Sports

The most overpaid & underpaid players at every NFL position

Contracts are an oft-debated topic in sports, and finding great values while avoiding bad contracts is especially important in the NFL due to the salary cap. These players have the “honor” of being the most under- and overpaid players at their respective positions in the league going into 2021. Salaries are based on cap hits from Spotrac.com.

 

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Baltimore has picked up Jackson’s fifth-year option in 2022 when he will make over $23 million. However, he remains a bargain for now, with a cap hit of just over $3 million for Baltimore in 2021. The 2019 MVP has emerged as a superstar on one of the AFC’s best teams.

 

Overpaid quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

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San Francisco gave Garoppolo a huge contract extension after acquiring him from New England in 2017. He led the team to a Super Bowl in 2019 but missed most of the 2018 and 2020 seasons due to injuries. His hold on the starting job this season is shaky after the 49ers selected Trey Lance third overall, yet Garoppolo’s cap hit is over $26 million, sixth-highest among quarterbacks.

 

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Underpaid running back: James Robinson, Jaguars

Underpaid running back: James Robinson, Jaguars

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Robinson went from undrafted rookie to legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate last season, with over 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in 14 games. His salary-cap hit is below $800,000, but Jacksonville still used a first-round pick on Clemson running back Travis Etienne this year.

 

Overpaid running back: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys

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Elliott remained productive last season but clearly seemed to lose a step in his fifth season. He averaged a career-high 4.0 yards per career and failed to reach 1,000 yards rushing. The Cowboys could regret the big contract they handed Elliott two years ago, which includes a $13.7 million cap hit in 2021, the highest at the running back position.

 

Underpaid wide receiver: D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks

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Metcalf dropped to late in the second round of the 2019 draft due to injury concerns, but he’s become a true superstar in his two-year NFL career. Still on his rookie deal, Metcalf will count only $1.25 million against the cap this season despite recording over 1,300 receiving yards and 10 scores last season.

 

Overpaid wide receiver: Randall Cobb, Texans

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Many of Bill O’Brien’s personnel moves were questionable before the Texans fired him last year, and Cobb is among them. Seemingly on the downside of his career, O’Brien still gave Cobb a three-year, $27 million contract. Cobb will count nearly $10.5 million against the cap this year, but he played only 10 games with 441 receiving yards in his first year with the team.

 

Underpaid tight end: Mike Gesicki, Dolphins

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Gesicki has developed into one of the league’s better receiving tight ends, accumulating 1,273 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last two seasons for Miami. The check will come due for the Dolphins soon, but his cap hit of $2.1 million in 2021 is very reasonable.

 

Overpaid tight end: Austin Hooper, Browns

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Cleveland had a lot of money to spend last offseason and used part of it on Hooper with a four-year, $42 million contract. The former Falcons tight end has the third-highest cap hit at the position in 2021 at $8.25 million, but his first season with Cleveland was a struggle, with only 435 yards receiving in 13 games.

 

Underpaid offensive tackle: Garett Bolles, Broncos

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Bolles struggled early in his career, but the former first-round pick has finally become an elite left tackle for the Broncos. He signed a huge extension last year, but his cap hit is still set to be only $5 million in 2021 before jumping up to $21 million in 2022.

 

Overpaid offensive tackle: Cam Robinson, Jaguars

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The Jags have employed Robinson on the left side of their line for the last four seasons, but the results have been shaky. He enters the final year on his contract before hitting free agency with a huge cap hit of over $13.75 million, tied for fourth among all tackles.

 

Underpaid offensive guard: Wyatt Teller, Browns

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Cleveland has built a great offensive line with finds like Teller. The former Bills fifth-rounder was acquired for a late-round pick in 2019, and he’s emerged as a dominant force in Cleveland. Still on his rookie season, his cap hit is just under $2.2 million before hitting free agency next offseason.

 

Overpaid offensive guard: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Chiefs

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Duvernay-Tardif started at guard for the Chiefs from 2015-2019 before opting out of the 2020 season to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada as an M.D. His roster spot in 2021 could be in jeopardy after the Chiefs added significant line depth in the offseason, and Duvernay-Tardif had a tough time playing up to his contract before last year. His cap hit is set to be $4.75 million this year.

 

Underpaid center: Erik McCoy, Saints

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McCoy will get a big payday after his rookie deal, but he’s still just two years into his NFL career. The 2019 second-round pick will count just over $1.6 million against the cap for New Orleans this season but is already one of the better centers in the league.

 

Overpaid center: Connor McGovern, Jets

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McGovern didn’t do much to help the Jets offensive line last year after signing in free agency. He has the fourth-highest cap hit in 2021 among centers at just over $9.3 million but hasn’t been dominant at the position.

 

Underpaid defensive end: Montez Sweat, Washington

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Chase Young gets much of the public attention in Washington, but Sweat is another elite edge rusher for the team. The 2019 first-round pick has recorded 16 sacks in his first two seasons, but his cap hit will still be under $3.2 million this season.

 

Overpaid defensive end: Frank Clark, Chiefs

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The Chiefs don’t regret acquiring Clark from Seattle before 2019 and giving him big money with his help in their 2019 Super Bowl run, though he really struggled last season with only six sacks and 29 tackles in 15 games. His cap hit this year is set to be the most among edge rushers at nearly $26 million, so KC desperately needs more production from him.

 

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Underpaid defensive tackle: Foley Fatukasi, Jets

Underpaid defensive tackle: Foley Fatukasi, Jets

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A former sixth-round pick Fatuaski emerged as a dominant nose tackle for the Jets last season. He had 42 tackles and two sacks while playing regular snaps, but his cap hit remains under $2.3 million in his fourth season.

 

Overpaid defensive tackle: Jordan Phillips, Cardinals

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Phillips was a predictable free agent busy for Arizona last year, a year after recording a career-high 9.5 sacks in Buffalo. He had only two sacks over nine games last year, but his cap hit this season is set to be $12 million.

 

Underpaid outside linebacker: Haason Reddick, Panthers

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Reddick had a breakout season in Arizona last year after being used more often in pass rush, recording 12.5 sacks. Carolina tried to capitalize on his breakout season this offseason, but Reddick’s cap hit will still be under $2 million in 2021. 

 

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Overpaid outside linebacker: Von Miller, Broncos

Overpaid outside linebacker: Von Miller, Broncos

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There had been some speculation that Denver would move on from Miller in 2021 after he struggled in 2019 and missed all of 2020 due to an ankle injury. The former superstar is hoping to bounce back at age 32, but it will take a lot to live up to his contract, with a cap hit of nearly $22.25 million.

 

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Underpaid inside linebacker: Fred Warner, 49ers

Underpaid inside linebacker: Fred Warner, 49ers

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Warner has become arguably the best middle linebacker in the NFL, becoming an All-Pro in his third season. He’s recorded well over 100 tackles in each of his three seasons but has yet to get a big contract. Warner’s cap hit is just over $3.6 million this season.

 

Overpaid inside linebacker: Cory Littleton, Raiders

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Littleton had two outstanding seasons with the Rams, including a Pro Bowl in 2018, before signing a three-year, $35.25 million contract with Las Vegas last year. His first season with the Raiders didn’t go well, recording 82 tackles and struggling with his new team. His cap hit is over $9.3 million this year.

 

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Underpaid cornerback: Jamel Dean, Buccaneers

Underpaid cornerback: Jamel Dean, Buccaneers

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Great defensive drafting helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl last year, which certainly includes Dean. He’s one of the league’s top young corners after being selected in the third round in 2019. Dean’s cap hit remains just over $1 million.

 

Overpaid cornerback: Byron Jones, Dolphins

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Jones moved to Miami last year after a productive conversion to cornerback in Dallas. He did a better job than usual of getting takeaways with two picks last season, but his overall play was a major disappointment. His cap hit in 2021 is set to be the second-highest at the position at just over $16 million.

 

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Underpaid safety: Jessie Bates, Bengals

Underpaid safety: Jessie Bates, Bengals

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Cincinnati’s defense still has a long way to go, but Bates is a nice building block. The second-round pick in 2018 has recorded at least 100 tackles in all three of his NFL seasons, along with three picks each year. His cap hit remains under $3 million this season, with a huge contract likely on the way.

 

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Overpaid safety: Landon Collins, Washington

Overpaid safety: Landon Collins, Washington

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Collins earned a huge contract from Washington 2019 after making three Pro Bowls with the Giants, but his production hasn’t been as hoped. After failing to get an interception in 2019, Collins played only seven games last year due to injury. His cap hit in 2021 will be nearly $21 million, second-highest among NFL safeties.


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