NFL players make a lot of money, especially compared to the average person. But even players earning millions can be underpaid. It all comes down to context and value. Here are five NFL players that, compared to the market for top players at their position, are criminally underpaid.
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
In 2019, wide receiver Robert Woods will make $7 million. Through eight games this season, he’s had 38 catches for 471 yards. As one of the most important weapons in the Rams’ offense, Woods’ $7 million seems like highway robbery, especially compared to what most receivers make — particularly ones as good as Woods.
The 27-year-old is in his seventh year in the NFL. If he keeps up this level of production, he’ll be looking at a much heftier payday in his future.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
It’s hard to call someone who makes $23 million underpaid, but Drew Brees qualifies. The New Orleans Saints quarterback makes much less than the league’s highest-paid quarterbacks despite being a top quarterback. By staying on a relatively inexpensive deal, Brees gives the Saints the capability to stay competitive within the salary cap.
At 40 years old, he may never see another big contract, but he has plenty of endorsement deals and will likely have the option of a well-paying career in broadcasting once he retires.
Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, Chicago Bears
In the offseason, Ha-Ha Clinton Dix signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears worth $3 million. Dix isn’t one of the best safeties in the league, but he’s above average. It’s not a lot of money for a player of his caliber. He’s likely using this year as a measuring stick to show other teams exactly what he can do. Unfortunately for Dix, the Bears are struggling this year.
Head coach Matt Nagy has sent mixed messages. Dix retweeted former Charger safety Eric Weddle’s tweet about NFL teams being transparent with their players. It’s anyone’s guess what Dix was trying to say by this, but the last half of the season will be critical for him as he essentially auditions for a contract appropriate for his talents.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Brees’ teammate Alvin Kamara joins him in being criminally underpaid. Still on his rookie deal, Kamara will make a little over $800,000 in salary, with more in bonuses, this season. He won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2021.
During his short time in the NFL, Kamara has been one of the NFL’s best backs. It would be truly shocking if the Saints didn’t offer him an extension prior to free agency. Though running backs have a short shelf life, Kamara is young enough for a hefty extension to make perfect sense.
Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins
Ryan Kerrigan will make $19 million this season. Over the last five years, the only player with more sacks is Von Miller. According to USA Today, Kerrigan ranks 55th among defensive player salaries. That’s an incredible value for a player with his productivity. While many of Kerrigan’s defensive counterparts — Miller, Khalil Mack, and Aaron Donald — make much more than him, he’s on their level at least.
The Redskins’ front office hasn’t done much right in the past two decades, but giving Kerrigan a big contract soon would be a smart move. He’s been one of their best players since he put on the burgundy and gold.