Over the years, football fans have debated the significance of playoff performances when discussing the greatness of legendary players. Usually the argument circles around the fairly simplistic question “how many Super Bowls has he won?” The next question often surrounds the player’s overall playoff success.
We always hear about how about how important playoff success is (and don’t get me wrong, it is), but most players in the NFL did not earn their massive salaries based on playoff success (see Dalton, Andy). They’ve made their money from being generally productive and durable players over the 16-game regular season. We often forget that these players are paid handsomely for at least those 16 games of solid production, not just the 3-4 games it takes to get to a Super Bowl. You need to make it to the playoffs before you can establish a playoff legacy to begin with; that’s common sense. We often separate regular season greatness from postseason greatness – which is appropriate in certain situations – but as a general rule, we should always take the entire body of work into consideration, no matter if the topic is football players or a door-to-door salesman, and no matter how complete or diverse the body of work is. Individuals do not make the entire team, and while there are always key cogs in every roster, every single man on a football roster has to pull their weight, no matter if your quarterback is Drew Brees or Drew Bledsoe.
With that in mind, though, we still decided to put a twist on the argument and looked at the top 20 active players who’ve never suited up for a playoff game in their careers, despite being highly productive over their regular season careers; in essence, for this case, we couldn’t look at the entire body of work, because these players haven’t had a shot to perform in playoff games yet – even though they are getting paid like players who are supposed to carry their teams to the postseason. In going through the list, we can identify which players have simply had bad luck and which guys have had a role in their non-participation in January football.
20 Stevie Johnson, WR, San Francisco ($7.25 mil.)
The enigmatic Johnson goes from the role of overrated, underperforming top receiver in Buffalo to a solid deep-threat option in San Francisco, where there won’t be as much pressure on him to put up No. 1 receiver-type numbers. Just the fact that he’s on the 49ers’ roster now means he will probably be off this list next season, but if he avoids the antics and produces, he might even be a key cog in a long playoff run for Jim Harbaugh’s squad.
19 Kyle Williams, DT, Buffalo ($7.28 mil.)
Like so many other talented players who’ve gone through the Bills system over the past 15 years, Williams has never played a down in a playoff game. Williams had a stellar 2013 season, racking up 10.5 sacks and consistently blowing up plays along the line of scrimmage. At $7.28 million, Williams is worth every penny. It's not his fault he's been stuck on a pretty bad Buffalo Bills roster all these years. As disruptive as a defensive lineman can be, he can't score points for the team, too.
18 Reshad Jones, S, Miami ($7.34 mil.)
After a breakout season in 2012, Jones came back down to Earth last season. While it’s always impossible to guess what the Dolphins will do in any given year, Jones will probably come off this list regardless based on increasing salaries at all positions, combined with the stigma that safety “isn’t as important” as other positions on the field (a statement I vehemently disagree with). Jones, like Williams, has been on a mediocre team since he started in Miami, but he's done his part to help the team win games.
17 T15. Eugene Monroe, LT, Baltimore ($7.5 mil.)
Four full seasons in Jacksonville and a near-miss at the postpeason with Baltimore at the end of last season lands Monroe on this list. Baltimore gives him a much better shot at getting off of the list, obviously, but a lot will depend on Joe Flacco, who Monroe is tasked with keeping upright. His time in Jacksonville made him a sure-thing to make this list after signing his big contract with Baltimore in the off-season.
16 T15. Will Beatty, LT, New York Giants ($7.5 mil.)
Beatty's place on this list is a direct result of bad luck. He has been a mainstay on the New York Giants offensive line for the last several years, earning his role after impressing and improving over the first few years of his career. As luck would have it, though, a detached retina landed him on the IR during the 2011 season, the same year the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. If the Giants can get back to their 2011 form, Beatty has a legitimate chance to be off this list of his own accord next summer.
15 T15. Paul Posluszny, LB, Jacksonville ($7.5 mil.)
Paul Posluszny has had horrible luck in terms of teams he’s ended up on since his career started in 2007. He was drafted by the Bills, who have been trying to elevate themselves from “up-and-coming” to “marginally contending” for years. He then decided to go play for a Jacksonville squad in the middle of the franchise’s worst stretch of seasons in its 19-year history. Common sense would suggest that the 20th season won’t be much better, and that means we’ll most likely see Posluszny back on this list again next season.
14 Andy Levitre, G, Tennessee ($7.8 mil.)
Levitre was a warrior for the Bills for years, but he ultimately decided it was time to go cash in and play for another mediocre team with blue uniforms and block for another average quarterback. It’s always good to see the “blue-collar” guys make big money, though, for all the blood and sweat they put into their roles over countless seasons with little to no recognition. It will be a bit of a surprise if Levitre plays in a playoff game this season, but stranger things have happened.
13 Mike Williams, WR, Buffalo ($7.92 mil.)
In typical Buffalo fashion, the Bills somehow managed to not only downgrade their No. 3-4 receiver position, but are now also paying more for Williams than the guy they already had on the roster (Stevie Johnson, who we’ve already discussed). Sure, this is a homecoming for Williams, and we all know that most of the balls will be going to the young studs in the Bills receiving core; but the question still remains why Williams is getting paid so damn well. The question we can answer, though, is why he is now on this list (he played for Tampa for four years) and when he will get off this list (never, he’s a Bill now)
12 Daryl Washington, LB, Arizona ($8.0 mil.)
Washington has been solid in the middle of the field for the Cards over the past several seasons, but this season he will only be solid in the middle of the press-box (if he's even allowed in the press-box) as he was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. While it's unclear whether he would be eligible for the playoffs should Arizona make it, it's highly they would even use him in that scenario.
11 James Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis ($8.3 mil.)
James Laurinaitis is the model of consistency at linebacker; a glance at his career stat lines show that he is always around the same numbers: 2-3 sacks, a couple of INT’s, 6-8 passes defended and 100 or so tackles. He’s not as flashy as Clay Matthews or Patrick Willis, and will probably never have as much success as them, but for what he brings to the table it’s not a stretch to think the Rams are getting a bit of a bargain here.
10 Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns ($8.4 mil.)
It’s amazing that even the worst quarterbacks the Browns have fielded over the past several seasons haven’t been able to do better than they did considering the talent on Cleveland’s offensive line. Mack is not even the best player on the Browns offensive line, but he’s no doubt one of the top centers in the league. While we still don't know who he'll be snapping the football to this year, we do know that Mack won't be the main reason the Browns quarterback will spend a lot of time scrambling out of the pocket.
9 Jairus Byrd, S, New Orleans ($9.00 mil)
Jairus Byrd is appropriate name for a man who truly can fly around the field, but for all his ability and production it was never enough to make up for the rest of the Buffalo Bills deficiencies. Byrd has now moved on to a better situation in New Orleans, where his ball-hawking ability will be a boon for an already stout pass defense that finished second in passing yards allowed last season. If Byrd is on the list again next season, something went seriously wrong for him or the Saints in general.
8 Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago ($10.00 mil.)
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Brandon Marshall is without a doubt one of the top-5 receivers in the NFL, but somehow hasn’t been on a team that has earned a playoff birth since he broke into the league in 2006, around the time when aerial assaults began to stomp out “ground-and-pound” football. Marshall has only been on teams that were either led by a young, inexperienced and confused Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton’s hair or any Miami Dolphins quarterback not named Dan Marino. He’s gotten close in Chicago, though, and it shouldn’t be much longer before Marshall can be taken off this list.
7 Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay ($11.00 mil.)
The casual football fan might wonder why a guy like Gerald McCoy is getting paid $11 million dollars a season to basically run into the opposing team’s center or guard a couple thousand times a year. Those who appreciate fine trench-play, though, understand the true value of a run-stuffing behemoth like McCoy. Not only does he anchor the Tampa defensive line, he can also get in the backfield and snuff out a few plays himself. With the Bucs continuing to add talent around him, McCoy’s stay on this list will hopefully not be much longer.
6 Brian Orakpo, LB, Washington ($11.45 mil.)
Orakpo was injured during the Redskins 2012 playoff run (also known as RG3’s rookie season), so he has yet to play in an NFL post-season game. Despite this, Orakpo deserves the money he got this off-season, even if it is on a one year franchise tag. With another stellar season, Orakpo will get the same dollars (if not more), whether it’s with the Redskins or another team (hopefully a team that will get him off this list, for his sake).
5 Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland ($11.5 mil.)
Not only is Joe Thomas the best left tackle in the NFL, he might be one of the best players in the NFL, period. Of course, Thomas won’t be putting points up on the board anytime soon, so you’ll never hear him mentioned among the top players in the league, but if the Browns ever end up finding someone who can throw a half-decent pass to one of their talented wide-outs, Joe Thomas will finally get a crack at the NFL postseason.
4 Chris Long, DE, St. Louis ($12.05 mil.)
It’s often hard to forget that Chris Long is the old man along the Rams talented defensive line. For a while Long seemed like one of those top picks that wasn’t really a bust, but wasn’t a game-changer either. He’s taken his game to another level over the past three seasons, but it won’t be long before this big contract is bandied about as one to get rid of once guys like Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers start asking for big money as well.
3 Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis ($13 mil.)
Sam Bradford has long been the young QB “on the cusp” of greatness, but has never been able to quite put it all together. He finally started to show some signs of brilliance last season before his season was abruptly ended by a torn ACL. Even if Bradford picks up where he left off last year, it will take a Herculean performance to get into the postseason ahead of division foes Seattle and San Francisco. If he ever wants another big contract, though, he'll have to prove it this year.
2 Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland ($13.2 Mil.)
Joe Haden long ago proved he was one of the top 3 corners in football, and it’s a shame he has been stuck on a porous roster for the entirety of his bright career. He’s already picked off 13 passes in just four years in the league, but it’s his shutdown ability that makes him worth every penny of his 5 year, $67.5 million dollar contract. What's clear, though, is that the Browns probably messed up by not having Haden lock-down Josh Gordon as part of the contract.
1 Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo ($16 Mil.)
Mario Williams surprises us all by taking the top spot…again. One of the most controversial first-overall picks in the history of the NFL and a perennial havoc-wrecker in the trenches, it might come as a surprise to see Williams at the top of this list considering the success he’s had over the years. Keep in mind, though, that he played for the Texans during the Colts’ Manning era, so no matter how many sacks he racked up, there was no winning the AFC South with Peyton running the Indy offense – and the one year that Houston did sneak in (2011), Williams was injured.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!