The world of the NFL is filled with chest thumping, ego-driven, overly confident, and sometimes even cocky players. The battle over who is the best at any given position rages on each and every season. Just look at this past offseason as proof – Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis, and other cornerbacks traded barbs through the media as well as social media outlets, debating with one another over who was the best corner in the league. And of course, they all believe that they are.
But is one season or even two, enough to justify a claim to being the best? As we all know very well, a good season is enough to get you paid. The landscape of the NFL is filled with players who parlayed a particularly good season – or just from being able to take advantage of being in the right situation at the right time – into a tremendous payday. A certain receiver in who landed in New York this offseason comes to mind.
But does a big payday equate to being the best at something? Sure, some people think so. But more often than not, we see players who land these big money deals based on a season of success, unable to sustain that high level of play that won them the fat contract to begin with. It seems that very few are able to maintain that high level of play, that greatness, over multiple seasons.
So who are the real money players? And who are just the pretenders? With this list, we will show you 15 players who are vastly overrated and whose teams horribly overpaid for them...
15 Josh McCown
New Tampa Bay Head Coach Lovie Smith wasted no time in bringing in McCown to be his new starting quarterback. It's a move that is still mind boggling to many given his 16-22 overall record over his 11 year NFL career. McCown had a handful of good games for the Bears last season in relief of Jay Cutler. He had an excellent TD to interception ratio and for the first time in his career, actually looked the part of an NFL quarterback. Though, it should be noted that of his 13 TD's last season, 11 came against lower tier, non-playoff teams. Despite being nothing more than a mediocre, journeyman QB, McCown somehow parlayed six good games in 2013 into a fat payday in Tampa Bay. But most expect to see McCown go back to being McCown – which is bad news for Bucs fans.
14 Chris Johnson
The running back formerly known as CJ2K was, at one time, a special player and the RB opposing defenses feared facing. But the wear and tear the NFL puts on running backs – and the injuries that come with it – have left Johnson looking like a shell of his former self. Johnson has blamed the coaches as well as the team's offensive schemes for his declining performance in Tennessee. Johnson, now a member of the NY Jets, is confident that he can run for 2,000 yards again this season. But with HC Rex Ryan planning on a running back by committee approach, he obviously doesn't share that confidence.
13 Lamarr Houston
Some Raiders fans are still bitter that the club let Houston walk away as a free agent. They say the organization let the team's best defensive player get away without a fight. But given the state of the franchise for the last decade plus, being the best player on the team is sort of like winning an ugly contest. Yes, Houston is talented. But he lacks that elite edge rushing speed and is not a dominating defensive force. The Chicago Bears way overpaid for Houston and his 6 sacks last season with the fat contract they gave him.
12 Nick Foles
Foles had a pretty incredible 2013 season with 27 TD's against just 2 interceptions, and running up an 8-2 record in his 10 starts. So good was his year that talking heads around the country already seem to be measuring him for a bust in Canton. But Foles is a product of the very specific system that Chip Kelly runs, a system that took the league by storm in 2013. Take Foles out of that system and he tends to look very ordinary, just as he did in 2012 under Andy Reid. Plus, with teams around the league now having plenty of tape to watch of Kelly's system at work, you can expect Foles and the Eagles to come back down to earth.
11 Rob Gronkowski
Few teams have had the success with tight ends like the New England Patriots. They system puts TE's in a position to flourish as offensive weapons. From Ben Coats to Ben Watson to Aaron Hernandez to Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots have done a great job with their tight ends. There is no denying that Gronkowski is a physical specimen and a good pass catcher. But he's not great when it comes to blocking – which is something of a necessary skill for the position. When he's on the field, he gives New England's offense another dimension. But the trouble is that Gronk hasn't been able to stay on the field which lands him on this list.
10 Philip Rivers
Fans and commentators across the country seem to believe that Rivers is one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. Yet despite good seasons in 2006, 2007, 2009 and last year, Rivers has done very little else in his career. Over the course of his 10 seasons with the Chargers, Rivers has thrown double digit interceptions 6 times, and just missed double digits (9) in two other seasons. He owns a 4-5 career record in the postseason and has never led his team to a title game. Which is why it's mind boggling that Rivers is considered one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks when what he actually is, is one of the most overrated.
9 Darrelle Revis
Darrelle Revis certainly talks a lot. And one of his favorite things to say is that he's the best cover corner in the NFL today. Possible even in NFL history. His reputation as a shutdown corner helped him land a fat contract down in Tampa Bay (6 years, $96 million), and while he was good in 2013, he didn't seem to be great. He certainly didn't seem to live up to the contract he signed while racking up 50 tackles and just 2 interceptions. Revis found himself released after just one season with the Bucs and the Patriots immediately swooped in and signed him to a 2-year, $32 million contract. But Revis seems to be getting by on his reputation alone at this point. An injury in 2012 cost him all but 2 games and he hasn't seemed right after that. Revis is going to have a very hard time living up to that contract.
8 Jay Cutler
The fans in Chicago are just wild about Cutler – though fans in Denver are decidedly less fond of him. And given the fact that Cutler, just this year, signed a 7-year deal $126 million dollar contract, it's pretty evident that the Bears are pretty fond of him too. But for what reason? Since arriving in Chicago in 2009, Cutler has only played a full 16 game season once, has had only 3 winning seasons, and has not come that close to leading the Bears to the Super Bowl. He's often injured and there has been some question about his work ethic and effort. He lands on his list because he's done nothing to justify the monster contract he was given, and he's not going to come close to living up to it.
7 Robert Griffin III
RGIII is probably the brightest star to ever come out of the Baylor football program. He's a Heisman winner and lit up the field in college. He's a powerful athlete with an incredible set of skills. Unfortunately, those college skills don't always transfer over to the pros. Griffin is learning just how hard NFL players can hit, and that a running quarterback doesn't usually find much success in the league. He's had some injuries that have kept him out of games in his first two seasons, and he's put together just a 12-16 overall record as a starter. RGIII believes that with the Shanahan regime now gone, the new system in place will help him flourish. But until he can stay healthy and be a productive QB – two things he's not been able to do thus far – he will continue to be very overrated.
6 Johnny Manziel
He has yet to take a snap, but it's already clear that Johnny Football is quite possibly one of the most overhyped and overrated quarterbacks in the history of the league. While he did some great things in college and really got people excited by Texas A&M football – a feat in and of itself – life in the NFL is very different. Manziel, like RGIII, is going to find that things you could get away with in college, you can't get away with in the pros, and that running and gunning style he has is likely going to land him on the IR sooner rather than later. He has yet to prove that he's a quarterback, and not just a runner who throws the ball sometimes.
5 Richard Sherman
He is undoubtedly the most vocal and outspoken member of the Legion of Boom. And there is no denying his talent. Sherman is a big, physical, and fast cornerback who will make you pay for bad throws – just ask Michael Crabtree. But to this point, he's also gotten away with a lot of pushing, shoving, grabbing, and chucking in making his bones. And now that those will be actions the league has instructed the refs to focus on penalizing, it will be interesting to see what sort of season Sherman has. We're thinking he'll be slightly less effective.
4 Eric Decker
The NY Jets paid a lot of money to pry Decker away from the Denver Broncos – 5 years, $36.25 million dollars, in fact. And while there is no doubt that Decker was great in 2012 and 2013, racking up more than 1,000 receiving yards in each season, the numbers are a bit misleading. And as a result, the Jets way overpaid for a guy that until he teamed up with Peyton Manning, had been a very average receiver. Manning helped make Decker great, and make no mistake about it – Geno Smith is not Peyton Manning. The Jets are very likely going to have a very serious case of buyer's remorse very soon.
3 Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant is a rare combination of size, speed, and skill. He's a very good receiver. But he's nowhere near as good as he believes himself to be – which is the best receiver in the NFL today. While it's true that over the past two seasons, Bryant has amassed more than 2,600 receiving yards, that number is a little misleading only because of the fact that outside of him, Dallas hasn't had any other real options at receiver. When you're really the only game in town, you don't have a whole lot of options other than to step up and perform. And while Bryant has answered that bell, he's still not nearly as great as he thinks he is.
2 Dwayne Bowe
Coming out of LSU in 2007, the expectations for Dwayne Bowe were through the roof. So much so that the Chiefs used the 23rd overall pick in the draft on him. To say that he's failed to live up to expectations would be quite an understatement. Yet inexplicably, Kansas City saw fit to give him a 5-year, $56 million dollar deal.
Ostensibly, the Chiefs' number one receiver, Bowe has only gone over 1,000 yards three times in his seven season career, and in 2013, posted an incredibly pedestrian 673 yards on 57 receptions with just 5 touchdowns. Hardly the production of a number one, and somebody being paid like Bowe should be performing better
1 Tony Romo
Sorry, Cowboys fans – if you weren't expecting Romo to wind up on this list, you were just fooling yourselves. Given all of the hype and hoopla around him, the fat contract the Cowboys gave him, and all of the breathless proclamations of his elite QB status, you would think that he would have won something. The trouble is that Romo hasn't won anything, as his 1-3 career postseason record can attest to. He's led the Cowboys to three consecutive 8-8 seasons, and has missed the playoffs four years in a row. He puts up some great statistics in the regular season, but can't win when it matters the most. Romo is arguably, the single most overrated player in the NFL today.
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