Show Them the Money
With the NFL season right around the corner, every player in camp is fighting for a roster spot. Every player is doing whatever he can to earn playing time.
Just the same as every professional sport, some players earn more money than others. While pay is typically commensurate with on-field production, this is not always true. There are some players in the NFL who are extremely underpaid.
Below is a list of the most underpaid NFL players, based on production, experience, and future potential:
1. Andrew Luck. With a base salary of $3,404,727 during the 2015 season, Luck is one of the most underpaid players in the league. Even with a portion ($3,629,636) of his signing bonus paid this year, Luck’s total cap hit is only $7,034,363.
2. Le’Veon Bell. The Pittsburgh Steelers running back continues to shine on the field, with many considering him one of the best ball carriers in the game. Despite his dual threat production, Bell will only earn $1,123,800 (combined salary and signing bonus) in 2015. If he has another big year, you can expect to hear about a new contract in the near future.
3. T.Y. Hilton. Unfortunately for Hilton, his small stature (5’9″) matches his salary. The Colts receiver was extremely productive last year, with no reason to believe that 2015 won’t yield the same results. Even if he continues to perform at a high level, his cap hit this season will only be $1,673,850.
Update: Hilton recently signed a 5-year, $65 million contract, so his underpaid status has been revoked.
4. Travis Kelce. Tight ends don’t get as much attention as they deserve. Especially one who plays for a team with a mediocre passing attack. Even so, Kelce is one of the top players at his position. The production may be there, but the salary has yet to follow. Kelce will earn a total of $853,826 in 2015, his third in the league.
5. Sheldon Richardson. As one of the keys to the Jets defense, fans are hoping for big things out of Richardson again this year. Even though he is ranked as one of the top 3–4 defensive ends in the league, his salary and bonus for 2015 will only reach $2,742,000.
Every NFL player, even those working for the league minimum, earns more than most people. Even so, just the same as employees in other industries, some are underpaid.
Note: salary statistics courtesy of Spotrac.