NFL salaries vary vastly from the hundreds of thousands to $25-plus million per year, there are many overpaid NFL players.
We recently covered some of the biggest NFL bargain players who, on paper, earn pennies to the dollar this upcoming season compared to some of their peers. On the other side of the spectrum are some NFL players who will earn top dollar but haven’t done anything to deserve such gaudy contracts.
Due to various reasons, including generous free agent signings or a decline in performance, the following players will be overpaid in 2016.
Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Washington Redskins
After a poor start to the 2015 season that saw Kirk Cousins throw eight interceptions compared to six touchdowns over six games, the quarterback eventually led Washington to the postseason. He threw 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions the final 10 games of the season, which is certainly impressive.
Cousins solidified his starting job as a result while the team kicked Robert Griffin III to the curb. This offseason he has signed his lofty $19.953 million franchise tag, which will keep him with the team through 2016.
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) March 3, 2016
This gets Cousins close to the reported $20 million he was seeking annually. The ink on the deal also prevents other teams that might have been interested from luring him away.
At least for this year, it appears a win-win situation could be in play for Cousins and Washington. On the other hand, it could be a huge mistake, being that Cousins has been a mediocre quarterback for his entire career before his magnificent 10-game stretch to close out the 2015 season.
Darrelle Revis, cornerback, New York Jets
Unless the Jets attempt to restructure Darrelle Revis’ five-year $70.12 million contract, the 30-year old cornerback is on track to receive $17 million in 2016.
This would have Revis earning the highest salary of all secondary defensive backs in the NFL after witnessing some of his stats decline last season. While Revis’ interceptions (five) and fumble recoveries (four) increased from his previous season in New England, his total combined tackles (39) were his lowest in several years.
Some discussion of Revis restructuring his contract took place late January. Although since then, the Jets cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie which freed up $8 million in cap space.
Thus far in Revis’ nine-year NFL career, he has earned over $101 million in total cash and the money is still flowing.
Jimmy Graham, tight end, Seattle Seahawks
In one of the more head-scratching trades of last year’s offseason, Jimmy Graham’s landing in Seattle was extremely anti-climactic.
Graham and the Saints previously agreed on a monster $40 million, four-year deal which equates to the tight end seeing $9 million in 2016 after a horribly disappointing campaign.
In the 11 games in which Graham did see the light of the field, he drew only 74 targets, amounting to 48 receptions for 605 yards and two touchdowns. After sustaining a season-ending patella tendon rupture, Graham’s estimated return to the field is at the end of training camp, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
If and when Graham is ready to roll, he will remain one of the highest-paid tight ends playing on a team that still may have not yet figured out how to utilize his talents on the field.
Olivier Vernon, defensive end, New York Giants
Making efforts to improve their defense, which ranked dead-last in 2015, the New York Giants signed Olivier Vernon to a lofty five-year, $85 million contract which pays him an average salary of $17 million per year.
That’s a boatload of money for a player of Vernon’s caliber. While playing with the Miami Dolphins, Vernon posted his best stats in 2013 when he recorded 11.5 sacks and 46 solo tackles. He arrives to the Giants having posted a total of 29 sacks and 188 combined tackles over his first four years.
Currently, only six other defensive linemen are slated to earn more than Vernon this season. Then, there is this year’s reining Super Bowl Champion, linebacker Von Miller, who is on track to receive franchise tag pay of $14.129 million.
Sometimes, certain things just don’t add up.
Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Sam Bradford’s lackluster debut with the Eagles did little to knock anyone’s socks off in 2015.
So why not sign him to a two-year deal that starts off by paying him $22 million in 2016? Makes sense, right? Or not. After passing for 3,725 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 14 games, Bradford earned an ESPN quarterback passer rating of 86.4 which ranked him 26th in the league.
Bradford visibly struggled when scrambling around on foot while never completely claiming ownership of the offense or looking comfortable on the field.
With the guy who masterminded Bradford’s arrival to Philly long gone, it would appear that the Eagles are prepared to roll the dice with the hope that their quarterback doesn’t crap out in 2016.
Chase Daniel to the rescue?
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is despite a severe drop in Jackson’s numbers after an embattled injury-riddled season. In 10 games, Jackson saw only 62 targets resulting in 33 receptions for 543 yards and three touchdowns. Compare this to Jackson’s 142 targets, 70 receptions and 1,002 yards from 2014.
While Jackson’s salary pales in comparison to some of the higher-end deals struck by some younger receivers last year, he still stands to make more than Antonio Brown, Eric Decker and T.Y. Hilton this fall.
With the Bucs’ reported hesitancy to explore free agency options, it would appear that the team still feels Jackson, 33, can be a dependable contributor in 2016.
Malik Jackson, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Perhaps due in part to his Super Bowl glitter, Malik Jackson didn’t last long on the free market when a massive contract offered by the Jaguars landed in his lap.
According to a prior report by Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Jackson was seeking $14 million per year for a long-term deal. This is versus the slightly under $11 million per year the Broncos offered him.
The dynamic lineman indeed had his wishes met and then some when he signed a six-year deal worth $85.5 million to play for Jacksonville.
In looking back to Jackson’s four years in Denver, he has never posted more than the six sacks he recorded in his 2013 season. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt recorded 17.5 sacks alone in 2015.
Nevertheless, Jacksonville and its deep pockets had a need at the position, enticing Jackson to move to Florida and become the sixth-highest paid defensive linemen in the NFL this year.
Joe Flacco, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
While on the mend from a torn ACL, Joe Flacco just became one of the richest quarterbacks of 2016.
Flacco agreed to a three-year, $66.4 million deal that includes a whopping $40 million signing bonus making his total 2016 cash payout $29 million.
Coincidentally, the restructuring of Flacco’s mega-deal comes on the heels of his worst and only injured season during his NFL tenure. Though the Ravens had no choice other than to extend Flacco’s contract for three more years to free up over $59 million in cap space he would have eaten into in 2016 and 2017.
Hopefully a massive raise will see Flacco and his Ravens in better standing this fall.
Lord knows, the team is doing what it can to make good on its investment. In addition to getting both Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman back next year, the franchise brought receiver Mike Wallace to Baltimore on a two-year, $11.5 million deal.
Greg Hardy, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Thus far into free agency, Greg Hardy remains unsigned and the Dallas Cowboys do not appear to be interested in bringing him back at this time.
Because of Hardy’s on-field potential, he will draw interest from teams in need. Though, due to the dark cloud of drama that he leaves behind in the locker room and how Hardy is still perceived off field, he will ultimately be paid more than the hassles he brings to the table.
Last season, Hardy earned approximately $11.3 during his one-year gig with Dallas.
A team desperate enough to improve its pass rush will eventually fork over too much cash to sign the toxic defensive end to its squad.
Brock Osweiler, QB, Denver Broncos
Fresh off of only seven career starts and 21 games, the Houston Texans offered Brock Osweiler a ridiculously generous four-year contract which will pay him an average annual salary of $18 million.
After failing to come to terms with the Denver Broncos, who reportedly offered him a three-year, $45 million deal, Osweiler will now be making only a couple million less per year than Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, for comparison sake.
Osweiler clearly took advantage of the basic supply and demand system demonstrated by a thin quarterback pool versus several needy, and perhaps desperate teams.
While the Denver Broncos attempt to fill their roster beyond Mark Sanchez, Osweiler can sit back and relax knowing he already has a starting gig and a big fat paycheck in lock for 2016.