Although many professional athletes toil in relative obscurity, there is a well-publicized minority that makes a killing. These players' hair-raising salaries are shocking in their size alone, but some athletes' compensation is even more disturbing because they fail to live up to the pay they command. Read on for a list of the top multimillion-dollar player contracts that have haunted the teams who signed them.
10. DeSagana Diop - 6 Years, $32 Million This 2008 contract should inspire any tall guy who dreams of playing in the NBA. The seven-foot Diop from Senegal broke into the NBA in 2001 after being selected eighth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA draft, the same draft that gave us the likes of Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph (see the theme here?). Even after averaging less than three points per game throughout his career, the Dallas Mavericks didn't hesitate to give the big man its mid-level exception in the summer of 2008: a whopping $32 million over six years. Proponents of the signing argued that Diop was worth the money for his rebounding and shot-blocking alone. But $5.33 million a year for just under four rebounds and 1.12 blocks per game over his career seems a little rich. The Mavericks must have experienced some buyer's remorse after the signing; Diop didn't even last a full season with the Mavs before they shipped him off to the Bobcats in early 2009.
9. Shawn Horcoff - 6 Years, $33 Million Following the Oilers' improbable 2006 Stanley Cup Finals run, the team had high hopes for a quick return to the finals. Unfortunately, the team has not made the playoffs since and may be hard pressed to reach the playoffs again this year. A major factor in whether the Oilers are successful this season may hinge on the play of their supposed No.1 center, Shawn Horcoff. Following the 2008 season, in which Horcoff missed the entire second half due to shoulder surgery, the Oilers signed Horcoff to a six-year, $33 million contract extension that made him the highest-paid forward on the team. Since signing the deal, Horcoff has struggled mightily, tallying only 17 goals and 53 points last season. This season, he has recorded only two points in the team's first 11 games. Kevin Lowe, the Oilers' general manager at the time Horcoff's contract was signed, faced criticism for his decision to give Horcoff this sum, and Horcoff's results thus far are nowhere near the numbers the Oilers had hoped for. Compared to other first-line centers and similarly paid players in the league, Horcoff's lack of production sticks out like a sore thumb.
8. Alfonso Soriano - 8 Years, $136 Million He was supposed to be the next great five-tool player. Alfonso Soriano was the centerpiece of the package that sent Alex Rodriguez and his mammoth contract to the New York Yankees from the Texas Rangers. Following productive years in Texas and Washington, Soriano signed an eight-year, $136 million contract with the Chicago Cubs in late 2006. The Cubbies hoped that Soriano would be the final piece of the puzzle that would help the "lovable losers" snap their century-long World Series drought. Although Soriano had a productive first year, he has since been slowed by injuries and has yet to help the Cubs get out of the first round of the playoffs. The jury is still out on whether Soriano will become the superstar that many believed he would be by now.
7. Jake Delhomme - 5 Years, $42 Million Once the feel-good story of league, and a Pro Bowler, Delhomme can't seem do anything right lately. Despite this, following one of the worst playoff performances in NFL history in January, which included throwing five interceptions and a lost fumble in a 33-13 loss to the Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers rewarded their starting QB with a five-year $42 million contract extension, $20 million of which is guaranteed. At the time, many questioned the Panthers' thinking, after a 2-4 start, 13 interceptions and a downright ugly 56.5 QB rating, Delhomme's contract may end up haunting Carolina for years to come.
6. Rick DiPietro - 15 Years (!), $67.5 Million This New England native may be the most highly vaunted goaltender to ever enter the NHL draft. So enthused were the New York Islanders about the prospects of selecting DiPietro first overall in the 2000 draft, that they traded away Roberto Luongo, whom they had selected fourth overall in the draft only three years earlier, a move that haunts Isles fans to this day. Following his best year as a pro in 2005-2006, the Islanders gave DiPietro a contract extension of $67.5 million -over 15 years! The deal shocked the hockey world and has started a trend of general managers giving up extremely long-term deals to players in exchange for a reduced average salary cap hit (much like Marion Hossa and the aforementioned Roberto Luongo). Since the signing, however, DiPietro has struggled to remain healthy; he played in only five games last season and is on injured reserve to start the 2009-2010 season due to chronic knee problems that have many wondering if he'll ever be able to fulfill his end of a deal that changed hockey contracts as we know them.
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