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Monday, December 23, 2002
Updated: December 26, 1:54 PM ET
The List: NFL's most overpaid

Page 2 staff

This week, Page 2 posts its list of the top 10 most overpaid people in the NFL .

Calculating NFL salaries is part science, part art, with "caponomics" pretty much being a profession in and of itself. But, in the spirit of the season, we tried to figure out, as best we could, the identities of this season's most overpaid NFL players/coaches/owners. Check out our top 10 money pits, then, be sure to vote in the poll on the right to crown the most overpaid of them all.

Mike Brown
Mike Brown
1. Mike Brown (Owner/GM of the Bengals)
You know what? We didn't even bother to look to see what he gets paid, since he's a wealthy man getting richer by the day. But even if he made only $1 a year, hed be the most overpaid man in pro football, having decimated the Bengals. As Joe Kay of the AP wrote last week, "After 12 dismal seasons, the fans have given up." That's just sad.

2. Mike Holmgren ($4.5 million)
We know Holmgren can do one job well, but in Seattle, as head coach and general manager and executive vice president and offensive coordinator, he's been a flop. When he was hired away from the Packers, the Seahawks heralded his arrival with a campaign slogan of "It's Now Time." And it seemed to be, when Seattle went 8-2 at the start of his first season. But since then the Seahawks have been 21-31, including 6-9 this season. Holmgren's yet to build, but he's trying to sell the concept of rebuilding. Seattle fans aren't buying it, though, and a lot of them are coming to games disguised as empty seats.

Kordell Stewart
K-dog is pulling in the fourth highest salary of all NFL QBs this season.
3. Kordell Stewart ($5,300,000 in 2002; five-year, $27 million contract runs through 2003 season)
So far in 2002, the Steelers QB is enjoying his highest passer rating ever: 82.8, one of the lowest in the AFC, and slightly lower than the more productive starter, Tommy Maddox. Still, he's pulling in the fourth highest salary of all NFL QBs this season.

4. Randy Moss (playing under an eight-year, $75 million contract that included $18 million signing bonus)
Last year, Moss said, "I play when I want to play." When he wants to play, he's the best receiver in the game, and probably the most dangerous offensive player. But the bottom line is that Moss is a divisive, and negative, influence on a terrible team. Is it in his contract that the Vikes will pay when they want to pay?

5. Jason Sehorn (six-year, $36-million contract through 2006 included $10 million signing bonus)
The Giants cornerback had what he admitted was an "embarrassing season" last year, and 2002 hasn't been much better. He's no longer a regular starting cornerback and is making way too much for a player in a serious career decline.

Kurt Warner
Even if he had been straight-up about his injured pinkie, he'd still be on our list.
6. Kurt Warner (playing under seven-year, $46.5 million contract; will earn about $4 million this season and up to $11 million next season)
Two words and six digits: Marc Bulger, $303,000. That's how much the Rams' third-string QB, who has led his team to a 6-1 record as the starter while Warner has nursed injuries, is pulling down.

When Warner has started, the Rams have been 0-6. And there's a clear cause-and-effect. Bulger leads the NFL with a 101.4 QB rating; Warner's 30th with a 67.4 rating. We'd have a lot more sympathy about his injured hand if he had been honest with his coach about it; the nondisclosure hurt the team.

As Kathleen Nelson wrote recently in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "With Warner's placement on IR, we have acceptance that his season is a wash. A clunker."

7. Steve Spurrier (first year of a five-year, $25 million contract)
When the going gets tough ... oh, Spurrier must not have heard that one. Lately, the expensive coach of the expensive Redskins, has been anything but tough. He conceded the season a few weeks ago, then blamed his players, while appearing to take the blame himself ("We've done a lousy job of teaching 'em so far," a classic of pithy doublespeak that shows he has learned something during his months in D.C.). As a player, Spurrier was terrific in college, but flopped as a pro. Is the pattern repeating itself?

8. Curtis Martin ($13.5 million this season -- $10 million bonus and $3.5 million salary; first year of eight-year, $46 million deal)
That's a lot of money for the NFL's 18th-leading rusher.

9. Joe Johnson ($6.5 million in signing bonus, first year of a six-year, $33 million contract that guarantees him $14 million for first three seasons)
Even before the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end was sidelined early in October for the remainder of the season, the Packers were disappointed by their new free agent's performance. The former Saint had racked up 306 tackles in seven seasons in New Orleans, along with a healthy 51 sacks (21 in 2000 and 2001, combined). But in his five games as a Packer, he made only six tackles and two sacks. That performance was enough to make plenty of people wonder if the Packers really thought this was what they were getting when they said, in their post-signing press release, that with the move they were "significantly upgrading their defensive line."

10. Greg Robinson
Greg Robinson
We wouldn't give the Chiefs a dime for their defense or their coordinator.
We don't know how much Robinson makes, but it's in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is way too much for the Chiefs defensive coordinator. The Chiefs are mired at 8-7 despite averaging 31.6 points per game, the most in the NFL. Gee, could defense be the problem? You betcha. The Chiefs have the worst D in the league, giving up almost 400 yards per game. Coaches don't play, and the Chiefs sorely lack defensive talent, but, as Jason Whitlock recently wrote in the Kansas City Star, "Here's why Robinson can't duck responsibility for K.C.'s defensive failure: Not one defender has improved in Robinson's system. Not one ... His defense has failed collectively and individually. His unit doesn't produce big plays or playmakers." Even though he has been publicly backed by coach Dick Vermeil, Robinson already looks like he's on the way out; he recently interviewed for the head coaching job at UCLA, which -- not surprisingly -- he didn't get.

Also receiving votes:
  • Eddie George (in middle of six-year contract extension worth $42 million, which included $10 million signing bonus; $2,250,000 salary for 2002).
  • Ron Dayne (in middle of five-year, $7 million plus contract).
  • Edgerrin James (seven-year, $49 million contract, $1.25 million base salary)