Earlier this week, Forbes put out their list of the "NFL's Most Overpaid Players Of 2012." While we'd never accuse a player of being "overpaid" — NFL careers are far too short, and the risk of injury far too great for us to do so — we certainly do not begrudge those outlets that would. All that we ask is that the criteria for which players are deemed to be overpaid make sense and be accurate.
For example, the first player in the Forbes article is New York Jets linebacker David Harris, who "quietly led the Jets with 65 tackles last season" and will make $12 million in "salary and bonus this season."
Now, tackles are not an official statistic, but Harris actually had 86 of 'em last year, 65 of which were of the "solo" variety. Forbes did mention Harris' five sacks from last season, which ranked second on the Jets, but omitted his four interceptions, which tied for the team lead, while noting Harris' struggles in coverage. According to the 2012 Football Outsiders Almanac, Harris led NFL linebackers with a 75 percent rate when defending the pass.
Oh, and that $12 million salary figure? That's Harris' salary cap number, not his 2012 pre-tax income, which is actually $10 million, a $9.9 million base salary paid over the course of the 2012 regular season and a $100,000 workout bonus.
Perhaps the most curious entry on the list is Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who had four interceptions, 15 passes defensed and locked down half the field during a 2011 season where the Texans defense improved from 32nd to third in the NFL when defending the pass.
Joseph is deemed to be overpaid because of his $9.75 million salary, which again, is actually his salary cap number. Joseph was scheduled to earn $7.25 million in cash this season and, as noted on Shutdown Corner last weekend, recently restructured his contract, lowering his cap number from $9.75 million to $6 million for the upcoming season. (Joseph will still earn $7.25 million in salary and bonuses)
Here's a list of the 15 highest-paid players in the NFL this season, measured in cash, not salary cap dollars.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints - $40,000,000
Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills - $25,000,000
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans - $22,450,000
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions - $21,750,000
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals - $20,250,000
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos - $18,000,000
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans - $18,000,000
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens - $17,000,000
Robert Mathis, LB, Indianapolis Colts - $17,000,000
Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona Cardinals - $17,000,000
Richard Seymour, DT, Oakland Raiders - $15,000,000
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts - $14,908,544
Robert Griffin, QB, Washington Redskins - $14,189,344
Dwight Freeney, LB, Indianapolis Colts - $14,035,000
Elvis Dumervil, DE, Denver Broncos - $14,000,000