Friday, January 25, 2013
Paying the price: Not everyone's a bargain
By Mike Sando
Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were the ultimate NFL bargains in 2012.
The two NFC West quarterbacks earned a combined $1.6 million while leading their teams to the playoffs. They cost about the same in combined salary-cap charges.
Adam Schefter took an expanded look at their contract situations in his latest "10 Spot" item, noting that neither is eligible for a raise for years to come.
Not every player is a bargain, of course.
Bad luck, unforeseen circumstances and poor personnel evaluations sometimes leave teams paying millions for non-contributors as well.
The Arizona Cardinals paid more than $16.7 million in cash to quarterback Kevin Kolb and left tackle Levi Brown in 2012. Kolb failed to win the starting job, then suffered a season-ending injury. Brown got hurt before the season and never played for the Cardinals.
Seattle paid more than $8 million to quarterback Matt Flynn before the team drafted Wilson.
Looking ahead, the Cardinals owe the most in 2013 to Larry Fitzgerald, Calais Campbell and Daryl Washington. No problem there. Those are three of the team's best players. Kolb is fourth on the list, making him a candidate for release or for a salary reduction.
Seattle owes the most in 2013 to tight end Zach Miller and receiver Sidney Rice. Both became valuable contributors this past season. The team has enough salary cap room to keep them under their current contracts, but some sort of adjustment, perhaps even through extensions, could make sense.
Cortland Finnegan, Chris Long, James Laurinaitis and Sam Bradford are the St. Louis players scheduled to earn the most money in 2013. They rank among the most valued players on the team. No problems there.
San Francisco's Michael Crabtree, Justin Smith, Alex Smith and Ahmad Brooks are scheduled to earn the most from the 49ers in 2013. Justin Smith's health is one consideration. He's expected to undergo surgery after the season. Alex Smith's future is probably elsewhere following Kaepernick's emergence.
The chart shows the 10 NFC West players with the largest scheduled payouts for 2013. The figures reflect salary and bonuses.