On the brink of the NFL’s new league year, let’s get a feel for which players are providing the worst contractual value in the league.
1. Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan: The 2016 MVP looks washed up following another non-Pro Bowl season. He hasn’t been an All-Pro or a Pro Bowler since that ’16 campaign, but has a league-high $40.9 million projected salary-cap hit looming in 2021.
2. Dallas Cowboys edge DeMarcus Lawrence: It appears Dallas made a huge mistake in giving Lawrence a lucrative extension after a strong two-year run in 2017 and 2018. Since then, he’s earned just 11.5 sacks in two campaigns. Now he’s due $52 million over the next two seasons with very little flexibility for the Cowboys to bail.
3. Detroit Lions edge Trey Flowers: Two years after becoming one of the highest-paid defensive players in the sport, Flowers has generated nine total sacks in 22 games for a Lions team that has gone nowhere, especially on defense. He’s owed $43.2 million over the next two seasons.
4. Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey: No running back is worth $16 million per year, and McCaffrey will only become more expensive as he enters his late-20s. That’s old at his position, especially if you’re beaten up. His injury-derailed 2020 campaign is a concern.
5. Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott: No running back is worth $15 million per year, and Elliott has not carried the Cowboys offense at all of late. His numbers have plummeted in back-to-back seasons, and there’s little reason to believe he’ll bounce back as the Cowboys offensive line fades in Zeke’s late-20s. They owe him a dumb $30.2 million over the next two years.
6. Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook: Few running backs are worth $12.6 million per year, especially if they lack durable like Cook. He’s coming off a big season on paper, but that didn’t help the Vikings much in the standings and he still missed time. In fact, Cook has never come close to participating in a 16-game campaign, and now he’s on the north side of 25 as well.
7. Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon: Few running backs are worth $12 million per year, and Mixon is not on that list after another injury-derailed season of his own. The soon-to-be 25-year-old has never made a Pro Bowl and has a career yards-per-attempt average of just 4.1, but he’s owed over $19 million in guaranteed money the next two seasons.
8. Chicago Bears edge Khalil Mack: Now 30 years old, the three-time first-team All-Pro appears to be beyond his prime. The Bears have won zero playoff games in their three seasons with Mack in the fray, and he’s slated to count $26.6 million against the cap in what could be his final season in Chicago.
9. San Francisco 49ers edge Dee Ford: The 2018 Pro Bowler has generated 6.5 total sacks in the first two seasons of his five-year, $85 million contract. He’ll milk the 49ers for another $20.1 million in 2021 before they likely decide to push him overboard for another $9.6 million.
10. New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill: Hill has thrown four career touchdown passes and has delivered almost no proof that he can be a regular starting quarterback, and yet they’re going to pay the 30-year-old $16.2 million in 2021. It’s lunacy.