The pressure to win in professional sports can make teams do crazy things. The NFL makes the most money of any professional league in North America, with revenues estimated at $10 billion a year.
It’s only natural that the excess in revenues would lead to teams spending more money than they should on certain players. The league’s old collective bargaining agreement (of which the owners opted out in 2011) had no rookie wage scale, leading to teams paying exorbitant amounts of money to rookies before they even took a snap in the NFL. For example, Sam Bradford, the no.1 overall pick of the 2010 draft was given $50 million guaranteed by the St. Louis Rams. Matthew Stafford was given $41.7 million guaranteed. With the current CBA, rookies are paid much less so that teams endure less risk when drafting a player. Cam Newton was the first draft pick under the current CBA in 2011 and he signed a four-year deal worth $22 million.
Rookie salaries have gotten under control, but free agency is a different story. Teams will either overpay for free agents or overpay their own players in fear of losing them to free agency. That’s not to say they’re bad players. Calling someone overpaid is not to say that a player is bad at his job. It just means their production on the field doesn’t quite justify their paycheck.
This piece is not strictly arranged in order of numbers. There’s a certain subjectivity involved. Forbes lists Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton as the league’s most overpaid player in terms of his value to the team. However, his salary of $2.5 million isn’t significant to the team. This list of the most overpaid NFLers is open to everyone’s interpretation. You’ll see gigantic contracts, and determine whether or not they’re justified, given the player’s production and role on their respective team. Here are the NFL’s 10 most overpaid players for 2013-14.
10. Mario Williams – DE – Buffalo Bills: $96 Million Over 6 Years
The Buffalo Bills are not known as an organization to make a big splash in free agency, but it appeared they did in 2012 when they signed former no.1 overall pick Mario Williams. Williams was given a six-year deal by Buffalo worth $96 million making him the highest-paid defensive player in league history.
Much of his 2012 season saw Williams hindered by a wrist injury. He managed 10.5 sacks on the year, 17th most in the NFL. The Bills ranked 22nd in total defense and finished with a 6-10 record. Through Week 14 of this season, the Bills are 15th in total defense, with 346 yards allowed per game. Williams has 12 sacks and a forced fumble on the year. He produces, but his salary is just too high when there are more productive players earning far less.
While the addition of Williams hasn’t hurt the team, let’s just say the investment hasn’t quite paid off. The Bills are 4-9 this season. When you have the highest-paid defensive player in the league on your team, you’d hope it would make a higher impact. This one’s on the Bills though, not Williams. Only an idiot wouldn’t sign a $96 million contract.