It’s no secret: NFL players make a lot of money. Just this offseason, the likes of Jared Goff, Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell signed massive contract extensions, combining for over $185 million guaranteed. The question remains, however: Are these players worth the money? The DC Sports staff is here to debate which players in the National Football League are the most overpaid.
Matthew Stafford is the most overpaid player, in my opinion. His annual salary is higher than that of Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady. As a young quarterback, yes, he made a case to potentially be one of the top tier guys at the position down the road. And he got paid as if he already was. The problem is that he never actually started performing as if he was one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. Stafford has put up solid numbers over the years but they can only tell half the story. When you pay somebody 27 million dollars a year, you expect to win. The Detroit Lions haven’t come close to winning anything in a long time, making his contract appear even worse. Although he is only 31 years old, time is running out. With the division getting more and more competitive each year, Stafford’s window to prove his worth is closing quickly.
Despite my undying love and affection for the Green Bay Packers, it’s clear that Jimmy Graham has one of the worst contracts in the NFL. Sure on paper the man is a beast, standing at 6-foot-7 and having been a Pro-Bowl selection on five separate occasions in his career, but unfortunately for the Packers and their fanbase, he had not lived up to the hype surrounding him when they announced his three-year, $30 million signing, the highest among all tight ends in the NFL. Before joining Green Bay in 2018, Graham had an impressive stint in Seattle where he totaled 122 receptions for 1,443 yards and 16 touchdowns over two seasons. His market value skyrocketed, and the Packers felt it was vital to their success to sign him, even though Aaron Rodgers has a history of ignoring his tight ends. Unsurprisingly, he has done little for Green Bay, racking up a mediocre 55 catches for 636 yards and added only two touchdowns last season, the same number of scores 87-year-old Antonio Gates had. There’s no reason this man should be making more money than Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittle, but here he is taking $10 million a year from the Packers for hardly anything in return.
Derek Carr cashed in on an MVP-caliber 2016 season, in which the Raiders went 12-4, and signed a five-year $125 million contract extension to make him the highest-paid player in the NFL. At the time, that was probably market value for a quarterback with his pedigree, but since then he’s played like a shell of his former self, quickly making him the most overpaid player in the NFL. In the 33 games he’s played since his magical 2016 season, he has thrown a mere 43 touchdowns (and 25 interceptions) with a passer rating below 90, while the Raiders have gone 11-22 in those games. While those stats are far from awful, they hardly justify the 25 million per season salary attached to the QB. The most egregious part of his deal is that Carr’s massive contract was the primary reason the Raiders were forced to deal Khalil Mack (who’s played like a top-five player in all of football) to Chicago a season ago. That’s a tough pill to swallow for any franchise, let alone one as historically mediocre as the Raiders.
Come on, guys. We’re missing the most obvious one here: Kirk Cousins. Prior to the 2018 season, the Minnesota Vikings signed a three-year, $84 million fully-guaranteed contract. For those of you who aren’t math folks, that’s $28 million per season, which at the time was the richest in the sport’s history. So far that signing has looked like a mistake and a gross waste of money. Cousins put up decent numbers last year (over 4,200 yards and 30 TDs) but only led the Vikings, a team coming off an NFC Championship appearance, to an 8-7-1 record and missed the playoffs. So far this year, he hasn’t looked impressive at all, as Dalvin Cook has been the standout on that offense, leading the league in rushing yards. Cousins isn’t horrible, but he’s mediocre at best and should not be making more than 26 other NFL quarterbacks.
For once, I actually agree with you Danny–Kirk Cousins is easily the most overpaid quarterback in the league (and I’m not just saying that because he’s the only reason my parlay didn’t hit). However, the most overpaid PLAYER in the league is Trumaine Johnson. The now-29-year-old was handed a five-year, $72 million contract from the New York Jets before the 2018 season to be the No. 1 corner of the future, which at the time made him the second-highest paid at his position in the NFL. In 2018, he struggled to stay on the field, and when he did, he didn’t live up to the standards that were expected of him. So far in the 2019 season, he got torched by Josh Allen, which prompted him to get benched just two weeks into the season. The worst part for him? The Jets’ pitiful cornerback group actually played better in Week 2, even if the score didn’t reflect it. Yes, quarterbacks are the easy choice, that position always commands top dollar even if they’re not a top player. However, Johnson is making quarterback money (albeit low-end quarterback money, but still) at cornerback, and he isn’t even good enough to start on a team with one of the worst groups of corners in the league.
Matthew Stafford is the most overpaid player in the NFL. When he signed his contract in 2017, the Lions gave him a five-year deal worth 135 million dollars, which is an incredible sum of money. He makes about 27 million dollars a year. He makes more money a year than Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Cam Newton. He was okay in 2017, but in 2018 he was unimpressive, with 21 touchdowns for 11 interceptions. The lions also did not qualify for the playoffs in either of the last two years, making Stafford look even worse. In fact, in his 11 seasons in the NFL, Stafford has made and lost a total of three playoff games. This shows a startling lack of postseason production, but more than that, it shows a major problem with his regular-season play because the team isn’t even making the playoffs. You don’t pay someone $27 million a year to have a mediocre regular season.
Man, I’m not seeing enough running backs in this roundtable! Good quarterbacks are necessary and hard to find, so when you get a good one you have to sink your teeth in and pay them. The four highest-paid running backs in the NFL annually are Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson. I would argue that they are actually a Mount Rushmore of overpaid players. That’s right, I’m taking a four-way tie. Each of them makes between 13 and 15 million per year, and Bell and Johnson are both on the wrong side of 26 years old. Tying up that much cap space in a position that is often injured and not as hard to replace as you may think (just ask Melvin Gordon) can be detrimental to your team. That kind of money can be more wisely spent on solid defenders, elite offensive linemen or a No. 1 wideout such as T.Y. Hilton or Davante Adams. What kind of talent are the Jets and Cardinals expecting to surround Bell and Johnson with? Who is going to take the paycut in Dallas … Dak Prescott, or important defensive players? Is Gurley even the Rams’ clear-cut starter anymore? These are the bad questions that teams that overpay running backs have to answer, and that teams like the Patriots never have to worry about.
While an argument can be made that there are many different players throughout the NFL who are currently being overpaid, the most overpaid player in the league right now is Eli Manning. Manning is currently making $23.2 million this season, which is absolutely ridiculous considering how Manning has played the last couple of seasons. While Manning signed his contract back in 2015, the argument can be made that he should not have been signed to a deal like this in the first place, due to a decline in his play for the last couple of seasons. Manning has been at best an average quarterback since 2015. The deal looks even worse now, since Eli has been benched in favor of Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. With Eli Manning’s best days well behind him, and with his time as the starting quarterback of the Giants coming to an end, it is clear that Eli Manning is currently the most overpaid player in the NFL.
The DC Sport Staff