Jay Cutler is once again being destroyed in the media, thanks to an ugly week two Monday Night Football appearance. Cutler tossed a pick, lost a fumble and left with an injured thumb in a game he likely hopes to soon forget.
It’s games like these that bring the critics out from the woodwork, but it’s hard to blame Bears fans or anyone else coming down on Cutler, who is among the highest paid players in the NFL.
When it comes to base salary, Cutler ranks 6th in the league with a whopping $16 million to his name for the 2016 football season. It’s a staggering number, to be sure, but nothing compared to his ridiculous 7-year, $126 million deal that the Bears signed him to. Throw in over $54 million in guaranteed cash for a quarterback with one playoff win to his name, and it’s easy to see why he catches so much heat for bad play.
Cutler isn’t the only overpaid NFL star, of course. To get an idea of who else isn’t exactly earning their keep in pro football these days, let’s break down the top 7 most overpaid NFL players as of 2016:
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins ($19.9 million)
Cousins leads the way as the most expensive player in the NFL for 2016 when we just look at base salary. It’s a ton of cash for a guy who has just one year of starting experience under his belt, but the Redskins couldn’t risk letting him get away after banishing Robert Griffin III to the mad seas.
It’s not all bad with Cousins, either. He did put up career numbers in 2016, seemingly grasping head coach Jay Gruden’s system enough to pile on 29 touchdowns and over 4,000 passing yards. Cousins even led the Redskins to an NFC East title and a playoff spot in 2015.
Needless to say, Cousins has done some good and it’s hard to argue against Washington letting him go and then not having a quarterback. That being said, Cousins has always been a very erratic performer and his questionable decision-making has often sparked some eyebrow raising.
Luckily for Washington, this isn’t a horror story. Cousins signed a one-year deal after being hit with the franchise tag, so if he’s not as good in 2016, the team can bid him farewell going into 2017.
Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets ($17 million)
If we’re just looking at base salary, would-be shutdown corner Darrelle Revis has to be pointed out. Revis used to be known as “Revis Island” and even won a title with the Patriots, but he hasn’t been truly earning that nickname – nor a hefty paycheck – for years now.
His drop in play slowly started in Tampa Bay and then after he left the Patriots, but as recently as 2016, he’s been downright dreadful. Even being decent wouldn’t be good enough, though, as Revis is being paid as if he’s a top 5 corner and he’s been anything but.
Revis could still turn things around and close out his career as a strong starting corner or even a safety, but at his current price (4th overall in base salary) is just too steep.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs ($14.1 million)
There is something to be said about a quarterback who can manage (and win) games. Starting quarterbacks who can consistently get the job done are not easy to come by, which is why the bottom half of the league seems to draft new ones on a yearly basis.
Smith does a little more than just get by, but the former #1 overall pick has never come close to being elite or putting up high-end numbers. He’s won some games and made the playoffs a couple of times, but it’s not like the Chiefs are paying top dollar for one of those “all he does is win” players.
Smith still has erratic play, doesn’t have a big arm and often doesn’t come up clutch in huge games. He’s worth having around and deserved a long-term deal, but over $14 million seems a bit rich. That mark has Smith ranking 9th overall in base salary in 2016 – more than guys like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and even Aaron Rodgers.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers ($11.9 million)
Kaepernick’s situation is even worse. He’s in the media for all the wrong reasons, but he also still has a fat salary despite seeing a woeful regression that got him benched in favor of, um, Blaine Gabbert.
Nope, you read that right. Kaepernick is a regressing talent who isn’t even starting on a bad 49ers team, yet his 2016 base salary comes in a tick higher than (gulp) the aforementioned Aaron Rodgers. That’s just unacceptable.
Matt Kalil, LT, Minnesota Vikings ($11 million)
Kalil is a mixed bag, as left tackles make a ton of cash due to their size, strength, consistency and what they do: protect the quarterback.
Kalil was definitely a stud when he was taken 4th overall out of USC in the 2012 NFL Draft, and for a while there he looked every bit the part of a stud franchise left tackle.
However, Kalil has seen his play dip a bit in recent years, as he’s gone from a borderline elite presence as a rookie to a middling one now. Pro Football Focus detailed some of his struggles and it’s quite arguable he just isn’t worth such a hefty price tag right now.
Kalil has turned his game around to the point where he’s not the weak link on Minnesota’s o-line, but being the 18th most expensive NFL player in 2016 still doesn’t make sense.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins ($7.6 million)
It’s no shock that more than one Redskins player graces our overpaid NFL players list, seeing how owner Dan Snyder is infamous for throwing money at players.
Garcon is no Albert Haynesworth and he’s actually had some good years with Washington, but he’s aged and regressed lately. Paid like a star #1 wide receiver in some regards, Garcon hasn’t been playing at that level over the past two years, failing to top 72 receptions or 800 yards either year and totaling just nine scores.
Garcon hasn’t been total trash, but a pay decrease should be in order. There are certainly worse receivers, but he is far from elite and almost makes as much as guys like Adrian Peterson and Robert Quinn. Worse yet, he makes more than Justin Houston, Vontae Davis and Carson Palmer.
Williams is a fringe mention, as he’s actually still pretty good at 33 years old. This isn’t an insane amount of money to pay a quality starting cornerback, either. Oh, wait, except he’s no longer a starter.
Instead, the once strong defensive back is playing in the slot more for the Browns, and at 33 offers no upside going forward. The Browns initially added the aging corner thinking they were putting the finishing touches on a competitive defense. Rather, they would probably be a lot better off cutting him loose and starting over across from Joe Haden.
Williams isn’t bad and in the grand scheme isn’t even that expensive, but he still cracks the top 100 most expensive NFL players for 2016 and costs more than guys like Marcell Dareus, Cliff Avril and fellow cornerbacks, Brandon Carr and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
As you can see, Jay Cutler is far from the most overpaid NFL player in the league. That title belongs to Kirk Cousins, with several other names clearly entering the conversation for who truly takes the top spot.
In our humble opinion, that probably comes down to Cutler, Cousins or Kaepernick. Though Kaepernick doesn’t cost nearly as much as the other two, the fact that he isn’t even starting easily has him taking the cake as the NFL’s most overpaid player.
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