The game behind the game—the one fought in all 32 NFL front offices—revolves around dough. Good teams get the most out of their dollars, while bad ones often overspend on players who fail to live up to expectations.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s harder than it looks, which is why there’s so much turnover in this league.
But every franchise has at least one player outperforming his contract. Most of them are on rookie deals, indicating draft triumph. Others were steals in free agency, indicating savvy on the open market.
How does one go about establishing every team’s most underpaid player? We started by looking at several key indicators of player value: Pro Football Reference’s approximate value metric (which is “an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year”), assessments from outlets such as Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus, raw statistics from PFR and NFL.com and the good old eyeball test. And then we juxtaposed those results with contract information provided by Spotrac.