A four-time Super Bowl champion making just $14 million? Sign us up. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and maybe ever, even if he is going to miss a few games due to suspension.
Getty ImagesRick Stewart
Joe Flacco, Ravens QB, $14.55M: Bad
Sure, he won a Super Bowl and was the MVP of that Super Bowl. But look at the guys the Ravens have had to let go from that team: Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. No doubt, if Flacco’s contract wasn’t so heavy, they’d be able to keep the big-play targets who got him that dough.
Getty ImagesJustin K. Aller
Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers DT, $14.59M: Good
After ripping off 9.5 and 8.5 sacks respectively in each of the past two seasons, he’s one of the best — if not the best — defensive linemen in the league. That cap number is $5M less than Ndamukong Suh’s annual average salary.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Cam Newton, Panthers QB, $14,666,666: Good
He takes some criticism, but he’s the entirety of what makes their offense go most weeks. He’s taken Carolina to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons as well, and with limited targets on offense. This is a good buy.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsJoe Nicholson
Calais Campbell, Cardinals DE, $14.75M: Good
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2009, he’s never had fewer than six sacks in a season. He’s probably the best defensive lineman in the league you’ve never heard of.
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals CB, $14.79M: Good
He’s knocked down 50 passes and intercepted 15 more in four seasons. His added value as a kick returner makes him an awesome value buy.
Getty ImagesDilip Vishwanat
Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants DE, $14.81M: Bad
It’s not that JPP is a bad buy at this rate, especially coming off 12.5 sacks last season. It’s that in his second season he had 16.5 sacks, but in 2012 and 2013 had just 8.5 because of various injuries. Now that he’s on a one-year franchise deal, the Giants will have to once again figure out if he’s worth a long-term contract after the 2015 season is over.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsBrad Penner
Tony Romo, Cowboys QB, $14.97M: Bad
The value is great, but considering his back is a walking time bomb (turns 34 on April 21) that could go off at any minute, he’s not a safe bet.
Getty ImagesJohn Grieshop
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers QB, $15.26M: Ugly
The deal is team-friendly in the long run, as it is a pay-as-you-go contract, but think about the players the 49ers lost in free agency this offseason: Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox and Michael Crabtree — all members of the 2012 NFC title team. Clearly, the lack of cap room hurts.
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY SportsRobert Stanton
Adrian Peterson, Vikings RB, $15.4M: Bad
For a guy who no longer wants to be in Minnesota, this is a tremendous cap number for the Vikings to carry.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Alex Smith, Chiefs QB, $15.6M: Ugly
Two words: game manager. Nothing personal against Smith, but when has he been the reason his team won a big game? (1-2 career in playoffs) And he’s making more than Tom Brady?
John Rieger-USA TODAY SportsJohn Rieger
Darrelle Revis, Jets CB, $16M: Good
Arguably the best cornerback in the game coming off a Super Bowl win, he’s also returning to the team that drafted him while hurting New York's main division rival, as well. For the Jets, a no-brainer.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
Jay Cutler, Bears QB, $16.5M: (Really) ugly
Considering Cutler got benched last season for performance and has been labeled the modern-day Jeff George, this could be the worst deal in the NFL. Oh, did we mention it’s fully guaranteed?
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Robert Quinn, Rams DE, $16.74M: Good
One of the best pass rushers in the league. He had 19.5 sacks in 2013 sandwiched between two 10.5-sack campaigns. A terror on the field, but not on the bottom line.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers QB, $17.245M: Good
He’s still an elite-level quarterback with two rings in three trips to the Super Bowl. He threw for a career-high 4,952 yards last season (tied for tops in he NFL), and threw six touchdowns in back-to-back games, an NFL record.
Getty ImagesGregory Shamus
Philip Rivers, Chargers QB, 17.42M: Bad
Don’t get us wrong. We love the bolo ties, the gunslinger attitude and how he looks in the powder blue. But he’s 33, and he has only four playoff wins and one AFC title game appearance.
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images Sport
Peyton Manning, Broncos QB, $17.5M: (Probably) good
At 39, Manning is old. We saw him fall apart physically at the end of last season. But he is still Peyton Manning, and a 39-year-old Peyton Manning who took a pay cut is probably still better than 25 other starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Stafford, Lions QB, $17.7M: Good
At 27 and on an upswing, this is a very good value. Stafford still throws too many interceptions and has yet to crack the 'elite' category, but if he was on the open market, every single NFL team would line up to sign him. He’s also taken the Lions, a historically inept franchise, to the playoffs twice in six years.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
Aaron Rodgers, Packers QB, $18.25M: Good (but, really, great)
How Rodgers, arguably the best player in the league on an annual basis, ranks seventh on this list is a bit of a joke.
Getty ImagesBrian D. Kersey
Mario Williams, Bills DE, $19.4M: Bad
He’s posted 10.5, 13 and 14.5 sacks over the past three seasons since joining Buffalo, but the fact that he makes more than Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady is a tad mind-boggling.
Timothy T. Ludwig
Matt Ryan, Falcons QB, $19.5M: Good
Ryan has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in each of the past four seasons, firing at least 25 touchdown passes in each of the past five. He’s a keeper at almost any price.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
Eli Manning, Giants QB, $19.75M: Ugly
No one is discounting Eli’s two rings, but how is it that he makes more than his brother Peyton? He’s thrown 20 or more interceptions three times in his career. He’s money when it counts, but that money is too much to count.
Getty ImagesJeff Zelevansky
Charles Johnson, Panthers DE, $20.02M: Good
Nothing against Johnson, but that’s a lot of money for a defensive end who had only 8.5 sacks last season. Still, he’s been a force on a stout Panthers defense, racking up 62.5 sacks in eight seasons with the Panthers.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
Calvin Johnson, Lions WR, $20.558M: Good
He’s the best wide receiver in the NFL, a game changer and a ferocious talent. In 2012, he set the single-season receiving yardage mark with 1,946. Megatron is a mega-good buy at this rate.
Drew Brees, Saints QB, $26,400,000: Ugly
Drew Brees?! He’s the highest-paid player in the NFL? The Saints are in cap hell littered with several offseason departures and now you know why. At almost 37 years of age, it’s a tough sell since he seemed to be on the decline last year as the Saints spiraled to a 7-9 season.