Illegitimi non carborundum
NFL's Most Overpaid Players
Thank goodness there are no Cowboys on the list, but four of our NFCE competitors did.
Bledsoe, Warner among NFL's most overpaid
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Don Seeholzer / FOXSports.com
Posted: 6 hours ago
In the high-rent district of the NFL, as with most commercial real estate, you get what you pay for. But not always.
NFL's most overpaid
For every free-agent bargain, there's a costly mistake. For every late-round draft gem, a first-round bust.
"Let the buyer beware" is more than an excuse to dust off your old high school Latin (Caveat emptor, Brute?). It's also good advice.
With that in mind, we present our totally subjective list of the NFL's most overpaid players. Some are career underachievers, while others boast contracts that seem exorbitant, to say the least, but all have delivered very little bang for the buck.
1. Drew Bledsoe, QB, Bills
Drew Bledsoe may have had self-preservation in mind when he agreed to restructure his contract with the Bills in the off-season. (Don Heupel / AP)
How bad was Bledsoe last season? The Buffalo quarterback tops our list even though he agreed to rework his contract during the off-season to give the team some cap relief.
Bledsoe's $8.75 million salary might rank in the bottom half among starting quarterbacks, but it's still big money for someone coming off the least-productive full season of his 11-year career.
After setting 10 franchise records in his first season with Buffalo, Bledsoe suffered through a dismal 2003 campaign in which he threw more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes (11), was sacked an NFL-high 49 times and failed to produce an offensive touchdown in an incredible seven games.
Coming off a season like that, and having just celebrated his 32nd birthday, Bledsoe's willingness to take a pay cut was less altruism than a matter of survival — especially after watching the Bills use a first-round draft choice on Tulane quarterback J.P. Losman.
2. Courtney Brown, DE, Browns
In the long history of the NFL Draft, few No. 1 overall selections have done so little for so much as Brown, who was the first pick of the reborn Browns in 2000.
The easygoing defensive end actually had one of his better seasons statistically last fall, with 60 tackles and a career-high six sacks, but for the third time in four seasons he finished it on the sideline, this time with an arm injury.
During his four-year career, the injury-prone Brown has had more missed games (19) than sacks (17), while cashing $20.47 million in Cleveland paychecks.
At those prices, he owes the Browns more than the off-season contract restructuring that dropped his 2004 cap number from $9.183 million to $8.305 million.
3. Gerard Warren, DT, Browns
Warren hasn't been quite the bust his Cleveland defensive linemate has been, but he hasn't developed into a dominating interior tackle, either.
The third overall selection in the 2001 draft, Warren plays with more passion than the low-key Brown, but he has been equally unproductive and consistently inconsistent both on and off the field.
Warren had a career-high 5 1/2 sacks last season but a career-low 32 tackles, and the $1.693 million the Browns saved by restructuring his contract in the off-season is but a small return on their investment.
4. Kurt Warner, QB, Giants
Go ahead and call it a cheap shot. Trot out the old injury excuse.
The bottom line is this former two-time NFL MVP went 0-7 during his final two seasons with the Rams, while pocketing more than $12 million of owner Georgia Frontiere's pin money. No wonder St. Louis was so anxious to kiss him goodbye after the June 1 deadline.
The two-year, $3.5 million contract Warner signed with the Giants is modest by quarterback standards — especially when compared to Eli Manning's six-year deal and $20 million signing bonus — but what happens if the rookie starts from Day 1?
Another season of clipboard holding and Warner hardly qualifies as a bargain, at any price.
5. Peerless Price, WR, Falcons
To be fair, Price's disappointing first season with the Falcons should come with an asterisk attached since he played most of it without injured quarterback Michael Vick.
Peerless Price gave the Falcons precious few reasons to celebrate after receiving a $10 million signing bonus last season. (Brian Bahr / GettyImages)
On the other hand, Atlanta had a right to expect more than 64 receptions and three touchdowns after trading a first-round draft choice to Buffalo for Price, who also received a new contract that included a $10 million signing bonus.
With the exception of a 12-catch, 168-yard game against Minnesota, Price did nothing to justify that payout, but with a new offense and Vick healthy again, the Falcons still could get their money's worth.
6. Grant Wistrom, DE, Seahawks
No offense to the hard-working Wistrom, but a $14 million signing bonus is a lot to pay for a defensive end who had just 42 sacks in eight seasons with the Rams.
As Rams coach Mike Martz joked after Wistrom signed with Seattle, "I wanted to know what store he bought his lottery ticket in, because I wanted to shop there."
You can't blame Wistrom for cashing in on a thin free-agent market, and in terms of effort, he'll no doubt earn every penny of his six-year, $33 million contract. But at those prices, the Seahawks have a right to expect some sacks, too.
7. Jevon Kearse, DE, Eagles
Speaking of lottery winners, no one cashed a bigger ticket this off-season than Kearse, who landed an eight-year, $66 million contract with the Eagles that included a $16 million signing bonus.
Not bad for a one-dimensional defensive end who had just 11 1/2 sacks in his last two seasons with the Titans, while missing 14 games due to injuries.
In today's NFL, as his contract and the Wistrom deal showed, it pays to be a pass rusher.
8. Cornelius Griffin, DT, Redskins
In defense of the Eagles, Kearse was a dominant player early in his career and could be again, barring injury.
But how to explain the $8 million signing bonus the Redskins gave Griffin, who had five sacks as a rookie reserve with the Giants, then just 7 1/2 in three seasons as a starter?
Griffin's seven-year, $30.8 million deal is extravagant even by free-spending owner Dan Snyder's standards for a hit-or-miss player who can bomb big-time and still laugh all the way to the bank.
9. Ron Dayne, RB, Giants
The Giants' maligned running back has gotten some rare good press this summer, thanks to an off-season weight-loss program and two strong preseason games, but that's not much of a return on the team's original five-year, $7 million investment.
After rushing for a career-high 770 yards as a rookie, Dayne's career went belly up, bottoming out last season, when he didn't dress for a single game.
Dayne's salary might not be as large as some of the other players on this list, but anyone who can pocket $616,000 for doing absolutely nothing deserves a place on it.