Every NFL Team's Most Overpaid Player Entering 2020 Season

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 10, 2020

Every NFL Team's Most Overpaid Player Entering 2020 Season

0 of 32

    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    Which NFL players aren't earning their dough? 

    Looking mainly at average annual salaries, courtesy of Spotrac, we looked at players with obviously high paychecks and compared that to their recent production—focusing primarily on 2019—as well as to their positional peers' performance.

    Taking that, as well as statistics, effectiveness, roles, durability and trajectory, into account, here's a look at the most overpaid player on every NFL roster. 

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The player: OT D.J. Humphries 

    The contract: Three years, $43.8 million with $29 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

    The few Arizona Cardinals in Humphries' average-salary range are reigning Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Chandler Jones, three-time first-team All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and three-time first-team All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson. 

    All three are veteran superstars, while the 26-year-old Humphries has yet to establish himself as a reliable left tackle. The 2015 first-round pick might be coming off his best season, and there's plenty of room for growth, but he took 13 penalties in 2019, he's missed 37 games in five NFL seasons and he's yet to sniff a Pro Bowl or All-Pro honor. 

    When the Cardinals extended Humphries' contract this offseason, they were likely trying to maintain continuity for young quarterback Kyler Murray while hoping that the Florida product will finally take off.

    That could happen, but until it does, he'll be overpaid as the ninth-highest-salaried offensive lineman in the NFL (per annual average).

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The player: WR Julio Jones

    The contract: Three years, $66 million with $64 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in September, expires in 2024)

    Nobody will argue Jones isn't one of the NFL's best offensive players, but a drop in his rate-based numbers suggests the beginning of a decline in 2019. And that shouldn't surprise anybody, considering the nine-year veteran is 31 years old. 

    It's also worth noting the two-time first-team All-Pro hasn't scored more than eight touchdowns in a season since 2012, his second campaign. And yet he's the highest-paid receiver in the league by a 10 percent margin over Amari Cooper of the Dallas Cowboys. 

    This deal could become an albatross for the Atlanta Falcons in a year or two. That gives Jones the nod over edge-defender Dante Fowler Jr., who signed a three-year, $45 million contract this offseason but is only 25 and is coming off his best season. 

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    The player: DE Calais Campbell 

    The contract: Two years, $25 million with $20 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

    This isn't a bad contract for a veteran star who continues to be a starting-caliber player, but the Baltimore Ravens don't have any bad contracts, and Campbell's could at least be considered a stretch in light of his age and career trajectory. 

    The five-time Pro Bowler will turn 34 in September, and his sack total has plummeted in back-to-back seasons after peaking at 14.5 when he was a first-team All-Pro with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017. 

    Fellow Baltimore defensive lineman Brandon Williams arguably hasn't lived up to his hefty deal (five years, $52.5 million), and veteran safety Earl Thomas, 31, is one of the highest-paid players in the league at that position despite questions about his age and injury history. But they can get out of the Williams contract for less than $5 million next offseason, and Thomas was a vital puzzle piece in 2019.

    Campbell wasn't even on the roster when Baltimore surrendered the third-lowest point total in the NFL last year. If he continues to decline, the Ravens will dread having to pay him $15 million to play or $10 million to walk away next offseason.  

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The player: C Mitch Morse

    The contract: Four years, $44.5 million with $26.2 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

    When the Buffalo Bills made Morse the highest-paid center in the sport last offseason, they probably hoped he'd take another step toward stardom in 2019. But the 28-year-old failed to do so in a penalty-filled debut season with the team. 

    Morse was by no means a liability, and his strong pass-blocking likely helped young quarterback Josh Allen improve, but he made a lot of mistakes and wasn't a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro. 

    He remains the highest-paid center in football, but he's still yet to achieve either honor. 

    That's enough to beat out edge-defenders Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, both of whom make just north of $10 million per year, both of whom will be at least 32 this season and neither of whom has ever been a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro. 

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    The player: DT Kawann Short

    The contract: Five years, $80.5 million with $35 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

    We're giving the Carolina Panthers a break for making Christian McCaffrey the highest-paid back in the NFL. That was a questionable decision, considering the position's lack of importance these days, but McCaffrey is an exceptional weapon in the passing game, and front-seven defenders Shaq Thompson and Kawann Short offer other options for Carolina. 

    Thompson recently became one of the highest-paid off-ball linebackers in football with an extension worth $13.6 million per year, which is pushing it for a player with two career forced fumbles and one triple-digit-tackle season out of five. 

    But Short, like most Panthers, peaked midway through the 2010s. He hasn't been the same since starring in that 2015 Super Bowl season, earning just one subsequent Pro Bowl nod in 2018. And he's coming off a season that was virtually lost as a result of a shoulder injury.

    Now 31, the seventh-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the NFL will cost the Panthers more than $40 million over the next two seasons. 

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The player: EDGE Khalil Mack

    The contract: Six years, $141 million with $90 million guaranteed (expires in 2025)

    It's important to note that great players can be overpaid. That's the case with Mack, who is the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history but has yet to deliver a playoff win in two seasons with the Chicago Bears. 

    That's not all on him, but when you give a guy an average annual salary of $23.5 million per year, he has to make a franchise-quarterback-type difference. Mack has not. 

    In terms of approximate value (AV), Pro Football Reference determined he was not much more valuable in 2019 than Kyle Fuller or Eddie Jackson, both of whom barely cost half as much money. 

    Mack is entering his final season before he turns 30, and his numbers declined across the board last year. This could be the beginning of a decline, which would be terrible for a Bears team that owes him $80.4 million over the next three seasons. 

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

    The player: CB Trae Waynes

    The contract: Three years, $42 million with $15 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

    Aging Cincinnati Bengals defenders Carlos Dunlap, 31, and Geno Atkins, 32, are probably overpaid, but at least both are accomplished players with contracts that contain low remaining guaranteed values.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Waynes, who failed to live up to expectations in five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings but hit free agency at a good time and managed to become the sixth-highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. 

    Maybe the Bengals believe the 2015 No. 11 overall pick can finally take off after intercepting just seven passes in his first five seasons, but he surrendered a 107.9 passer rating in coverage last year and will turn 28 this summer. He barely graded in the top 50 at that position the last two years at Pro Football Focus, which makes you wonder what the Bengals were thinking. 

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The player: EDGE Olivier Vernon

    The contract: Five years, $85 million with $52.5 million guaranteed (expires in 2021)

    This could change if the Cleveland Browns eventually release Vernon, who isn't guaranteed a dollar of the remaining $15.5 million on his bloated contract. But the team has still spent the offseason with that total on its 2020 payroll, which is odd, considering that somewhat promising 2018 third-round pick Chad Thomas and veteran Adrian Clayborn are also on the roster at much lower rates.

    Vernon has earned one Pro Bowl nod and zero All-Pro honors in eight seasons. He hasn't produced a double-digit-sack campaign since 2013, and he registered just 3.5 sacks during an injury-plagued 2019. Now he's on the verge of 30 and possibly free agency. 

    Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported in February that the Browns would "probably" part ways with Vernon this offseason. They should do that soon and use the savings to invest in a better edge-defender, like Everson Griffen, or even save it for 2021. 

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    The player: RB Ezekiel Elliott

    The contract: Six years, $90 million with $50.1 million guaranteed (signed as an extension, expires in 2027) 

    Determining the most overpaid member of the Dallas Cowboys wasn't easy. 

    DeMarcus Lawrence—the third-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL—is coming off a five-sack season, with that total plummeting for the second year in a row. Dak Prescott wasn't even a Pro Bowler last year but is slated to carry the league's largest salary-cap hit next season. And Cooper is the league's second-highest-paid wide receiver, even though he ranked outside the top five in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2019. 

    But Elliott's $15 million average annual salary still takes the cake. 

    He's averaged a phenomenal 96.5 rushing yards per game in four NFL seasons, but that number dropped to 84.8 last year. Besides, despite all of his success, the Cowboys have won just one playoff game in the Elliott era. 

    Teams oughta be learning their lesson regarding running backs. According to Spotrac, seven players at that devalued position had non-rookie contracts with average annual salaries higher than $7 million in 2019, and none of those participated in the postseason. 

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The player: OT Ja'Wuan James

    The contract: Four years, $51 million with $32 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

    New Denver Broncos defenders Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye are expensive but can be jettisoned at no penalty beyond this season. That's also essentially the case with mainstay Von Miller, who will cost $25.6 million in 2020 but carries a dead-cap hit of just $4.2 million in 2021. 

    James, however, will cost the Broncos $27 million over the next two seasons, unless they cut him in a year at a total cost of $19 million. 

    That's huge money for a right tackle who has played in more than eight games in only three of his six NFL seasons and has yet to make a Pro Bowl or earn an All-Pro honor at age 28. 

    He hasn't been consistent or reliable enough to justify being the third-highest-paid right tackle in the league. 

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The player: EDGE Trey Flowers 

    The contract: Five years, $90 million with $56 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

    Like a lot of guys on this list, Flowers is a superb player. But when the Detroit Lions made him one of the highest-paid defenders in the league last offseason, they had to expect more than seven sacks in 15 starts from the former New England Patriot. 

    On the verge of his 27th birthday, the two-time Super Bowl champion has never been a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro and has never hit the eight-sack mark. Yet he's one of just eight defensive players making at least $18 million per season

    The worst part for the Lions is that with him on board, the defense was worse on paper in 2019 than it was before he arrived in 2018. 

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Harry How/Getty Images

    The player: QB Aaron Rodgers

    The contract: Four years, $134 million with $98.7 million guaranteed (signed as an extension, expires in 2024)

    Ever since he injured his collarbone midway through the 2017 season, Rodgers has not been the same quarterback. His completion rate has dropped by about three percentage points, his yards-per-attempt average has sunk from 7.9 to 7.2 and his passer rating has plummeted from 104.2 to a barely above-average 95.4, but the two-time MVP continues to be one of the highest-paid players in football. 

    Only Russell Wilson has a higher average annual salary on a deal that spans more than two seasons, and that $33.5 million total is taking up a league-high 18.9 percent of his team's payroll.

    Meanwhile, the Packers have gone nearly a full decade without a Super Bowl appearance. 

    With Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith both coming through on pricey free-agent deals, the expensive Davante Adams showing no signs of slowing and nobody else in Rodgers' orbit, this was an easy call. 

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The player: EDGE Whitney Mercilus

    The contract: Four years, $54 million with $28.5 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

    There were plenty of options for the Houston Texans. 

    Laremy Tunsil—who is the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history—has never even been a second-team All-Pro, but the 25-year-old is wildly talented and coming off his best season at a crucial position, so we'll give that a pass.

    The extremely highly paid J.J. Watt has missed 32 games the last four years, but he remains a legend, so we'll look the other way. Brandin Cooks' $16.2 million average annual salary is outrageous, but the Texans owe him just $8 million and can be free of that contract beyond 2020. And it's still hard to believe they willfully inherited David Johnson's horrendous pact, but they can also essentially stop that bleeding after this season. 

    But then there's the contract they recently handed to edge-defender Whitney Mercilus, who will make $12 million per year in his age-30 and -31 seasons and then cost the team another $3.1 million to cut if Houston is unwilling to pay him $14.5 million in 2022. 

    It's far too much for a player who hasn't recorded eight sacks in a season since he registered a dozen in 2015 and has never been a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro.

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Justin Casterline/Getty Images

    The player: QB Jacoby Brissett

    The contract: Two years, $30 million with $20 million guaranteed (expires in 2021)

    The Indianapolis Colts made a huge mistake in giving quarterback Jacoby Brissett a two-year, $30 million contract just before the 2019 season. After showing a lack of big-play ability as a starter last year, Brissett is a backup with a $21.4 million cap hit. 

    He's the only player in the league with a cap hit north of $14 million who isn't a clear-cut starter. 

    That says it all. Philip Rivers' $25 million salary isn't small, but that's the going rate for a veteran starting quarterback. DeForest Buckner is one of the highest-paid defenders in the game, but he's got a bright future following a second-team All-Pro season. And Anthony Castonzo's $16.5 million average annual salary registers above Brissett's, but he's the starting blindside protector for Rivers. 

    Beyond them, nobody else on the roster makes as much as the backup freakin' quarterback. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

15 of 32

    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    The player: G Andrew Norwell 

    The contract: Five years, $66.5 million with $30 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

    Norwell was coming off a breakout All-Pro season when the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him to a monster contract in 2018, but his debut campaign there was derailed by an ankle injury, and penalties were a problem during a lackluster 2019 season. 

    He hasn't done much to help a Jacksonville offense that has ranked in the bottom six in scoring each of the last two years, but the 28-year-old zero-time Pro Bowler remains one of the highest-paid guards in the sport. 

    That's enough to beat out off-ball linebackers Joe Schobert, 26, and Myles Jack, 24, both of whom are also overpaid with eight-figure average annual salaries at a low-impact position but are younger and have more room for growth.

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The player: EDGE Frank Clark 

    The contract: Five years, $104 million with $62.3 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

    For what it's worth, in 2019, Clark made his first Pro Bowl in his debut season with the Kansas City Chiefs. But he was limited to eight sacks and 14 quarterback hits in an injury-plagued year that included a few too many penalties and a lack of consistency. 

    So while the Chiefs likely wouldn't change a thing about 2019, the reality is it wasn't an ideal start for one of just five NFL defenders with an average annual salary over $20 million. 

    The only other Chiefs making even half as much as Clark are Eric Fisher (the starting left tackle since 2013 who makes nearly $9 million less), Tyrann Mathieu (who was a first-team All-Pro in 2019), Chris Jones (who was a more effective pass-rusher from a tougher spot in 2019) and Tyreek Hill (one of the top offensive weapons in the NFL). 

Las Vegas Raiders

17 of 32

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The player: OT Trent Brown

    The contract: Four years, $66 million with $36.3 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

    Brown's deal isn't horrible, but the Las Vegas Raiders surprisingly don't have any horrendous contracts on the books.

    Quarterback Derek Carr will count just $21.5 million against the cap in 2020 and is essentially on a year-to-year deal. Rodney Hudson is the highest-paid center in the league (tied with Morse), but he's missed just one start during a four-year span in which he's earned three Pro Bowl honors. New linebacker Cory Littleton got a sweet three-year, $35.3 million deal in free agency, but he could be a stud linebacker for years. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams is slightly overpaid, but he can be removed from the books after this season at no extra cost.

    Brown was somehow a Pro Bowler in 2019, but he missed five games and struggled as a run-blocker at right tackle. He's a decent pass-blocker with tantalizing size at 6'8", 380 pounds, but he turned one decent year with tremendous support in New England into the second-richest right tackle contract in NFL history. 

    Like Williams, he can be cut without penalty next offseason, but he's nearly twice as expensive as the starting receiver for 2020. His $21.5 million cap hit is quite outrageous. 

Los Angeles Chargers

18 of 32

    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    The player: EDGE Melvin Ingram III

    The contract: Four years, $64 million with $34 million guaranteed (expires in 2021)

    A $16 million average annual salary isn't wild for a Pro Bowl pass-rusher, but it's fair to wonder if Ingram is slowing. The 31-year-old has recorded just 14 sacks the last two seasons, and his quarterback hits have dropped in back-to-back years. 

    Now he's carrying a $16.6 million cap hit into the final season of his deal. 

    Again, not obscene, but nobody else on the Los Angeles Chargers roster makes more than $12 million per year, and it's harder to make cases here for the guys just under that bar. Keenan Allen ($11.3 million) is coming off three consecutive 1,100-plus-yard seasons, 26-year-old Trai Turner ($11.3 million) is a stud guard in his prime and Hunter Henry ($10.6 million) is a 25-year-old tight end coming off his most promising season.

Los Angeles Rams

19 of 32

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The player: QB Jared Goff

    The contract: Four years, $134 million with $110 million guaranteed (signed as an extension, expires in 2025)

    With Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks no longer on the Los Angeles Rams roster, this is an easy decision. 

    Goff's $110 million guarantee is the largest in NFL history, and he's one of just four players in the league with an average annual salary above $33 million. The only three players tied with or above him in that area are Super Bowl-winning, Hall of Fame-bound quarterbacks, but Goff has yet to prove he's a steady franchise signal-caller in L.A. 

    His 2019 numbers fell off a cliff after he bombed in Super Bowl LIII. He got hot late in 2017 and early in 2018, but he was a mess before that and has been inconsistent and unreliable after. 

    Since the start of December 2018, he's thrown 28 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions and has an 83.9 passer rating. There's no way the Rams can put up with that for much longer, but they might not have a choice, considering they owe him $95 million in guaranteed money over the next three seasons.

Miami Dolphins

20 of 32

    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The player: CB Byron Jones

    The contract: Five years, $82.5 million with $54.4 million guaranteed (expires in 2025)

    The NFL's highest-paid cornerback in terms of total contract value and guaranteed money (and its second-highest-paid corner in terms of average annual salary) has been a Pro Bowler once and has never been a first-team All-Pro in five NFL seasons. He's intercepted just two passes in his career and none in the last two years, and he was merely PFF's 17th-ranked player at that position in 2019. 

    What's wild is the Miami Dolphins threw all that money at Jones even though they already had one of the league's highest-paid corners in Xavien Howard, who was the NFL's only cover man with a $15-plus million average annual salary before Jones and Darius Slay got paid this offseason. 

    Jones might be a better player than Howard, but the latter's deal at least gives Miami plenty of flexibility beyond 2020. Meanwhile, they're likely married to Jones for at least the next three years. 

Minnesota Vikings

21 of 32

    Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

    The player: LB Anthony Barr

    The contract: Five years, $67.5 million with $33 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

    Like Goff, Kirk Cousins isn't in the same league as other quarterbacks who make at least $33 million per year. But he's at least coming off a tremendous season for the Minnesota Vikings and has a much better shot at leading that team deep in 2020.

    So instead let's put a spotlight on Barr, who was a slight disappointment in the first year of a massive new contract last season. He was too quiet too often, which isn't unusual for an off-ball linebacker in a pass-heavy league, but we're talking about one of the six highest-paid non-rushing linebackers in the NFL. They need him to be a game-changer at that price, and one pick, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble won't get him there. 

    Barr is a great player and a leader, but only Cousins, Adam Thielen and Danielle Hunter make more money than him on the team. Thielen was an utter star when healthy in 2017 and 2018 and has cheaper guarantees moving forward, while the 25-year-old Hunter has more sacks than all but two NFL players since the start of 2018. 

New England Patriots

22 of 32

    Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

    The player: S Devin McCourty

    The contract: Two years, $23 million with $17 million guaranteed (expires in 2022 with three void years)

    The New England Patriots are famously savvy when it comes to moving on from players just as they begin to decline, which is why it was odd to see New England let Tom Brady, Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy walk but keep McCourty. 

    The veteran safety intercepted five passes last year, but everyone on that defense was having a field day. His tackle total plummeted, and he's entering his age-33 season. Still, the Pats just committed to him for two more years at the sixth-highest average annual salary in the league at free safety. 

    New England almost never hands out a bad contract, and this probably isn't an exception. Still, it's as close as you'll get on this payroll. 

New Orleans Saints

23 of 32

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The player: QB Taysom Hill

    The contract: Two years, $21 million with $16 million guaranteed (signed as an extension, expires in 2022)

    Hill was already locked in with a first-round tender at less than $5 million for 2020 when the New Orleans Saints handed him more than $16 million to stick around for the 2021 season. That's extremely steep for a jack-of-all-trades who has been a master of none. 

    Hill has been on the field less than 25 percent of the time in each of his first three seasons and has completed just six of his 13 career pass attempts. Nothing he's done as a passer indicates he's the long-term answer under center for the Saints, who also essentially admitted they aren't convinced Hill has starting potential by signing Jameis Winston this offseason.

    Maybe Hill will take over for Drew Brees in a year or two and become something special and we'll eat every one of these words, but it seems silly to pay the guy that much cash to come in for the odd trick play in hopes that he might suddenly become a franchise quarterback. 

New York Giants

24 of 32

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The player: Offensive tackle Nate Solder

    The contract: Four years, $62 million with $34.8 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

    It's obvious the New York Giants regret this one. Otherwise, why spend the No. 4 overall pick on Andrew Thomas? But Big Blue can't just ditch Solder, because that gigantic contract from 2018 still carries a $16 million dead-cap hit into 2020. 

    That means they're stuck paying a washed-up 32-year-old $19.5 million this year before having to give him another $6.5 million in dead-cap cash just to go away next offseason. 

    Solder wasn't a Pro Bowler in his prime, and here he is raking in the top cap hit among left tackles despite the fact that he's become a liability in pass protection. It makes him an easy choice on a roster with only two other players making more than $12 million per year, one of whom (Leonard Williams) is on the franchise tag.  

New York Jets

25 of 32

    Brad Penner/Associated Press

    The player: Linebacker C.J. Mosley 

    The contract: Five years, $85 million with $51 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

    I'd like to call out the New York Jets for deciding that inconsistent, unproven, backup-caliber offensive tackle George Fant is worth $9.1 million per year, but his guarantee is low ($13.7 million), and two other Jet contracts still trump that one for their awfulness.

    The difficulty is in deciding between Mosley (who, like Barr, doesn't make a large enough impact to justify a $17 million per year commitment) and running back Le'Veon Bell, who ranked 46th among 47 qualified rushers with a yards-per-attempt average of 3.2 in 2019 despite possessing a $13.1 million average annual salary.

    But Mosley, who missed the vast majority of the 2019 season because of a groin injury, makes substantially more than Bell and can't realistically be jettisoned until 2022. Bell can at least be sent away at a limited cost next offseason. 

Philadelphia Eagles

26 of 32

    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    The player: QB Carson Wentz

    The contract: Four years, $128 million with $108 million guaranteed (signed as an extension, expires in 2025) 

    Plenty of strong candidates exist for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

    Slay is a top-notch player, but should they really have made him the league's highest-paid cornerback ahead of his eighth season? They likely bought high there and will regret it in a couple of years.

    Meanwhile, 32-year-old edge-defender Brandon Graham has never put together a double-digit-sack season but, at $13.3 million per year, is making more than Preston Smith ($13 million) and Justin Houston ($12 million). Alshon Jeffery is the league's 15th-highest-paid receiver even though he hasn't hit the 1,000-yard mark since 2014, and defensive lineman Malik Jackson isn't remotely worth his $10 million average annual salary. 

    But the crown still has to go to Wentz, who has just one career Pro Bowl nod and has failed to remain healthy for playoff action in three consecutive years. His ceiling remains high, but the Eagles paid him far too much far too early without knowing if he can be consistently relied upon. 

    The 27-year-old is scheduled to carry cap hits totaling $102.2 million from 2021 to 2023, with limited potential relief for the Eagles, who can't realistically move on without a massive dead-cap charge until 2024.

Pittsburgh Steelers

27 of 32

    Al Pereira/Getty Images

    The player: QB Ben Roethlisberger

    The contract: Two years, $68 million with $37.5 million guaranteed (signed as an extension, expires in 2022)

    Following a recent restructure, the Pittsburgh Steelers are stuck to Roethlisberger for the next two seasons. His cap hit for 2021 is an astronomical $41.3 million, and he carries a dead-cap charge of $22.3 million. There's just no way they'll pay him that to walk away, which probably means another restructuring will be in order until eventually Pittsburgh bites the bullet. 

    That's no bueno, considering Roethlisberger is 38 but appears to be going on 49. He's coming off major surgery on his throwing elbow and a lost season, but before that, he was the NFL's third-lowest-rated qualified passer, and in 2018 he led the NFL in interceptions. 

    Big Ben looks to be toast, but his salary remains an albatross for a team that has no other players making even half his yearly average

San Francisco 49ers

28 of 32

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The player: DL Arik Armstead

    The contract: Five years, $85 million with $40 million guaranteed (expires in 2025)

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo makes big bucks for a player who at age 28 has started more than five games in just one NFL season, but his five-year, $137.5 million contract is essentially a year-to-year deal. The same goes for handsomely paid defensive players Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford, both of whom have contracts with reasonable outs.

    Meanwhile, new left tackle Trent Williams comes relatively cheap with a $12.5 million walk-year salary at a key position. The only other player on the roster who's making more than $10 million per year is Armstead, who broke out with 10 sacks in 2019 but has never been an All-Pro or a Pro Bowler in five seasons and still has to prove last year wasn't an anomaly. 

    The 2015 first-round pick was en route to becoming a bust before that campaign. How much did he benefit from the talent around him? It's fair to wonder about all of that now that he's among the 10 highest-paid defensive linemen in the league. 

Seattle Seahawks

29 of 32

    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    The player: DL Jarran Reed

    The contract: Two years, $23 million with $14.1 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

    The Seattle Seahawks handed that contract to Reed this offseason, even though the 2016 second-round pick recorded just two sacks after missing six games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

    He flashed a bit in 2017 and peaked with 10.5 sacks in 2018 but has never looked like a superstar and was a missed-tackle machine upon his return from suspension. 

    The Seahawks don't have any outrageously bad contracts, and this one likely isn't large enough to cost the team substantially. Still, quarterback Russell Wilson is a game-changer at the most important position, Bobby Wagner is the best off-ball linebacker in football, Duane Brown is a pillar left tackle and Reed is the only other player on the roster making more than $11 million per year. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30 of 32

    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    The player: OT Donovan Smith

    The contract: Three years, $41.3 million with $27 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

    New Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady might be declining rapidly, but a $25 million average annual salary still only makes him the 12th-highest-paid player at that position (tied with Rivers, Drew Brees and Derek Carr). 

    So we'll instead focus on Smith, who makes more than everyone else on the roster except megastar receiver Mike Evans and reigning NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett, even though the 2015 second-round pick has never been a first- or second-team All-Pro or a Pro Bowler. 

    Smith isn't a bad player. He's become a strong pass protector, and he's always been durable, but he's also always been a penalty machine, and nobody can argue he's worthy of being the seventh-highest-paid left tackle in the NFL (above veterans like Trent Williams and Tyron Smith).   

Tennessee Titans

31 of 32

    Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    The player: QB Ryan Tannehill 

    The contract: Four years, $118 million with $91 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

    It takes a seriously questionable deal to trump the five-year, $61.3 million contract possessed by quickly fading cornerback Malcolm Butler, but that's what the Tennessee Titans have gotten themselves into with Tannehill. 

    The soon-to-be 32-year-old just became the ninth-highest-paid player in NFL history, even though he hasn't started more than 13 games in a season since 2015, he didn't make his first Pro Bowl until he was 31 and he's lacked consistency and durability for much of his eight-year career. 

    Tannehill was the league's highest-rated passer as a 10-game starter in 2019, but is that sustainable for a guy who has always been hot and cold? And how much did he benefit from the presence of a smoking hot Derrick Henry?

    It's fair not to trust Tannehill, who is making twice as much per year as anyone else on the Tennessee roster except standout left tackle Taylor Lewan ($16 million). 


32 of 32

    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The player: QB Alex Smith

    The contract: Four years, $94 million with $71 million guaranteed (signed as an extension, expires in 2023)

    There's no way around this.

    Box safety Landon Collins is overpaid (he's the league's highest-paid player at that position and hasn't even been a second-team All-Pro in the last three seasons), and you could make an argument that Washington gave too much to cornerback Kendall Fuller (who surrendered a 131.6 passer rating in coverage last year but now has an eight-figure average annual salary). 

    But the fact is, Smith is by far the highest-paid player on the Washington roster, and he hasn't played a game in 19 months. He'll count $21.4 million against the cap in 2020 and would cost $10.8 million to cut in 2021. And while Washington continues to insist he could compete for the starting job if healthy, that's a big "if," considering that the 36-year-old is trying to overcome one of the most substantial injuries in recent memory. 

    Plus, Washington will surely hope that 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins can take the reins. 

    And so there's a good chance the organization will keep paying Smith starting-caliber money to not play. That's not Smith's fault, but it certainly makes him overpaid.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.