The NFL’s Most Underpaid Players

Jerome Manson is a sports enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and writing about them. When he is not cheering on his team from the stands, Jerome is blogging about The NFL for

Whether or not Drew Brees earned or deserved a 100 million dollar contract is a topic of debate in itself, let alone whether or not top tier athletes should have such inflated incomes. The trend certainly doesn’t look like it will be ending soon and players will be looking to land high paying contracts. Rather than look at which top performers are being paid the most, a more interesting aspect is to look at which top performers are making the least when compared to their peers.

Victor Cruz

The young New York Giants receiver is only 25 and has turned into one of the stars on a Super Bowl winning offense. In his short career, Cruz has become a top five receiver and last year he broke 1,500 yards with nine touchdowns. Cruz is off to an even better start this year with over 600 yards in seven games, but more impressively he already has seven touchdowns. For his great performance, Cruz is still under his rookie contract which will make him $490,000 for 2012. In comparison, he is outperforming wide receivers like Calvin Johnson and is outscoring Wes Welker who is netting almost ten million.

Andy Dalton

The rookie quarterback last year was sort of lost in the limelight in comparison to Cam Newton, but Dalton helped to lead the Cincinnati Bengals to the NFL playoffs. Last season Dalton came away with almost 3,400 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. These are very respectable numbers for a rookie QB in the NFL, but the kicker is that Dalton – the starting QB – isn’t even making half of what Bruce Gradkowski does. Dalton is making $612,009 for 2012 while Gradkowski – the other QB on the roster – is making 1.8 million dollars and he’s only had 109 passing yards in 2011.

Jairus Byrd

The Buffalo Bills have been improving as of late, and a large part of this is due to an amped up defense that is great at forcing turnovers. A rising leader on the Bills defense is the fourth year safety, Jairus Byrd, who started off hot his rookie year by pulling down nine interceptions and he has kept his game at a steady boil. So far, Byrd has added seven more interceptions and nine forced fumbles, and he’s shaping up to have another great season with three forced fumbles already and 37 tackles as he tries to beat his career high on 98. For 2012, Byrd will net $615,000 which is far below safeties who post similar stats.

Maurice Jones-Drew

MJD has been a figurehead for the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2009 when he became the leading running back, and since that time his numbers have made him an All-Pro running back. Since 2009, MJD has broken 1,300 yards and led the NFL in rushing last year with 1,606 yards. He’s done this all while only standing 5’7” which easily makes him a standout “work horse” back. MJD is making good money at $4.45 million for 2012, but as the highest producing running back he barely cracks the top ten paid running backs. He has also out preformed his contract consistently but the Jaguars have made it clear there will not be any renegotiations, and with Drew’s recent injury it looks like his time as a Jaguar might be limited.

To clarify, I have not accounted for any bonuses or endorsements these players may have received due to their stellar performance on the field. The numbers quoted are for their base salaries only and were found on Obviously, pro-athletes have little room to complain about not being paid enough, but when a peer is making drastically more with fewer stats it can certainly be frustrating.

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Hi, my name is Niles Pender, owner and founder of NFL Fan Appeal. Feel free to contact me for guest writing opportunities and partnerships. Thanks for stopping by!

Posted in NFL Analysis
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