The thing you have to love about professional sports is that no matter how bad you are within the league you compete in, there is a good chance that you are earning way more money than the general population. Let’s take the NFL as a perfect example. The minimum salary for an NFL rookie is $450,000, which is a lot of money. Sure, that is nothing when you compare it to the $137.5 million that the San Francisco 49ers committed to paying Jimmy Garoppolo over the next five years, but it is still a lot of money if you are a regular person. You could live an amazing life and put all of your kids through college with that kind of money. Nevertheless, when we are talking about the NFL and professional sports as a whole, this is not much money at all when compared to the performance of some players.
Some guys get a ton of money that they do not deserve. Meanwhile, some amazing players agree to take pay cuts so they can prove themselves to be as good as everyone should see they already are. Now, before we start going on tangents, let’s just establish that everyone has their own opinion, and if you are a fan of one of the players on this list, you could disagree with us. If you do, leave your comment and let’s start a discussion because that’s what makes it all fun. Either way, let’s see if you agree with our choices for the 10 most overpaid players in the NFL and the 10 most underpaid guys in the league.
20 Overpaid: Matthew Stafford
Once upon a time, many people thought that Matthew Stafford could be the future of the quarterback position in the NFL. That was especially true for Detroit Lions fans, who thought that the combination of Stafford and Calvin Johnson would be enough to bring a Super Bowl to Detroit finally. Unfortunately, for all of those fans, none of that came to fruition.
With Stafford leading the charge, the Lions did manage to maintain themselves as a middle-of-the-pack kind of team but never really went much further than that. It is hard to deny that the potential is there. After all, Stafford is someone who has become more reliable when it comes to turnovers season after season. But to think he is worthy of being the second highest-paid player in the NFL? That is blasphemy.
19 Steal: Tom Brady
Quarterbacks get paid a lot of money. To be more specific, no position in the NFL is as valued as the quarterback spot, which is fair since we came to find out that teams live or die by their quarterbacks. So, common sense would lead everyone to believe that one of the best quarterbacks of all time would also be one of the best-paid players of all time. That is not the case with Tom Brady, though. This is where New England Patriots fans should really stop to think how lucky they are to have this guy as their franchise player.
Not only does Brady have the mentality to come to work like a machine every day and perform at a level few have ever seen every weekend, but he also took a huge pay cut to give the Patriots a chance at Super Bowl runs.
Believe it or not, Brady has only the 14th highest salary among quarterbacks.
18 Overpaid: Joe Flacco
Winning a Super Bowl can change someone’s career. No one proved that more than Joe Flacco. We are not going to hate on Joe too much since he did bring a ring to Baltimore, and that is more than they had expected to get during his tenure. Well, at least that was more than they expected to get before they gave him a massive contract extension.
Yes, there was a point in which Flacco was the highest-paid player in the NFL which, at this point, seems nothing short of ridiculous.
This is a guy who threw for 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. Those would be solid numbers if you were an up-and-coming young quarterback. But people have to remember that this is a guy who gets paid more than Aaron Rogers, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson. In case you were wondering, Flacco has a three-year deal worth more than $66 million.
17 Steal: Brandin Cooks
Let’s spread our wings a little bit and run away from the quarterback position. Yeah, the quarterbacks get a lot of money, which means that a lot of them are overpaid, and a few are steals. But, when you look at the other positions on the football field, you get a more diverse sample of contracts.
When we look at receivers, it is hard to find a guy who is as underpaid as 24-year-old Brandin Cooks.
Cooks had been burning people with his lightning speed ever since he debuted as a rookie with the New Orleans Saints. Playing with the New England Patriots and catching passes from Tom Brady, he took it up yet another notch. He finished 2017 averaging 16.6 yards per catch—all of that while he is under a four-year contract worth less than $9 million.
16 Overpaid: Mike Glennon
We have seen NFL teams make stupid decisions when it comes to players and how much money they throw at them. That is especially true with quarterbacks since they are usually the ones who get the most money. Still,
to watch the Chicago Bears commit $45 million on a three-year deal for Mike Glennon had to be one of the highlights of the season of anyone who hates the Bears.
They pretty much gave starting money to a guy who finished the year playing only four games. Worse, he lost the starting spot to a rookie whom the Bears were trying to ease into the league slowly so that he wouldn’t feel the NFL pressure right from the get-go. But at the end of the day, Mike finished his season with the Bears with a 1-3 record throwing only four touchdowns and five interceptions.
15 Steal: Aaron Rodgers
Before we get into this argument, let’s just point out that we do believe that if Aaron Rogers receives anything less than the top contract in the NFL today, he should be considered underpaid. Rogers is one of those talents that comes to a franchise maybe once every few decades. He is a guy who can take you to the promised land by himself, which he did once as he brought a Super Bowl to Green Bay. Nevertheless, we have to face the reality that
Rogers is not even the best-paid quarterback in the NFL today.
At 34 years old, this guy is in his prime. This is a man who threw 40 touchdowns in one regular season. Still, he is getting paid $22 million a year, which is less than Stafford, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Andrew Luck.
14 Overpaid: Ndamukong Suh
You have to give credit where credit is due. While Ndamukong Suh was playing with the Detroit Lions, it was hard to make an argument against him being the best defensive tackle in the NFL. This guy came out of college from Nebraska and put up 10 sacks in his rookie season alone. Those are ridiculous numbers, and he kept up the pace while
he was in Detroit getting paid a solid salary but nothing beyond the realms of reality.
It was when he made the move to Miami that things got twisted a little bit. Suh signed a six-year deal worth more than $114 million with the Dolphins. That is nothing short of the fifth biggest contract in the NFL. He gets paid more money than Aaron Rogers, but his production has declined severely over the past few seasons, and he finished 2017 with only 4.5 sacks and 29 tackles.
13 Steal: Odell Beckham Jr.
We are going to make the same argument we made for Aaron Rogers here, but with one little difference. When we talk about Rogers, some people might still try to claim that there are better quarterbacks than him in the league, which is an argument we are not going to delve into since it’s too controversial. On the other hand, when we talk about Odell Beckham Jr., you will seldom find someone claiming anything other than OBJ being the most talented and skilled wide receiver in the NFL. There are the Julio Joneses of the world around, but no matter how good they are, they are not Odell Beckham Jr. This kid is ridiculous, and
him getting paid anything other than the top wide receiver contract in the league is ridiculous.
The Giants should have realized that by now and should start making moves to extend his contract, which should have been done long ago. This kid is currently paid only $2.6 million a year.
12 Overpaid: Jason Witten
Jason Witten is another guy who is hard to hate. No matter how old he gets, no matter how much money he is getting paid, this guy is always a reliable option on the football field. That being said, at 35 years old,
his production is not nearly as much as it should be to explain his four-year contract worth almost $30 million.
Witten finished the 2017 season with 63 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns, which is solid. But when we have to make a comparison here, the name Rob Gronkowski comes up. Gronkowski is younger than Witten and received for more than 1080 yards while playing two fewer games last year. With that in mind, we have to consider it ridiculous that the difference in salary between these two is less than $2 million a year.
11 Steal: David Andrews
When it comes to finding steals in the draft and free agency, you simply cannot beat the genius of the New England Patriots. That is one of the reasons why every other fanbase seems to despise them so much (well, that and the cheating scandals). It just seems like the Patriots have a scouting team that can pinpoint what other teams have overlooked. A perfect example of this was David Andrews,
an undrafted center they signed to a three-year deal worth $9 million.
Now, if you are a football fan, you should know that the center position is arguably one of the most important spots on the football field. This guy is the pillar that everyone has to build around, even the quarterback. Behind the 25-year-old Andrews, Tom Brady has already taken the Patriots to a couple of Super Bowls.
10 Overpaid: Brooks Reed
When you give a guy a five-year contract, you have to be very sure of what he can do for your team. That is a long time to commit to someone. Sometimes, an NFL team can hit the bullseye and lock down a great player for a long commitment. But, more often than not, we get to see teams making mistakes and ending up with guys who cost a lot of money in comparison to what they give back on the field. In the case of Brooks Reed,
the Atlanta Falcons committed $22 million for five years, which means that they lose about 4.4 million in cap space every year they have this guy on the roster.
That might not seem like a lot at first, but when you put together all of the other positions, this is the kind of money you could use to sign someone who can actually perform for your team. Since signing with the Falcons in 2015, Reed has recorded only six sacks.
9 Steal: LeGarrette Blount
What the Philadelphia Eagles did this year even after their star went down because of an injury was astonishing. No matter how good the rest of the team was, no one expected the Eagles to make it to the Super Bowl, much less beat the Patriots in a stage that not a lot of Eagles’ players had ever played. Luckily for them, the difference came in the little things, like the punctual signings of veterans who provided what we can only imagine was a much-needed experience boost to the squad. No one embodied that as much as 29-year-old running back LeGarrette Blount.
The Eagles picked up this guy with a one-year contract worth $1.25 million, which is nothing when it comes to running back money,
especially for someone who can be your starting running back and score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
8 Overpaid: Eli Manning
It can seem like some people have vendettas against Eli Manning, but we are only going to bring up facts to explain to the die-hard Giants fans why their beloved quarterback is such a waste of money. Don’t get us wrong, we do think Eli could be a good backup for the Giants, but betting their future on this guy is nothing short of being negligent for the franchise. Eli is 37 years old, and he is no Tom Brady. This is not the kind of guy who is going to be performing well into his 40’s. Hell, just last season, he led the team to a 3-12 record while throwing 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That is not the kind of ratio you are expecting from a guy as experienced as this two-time Super Bowl champion.
In terms of the contract, he could give the Giants a break. Eli is not worth a four-year deal worth $84 million.
7 Steal: Case Keenum
Call it a twist of fate or what-not, but the one-year deal guys are usually the ones who turn out to be steals. We already talked about a running back who helped lift the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in franchise history, but we cannot forget about the third-string quarterback who managed to take the Minnesota Vikings deep into the playoffs. No one believed that Case Keenum would be able to lead the Vikings after they lost both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. Even if Vikings fans are to be honest, they thought the season was over the first time Keenum started. Nevertheless, this guy proved everyone wrong and had one hell of a season.
Keenum finished 2017 throwing for more than 3500 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions—
all of that while on a one-year contract worth $2 million. This is the definition of a steal.
6 Overpaid: Coby Fleener
It must be nice to be a receiver or a tight end who can play with a guy as skilled as Drew Brees at the quarterback position. The thing about Brees is that he is not only accurate with his throws, but he might just be the quarterback that most diversifies when it comes to the receivers he targets. He is kind of like that AAU coach who wants everyone to get some playing time and get the ball. But you have to feel for Brees when he throws a good ball and his tight end is unable to catch it.
It must be even more infuriating when this is a guy who gets paid more than $7 million a year just to catch the freaking ball.
We are just saying that because this probably went through the minds of Saints fans every time Coby Fleener failed to catch the ball. Although he did improve from 2016, Fleener did not even manage to be a starter.
5 Steal: Brandon Graham
It doesn’t matter which sport we are talking about, versatile players are the dream of every coach. Whenever someone is struggling to put together a new game plan or scheme, having a versatile player who can help your squad in more than one position is a much-welcomed gift. Offensively, we had the example of a guy like Julian Edelman who, despite playing most of his college career as a quarterback, became one of the best wide receivers in the league. On the defensive side of the football field, we have an even longer list of versatile players who can help a team out in more than one position. One of these guys who was a steal for his team was Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles.
This guy already played in every position from linebacker to defensive end,
and he has always excelled. His contract is a four-year deal worth $26 million.
4 Overpaid: Tyrone Crawford
From someone who has been excelling at the defensive end position to someone who showed neither his coaches nor his fans that he deserved the contract extension he got from the Dallas Cowboys, Tyrone Crawford was drafted by Dallas in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. And during the years of his rookie contract, it seemed like he would be an amazing defensive lineman as the years went on. He even earned a starting spot by his second season. Nevertheless,
after getting a contract extension in 2015 worth $45 million for five years, his performance on the field started going downhill.
Last season, he only managed to tally four sacks, 18 tackles, and nine assists in 16 games. Those are not the kind of numbers you would expect from someone with such a lucrative deal.
3 Steal: Dak Prescott
If Tyrone Crawford is making the Cowboys regret throwing some money at him to renew his contract after his rookie deal was over, there is one guy in the Cowboys roster who is going to get a huge pay raise whenever they decide to extend his contract, and it will be a well-deserved pay raise. The guy we are talking about is Dak Prescott. Putting an end to the Tony Romo era was not the only thing Prescott did for Dallas. He also gave them hope—real hope that there is a future for the Cowboys.
This guy is only 24 years old and is still getting paid only a little over $680,000 per year.
His deal is a four-year contract worth little more than $2.7 million. Can you weight that against his career record of 22-10? Yeah, this is a pretty good deal for Dallas.
2 Overpaid: Randall Cobb
Why Randall Cobb is still earning $10 million a year is beyond us. Sure, the guy had an amazing breakout year back in 2014 when he was selected to the Pro-Bowl after catching for more than 1280 yards and 12 touchdowns. Nevertheless, ever since that year, Cobb has never been the same. Just this last season, he played 15 games and tallied 653 receiving yards to go along with four touchdowns. But, those are not the only important numbers here. He averaged a career low of 9.9 yards per reception, which speaks a ton about how his ability to get extra yardage has been declining over the years. It is not like he is old either.
Cobb is only 27 years old, so he could turn this around.
Still, as he is right now, Cobb is definitely not worth his $40-million contract.
1 Steal: Alvin Kamara
We didn’t want to put guys who are under rookie contracts on this list because it is kind of unfair to compare them to guys who already have some mileage in the NFL and have given teams more time to decide how much they are worth. That being said, we already talked about a couple of guys who fall into this category, so why not talk about the biggest example of a guy who is underpaid because he is still in his rookie contract?
It has been a while since a rookie running back has dazzled people as much as Alvin Kamara dazzled the entire NFL community in 2017. Not only was this guy selected as the offensive rookie of the year, but he was also selected to the Pro-Bowl. Kamara had a total of 1554 yards to his name counting rushing and receiving yards, as well as 13 touchdowns. Now, take a guess how much he got paid last year.
His base salary was $465,000.