Los Angeles Rams — Matthew Stafford
Base Salary: $31,000,000
In his first year with the Rams, Matthew Stafford was worth every bit of his massive contract (plus the trade package Detroit received). Following the LA’s Super Bowl win in ’22, the Rams inked Stafford to a sizable extension worth $160 million over four years. At the time, it seemed like the right move for a Rams team looking to contend for a second straight title.
Year 2 didn’t go quite as well for the QB. Stafford was limited to just nine games. In those games, Stafford nearly threw as many interceptions (8) as he did touchdowns (10). With the Rams looking like a sizable underdog in the NFC West behind the 49ers and Seahawks for the foreseeable future, paying an aging quarterback for the next several years isn’t the most cost-efficient move.
Houston Texans — Maliek Collins
Base Salary: $7,250,000
Being one of the youngest teams in the league, the Texans don’t have a ton of large contracts currently on their roster. Tackles Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard are the two highest-paid on the team, while guard Shaq Mason checks in at No. 4. Spending on a quality offensive lineman is a sound strategy when you consider the Texans are starting a rookie QB in CJ Stroud under center this year (especially when Stroud has turned out thus far to be a franchise-type signal-caller). This forces our attention to defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who is set to make a fairly sizable $7.25 million in ’23. Collins plays a little over half of the snaps on defense for the Texans and has hardly been a game-changer in two years for Houston.
Arizona Cardinals — Kyler Murray
Base Salary: $37,000,000
Kyler Murray has a long way to go in living up to the lofty five-year/$230 million contract he signed a year ago. Murray’s colossal deal included $160 million in guarantees and ties the young QB with the Cardinals until at least 2027. There’s no doubting Murray’s ability — a two-time Pro Bowler and former Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, he was terrible in his lone playoff appearances and wasn’t very good in ’22 even before getting injured. Arizona is going to find it increasingly difficult to build a roster around Murray at that number if he’s not playing like a superstar. For example, the Cardinals ended up parting ways with stud WR DeAndre Hopkins in a cost-saving effort.
Las Vegas Raiders — Chandler Jones
Base Salary: $16,000,000
This is a sad situation. A lot went wrong for the Raiders in their first year under former HC Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler. Among the worst developments was the decline of Chandler Jones. He inked a three-year/$51 million contract prior to the ’22 season. Jones was expected to relieve some pressure off opposite-side edge rusher Maxx Crosby. Instead, Jones endured the worst season of his career as he registered just 4.5 sacks (3.0 of which occurred in one game). Jones’ play prompted Vegas to spend their first-round pick on another pass rusher (Tyree Wilson) instead of its leaky offensive line. Jones himself made some concerning posts on social media at the start of the 2023 season. Ultimately Jones was released by the franchise this past September after being arrested.
New England Patriots — Hunter Henry
Base Salary: $9,500,000
Hunter Henry was one of two tight ends the Patriots splurged on during the 2021 offseason. Henry and former Patriot Jonnu Smith signed deals worth a combined $87.5 million during that summer. The pair combined for just two touchdowns last season, and Smith was traded to the Falcons back in March. Henry is coming off a rather pedestrian year — 41/509/2. His base salary of $9.5 million is the fourth-highest among all tight ends in ’23 behind only Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Evan Engram (franchise tag). This isn’t great for a team with such an anemic offense.
Atlanta Falcons — Jake Matthews
Base Salary: $12,558,823
Jake Matthews is a quality starting left tackle and has been one of the few bright spots for a Falcons offensive line that has struggled mightily over the last several years. A one-time Pro Bowler, Matthews agreed to an extension in ’22 worth $55 million over three years. Entering next season, no offensive lineman in the entire league has a larger cap hit than Atlanta’s Matthews. That means he’s consuming more of his team’s salary cap than perennial All-Pro’s like Trent Williams and Lane Johnson, among others. Matthews is good, but nowhere near the level of those other players.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Shaquil Barrett
Base Salary: $1.165 million
Barrett’s base salary isn’t bad. However, the underlying numbers aren’t great. In terms of a cap hit, Barrett costs the Bucs $10.7 million this year (third-largest on the team). This includes a signing bonus and a myriad of other bonuses. Barrett broke out in 2019 when he notched a whopping 19.5 sacks. In 2021, he accrued a respectable 10.0 sacks. In 2022, he had only 3.0 sacks. Though 10 weeks in 2023, Barrett also has only 3.0 sacks. Those in Tampa surely are expecting more from the soon-to-be 31-year-old.
Chicago Bears — Eddie Jackson
Base Salary: $17,090,000
Eddie Jackson is one of the last remaining members of the 2018 Bears group which led the league in virtually every defensive category. Now, he’s an overpaid safety for a defense that desperately needs a facelift. Jackson’s coming off back-to-back injury-riddled seasons which saw his numbers dip across the board. Heading into 2023, he was the third-highest-paid free safety in the league behind only Kevin Byard (First-team All-Pro twice) and Justin Simmons (named All-Pro three of last four seasons).
Washington Commanders — Logan Thomas
Base Salary: $6,275,000
Tight ends are becoming more and more impactful in the modern game, with the elite players at the position getting paid handsomely for their services. Washington TE Logan Thomas gets paid like a top TE, but his production has failed to match. With a $6.275 million base salary in ’23, Thomas will be the ninth highest-paid TE in football this year. He was a non-factor last season — albeit coming off injury — finishing with a line of 39/323/1. Thomas ranked 23rd in receptions and 32nd in yards among tight ends last year.
Tennessee Titans — Ryan Tannehill
Base Salary: $27,000,000
The Titans have selected QB’s in each of the last two drafts, but will still cut a hefty check to nominal starter Ryan Tannehill this year. Tannehill — who signed a four-year/$118 million deal back in ’20 — is coming off his worst year in Tennessee as the team approaches a likely rebuild. With Will Levis taking over as the starter, it seems hardly beneficial to be paying a backup option like Tannehill that type of money. It might be best for the team to cut ties with the veteran QB, as the Titans could use the money saved to build around one of the young quarterbacks. Tannehill’s cap hit for ’23 is a whopping $36.6 million — second-highest in the entire league behind only Patrick Mahomes.
Indianapolis Colts — Ryan Kelly
Base Salary: $9,125,000
A once-heralded group, the Indianapolis Colts offensive line was disastrous in ’22. Not only did the Colts regularly wilt under pressure in pass protection, but Indy’s maulers upfront also couldn’t even provide a consistent push in the run game. This was a group that was previously considered the core strength of the Colts as a whole. Now, the team is paying a lopsided amount to its declining offensive line. That includes starting center Ryan Kelly, who graded out unfavorably last season — 16th among 36 eligible centers per Pro Football Focus. Only seven centers in the entire league make more than $6 million per year. Kelly’s current deal has him around a whopping $12.5 million per season (four-year/$50 million). It’s fair to expect a little bit more out of Kelly in that case.
Green Bay Packers — David Bakhtiari
Base Salary: $1,200,000
When healthy, David Bakhtiari is undoubtedly one of the top tackles in the game. Protector of Aaron Rodgers’ blindside for years, Bakhtiari was named an All-Pro each year from 2016-20 (First-team in ’18 and ’20). Unfortunately, staying healthy has become an issue for the 32-year-old. From 2020-22, Bakhtiari has missed 26 out of a possible 50 games. While his base salary is rather low following a restructuring, he holds a $21 million cap hit as a result of the four-year/$92 million deal he signed a few seasons ago.
Carolina Panthers — Donte Jackson
Base Salary: $1,080,000
The uber-athletic CB Donte Jackson hasn’t exactly lived up to his lofty draft status. Formerly a second-round pick, Jackson has endured five lackluster, injury-riddled years in Carolina. While he’s collected a fair amount of interceptions (14) over his career, Jackson’s stature has often made him a target in the run game. Additionally, he hasn’t developed into the type of lockdown corner who can shut down one side of the field. While his base salary remains low for ’23, he comes with a nearly $7.5 million cap hit — fifth-highest on the team.
New Orleans Saints — Taysom Hill
Base Salary: $10,000,000
The NFL’s version of the super-utilityman, Taysom Hill has to have one of the more unique and puzzling contracts in the league today. The converted QB is now listed as a TE on the Saints roster but is jockeying for touches with Juwan Johnson, Foster Moreau, and Jimmy Graham. It’s somewhat unclear why the Saints have invested so much time and funds into the 33-year-old Hill as a player — though he is coming off a career-high 575 rushing yard season in 2022. Hill can be useful near the goal line as a ball carrier, but he’s nowhere near an NFL-level QB or TE — certainly not one worthy of earning $10 million a season.
Denver Broncos — Russell Wilson
Base Salary: $8,000,000
Wilson’s base salary for this season doesn’t tell the whole story. When the Broncos traded for the former Super Bowl winner, the team inked him to a lucrative extension (five-year, $242.5 million) on top of the two years he had remaining on his previous deal with the Seahawks. In ’23, his base salary was reduced to $8 million after the team paid out a whopping $20 million to him as part of stipulated guarantees. In reality, Wilson is getting paid around $49 million per year until 2028 to be Denver’s QB. If you watched him play at all last season, you’d know that is a disastrous amount of money to pay at his current state. Wilson regressed substantially in his first year with the Broncos and hasn’t been all that great this year thus far with Sean Payton.
Minnesota Vikings — Harrison Smith
Base Salary: $7,500,000
Not too long ago, Harrison Smith was a feared defender who helped lead a Vikings defense that boasted talent at all three levels. Minnesota’s defense has been rather average over the last three seasons, and that runs nearly parallel to when Smith’s play began to slip. Now 34 years old, Smith isn’t the same type of player — against the pass and run — he once was. His declining play coupled with a hefty contract (four years, $64 million signed back in ’21) is a sore spot for the Vikes.
Cleveland Browns — Deshaun Watson
Base Salary: $46,000,000
Over the duration of his contract with the Browns, Deshaun Watson is slated to make a whopping $230 million over five years. We have no idea as to how this contract will eventually turn out. After sitting out for a while due to off-the-field issues, Watson came back and registered a paltry 38.3 QBR for the Browns this past season — easily the lowest of his career. Additionally, Watson’s career record (35-29) is far from stellar. We’ll see if he’s really worth nearly $50 mil a year. However, based on what’s been an up-and-down 2023 campaign thus far, we’re betting against the deal paying off.
Pittsburgh Steelers — Mitch Trubisky
Base Salary: $8,000,000
Trubisky is essentially getting $8 million to be the primary backup to Kenny Pickett. That is a rather bloated number for a reserve in today’s NFL. It’s even more so the case when looking at Trubisky as a player. Often lauded more for his physical tools rather than his actual on-field production, Trubisky has accrued a 31-24 record over the course of his career. We’d have to think Pittsburgh will move off of him for a cheaper, younger option after his deal expires.
Detroit Lions — Jared Goff
Base Salary: $20,975,000
Goff is in the midst of a contract paying him $134 million over four years. He’s a bit of a curious case at the most important position in all of football. Goff won’t ‘wow’ anyone with his physical tools. He’s not overly athletic, has a tendency to fumble the ball due to small hands, and many think that the Super Bowl appearance he enjoyed was more based upon Sean McVay rather than himself. Still, he has made three Pro Bowls over the course of his career. With that in mind, despite being considered an average starting QB, is Goff overrated? We’ll learn a lot more as the Lions push for a playoff spot and perhaps the NFC North division crown.
Miami Dolphins — Bradley Chubb
Base Salary: $16,781,233
Chubb left Denver to ink a 5-year deal with the Dolphins worth $110 million ($53 million guaranteed). You’d think that Chubb would be one of the league’s most prolific pass rushers based on this hefty contract. Well, as fate would have it, he’s arguably one of the most overpaid players in the league based on production.
After notching 12.0 sacks as a rookie, Chubb has combined to accrue 16.5 sacks over the last four years. He has 6.0 sacks through 10 games in 2023. As he approaches the prime of his career, the Dolphins surely hope he can recapture the prowess he demonstrated off the edge as a first-year player.
New York Giants — Daniel Jones
Base Salary: $15,400,000
Jones inked a massive four-year $160 million extension after leading the Giants to the playoffs. With Brian Daboll calling the shots, many thought that Jones would take another step in 2023 as a legitimately good, young quarterback.
To put it mildly, 2023 has been an unmitigated disaster for Jones and the Giants. The team is 2-7 heading into Week 10 — dead last in the NFC East. A neck injury was followed by an ACL tear, and Jones’s season ended in Week 8. If the Giants have the chance to draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, will they move off Jones immediately?
Los Angeles Chargers — Austin Johnson
Base Salary: $6,750,000
Johnson is making a base salary of $6.75 million — though his cap hold for 2023 is $9.5 million. That’s a hefty price for a defensive lineman with a pretty average track record. After being injured last year, 2023 hasn’t been that great. Through nine games in 2023, Johnson has accrued zero sacks and seven total tackles. This isn’t great by any means.
Baltimore Ravens — Ronnie Stanley
Base Salary: $19,157,340
Stanley is getting paid as if he’s one of the best tackles in football. However, the narrative doesn’t really match up to reality. Baltimore extended Stanley with a 5-year deal worth $98.75 million. Throughout the course of his career, Stanley has made only one Pro Bowl appearance.
Since 2020, Stanley has appeared in 24 out of a possible 58 regular season games. Including this season, he still has three more years on his deal as he approaches age 30. While he’s a very talented player when healthy, Stanley hasn’t been able to consistently maintain the level worthy of such a lofty deal.
Jacksonville Jaguars — Cam Robinson
Base Salary: $16,000,000
Cam Robinson has never made a Pro Bowl throughout his six-year NFL career. Due to the reported use of a performance-enhancing drug, Robinson was suspended for the first four games this season. Still — with all that in mind — Robinson is being paid as if he were one of the best-left tackles in the NFL. We get that there’s a premium at the left tackle spot. With that said, is Robinson really worth this sort of financial commitment?
New York Jets — Laken Tomlinson
Base Salary: $13,500,000
Tomlinson made one Pro Bowl (with the Niners) before coming over across the country to New York. His lone season with the Jets was — shall we say — a rough one. According to Pro Football Focus, Tomlinson ranked 58th overall out of 77 offensive guards in the NFL. Even rougher, he graded 69th out of a possible 75 when it came to run blocking. In no universe is this acceptable for a starting offensive lineman.
Dallas Cowboys — Michael Gallup
Base Salary: $12,086,761
At this point, Gallup is the third receiver in Dallas behind CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks. Paying your third receiver upwards of $12 million annually doesn’t seem like the smartest decision when dispersing resources. Even worse for Gallup, he’s coming off a career-low 424 receiving yards in 14 games. PFF had Gallup ranked No. 85 out of 113 receivers in all of professional football a year ago.
San Francisco 49ers — Kyle Juszczyk
Base Salary: $4,750,000
To be fair, San Francisco has done a brilliant job in building its roster. There aren’t any contracts one could construe as ‘bad’ by any stretch. Even here, Juszczyk is one of the best fullbacks in the league. Compared to others, he’s rightfully earning more than the average. Technically, the Niners could move some of that money elsewhere and get a replacement-level fullback. However, Juszczyk really is an imperative member of the offensive scheme.
Buffalo Bills — Dawson Knox
Base Salary: $10,270,000
Knox is a good player, and has proven to be one of Josh Allen’s most favorite targets. The 27-year-old made his first Pro Bowl this past season. Recognizing his talent, the Bills inked him to a 4-year/$52 million deal. Curiously, the Bills went and drafted another tight end (Dalton Kincaid) in the first round of this year’s draft. Maybe Buffalo can win at a high level with a two-tight end set…or there’s some thought that the Bills could ultimately cut bait with the more expensive option in favor of someone on their rookie deal. Thus far in 2023, the two have worked decently well with one another.
Cincinnati Bengals — Joe Mixon
Base Salary: $9,613,808
Mixon is making just south of $10 million annually with the explosive Bengals. As he approaches age 28, the former Oklahoma Sooner has been a fixture with the franchise his entire professional career.
The running back position certainly has been devalued over the last decade. Unless you’re one of the best in the league at the position, there’s not a ton of sense in paying more than $5 million annually on any running back. They’re effectively a dime a dozen — and can be had every year through the draft. As for Mixon, he’s only made one Pro Bowl in six years.
Seattle Seahawks — Jamal Adams
Base Salary: $15,480,000
Adams is a stud. He’s easily one of the most imposing safeties in all of football, and much of his reputation comes from three straight Pro Bowl appearances. Now with Seattle, the Seahawks made it a point of emphasis to keep him in the fold. Paying him nearly $71 million over four years is a lot of money — especially for safety. While Adams is a very good player, he may be a tad overpriced here.
Philadelphia Eagles — Jalen Hurts
Base Salary: $24,304,000
Hurts was fantastic last season. He finished second in the league MVP voting and led the Eagles to the Super Bowl. At only 25 years of age, the Eagles knew they had to lock him up to a long deal. Philadelphia signed Hurts to a 5-year deal worth $255 million (over $179 million guaranteed). While no one will fault Philly for signing Hurts, there are questions as to whether Hurts can live up to the commitment. Before leading the Eagles to a 14-1 regular season record, Hurts was a combined 9-10 the prior two years. Thus far in 2023, he’s doing a very solid job. Through nine games, Hurts has thrown 15 TDs to 8 INTs.
Kansas City Chiefs — Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Base Salary: $9,000,000
Coming over from Green Bay, Valdes-Scantling was supposed to be a big-time downfield threat for Patrick Mahomes. Despite getting a multi-year deal, MVS registered only 687 receiving yards last year in 17 games (two TDs). In fact, the most yards Valdes-Scantling has ever accrued in a single season is 690. So, even though the speedy receiver has never come close to cracking the 1,000-yard mark for a single year, he’s still making nearly $10 million a year. Through nine games in 2023, MVS has only 14 catches (and one TD).