Worse contract: Barber or Williams?

May, 26, 2010
5/26/10
1:15
PM ET
On Tuesday afternoon, Jerry Jones discussed how Roy Williams has never looked better and also how much faster Marion Barber looks this spring.

These are two players who have underachieved since signing big money contracts with the Cowboys. It seems Jones or coach Wade Phillips is always talking about the status of these two players.

The expectation is that Barber will eventually lose his starting job to Felix Jones. Jerry Jones, however, put an end to that Tuesday by saying Barber will start. Williams' status is in doubt -- at least his starting role -- with the addition of Dez Bryant to the receiving corps.

Williams and Barber have not lived up to the contracts given to them by the Cowboys.

Which brings us to this question: Between Barber and Williams, who has the worse contract?

First, let's look at the financial numbers:

Barber signed seven-year, $44.9 million contract in 2008. He's signed through 2014. It's the sixth-highest average salary among running backs in the NFL. Barber will make $7.8 million in combined base salary and roster bonus this season, and he's already received a $4 million roster bonus.

Now let's look at production on the field:

Since becoming the full-time starter in 2008, Barber has yet to rush for 1,000 yards. He's battled injuries -- thigh, toe, thumb and knee -- both years. Last year, Barber rushed for 100 yards in a game only once and surpassed 80 yards twice. In 2008, Barber averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry. Last year it improved to 4.4.

Now, Roy Williams.

The Cowboys traded three draft picks, including a first-round pick, to the Detroit Lions for Williams. To finalize the deal, Williams signed a five-year, $45 million contract extension through the 2013 season. Williams has the third-highest salary on the team and is tied with New England's Randy Moss for the fourth-highest average wide receiver salary in the NFL at $9 million.

In 2010, Williams will receive $12.9 million from the Cowboys in base salary and bonus money. His $9.5 million bonus was guaranteed and has been paid already. His base salary for 2010 is $3.45 million.

Since his 2006 Pro Bowl year, Williams' overall numbers have declined. Last year, Williams caught 38 passes for 596 yards, with eight drops and seven touchdowns. Williams had three games where he didn't make a single catch -- including the playoff loss at Minnesota -- and he also had four games where he finished with just one catch. In his first year with the Cowboys (2008), Williams had 19 catches for just 198 yards. In his first game with the Cowboys -- vs. St. Louis on Oct. 19, 2008 -- he Williams didn't have a catch, the first time in his career he failed to catch a pass in a NFL game.

The good news is that both players seem determined to prove the last two seasons won't happen again. Cornerback Mike Jenkins said Williams is performing in practice like a No. 1 receiver. He seems to be in better shape than he's ever been and a correction in his technique -- running lower while coming out of breaks -- might help him produce more.

Barber is also in pretty good shape and good spirits. The Cowboys are standing behind Barber, who isn't stressing his starting job at this stage. The Cowboys are content on making him the finishing back that he was in 2006 and 2007. Barber seems to relish in that role and has plenty of support in the locker room about what he can do going forward.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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