Now that the NFL season is all over and the internet has been flooded with enough funny Cam Newton memes to keep us content for an offseason, let’s put some of those crying Jordan faces to good use for other NFL players. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, today we are going to take a look back at the most overrated player from each NFL team; not just currently, but all time.
Before you furiously scroll down to your favorite team to see who was called out on this list, we need you to keep a few things in mind. First off, just because a player is great, does not exclude them from being overrated; in fact, there are multiple Hall of Famers on this list. Great players are included in this article, not as a slight to them, but more so to shut down fans who think that they are the greatest player ever.
Additionally keep in mind that majority of the players on this list are from the current era, or are from the recent past. In 1982, the average salary of an NFL player was just over $90,000 per year. Fast forward to 2013 and that number spiked to $1.9 million; that’s over a 2,000% increase in pay. With that being said, players in the current era are being paid significantly more to play football than their counterparts from previous generations. Increased salaries usually mean increased production, or the promise of increased production. This same stamdard can be applied to trading draft picks worth millions of dollars, to acquire a player who an organization may deem worth the risk.
For the sake of organization, we will not be breaking all of the teams into divisional categories, but rather we have alphabetized them for easy access based on team location. This list of 32 players is sure to be criticized and analyzed, so do us a favor and share it on social media, and comment below.
Arizona Cardinals – Beanie Wells
When Christopher “Beanie” Wells was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, many saw great things in the future of the former Ohio State Buckeye. In what was perhaps reflective of his career, Wells was carted off of the practice field on his first day with the Cardinals, sending up red flags immediately.
During his short four year career, Wells was only able to have a single 1,000 yard rushing season, and only delivered an abysmal 293 receiving yards during his entire career. Unfortunately for both Wells and Arizona, his size didn’t fit into their system, and the team wasted $9.6 million to watch a running back flounder.
Atlanta Falcons – Michael Vick
If the old NFL Street video games were real life, Michael Vick would be the greatest football player who ever lived…unfortunately it’s not real life. Don’t get us wrong, Vick was an absolute freak of nature, as one of the first quarterbacks who could outrun cornerbacks, but as a passer he was average at best.
During his best years in Atlanta, Vick averaged around 16 interceptions a season, and had a pretty bad case of fumblitis. Even more damning, Vick couldn’t stay healthy, and has only played one entire season (2006) during his 13 year career. Back in 2001 Vick was a novelty quarterback that the NFL hadn’t seen before, but now comparing him to a guy like Cam Newton, makes his deficiencies all the more noticeable.
Baltimore Ravens – Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis may have you believe that he is the greatest Raven to ever live, but the numbers tend to disagree. Sure the two time Super Bowl champion is one of the few Ravens to be on both the 2012 and 2000 team, but that doesn’t mean that the wins were because of him.
In truth the first half of Lewis’ career is nearly unparalleled, with stats that would lead to him being the all time leader in tackles for the Baltimore Ravens. However, for some reason the Ravens and Lewis would have you believe that he didn’t lose a single step during his 17 year career. In most cases Lewis spoke of himself as if he were the same tackling machine that he was in 2001, but keep in mind that he finished the 2012 year with only 44 tackles, way below his career average.
Buffalo Bills – Peerless Price
Peerless Price was traded for a first round pick…enough said…oh we can’t end there? Okay, here is more.
When the Atlanta Falcons traded a first round pick in the 2003 to the Bills for the receiver, it seemed like a smart move, as Peerless Price had a career season playing with Drew Bledsoe in Buffalo. The truth about the wideout’s skills were exposed when he failed to live up to the same performance in Atlanta. In fact Price failed to score more than three touchdowns in any season for the rest of his career, even after he went back to Buffalo in 2006.
Carolina Panthers – Greg Hardy
Greg Hardy had two very good years with the Carolina Panthers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, with 11 and 15 sacks respectively; however these numbers are deceiving. Hardy had only eight sacks going into Week 16 during the 2013 season, but was able to amass an amazing seven against the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons during the last two games of the year. Just for reference, the Falcons finished that year at 4-12, and were crippled by injuries that year.
Hardy isn’t as good as he once was thought to be, with only one stellar season during his six year career so far. The former Panther may have been “Kraken” on the field before, but it’s nowhere to be found now – and yes there is a joke there somewhere.
Chicago Bears – Jay Cutler
This is a tricky one, because a debate has raged for years of whether or not Cutler is an overrated or underrated quarterback. Is it fair to call someone elite or even good who has only played in two playoff games in their entire career?
Multiply that by the fact that Cutler is getting paid a boatload of money by the Chicago Bears over the next six years to “lead” their team to the Super Bowl. The math doesn’t lie, and it says that out of all the quarterbacks who are getting paid at least $9 million per year, Cutler ranks last in every statistical category among them.
Cincinnati Bengals – Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson (who was formerly Chad Ochocinco), was a good receiver during most of his NFL career. Johnson’s major knock is that the former Cincinnati Bengal could have been one of the all time greats, if he would have stayed focused on football. Johnson was so involved in the media aspect of football, creating lists and unique celebrations, that he forgot that he had to play the game well. Johnson has solid stats, that can’t be denied, but his off antics off the field made him a liability and overrated. Good thing Johnson bought his own Hall of Fame Jacket for a celebration back in 2007, as it may be the only one he ever gets.
Cleveland Browns – Peyton Hillis
Whether it was a case of the Madden Curse, or a case of being over-hyped too fast, Peyton Hillis fell off the face of the Earth after being featured on the cover of the iconic game in 2011. Hillis had a career year in 2010 finishing in the top 10 rushers from the line of scrimmage in the NFL; the only fullback to do so.
The former Arkansas player actually admitted to sitting out of games due to contract disputes with the Browns after his one good season, which didn’t work out in his favor in the long run. More important than the Hillis contract, the Browns team suffered as a result of the media coverage, and management’s involvement in the contract dispute, and to be honest Hillis wasn’t worth the baggage that he was bringing to the team.
Dallas Cowboys – Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders was great, but not so great that he could get away with playing two professional sports at once. If you compare him to the great Bo Jackson who played for both the NFL and MLB, Sanders isn’t even in the same conversation.
Deion, while a great pass defender, was a terrible tackler, and as Jerry Rice put it, “avoided contact, calling it a business decision”. When you consider the fact that he wasn’t physical, and had the worst stats of his career while with the Dallas Cowboys, it’s hard to fathom why “Primetime” thought that he was worth breaking the bank in Dallas.
Denver Broncos – Tim Tebow
It’s pretty crazy to think that some Denver Broncos fans are still upset that the organization cut Tim Tebow, and signed Peyton Manning as their quarterback. Despite leading… no taking… no, riding his team to the playoffs in 2011, Tebow was named both as one of the Top 100 players in the NFL by the NFL Network, and also voted the most overrated in an NFL poll conducted less than a year later.
Really it’s not Tebow’s fault. Sure the lackluster numbers can be blamed on him, but it’s the media’s overexposure of the former Florida Gator that turned a mediocre player into a superstar. Tebow is one of the only first round picks of the NFL Draft to stay relevant despite leaving the NFL in less than three years, but it’s not really due to his ability on the field.
Detroit Lions – Barry Sanders
Barry Sanders was named as number 17 of all time in the NFL Top 100 Players of All Time special; this is one of many gaffes on the part of the NFL Network. Sanders was very good during his NFL career, securing a Hall of Fame induction during his first year of eligibility, but was still overrated.
Without the help of his wide receivers stretching the field though, Sanders may have never been able to become the third-leading rusher of all time, leading some to speculate that the Detroit Lions lifer may have fallen short in a different system.
Additionally, during his six games in the playoffs between 1991-1997, Sanders only had one game where he rushed for more than 70 yards; he actually finished with -1 yards in 1994. Winning big in the regular season doesn’t mean anything if you can’t perform in big games.
Green Bay Packers – John Kuhn
Sure it’s nice to hear an entire stadium of people yell KUUUUHHHNNN when John Kuhn breaks off a big run in Green Bay, but to be listed as one of the NFL’s top players every year isn’t justified.
During his 10 years in the NFL, Kuhn has been selected to four Pro Bowls, despite gaining less than 1,200 yards during his career. To put that into perspective, Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin had more yards during the 2015-2016 season, than John Kuhn has gained in his entire career.
Houston Texans – Jacoby Jones
The worse kind of overrated player, is one that is overrated based solely on name recognition; think in terms of celebrities who are famous for being famous. Unless you were a Houston Texans (or Baltimore Ravens) fan, the only reason you know who Jacoby Jones is, is because he has was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
Sadly for Jones he couldn’t rely on any moves that he learned while celebrating touchdowns in Houston, as he only scored 11 during his five year run as a wide receiver for the Texans.
Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning
Given that former Indianapolis Colt Peyton Manning is now a two time Super Bowl winner, this entry may come to some as a shock to some. While Manning is a statistical beast, the future Hall of Famer has always played badly in the postseason; his record is 14-13 as a starter in the playoffs.
Although his percentage of interceptions thrown remains roughly the same, during the postseason, Manning’s touchdown production goes down dramatically. Some even make an argument that the former University of Tennesse quarterback has benefited from always being surrounded by a great team; both in Indianapolis, and in Denver.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcedes Lewis
When the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Marcedes Lewis in 2006, they expected him to be an all star tight end, comparable to Antonio Gates. Sadly for the struggling team, Lewis under-performed in all but one of his nine seasons with the team.
While 2010 serves as the exception more than the rule, Lewis averages less than three touchdowns per season, and has never had over 700 receiving yards in a single year. Despite his lackluster numbers the Jaguars still signed Lewis to a $35 million deal in 2011, which he failed to live up to, hence the signing of Julius Thomas last offseason.
Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Cassel
Way back in 2008 when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tore his ACL, Matt Cassel took over under center, starting 15 of the 16 regular season games. From that point on, Matt Cassel was heralded not only as a great quarterback, but also used as living proof to show that Brady was overrated.
Fast forward to 2009, and Cassel was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for a first round pick, ironically starting on the team he had played his first NFL game against. Cassel had some success in Kansas City, leading his team to the playoffs in 2010, but never quite reclaimed the level of success he had in New England, and has since floated around the NFL to various teams.
Miami Dolphins – Brandon Marshall
Eventually you have to ask yourself, why does a guy who is a beast on the field, and who is relatively healthy continue to be traded around the league? Well in the case of Brandon Marshall, it’s because of his off the field antics, which didn’t mesh well with his low production in Miami.
Now the term “low production” is relative to his other years in the league, as he was able to have back to back 1000+ yard seasons in Miami, but also suffered from low touchdown numbers. The truth is for Miami, the crazy off-field stuff wasn’t worth the player on the field, and before you get mad, along with the stats above, Marshall had 23 dropped passes during his two seasons in MIami, which is not elite.
Minnesota Vikings – Randy Moss
Randy Moss is the most talented receiver to ever play the game of football, with no one even coming close to the physical gifts that Moss offered the Vikings. So why is he on this list? Well Moss, while talented, didn’t play up to his full ability, with Jerry Rice commenting that “To see a guy with that much talent not give it 100 percent, it was almost like a little slap in the face”, and that Moss “took a couple plays off”. Moss even corroborated this during an interview in 2001 saying that he “play(s) when (he) wants to play…case closed”.
So the question becomes does the benefit of having the most talented receiver of all time 70% of the time, outweigh him taking plays off 30% of the time. The numbers may be off, but you get the idea, people fail to remember that Randy Moss played his own game sometimes, and sometimes he was an all-star.
New England Patriots – Adalius Thomas
The New England Patriots stepped outside of their character, and signed outside linebacker Adalius Thomas to a huge $35 million deal in 2007; Bill Belichick said that the Pats “backed up the Brink’s truck” to sign the former Baltimore Raven to five year deal.
While his first year with the Patriots was decent, his numbers dropped dramatically during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, with most statistical categories totaling less combined than in his 2007 season alone. The statistical drop can be attributed to Thomas’ attitude, and not fitting into the Patriot culture, saying that “I definitely didn’t have fun” when referring to his time in New England.
New Orleans Saints – Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush was poised to become one of the best running backs to ever lace up a pair of spikes in the NFL, at least that is what the New Orleans Saints hoped would happen when they selected him with the 2nd overall pick of the 2006 NFL draft.
Unfortunately for the Saints, Bush never had a breakout year for them, and was the only player in the top five of his draft class to not be selected as a Pro-Bowler. Besides low rushing yards (he never broke 1,000 as a Saint), Bush also had a knack for fumbling the ball on limited carries.
New York Giants – Jeremy Shockey
Jeremy Shockey was always more flash than substance, having never played an entire season during his five years in the Big Apple. Shockey didn’t have the greatest numbers in New York, never gaining more than 900 yards receiving, which isn’t exactly elite in the NFL.
The biggest case against Shockey in this argument, is how easily he was replaced in 2007 by rookie Kevin Boss. Without missing a beat, the Giants substituted a new tight end, and won Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots.
New York Jets – Bart Scott
“CAN’T WAIT”, is a phrase that many people had in New York, when news came that the former Baltimore Raven Bart Scott would be signing with the Jets. The deal saw the linebacker making $48 million for six years, capitalizing on his success as part of the dominant Ravens defense.
The problem was that the Jets had multiple losing seasons after the signing, and Scott’s numbers were dramatically lower than they were just two years earlier. Many New York fans even claim that the current CBS analyst was never in position on the field to make big plays. Some players can make the Pro Bowl based on their name recognition and big money deals, but Scott couldn’t even do that during his stay in New York.
Oakland Raiders – George Blanda
In what will be our oldest entrant on the list, former Oakland Raider legend George Blanda is the original utility player. Blanda played quarterback, kicker, punter, and defensive back during his Hall of Fame career; for the sake of this list, we will be looking at his work as a quarterback.
Blanda has the highest interception to touchdown ratio in NFL history, and the only reason that he became the highest scoring person in Raider history, is due to his ability to kick the ball. Although he was nicknamed “Mr. Raider”, he contributed to just as many turnovers as points.
Philadelphia Eagles – Nnamdi Asomugha
Let’s break the fourth wall for this one; I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan, perhaps one of the biggest. When we signed the “shutdown” cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (as well as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), Philly fans were ecstatic at the prospect of having a secondary similar to the one we had in the early 2000s that carried the Eagles into four NFC Championship games; we were wrong.
Asomugha was so bad, so unbelievably the opposite of “shutdown”, that the Eagles fan base was okay with paying out $25 million in guarantees just to get rid of the bum… I mean get rid of the cornerback. You could argue that Asomugha fell victim to a bad system that introduced the wide nine formation, but an elite cornerback shouldn’t get torched every single play…EVERY SINGLE PLAY.
Fourth wall is now back in full effect.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Kordell Stewart
This may hurt Steeler fans, who thought that quarterback/wide receiver/running back Kordell Stewart’s versatility was the best thing since sliced bread, but “Slash” was overrated. Though Stewart has stats in every category, he finished his career with more interceptions than touchdown throws, with a majority of them coming while wearing the black and yellow.
When compared to hybrid quarterbacks who were to come after, Stewart just didn’t have the same skill set, and if a player of his caliber were to be drafted today, it wouldn’t be until a late round in the NFL Draft.
St. Louis/L.A. Rams – Tavon Austin
The St.Louis/Los Angeles Rams went out of their way to draft former West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, trading up to the 8th pick to secure him in 2013. While calling him a bust would not be a fair assessment this early in his career, we can certainly analyze his numbers as mediocre at best. Sure he is a threat in a punt return situation, but at his relatively small size, Austin is going to have a hard time becoming anything more than a utility player for the Rams, or any other team for that matter.
San Diego Chargers – David Boston
David Boston was paid a guarantee of $12 million to catch one touchdown for the the San Diego Chargers in 2003. The previous statement is totally true. Sure there are some stats missing like Boston’s 880 yards receiving, and his one game suspension for cursing out his strength coach, but true none the less.
If Boston would have stayed in San Diego he would have been paid $47 million over the course of seven years, but failed to impress the Chargers with his bad attitude and low numbers and was traded for a sixth round pick at the end of the season. The Chargers must have been confused, as the idea of a good deal on a player is to buy low and sell high; David Boston made them do the opposite.
San Francisco 49ers – Joe Montana
Joe Montana was a great quarterback, perhaps the greatest postseason quarterback of all time, but to those out there who claim he is the best ever…think again. While Montana was able to bring four Lombardi trophies to San Francisco, it wasn’t a one man show. In fact, Montana was blessed with having the greatest receiver of all time in Jerry Rice, and the greatest safety of all time Ronnie Lott, not to mention Brent Jones, Roger Craig, and Dwight Clark. Additionally, Montana’s successor Steve Young actually has a better QB rating than Montana, as well as a better completion percentage.
Seattle Seahawks – Shaun Alexander
What happens when you put a decent running back behind what was arguably the greatest blocking duo of all time? The answer is you get Shaun Alexander, who played for the Seattle Seahawks from 2000-2007. Alexander wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or most athletic running back, but could capitalize on big holes in the line of scrimmage provided by offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson, and Walter Jones. The year that guard Steve Hutchinson left the Seahawks, Alexander’s production was literally cut in half, despite having more carries that season. Alexander ended his career a shell of his former self in terms of statistical gains.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Keyshawn Johnson
Maybe Keyshawn Johnson would be better suited for the “top overvalued players of all time” instead of making this list, but that is splitting hairs. The fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave up two first round picks in the 2000 NFL draft for a wide receiver with average production is insane.
Sure we can look back at it now and justify the trade with the 2002 Super Bowl victory that Tampa Bay had, but that run was due more to the defense than the offense. Johnson never played up to the level he was valued at, having either decent yardage, or a high number of touchdowns; just never during the same season.
Tennessee Titans – Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson may have been a victim of his own success for the Tennessee Titans. His 2009 season saw Johnson join an elite club of running backs to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season; it is a club he would never regain membership to.
If you take the average rushing totals from Johnson’s seven seasons, his numbers are average at best, just breaking 1,200 yards a season. Fantasy football has something to do with Johnson landing on this list, as he was poised as a big numbers back since 2009, often not gaining enough yards or touchdowns to justify an early round pick.
Washington Redskins – Albert Haynesworth
You know we saved the best for last, and boy is it a doozey. Albert Haynesworth famously said ,“You’re not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust” after signing to the Washington Redskins in 2009 for $100 million; $41 million of which was guaranteed money.
Haynesworth didn’t keep his word, as the defensive tackle showed up to training camp out of shape, and seemed to lack motivation during games. The Haynesworth experiment in Washington only lasted two seasons, but the ramification of paying so much for such a lackluster player is still felt at FedExField today.