25 Most Overpaid NFL Players of All Time
One could argue that no one in the NFL is "overpaid" given the game's incredible physical stress. The force associated with a single hit in an NFL game is roughly equivalent to the impact of a car against a wall at 30 mph, which means that a football afternoon is no different than buying a racket and three hours spending bumping him against a wall about a dozen times. However, physical strain on the body is only a small part of an NFL contract. When it comes down to it, you get paid for your performance no matter how hard the job is.
And that can make it very difficult to find the right numbers for each of these contracts. An NFL general manager is constantly trying to navigate a carpet of wildly different offensive and defensive systems in the league to judge if a professional bowler is still as productive in another team when surrounded by different teammates and runs different games. And at the end of the day, GMs often sniff at the fact that it is a terrible mistake to commit declining or below-average players to massive deals that they will soon discover.
Here's a look at the most overpaid players in NFL history: some were draft busts; Some had a good year, were paid and then crashed, others couldn't avoid injuries to really take off.
Last updated: January 30, 2020
Joey Harrington came out of college to make a difference. The smiling Oregon duck seemed constantly full of optimism and skills, eager to prove itself. What a difference four years can make with the Detroit Lions. Over four seasons, Lions fans watched their alleged savior never complete more than 57% of his passes in one season, throwing 62 interceptions on just 60 touchdowns - all in a Lions team that played between 18 and 37 with him Center. If you take these statistics into account, it means that the third total selection in the 2002 NFL Draft earned about $ 387,000 per interception, as it earned $ 24 million in four seasons.
Granted, you might only be able to fill this entire list with Lions quarterbacks, but Scott Mitchell's epic quarterback failure cannot be overlooked. Sure, you can't completely rule out his magical 1995 season when he threw for 4,338 yards. But if you remember that he was surrounded by elite talent - including the Hall of Fame that Barry Sanders ran back - it should be clear why Lions fans have mostly asked how good this squad is with you over the past two decades could have been a real quarterback.
Mitchell's passing numbers alone don't tell the whole story. He received a three-year, $ 11 million contract to take the Lions to the next level, but he never made the Lions a competitor. Except for 1995, Mitchell would throw 42 picks in the other three years, starting only 46 touchdowns, despite having goals that included Herman Moore. All of this made his later appearance on "The Biggest Loser" a cruel irony for Lions fans.
Down Culpepper certainly had times when he looked like one of the greats. After an epic 2004 season in which he threw over 4,700 yards and had a touchdown of 40 a year, Culpepper signed a 10-year $ 102 million extension with the Vikings.
At that time, Minnesota clearly felt that Culpepper should be a Viking throughout his career. A year later, Minnesota changed his mind. After an injury-ridden 2005 season, Culpepper was traded to Miami, where he only started four games in 2006. Ultimately, Culpepper threw 4,700 yards in 2004 ... and only 5,555 over the past five years of his career.
When will people learn? Just because a backup under Bill Belichick looks pretty good doesn't mean they'll replicate it anywhere else. In fact, it's difficult to see the pretty big difference between Matt Cassel's stats on and off the patriots without wondering how good Tom Brady would have been if he had been drafted by another team.
When Brady suffered an ACL crack at the end of the season in the first quarter of the first game of the 2008 season, Cassel took over the same Patriots team that had remained unbeaten a year earlier in the regular season, leading them to a 10-5 Record. Cassel then translated this impressive achievement into a four-year, $ 46 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, Belichick and the rest of the patriots stayed in New England and the Chiefs went 4: 11 in Cassel's first year as a starter. Kansas City was ultimately 19-28 years old when Cassel was a starter, for which they were not over $ 11 million registered per season.
Like former USC quarterback Matt Cassel, other handsome USC quarterbacks have experienced a rude awakening when they landed in the NFL. Take Mark Sanchez, for example. After a hugely successful career at USC, he was ranked fifth overall by the New York Jets competing against him, and signed a five-year contract with $ 28 million in guaranteed money, over $ 60 million should he hit all of his Incentives. His deal was the richest contract in the history of the jet at that time. However, all of his four seasons with the jets remembered him better for the "Butt Fumble" than during his time at USC.
There are three basic ways to become an overpaid player in the NFL. The first is a draft bust that signs a hefty deal before anyone actually sees her play in the NFL, the second is excellent but suffers an injury and the last is said to be pretty good for a while and then just lose it. either due to age or simply due to the loss of your skills. Javon Walker is an example of the third. After making a name for himself with the Green Bay Packers, in 2008 he signed a six-year contract for $ 55 million with the Oakland Raiders. Walker, however, would only last two seasons in the bay - catching only 15 passes over seven starts in 2008 and no passes over just three games in 2009.
Find out: That's how rich every NFL team is
Even among the many truly legendary NFL busts that emerge from the NFL design, Ryan Leaf's story remains legendary. Leaf and Peyton Manning practically went neck-to-neck in 1998 to make the first overall choice in the eyes of many analysts. Indianapolis eventually finished first with Manning, had poor San Diego Chargers subscribed to Leaf with the second choice, and signed a four-year, $ 31.25 million contract that set a record $ 11.25 million.
Leaf stank, however. From the beginning. He completed less than half of his attempts at pass in 1998, saw no play in 1999, and was eliminated from the NFL at the end of the 2001 season. Leaf's career statistics show how it would have been overpaid at almost any price: a 4-17 record as a starter with 48.4% completion and 14 touchdowns on 36 interceptions. And if you're a Chargers fan, do yourself a favor and don't compare that to Manning's numbers.
Roy Williams was a disaster in Dallas. Not the defensive back with five Pro Bowl bets, but the broad receiver who signed an extension with the Dallas Cowboys after the team swapped four draft picks for him in 2008. Williams - the only one of the three broad recipients that the Lions took in a row First rounds that weren't a complete disaster - had been a solid player on a bad team up until that point. However, after signing the $ 45 million five-year extension with Dallas, Williams seemed to lose his mojo. He only played three of those five years and never got more than 40 passes in one season.
As mentioned earlier, Roy Williams was only one of three broad recipients that the Lions had received in the first round in four years. While the old saying "If you don't succeed at first" has its place, the "Try Again" part was a pitiful failure for the Lions. Charles Rogers, for example, was the preeminent Michigan state representative that the Lions acquired in 2002, but was unlucky enough to have broken his collarbone five weeks after his first season started. Then again in the first game of the next.
Overall, Rogers has never really earned much from his six-year, $ 55 million rookie contract. In fact, he had to repay $ 8.5 million of his $ 14.2 million signing bonus.
Albert Haynesworth became known as an absolute beast in the middle of the D-line during his time as Tennessee Titan. Well, that and stamp on a man's face. The astonishing physical specimen played so well that Washington's professional football team thought it appropriate to offer him a seven-year, $ 100 million deal after making a free choice after the 2008 season. Oops. Haynesworth would only last two seasons in Washington and would prove to be one of the largest free agent busts ever.
JaMarcus Russell is another example of how a rookie with a successful college career used to sign a huge rookie deal before anyone could confirm whether he was actually good at the next level or not. And the six-year $ 68 million contract he signed with the Raiders in 2007 - including $ 39 million in guaranteed money - was named the worst contract in NFL history by ESPN's Darren Rovell in 2012. In fact, many believe that it played a major role in motivating the owners to fight for a switch to a rookie contract scale to limit the size of a player's first deal.
If you paid for a crate of beer and only got 12 beers, you would probably be pretty exhausted. Well, the case that the Denver Broncos bought for $ 36 million over two years also seems to be a couple of beers. Keenum was impressive as a starter in Minnesota in 2017, breaking his 11-3 record in the big deal with the Broncos. However, his 2018 season, in which he tossed 18 touchdowns on 15 interceptions while Denver hobbled to a 6-10 record, made Keenum look like he was doing far too much for what he produces on the field.
Jay Cutler has become an independent phenomenon in pop culture, from the "Smoking Jay Cutler" meme to his marriage to reality television star Kristin Cavallari. Previously, however, he was the type Sportscasting described as the “most overpaid player in NFL history” in 2017.
A classic example of how an NFL quarterback is more about not doing bad things than doing good things. Cutler had a cannon for one arm and was very quick for a quarterback. Unfortunately, he just couldn't stop turning the ball around, and the Chicago Bears deeply regretted the seven-year $ 126 million contract he signed with them in 2014.
There is a certain group of football fans from central Michigan who love Tony Mandarich very much. He was an All-American in Michigan State and helped the team win the Big Ten title in 1987. Then he was ranked second overall by the Green Bay Packers, and the Detroit Lions chose the state of Oklahoma, which Barry Sanders - who would by far become the most popular franchise player of all time - returned with the next election.
Even so, there is likely to be an inverted segment of Wisconsin football fans who had to see Mandarich beat the Badgers in college before becoming the worst draft pick in Packers history. And while Mandarich's four-year, $ 4.4 million rookie contract looks small by today's standards, it was quite large compared to the deals at the time. Regardless, it was far too much for a man who is still known as one of the largest busts in the NFL design.
The Bos's obsession was nationwide in the late 1980s, and the big linebacker made headlines for his oversized hits and oversized personality. And when the Seattle Seahawks designed it in the additional draft, the team signed it with what was then the largest rookie contract in the league's history - $ 11 million over 10 years. That was optimistic to say the least since Bosworth had left the NFL before the end of his third year.
Another guy who has had an incredible run at USC just to discover the game was a lot more difficult than not spending your time getting involved with Pac 10 Powder Puffs is Matt Leinart. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006 for the 10th overall win, and then signed a six-year deal worth up to $ 50.8 million. However, Leinart only started 16 games in two seasons and ended his career with 21 interceptions and only 15 touchdowns.
For most of his 12-year NFL career, Neil O'Donnell was usually a pretty solid team asset. He would ultimately throw over 20,000 yards and 120 touchdowns on just 68 picks in this career. Although O’Donnell wasn’t necessarily overpaid throughout his time in the NFL, it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t a disaster for the New York Jets. The team signed O’Donnell in 1996 for a $ 25 million five-year contract, but he would only be on the team for two of those years. The Jets lost all six games he started this season and didn't fare much better in 1997, which ultimately led to O'Donnell leaving the city.
Sure, "Neon Deion" hasn't been overpaid for most of his career. For many years he was absolutely dominant - he redefined his position and left crimes behind to find out how they could carry out their crimes without ever throwing in his direction. However, "Neon Deion" looked a little more like "Neolithic Deion" during his final contract, a $ 56 million seven-year contract with the Washington football team he signed at age 33. Deion would only play there one season before his (first) retirement.
The Kerry Collins, who started the New York Giants in five seasons, looked like a solid, albeit unspectacular quarterback around which a team could build. For this reason, the Oakland Raiders were willing to sign a three-year, $ 12 million contract to anchor their franchise in 2004. The Kerry Collins, who started for Oakland, made this contract look ridiculous. The Raiders went 7-21 in games that he started in the next two seasons when he threw 32 interceptions and was out of the team before the last year of his deal.
Mike Vander hunts
With almost every other player here it is doubtful to what extent he is responsible for the overpayment. In football it is particularly difficult to separate individual statistics from the quality of the rest of the team. If you're not the kicker, it's pretty easy to see how many kicks you miss.
And this is an "idiot kicker" who couldn't hide anywhere. At least not after signing with Dallas - a three-year deal with the potential to reach up to $ 6 million in value - after his comments on Peyton Manning's lack of leadership and a big miss in the playoffs about his fall from the Colts had led. If Manning's lack of leadership in Indy was an issue, the one who played quarterback at Vanderjagt during his tenure in Dallas must have been really bad: Vanderjagt went as a cowboy on the way to the middle of his first season with 13 to 18 for field goals.
Jeff George, the quarterback of the two first names, spent quite a while in the NFL. His career spanned five teams in 12 seasons and included some solid seasons, certainly playing better than his 47-78 starter record suggests. For this reason, legendary head coach Marty Schottenheimer ultimately signed a four-year, $ 14 million contract to sign a 32-year-old George to replace starter Brad Johnson.
If you choose to back up as much money to a veteran as George, you tend to look for someone who shows balance and consistency. George didn't gather either. In two seasons with Washington, he managed to throw nine interceptions in just eight games, and was soon retired.
David Boston was only a season away from a sparkling 2001 Cardinals campaign that garnered 98 catches for a league-leading 1,598 yards when he signed a massive seven-year $ 47 million contract with the San Diego Chargers. And if Boston had repeated these numbers, it might have been a decent deal. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Boston produced a very inconspicuous 880 reception area with the Chargers in its first season, missed its second with a knee injury and was exchanged for the Dolphins before its third.
Jerry Porter was probably underpaid during his tenure with the Raiders. However, his performance there helped him sign a six-year, $ 30 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars that definitely reversed the trend. Porter only produced 11 catches in his only season with the Jaguars, which meant that he was released just a year after the contract was signed.
Jeff Garcia was a pretty good quarterback in his day. After all, he went to three pro bowls during his five years on the San Francisco 49ers. In 2004, Garcia signed a four-year, $ 25 million contract to become the new start-up back for the Cleveland Browns. Of course, there may not be a sentence in human history that has proven to be a constant harbinger of doom as "a new quarterback for the Cleveland Browns," and Garcia has not resisted the trend. In the end, he only started 10 games for the Browns and threw nine interceptions over seven losses.
Boy, Washington’s professional football team is sure to be here ... a lot. And there is at least one drastically oversized contract to discuss, that of quarterback Donovan McNabb. While McNabb in Philadelphia was clearly not overpaid - the team went on to play four NFC title games in a row during his stay - the five-year $ 78 million extension he signed with Washington at the age of 33 is another story. A statistical analysis is not necessary given the fact that he was sitting on a bench there in his first year - for Rex Grossman.
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