Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Nov 2005

NFL's Most Underpaid Players

From the people who brought you the NFL's most overpaid players (us) comes this list of the NFL's most underpaid players, written by Bill Moore. This sure looked a lot different when the rough draft was done two weeks ago, but then three players on the list signed extensions and are no longer underpaid. Numerous appearances here by members of the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, although we're sad FOX edited out the New Orleans Saints of Baton Rouge joke.

Posted by: admin on 11 Nov 2005

13 comments, Last at 16 Nov 2005, 10:01am by senser81


by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:46pm

TO isn't on the list?

Drew Rosenhaus assures me he is underpaid though!

by Art (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:51pm

Post the Saints joke here.

by tom benson (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:53pm

if you post a saints joke here i'll punch you.

by Jeff F (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:54pm

That was the joke, Art.

by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:59pm

Not to add more Patriots to the list, but what about Eugene Wilson? He is also still playing under his rookie deal, made less than $400K last year (with a cap charge of well under 1 million), and yet is one of the most vital players to the Patriots defensive system that was so successful over the last two years (evidence: look how teams suddenly started to score on New England in both the past Superbowls when Wilson was injured). Plus he's versatile, playing FS and CB as needed. He really seems to be a bargain...

by Browns Dude (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:02pm

Re: Jake Plummer

Didn't he get a 6 million dollar bonus in the offseason?

Shouldn't that factor in somehow?

by stan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 2:51pm

I know that there are limits to the stats, but I have a real problem with trying to measure value per pass attempt for a wide receiver. If the offense runs a three level route against zone coverage and the best receiver on the team goes deep up the seam drawing both safety and corner, this will allow the QB to hit the intermediate route for a big gain. The receiver catching the ball simply ran his route and got open because of the defense's concern for the star receiver.

Or take the day Reggie Wayne had in the playoffs against Denver. The Broncos evaluated the Colt receivers and decided that Wayne was less dangerous than Harrison or Stokely. Manning saw the mismatch of Wayne against the rookie who was the 3d best cover corner and torched them. That doesn't mean the Broncos weren't correct in their evaluation.

by Stagger Lee (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 3:49pm

As a Jets fan, I'm so disappointed no Jets were on this list. I guess that really makes them over paid and underperforming... Jets/Mets.. hmmm - interchangable!

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 4:45pm

To anyone who still doubts the objectivity and openmindedness of FO:

Notice that this list originally featured praise for Neil Rackers. Yes, the same Rackers who was once described as "The unofficial mascot of the Loser League, Neil was the only player drafted in our league every single week last season." It can take some time, but let nobody claim that preconceived notions and previously formed opinions trump objective analysis here.

Except Atlanta fans. The writers here all hate you.

by ZH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:20pm

What about Osi Umenyiora of the Giants. His last year's base salary was 305,000 and his cap number was 600,350. (I'm assuming his salary and cap for this season are fairly similar considering that he is in the third season of his rookie deal.) This season he has 6.0 sacks, 28 tackles, 19 of which are solo, and the Giants rank 13th in the league in adj. line yards to left tackle, which means toward RDE (from the perspective of the defense), which is where Osi plays. Not bad numbers for 600,350 in cap.

by fyo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 5:23pm

With Stroud and Henderson, Jacksonville may have the league's best pair of defensive tackles, and both are reasonably priced at around the $2 million mark.

If they are REASONABLY PRICED they are, per definition, not underpaid.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 6:47pm

Re #6: Yes, the Broncos did pick up his option bonus. I don't know how the money is spread, though. If it doesn't count against the cap this season, then he's a pretty big bargain.

I also disagree that Plummer hasn't been among the NFL's elites at his position. Since joining the Broncos, Plummer has ranked 6th, 12th, and 5th in DVOA, and 8th, 11th, and 4th in DPAR. Look at all of his per-game numbers since he came to Denver, including TDs, INTs, Yards, QB rating, and even wins. He actually compares VERY favorably to fan favorites McNabb and Brady, two guys who people don't hesitate to call "elite", in every category. I've said all along that he's a sure-fire top 10, borderline top 5 QB, which is pretty much what I'd define "elite" as.

I'm not surprised to see lots of Broncos and Patriots on the list. I think Denver has always been among the league leaders in bargain players. At one point, in 2003, they started 8 guys on their defense who were either undrafted free agents, or cut from their former teams- and it was a pretty good defense, too. I'm really surprised to see that Denver spends more on the line than any other team in the league, since one of Denver's strengths on the line has always been the ability to get players for so cheap. I think the reason the number is so high right now is because Nalen is in his final season of his contract (and the last season is always the most expensive, and can't be pro-rated), Hamilton just signed a new deal, and Foster was a first round pick.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2005 - 10:01am

"Last year, Foley was the first San Diego player to reach double-digit sacks since 1986."

I've never heard of Leslie O'Neal, Lee Williams, Burt Grossman, Chris Mims, Raylee Johnson, or Marcellus Wiley, either.

Is that like saying "Last year, Droughns was the first Denver player to rush for 1000 yards since Otis Armstrong"?