Equal pay for equal play is not exactly how things roll in the NFL. This is especially true for many players drafted in the latter rounds. Those that excel end up vastly outplaying their contracts a couple of years into their careers.
We are not suggesting that these particular players are grumbling about their sub-par salaries. But, that’s not stopping us from speaking up on their behalves.
One of the finest running backs in the league, currently employed by the Arizona Cardinals, makes a pittance, especially compared to other backs who produce far less. David Johnson deserves a huge raise, and anyone reading this will agree after seeing what his current contract is worth.
In other cases, some seasoned veterans are playing out their final contract years and are slated for massive raises. If their current teams aren’t willing to offer up the big bucks, other clubs surely will.
Here are eight NFL players who deserve big raises.
Note: All salary information is provided by Spotrac.
Derek Carr, quarterback, Oakland Raiders
Carr was the 36th overall pick by the Raiders in 2014. Because of this, his rookie contract worth a total of $5.37 million pays him beans compared to nearly every other starting quarterback. That’s just how the dice fell for Carr, who slipped past the first round in 2014.
It simply is not fair that NFL backups such as Scott Tolzien, Matt Barkley and Brandon Weeden will cash in bigger paydays than Carr this season. And, we won’t even get started on guys like Cleveland Browns quarterback Brock Osweiler, set to earn $16 million this year. Yuck.
The NFL world, including Carr, knows this is terribly unfair. But the young man is showing maturity, exercising patience while he waits for a very lucrative extension to be worked out with the Raiders.
If no such agreement is made by the start of training camp, Carr plans to play out this season as things stand and earn slightly less than $1 million. He does not want contract negotiations to be a distraction once football starts getting serious in July.
Carr’s Raiders made it to the postseason after posting a tremendous 12-4 record. The young quarterback has passed for 81 touchdowns compared to only 31 interceptions over 47 games. He is easily on course to land one of the fattest quarterback paychecks as a result.
My QB throws a better ball than yours 🤷🏽♂️ https://t.co/VtiMyaz2aq
— Big Poppa (@HyphyJoJo) June 6, 2017
Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams
While the Rams are talking about how deserving Donald is of a big raise, the defensive tackle is sitting out voluntary team practices. It is Donald’s way of letting his Rams know he wants a new deal, while at the same time protecting him from freak injury in the meantime.
For now, the Rams at least picked up Donald’s fifth-year option, which will pay him $6.892 million in 2018 barring a new deal. That won’t pay this year’s bills though. Donald will earn a base salary of $1.802 million and signing bonus of $1.423 in 2017.
Donald is a proven contributor and a player worthy of earning elite-level pay. The Rams would be smart to open up their wallets and put their money where their mouth was earlier in discussing Donald’s future contract.
David Johnson, running back, Arizona Cardinals
Johnson is another grossly underpaid NFL player compared to the solid gold he has rewarded the Cardinals with the past two seasons.
It might be too early to label him a future Hall of Famer. But Johnson’s meager $2.919 million salary spread over four years earns him a spot on this list. He is an absolute bargain for the Cardinals, who smartly selected him the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
To date, Johnson has put up a grand total of 3,754 yards from scrimmage. That equates to a stout average of 117.3 per game over his first two seasons. Johnson also has 33 combined touchdowns on record.
He is under contract for two more seasons. And if he keeps performing like a rockstar, Johnson is on course to become a multi-millionaire overnight.
Kam Chancellor, safety, Seattle Seahawks
Chancellor will be playing out his final contract year on a deal that will pay him a base salary of $6.8 million in 2017. He is currently the 13th-highest paid safety in the NFL.
However, Pro Football Focus rated Chancellor No. 3 overall in 2016. This was after the four-time Pro Bowl safety tallied two interceptions, defended eight passes and managed 81 combined tackles.
Not surprisingly, Chancellor is looking for a new deal. A deal we can guess might look like the ones Kansas City’s Eric Berry or Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu recently inked. Berry’s new contract pays him an average of $13 million per year while Mathieu averages $12.5.
Never shy to speak up about contracts and salaries, fellow defender Michael Bennett is pleading Chancellor’s case as well. Bennett tweeted out that Chancellor is the “Best in the Business pay pay him now Seahawks.”
Indeed, Chancellor is one of the best in the sport. He is 29 years old, and if the Seahawks won’t buck up and pay him next season, another team surely will.
Julian Edelman, wide receiver, New England Patriots
Edelman is currently playing out his final season of a four-year deal worth $17 million. That is exactly the dollar figure Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will now average per year under his new mega-deal.
Okay. Edelman is not exactly Brown, but he is a two-time Super Bowl champion receiver. He also ranked fourth with 98 receptions in 2016 compared to Brown’s 106. His current 31st-ranked wide receiver salary pales in comparison with several pass-catchers responsible for inferior production.
Edelman will be up for a contract extension with the Patriots next year. Even though he is 31, it would be difficult to envision Edelman not remaining in New England for a couple more years to come. If the team won’t retain him, another club will surely appreciate Edelman’s shiftiness and skill set.
Considering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just signed 30 year-old DeSean Jackson to roughly $11 million per year, Edelman could plead his case for a lucrative deal in 2018.
Markus Golden, linebacker, Arizona Cardinals
Golden was selected 58th overall in the same draft class as Johnson, whom we mentioned earlier. So, like Johnson, he is two years into a rookie deal that pays him a grand total of $3.918 million.
That’s less than one million a year. Golden recorded 12.5 sacks in 2016. Those dozen and one-half sacks tied him for third-best in this stat last season. Golden also had four forced fumbles and 51 combined tackles along the way.
— 🚨 Ronnie Laybold 🐾 (@YotesHereToStay) January 1, 2017
It is certainly not too early to envision Golden hoping for a grand deal considering his vast contributions. And if he continues to excel and keeps playing at a high level, Golden will indeed be up for a large payday once his rookie deal winds down. The Cardinals’ defense ranked No. 2 last year. Keeping Golden aboard long-term would be a great plan.
Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, Miami Dolphins
Over the course of 48 games, Landry has tallied 288 receptions for a total of 3,051 yards. His average catch rate is 71 percent. The fourth-year wideout, selected 63rd overall in 2014, stands to earn a piddly base salary of $893,852 this year.
Landry is playing out the final year of his $3.475 rookie deal. The Dolphins will need to offer him big-boy pay if they want to keep him around for years to come. Landry will likely be looking to receive more money than Miami recently paid Kenny Stills during the offseason. The Dolphins acquired Stills in a trade and then signed him to a four-year, $32 million deal in March.
If the Dolphins do not wish to splurge on Landry, many other teams would be quick to oblige.
Landry is one of the toughest guys in the league. And that 71 percent catch rate is pretty darn impressive. This will be the last season in a long time that Landry earns pennies on the dollar compared to his peers.
Malcolm Butler, cornerback, New England Patriots
Butler is another Patriot deserving of a nice juicy raise. The undrafted corner ranks No. 80 in pay among those of his position. Butler signed a one-year tender with the Patriots for $3.9 million and certainly will be looking to earn much more following the 2017 season.
In 2016, Butler was rated No. 7 by Pro Football Focus after he managed four interceptions, defended 16 passes and tallied 63 total tackles. He even recorded a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and one sack.
The Patriots would be wise to hang on to the guy that ended up winning Super Bowl 49 for them. Nobody will forget when Butler picked off Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the end zone, turning the game into a win for New England.
Here's your 🏈 Clip of the Week
Malcolm Butler intercepts Russell Wilson to lift the Pats over the Seahawks in SB 49. pic.twitter.com/1bzer9QNOu
— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) August 5, 2016
If the Patriots decide that keeping Butler around on a lucrative multi-year deal deems to pricey, he won’t remain unemployed too long. Should Butler continue to play at a high level this season, he will command a new contract that is comparable to some of the league’s top corners.