September 25, 2011; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter at the Louisiana Superdome. New Orleans defeated Houston 40-33.
Who is underpaid?
You might expect to hear that some NFL players are balling on a budget, but some of the high-profile names on this list of the NFL’s underpaid players might surprise you.
Doug Martin has been impressive in his rookie campaign. Martin is racking up yards and touchdowns – outperforming his $390,000 2012 rookie salary.
Alfred Morris has rushed for touchdowns in more than half of the Redskins’ games. Morris’ rushing yardage is a decent mark of pride for a rookie running back making $421,000.
Jimmy Graham is the new breed of tight end — 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, and fast as the wind. He’s well on pace to surpass his 2011 touchdown total of 11. The surprising part of all this is that Graham is only making $706,000.
Percy Harvin is having an outstanding year for the Vikings. Then again, Harvin has been electric since the day he took the field for the Vikings in 2009. So far this year, Harvin already has a 105-yard kickoff return. The Vikings are getting all of Harvin’s production for just $915,000.
The Carolina Panthers have an extremely promising linebacker in rookie Kuechly. Making $390,000 this year, Kuechly has racked up over 100 tackles and an interception.
The New York Giants are really getting the bang for their buck with receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz exploded in 2011 earning a second-team All-Pro spot and a Super Bowl title with the Giants. Cruz has continued his sizzling play in 2012. Cruz is only scheduled to earn $490,000 this year.
JJ Watt is clearly the difference maker on the Texans’ top-ranked defense. With his top-notch production, Watt is clearly a bargain. He’s making only $885,000 in 2012.
The Bengals’ defensive tackle has already equaled his sack total from last season … with a handful of games yet to play. Atkins is active on defense and the Bengals must be pleased with their $540,000 investment.
The fact that NaVorro Bowman plays with two All-Pros at his position definitely allows him some freedom on the 49ers defense. Navorro Bowman makes his presence felt all over the field and it is safe to assume that he’ll be making more than $623,000 a year very soon.
Brandon Browner is definitely one of the best Seahawk defenders. At $415,000 he’s definitely the most underpaid defender on the team in 2012.
Sebastian Vollmer is an integral part of Tom Brady’s pass protection. Vollmer’s back has gotten consistently better through the season and now he is outplaying his $675,000 salary.
Given Clay Matthews’ accomplishments on the field and in commercials, one would never guess that Matthews is slated to earn just $800,000 from his day job.
Torrey Smith is a big play receiver for the Ravens who has already caught seven TD passes –equaling his TD output from 2011 despite not catching as many balls so far. As one of Flacco’s go-to receivers, it is surprising that Torrey Smith is making $529,000 in 2012.
The 2012 Bears defense is making a case to be considered among the best NFL defenses of all-time. Jennings has made a name for himself among future Hall of Famers like Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers despite his $900,000 salary. That is a testament to his talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Laurinaitis is without a doubt the best player on a solid defense. The Rams defense turned in an outstanding performance against the heavily favored San Francisco 49ers in Week 9. The Rams have shown promise this season, due in no small part to Laurinaitis’ talent. Laurinaitis should see in increase in his $620,000 salary soon.