2011 NFL’s Highest Paid Players, Are They Deserving?
In light of the recent 8-year, $120 million dollar contract ($50 million of which is guaranteed) given to Larry Fitzgerald, I thought it would be an optimal time to take a look at the league’s highest paid players this year and determine whether or not those players are deserving of their enormous contracts. I’ll highlight the NFL’s top 9 players (excluding Fitz) in terms of their 2011 earnings and then deem whether or not that player deserves to bathe in all that green. Again, this list shows how much money these nine players will earn in 2011, it’s not a list of their average annual salaries according to each player’s contract as a whole. So, now that I’ve clarified, hopefully, let’s get started. Here’s the list according to Forbes:
1. Peyton Manning – QB, Colts, 2011 Salary: $23 million
Deserving. Manning is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL right now as well as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. He has never missed a game in his career and is the consummate professional both on and off the field. Any team would love to have Peyton as the face of their franchise for an exorbitant amount of reasons.
2. Sam Bradford - QB, Rams, 2011 Salary: $18.4 million
Undeserving. Bradford is a rising star, but there’s no way any second year player can justify $18.4 million dollars. Bradford is the second highest earning player in 2011, bringing in more money than other almost every other player at his position, many of whom are way more accomplished. Bradford looks like he’ll eventually live up to his contract in the future, but right now he’s definitely not deserving.
3. Tom Brady - QB, Patriots, 2011 Salary: $18 million
Deserving. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about Brady’s play on the field (he needs a haircut, but that’s personal preference). The “Golden Boy” is a cut-throat competitor, proven winner, and the ultimate example of poise under pressure.
4. Richard Seymour - DE/DT, Raiders, 2011 Salary: $15 million
Undeserving. Richard Seymour WAS one of the more dominant defensive ends in the league during his time with the Patriots but his best days are surely behind him. The 31-year old’s 9.5 sacks over his two seasons in Oakland are mediocre at best, showing he’s not among the NFL’s elite.
5. Elvis Dumervil - DE/OLB, Broncos, 2011 Salary: $14 million
Undeserving. The 27-year old stud out of Louisville had a mammoth 2009 season, racking up an astounding 17 sacks. Unfortunately, Dumervil was unable to follow up his dominating 2009 as a torn pectoral muscle sidelined the 5-foot 11-inch 260-pound brick house for the entire 2010 season. If Dumervil can come back this year and record double-digit sacks once again then he is definitely deserving of his salary. Until then, question marks will be hovering, making it difficult for me to deem Elvis worthy of his $14 million.
6. Mark Sanchez - QB, Jets, 2011 Salary: $13.5 million
Deserving. Evaluating Sanchez was extremely difficult. On one hand, Sanchez sometimes makes decisions that make you commit several verbal sins towards the television. On the other hand, he makes all the big plays in even bigger moments that flat-out win games, especially in the playoffs. So, because of Sanchez’s leadership and poise under adversity that he’s shown in his four road playoff victories over the past two seasons, I have to say he’s deserving.
7. Gerald McCoy - DT, Bucs, 2011 Salary: $12.8 million
Undeserving. McCoy is another second year player benefiting from his insane rookie contract. McCoy is definitely a load in the middle, devouring running backs and pushing the pocket. But he’s just not worth the $12.8 million he will earn this season. Much like Bradford, I think McCoy is a potential star, but he’s not among the elite in the league or at his position just yet.
8. Haloti Ngata - NT, Ravens, 2011 Salary: $12.5 million
Deserving. Ngata is an absolute monster in the middle, giving opposing offensive lineman nightmares and striking fear into the hearts of running backs and quarterbacks alike. The Oregon product is one of the more under-appreciated defensive players in the league and is a crucial component of the Ravens’ elite defenses over his six years in the league.
9. Paul Soliai – DT, Dolphins, 2011 Salary: $12.4 million
Undeserving. Soliai is a nice player but in no way is he among the NFL’s elite or among the elite at his position. The former Utah Ute has only completed one full season in his four years with the Dolphins and has compiled only 70 tackles and 2 sacks in his career thus far. At 6-feet 4-inches tall and weighing 355-pounds, the 27-year old has a ton of potential, but that potential needs to turn into production in order to warrant $12.4 million.