerback, but he isn't an elite one. In fact, Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today named the Cincinnati Bengals defender as a potential cap casualty early in the offseason.
"It would be hard for any underperforming corner on the league's worst pass defense to be seen as a pivotal piece, much less one who is two years into a five-year, $52 million contract and had zero interceptions in 2018," Middlehurst-Schwartz wrote.
It's fairly difficult to argue with this assessment. Kirkpatrick isn't a high-impact defender—he has just four interceptions over the last four seasons—and he's set to carry a cap hit of $11 million in 2019. It's unlikely that the Bengals will release Kirkpatrick, but they are overpaying him.
Cleveland Browns: DE Olivier Vernon
The Cleveland Browns wanted to upgrade their pass rush this offseason, so they traded for defensive end Oliver Vernon. It's hard to fault the Browns for that decision, and it's impossible to fault them for Vernon's massive five-year, $85 million contract—because Cleveland didn't sign that deal.
However, the Browns are going to overpay Vernon, at least based on his recent production. Vernon had just 13.5 sacks over the last two seasons and has only had one double-digit-sack season in his career. Since he signed his hefty new deal with the New York Giants, Vernon hasn't had more than 8.5 sacks in a season.
This will likely be an evaluation year for Vernon. Playing opposite Myles Garrett could allow him to up his production significantly. If it doesn't, the Browns could look to restructure Vernon's deal or release him after the 2019 season.
Dallas Cowboys: WR Allen Hurns
With Amari Cooper and now Randall Cobb on the roster, Allen Hurns is likely to be the Dallas Cowboys' No. 3 receiver at best in 2019. There's no guarantee of even that, however, as Hurns suffered a dislocated ankle in January and was an underwhelming receiver prior to the injury.
Despite playing in all 16 games in 2018, Hurns amassed just 295 yards and two touchdowns.
This is not the kind of production the Cowboys likely envisioned when they signed Hurns to a two-year, $12 million deal last offseason. It's also not the kind of production that warrants the $6.3 million cap hit that Hurns will carry this season.
Denver Broncos: TE Jeff Heuerman
In 2015, the Denver Broncos used a third-round pick on tight end Jeff Heuerman. The former Ohio State standout tore his ACL in rookie camp and has failed to develop into a top option in the years since.
In three (mostly) healthy seasons with the Broncos, Heuerman has appeared in 37 games with 18 starts. However, he's produced a mere 49 receptions for 564 yards and four touchdowns. While Heuerman still has the chance to prove himself, Denver overpaid to keep him this offseason, giving him a two-year, $8 million deal.
Heuerman will have a difficult time justifying his new deal because the Broncos then used a first-round pick on former Iowa tight end Noah Fant. With Fant likely to be the top receiving option at the position, Denver will likely be paying its No. 2 or No. 3 tight end—Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli are also on the roster—$4 million per season.
Detroit Lions: TE Jesse James
New Detroit Lions tight end Jesse James will only carry a cap hit of $2.3 million in 2019. That's not bad. However, his overall deal of $22.6 million over four years is far bigger than what James deserves.
Though he is capable of making the occasional clutch play, James is not an elite pass-catching tight end. In his four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he averaged just 30 receptions, 297 yards and two touchdowns.
Perhaps more importantly, the Lions did get themselves a premier pass-catching tight end when they drafted T.J. Hockenson eighth overall in April. This means that Detroit is scheduled to pay its backup tight end more than $5 million per season over the next four years.
Green Bay Packers: CB Tramon Williams
The Green Bay Packers brought back cornerback Tramon Williams last offseason after the two sides spent three years apart. They gave him a two-year, $10 million deal to make it happen.
Familiarity was part of Williams' appeal for Green Bay, and he is a fine defensive back. However, Williams is also 36 years old and has seen his ability to impact games diminish over the past few years. Though he started all 16 games in 2018, Williams had a career-low two passes defended and failed to snag an interception for the first time in his career (Williams did not play as a rookie in 2006).
With young defensive backs like Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos on the roster, it's difficult to envision Williams being an impact defender in the secondary this season. Yet, he's set to carry a cap hit of $6.4 million.
The Packers can afford to pay Williams to be a veteran presence and a versatile backup, but given his contract, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him released as a cap casualty before the start of the regular season either.
Houston Texans: OT Matt Kalil
The Houston Texans allowed quarterback Deshaun Watson to be sacked an alarming 62 times last season. Therefore, it wasn't a surprise to see the Texans taking chances in the offseason with the goal of strengthening the line in mind.
However, the chance they took on offensive tackle Matt Kalil was a risky one. They gave Kalil a one-year deal worth $7.5 million—which is a lot when you consider how much Kalil needs to prove.
Kalil underwent knee surgery last offseason and then sat out the entire year for the Panthers. He's played just 18 games over the last three seasons and hasn't performed at a Pro Bowl level since 2012. Though he's just 29 years old, Kalil's best days may already be behind him.
Of course, Kalil may supplant Julie'n Davenport at left tackle and perform at a high level. If he does, his salary will be fair. However, there's no guarantee this happens, and paying $7.5 million for a potential backup who needs to reestablish himself is a gamble not justified by Kalil's recent track record.
Indianapolis Colts: WR Devin Funchess
Former second-round pick Devin Funchess failed to establish himself as a reliable receiving threat in his four seasons with the Panthers. Even at his best, he was a plodding possession receiver, and he was more frequently a low-tier second option.
In 2018, Funchess produced just 549 yards and four touchdowns. Yet, the Indianapolis Colts gave him a one-year, $10 million deal to find out if he can turn his career around. That's a lot of cash for a guy the Panthers seemed to have no interest in retaining.
Adding to the perception that the Colts overpaid Funchess is the fact that they already have a big-bodied possession receiver in tight end Eric Ebron. Funchess won't even be the top guy in the specific role that he's expected to fill.
Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette racked up a modest 439 rushing yards and just 3.3 yards per carry in 2018 while appearing in just eight games. In no way is his production worthy of the $8.9 million Fournette is set to earn in 2019.
It's not exactly fair to fault the Jaguars for Fournette's contract, though. The running back is playing on a rookie deal. With the rookie wage scale in place, it's not like Jacksonville could have negotiated a better contract.
It is, however, fair to fault the Jaguars for taking Fournette fourth overall in the 2017 draft. They passed on Christian McCaffrey, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson to do so.
Fournette has not lived up to his draft status and is set to be massively overpaid in 2019.
Kansas City Chiefs: RB Carlos Hyde
The Kansas City Chiefs gave running back Carlos Hyde a one-year, $2.8 million deal this offseason. While it is not a massive contract, it's a lot for a player who may not see the field often in 2019.
The Chiefs have already named Damien Williams the starter, and they also have Darrel Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson on the roster. So where will Hyde fit?
Possibly nowhere. Hyde was handed the starting job with the Browns last season, but he averaged only 3.4 yards per carry in that role before being traded to Jacksonville. He averaged just 3.3 yards per carry with the Jaguars and caught a mere 10 passes between his time with Cleveland and with Jacksonville.
Hyde looks like a backup at best, and he isn't likely to add a lot in the passing game. Surely the Chiefs could have found a cheaper option to fill this role.
Los Angeles Chargers: TE Virgil Green
Even with tight end Hunter Henry out for the season, Virgil Green struggled to be a significant piece of the Los Angeles Chargers offense in 2018. He split time with Antonio Gates and only caught 19 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown.
With Henry presumably ready to return in 2019, it's hard to envision Green even having similar numbers this coming season.
Yet, the Chargers are still on the hook for $3.3 million to have Green on the roster this season. That isn't a ridiculous salary by any means, but it's a lot for a backup tight end who isn't likely to see the field often outside of garbage time.
Los Angeles Rams: DE Dante Fowler Jr.
The Los Angeles Rams traded for edge-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. in the middle of last season. They got a minor boost to their pass rush in return, but Fowler's production with the Rams—and his production in the NFL in general—doesn't justify the one-year, $12 million deal he signed this offseason.
In eight games with Los Angeles, Fowler produced a mere 2.0 sacks to go with 21 tackles and a forced fumble. In three full NFL seasons, Fowler has just 16.0 sacks and 83 tackles. His best season as a pass-rusher came in 2017, when he had eight sacks—though even then, Fowler was a situational rusher and not a starter.
If Fowler doesn't recapture that spark off the edge in 2019—or at least, if he doesn't emerge as a full-time starter at end—it's going to be hard for the Rams to swallow that $12 million cap hit. This is money Los Angeles might have used to retain a more productive player, like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh or guard Rodger Saffold.
Miami Dolphins: WR DeVante Parker
DeVante Parker has been a major disappointment for the Miami Dolphins. The 2015 first-round pick is coming off a 309-yard, one-touchdown campaign and has never produced 750 receiving yards in a single season. This is why his 2019 salary of $4.8 million is still too generous.
Parker agreed to a new two-year, $10 million deal to stay with the team this offseason.
The only way Parker is going to avoid looking like an overpaid player in 2019 is if he finally reaches his potential and becomes a No. 1 receiving option. If he doesn't, his 2019 salary, which is fully guaranteed, is going to be too high. If he does, the Dolphins could soon be on the hook for an even bigger deal—which would be risky, considering Parker's lack of consistency to this point.
Minnesota Vikings: QB Kirk Cousins
The addition of quarterback Kirk Cousins was supposed to turn the Minnesota Vikings into legitimate Super Bowl contenders. It didn't. In fact, the Vikings went from having a 13-3 record with Case Keenum under center to going just 8-7-1 with Cousins at the helm in 2018.
This is reason enough to believe that the Vikings overpaid to get Cousins, who will carry a cap hit of $29 million in 2019. What makes the deal look even worse is the fact that the money is fully guaranteed. This means that the Vikings will have to pay out the $60 million remaining on Cousins' contract even if they no longer view him as the best option at quarterback.
Getting a fully guaranteed contract was a great deal for Cousins—and it could change the way quarterbacks approach negotiations in the future. However, it's going to look like a bad deal for the Vikings until/unless Cousins establishes himself as a reliable playoff-caliber signal-caller.
New England Patriots: LB Dont'a Hightower
It's rare when the New England Patriots overpay a player, especially on defense, where scheme is usually more impactful than individual talent. The Patriots may have overpaid to keep linebacker Dont'a Hightower last offseason when they gave him a four-year, $35.5 million deal.
Is Hightower a good player? Yes. Is he important enough to the New England defense to warrant a cap hit of $10.9 million? Probably not. Hightower has played in just 20 games over the past two seasons and had an average season in 2018.
In 15 games last year, Hightower produced 48 tackles, one sack and one interception. These are not bad numbers, of course, but they aren't the numbers one would expect to see from one of New England's highest-paid players.
New Orleans Saints: WR Cameron Meredith
Last offseason, the New Orleans Saints signed wideout Cameron Meredith to a two-year, $9.5 million offer sheet. The Bears declined to match the offer, so Meredith became a Saint. He's given New Orleans little production in return.
Last season, Meredith appeared in just six games before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. In those games, he caught a mere nine passes for 114 yards and one touchdown. Meredith also watched as wideouts Austin Carr, Tre'Quan Smith and Keith Kirkwood carved out roles in the Saints passing attack.
There's a chance that Meredith will be the fourth or even fifth receiver on New Orleans roster in 2019—assuming he survives final cuts. Meredith is set to carry a cap hit of $4.2 million with $2.8 million of that guaranteed.
New York Giants: CB Janoris Jenkins
Janoris Jenkins may be the New York Giants' top cornerback, but he isn't an elite cornerback—at least not anymore.
Jenkins joined the Giants on a five-year, $62.5 million deal in 2016 and was a Pro Bowler in his first season. He's been a reliable starter in New York but hasn't lived up to his contract value. He also struggled with consistency in 2018—by late October, Jenkins had allowed 37 receptions for 513 yards and six touchdowns on 50 targets, according to Pro Football Focus.
There's no reason to believe that the Giants will part with Jenkins because he's still a solid corner. However, being solid doesn't justify a $14.8 million cap hit, which is what Jenkins will carry in 2019.
New York Jets: WR Jamison Crowder
The New York Jets obviously wanted to upgrade their receiving corps to get the most out of quarterback Sam Darnold in his second season as a pro. However, giving Jamison Crowder a three-year, $28.5 million deal was a bit much.
Crowder is a good complementary receiver—and little more. He never established himself as a top option in the Washington Redskins passing attack, and he's never reached 850 yards in a single season. He's also coming off a year in which injuries limited him to just nine games.
In those games, Crowder averaged a modest 43.1 receiving yards. That kind of production should benefit Darnold, but it doesn't justify a cap hit of $16.8 million over the next two seasons.
Oakland Raiders: WR Tyrell Williams
Bad teams typically have to overpay in free agency to acquire quality players. This was the case for the Oakland Raiders when they gave wideout Tyrell Williams a four-year, $44.3 million deal this offseason.
Now, Williams is a fine receiver and a tremendous deep threat. He has one 1,000-yard campaign under his belt and averaged an impressive 15.9 yards per reception last season. Is he worth carrying a cap hit of $10.1 million in 2019, though? Probably not.
Just consider that Williams will cost roughly $3 million less than Julio Jones costs the Falcons this season. Jones is a receiver that opposing defenses must game-plan around. Williams is a high-end complementary receiver.
It's easy to understand why the Raiders overpaid to get Williams, but they did overpay.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR Nelson Agholor
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor no longer looks like a first-round bust as he did early in his career. However, he still hasn't emerged as a top receiving option for the Eagles, which makes his 2019 salary of $9.4 million a little tough to swallow.
Agholor's best season came in 2017, when he caught eight touchdown passes and had 768 receiving yards. Those are good numbers, not great, and Agholor had 736 yards and just four scores last season.
Further complicating things for Agholor is the fact that the Eagles traded for DeSean Jackson and drafted J.J. Arcega-Whiteside this offseason. With Alshon Jeffery in firm control of the No. 1 receiver spot, Agholor could drop to third or even fourth on the depth chart—and that's not factoring in tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Bud Dupree
Like many of the players on this list, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree is playing on a rookie deal. Like every player on this list, Dupree is being overpaid in relation to his production.
Dupree hasn't developed into the premier pass-rusher that he was supposed to be when he was drafted 22nd overall. In four seasons, he's averaged a mere 5.0 sacks per year. This is the kind of production usually seen from backups and situational pass-rushers, but Dupree is a starter and he's supposed to be a key component of Pittsburgh's pass rush.
The Steelers still decided to pick up Dupree's fifth-year option, which means his 2019 salary of $9.2 million is fully guaranteed—even though Dupree hasn't had the production to warrant such a salary.
San Francisco 49ers: QB Jimmy Garoppolo
This may be seen as a controversial choice because franchise quarterbacks always get paid. The problem is that the San Francisco 49ers cannot know that Jimmy Garoppolo is actually a franchise quarterback. They certainly didn't know this when they gave him a five-year, $137.5 million deal last offseason.
Garoppolo had started a mere seven NFL games when the 49ers opened their checkbook, and while he had shown flashes, he hadn't proved he could be a reliable quarterback over the course of a full season. In fact, Garoppolo still hasn't proved this, as a torn ACL ended his 2018 campaign just three games in.
So, the 27-year-old has started 10 games over five seasons. While his career passer rating of 97.3 is good, it's barely better than that of backup Nick Mullens (90.8). San Francisco overpaid to retain an unproven quarterback, and that move has the potential to backfire in a big way.
Seattle Seahawks: DE Ezekiel Ansah
The Seattle Seahawks gave edge-rusher Ezekiel Ansah a one-year, $9 million deal this offseason to help offset the loss of Frank Clark via trade. There are a couple of reasons to believe this was too much.
The first is that Ansah has struggled with both his consistency and his health as a pro. He appeared in just seven games last season and missed 14 over the past three years. While he has had two campaigns with at least 12 sacks, he's averaged just over five sacks per season in his other four years.
The second reason is that there wasn't much of a demand for Ansah's services. The fact that he was still available in early May suggests that the teams who did consider him found reasons not to add him.
The Seahawks are gambling on Ansah, and they're paying handsomely to do so.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Donovan Smith
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave left tackle Donovan Smith a new three-year, $41.25 million deal this offseason—and it's fair to wonder why.
Smith plays an important position, sure, and he's proved himself to be a durable player. However, he is an above-average tackle at best and a liability in the passing game when he's struggling.
According to Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus, Smith has allowed at least 42 quarterback pressures in each of his four NFL seasons.
It would have been a major risk for Tampa to part with Smith and try its luck in free agency or the draft. However, the fact remains that the Buccaneers significantly overpaid to keep him.
Tennessee Titans: CB Malcolm Butler
The Tennessee Titans gave cornerback Malcolm Butler a whopping $61.25 million over five years to secure him in 2018 free agency. That is an obscene amount of money for a player with just one Pro Bowl and who was benched by his former team (the Patriots) in the biggest game of the season.
Did the Titans overpay to get Butler? Yes. Yes, they did.
"It doesn't appear the Titans got what they paid for. After earning an overall grade of 84.1 over four years in New England, Butler finished this season with a career-low grade of 67.1," Cameron Pezet of Pro Football Focus wrote.
The good news is that Butler's play improved late in the season—two of his three interceptions came in the final five weeks—and he still has plenty of time to prove himself worthy of his contract. After one season, though, Butler looks like the Titans' most overpaid player.
Washington Redskins: WR Paul Richardson
Because of a shoulder injury, Washington Redskins wide receiver Paul Richardson appeared in just seven games in 2018. He should be healthy and ready to help rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins this coming season.
"People seem to forget about him coming back," head coach Jay Gruden said, per John Keim of ESPN.com.
Should the Redskins be excited to have Richardson back on his current salary? Probably not. Washington signed him to a five-year, $40 million deal and is set to pay him $13 million for the coming season.
Richardson was not a star in his seven games (four starts) last year, catching just 20 passes for 262 yards and two scores. He wasn't a star with the Seahawks either. His best season consisted of 703 yards and six touchdowns.
The Redskins overpaid to land Richardson last offseason, and they're going to overpay him in 2019.