Some More BS – 2014 NFL Salaries

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Written by: Carl Chenier and Jim Williams

We attempted to start a new feature last year on the website in the form of several columns…after a few months of trying the idea it kind of fizzled out while many of us got quite busy with real life things, especially me. We’re now attempting to do these various columns again and see what clicks and what doesn’t. Onto what this particular one is about.

Last year, we discussed the top 25 NFL players by the amount of money that they would be receiving for the 2013 season. In our return to column form, Jim and I will now take a look at the 2014 list and there’s quite a few differences compared to last year. And like I mentioned last year, the views in this column are mine and Jim’s and doesn’t reflect others who are involved with clw83, sponsors, and panelists who take part in all our various podcasts.

I will list the 2013 name and salary also for reference points. Here comes the top 10 with our quick thoughts, then 11-25 in short thought mode:

1. Joe Flacco (QB, Baltimore Ravens)
A season after winning his first Super Bowl and quite a few players both leaving the Ravens for other teams  and/or retiring, Flacco had a pretty mediocre season at best with less than 4,000 yards and getting more INTs than TDs (22 to 19).

2013 Salary: $20,100,000
2014 Salary: Exact same.

Carl’s Take: Joe needs a lot of help this season, especially with the issues that Ray Rice found himself in so far during the offseason. Ravens did get some key draft positions filled, especially in the first round with C.J. Mosley from Alabama who’s been getting early praise by those who cover the team, and Ray Lewis himself. They had an additional 7 picks, which they used 4 of them on offense. They also went coach shopping by hiring former Texans coach Gary Kubiak to run the offense and Steve Spagnuolo to be assistant head coach to John Harbaugh. What needs to happen is for Ray Rice to get his head straight, and for Joe to keep throwing to his top receivers in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones in order to get away from the .500 mark they set last season.

Jim’s Take: There’s no question that the quarterback that took the Ravens to a Super Bowl deserved a big payday.  The Ravens’ QB we saw last year though…not so much.  But, in all honesty you can’t put it on Flacco.  As Carl mentioned above, his passing options are slim to none right now.  The Ravens are in rebuilding mode and Flacco is being kept in the blueprint plans for the time being.  Hopefully, someone on the receiving corps can break out and help Flacco earn his money this year.

2. Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints)
After going a dismal 7-9 in a bad 2012 campaign, Drew returned to top form and threw for over 5,000 yards for a third straight season and fourth overall while continuing to shatter various NFL records. One of this most prized records did get toppled over by 1 yard by someone we’re fixing to talk about after him. Saints have lost a few key players from the Payton/Brees era in Lance Moore who went to Pittsburgh and Darren Sproles who got traded to Jim’s Eagles. They did trade up in the first round of the draft to get WR Brandin Cooks from Oregon State who’s poised to be getting thrown to a lot in his upcoming rookie campaign. Defense also got some much needed improvement with the picks of Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Khairi Fortt, and Vinnie Sunseri.

2013 Salary: $20,000,000
2014 Salary: Exact same.

Carl’s Take: I can honestly see Drew going to his early 40s before deciding to hang up the cleats and to wait only 5 years until the trip to Canton, Ohio. He’s still playing at a very high level as he’s now at the age of 35 and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. If he and Cooks can get on the same page very quickly as he and Colston did in 2006, look out for a 4th straight 5000 yard season and over 10 wins again from Who Dat Nation.

Jim’s Take: He justifies his money’s worth with every snap he takes on the field.  Take Brees away from the Saints and they’re a 6-10 team, if not worse.  He may be in his mid-30s, but he’s still in his prime.  Don’t be surprised if Brees’ numbers are actually BETTER in 2014, as odd as that might sound.

3. Peyton Manning (QB, Denver Broncos)
He came really close to a 2nd Super Bowl title, but the Seahawks were much more hungrier at Super Bowl XLVIII as they blew out his Broncos 43-8 in the most lopsided victory since Jon Gruden’s 2002 Buccaneers whipped up on the Raiders at Super Bowl XXXVII. His stats were amazing last season as he did indeed gain one more yard than Brees to finish up with 5,477 total yards, breaking the TD record with 55 and only 10 INTs. He’ll be entering this season at the age of 38 and some experts have called it, his final year in the NFL. The Broncos will need to make sure that Montee Ball is able to step it up as they lost Knowshon Moreno to the Dolphins, but did gain some key help on defense with Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware.

2013 Salary: $19,200,000
2014 Salary: Exact same.

Carl’s Take: To me, should Peyton get back to the big game taking place in Arizona this time around, win or lose it’ll be his last. Out of the oldest 3 QBs in the league right now (him, Brady, Brees), I honestly do not see him playing in his early 40s and of course that’s due to the neck issues. Watch him have another great year and then to me he’ll finally say he’s had enough and will hit the sidelines with a headset on his head helping out a head coach’s staff somewhere in 2015 or 2016. He’s definitely on the fast track to Canton as well.

Jim’s Take: See window of opportunity.  See Peyton Manning.  See window of opportunity shutting swiftly on Peyton.  As amazing of a season as Peyton Manning had, it was virtually negated by his performance in Super Bowl XLVIII.  The Seahawks showed that you could get to Manning and make him look human.  While I certainly think the Broncos have what it takes to make it back to the title game, I question if Peyton will be as invincible as he was during the regular season and AFC playoffs.  He won’t have a TD to INT ratio of 5.5 to 1 this year, and he doesn’t need to for his team to succeed.  His success in what may be his swan song season rest more so on the other members of his team to step their games up.

4. Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta Falcons)
Now this is a bit of a change of pace…Matt Ryan wasn’t even on last year’s top 25 list until he agreed to a 5 year extension worth close to $104 million last July. Missing only two starts in his six years in the NFL, he’s been keeping up decent numbers, even last year’s mess of a team that was injury plagued. He’ll be hoping that Julio Jones is 100% after the injury, plus making sure Steven Jackson can still run up the field with a semi-decent campaign.

2013 Salary: Around $9,600,000 after bonuses
2014 Salary: $18,958,333

Carl’s Take: The Falcons should do a lot better this year if they can stay healthy. Ryan is still a top 10 QB in the league and will remain that way as long as he’s at the helm. He’ll do all he can to get his team back to a winning season plus possible playoff appearances. Now that he’s secure for several years, he should be a lot more comfortable and get back in sync with Jones and Roddy White. Also, we’ll see if they can bring some spark back to the return game now that they picked up Devin Hester in the offseason on a three-year deal.

Jim’s Take: In a word: Forgettable.  And I think Matt Ryan, himself, would tell you to a man that 2013 was an aberration.  He’s a solid quarterback who had a mostly no name receiving corps to throw to last year.  If Julio Jones is healthy, you can bet Matty Ice will flourish.  Otherwise, it could be a long season in the ATL for Ryan and the Dirty Birds.

5. Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions)
Megatron keeps his #5 spot here from last year as he had nearly hit 1,500 yards and caught 12 TDs. He’s still pretty much 1/3rds of that entire Lions team along with Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush who came in last year and made an instant impact. He’ll have a new face to look at on the other side of the field as Golden Tate comes in fresh off the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks to provide what he hopes to be a good #2 WR.

2013 Salary: $16,200,000
2014 Salary: $18,812,500

Carl’s Take: As long as Stafford continues to throw like he has for the past three seasons, Megatron should have another great season as he can try to surpass his 2012 record of 1,964 receiving yards. He’s the most famous Lions player since Barry Sanders, without question and will continue to be for a long time as long as he stays pretty healthy, which is not easy to do in the NFL these days.

Jim’s Take: What can you say about him that hasn’t already been said?  He is the best wide receiver (and you can make a damn good case he’s the best player period) in the National Football League.  He makes Matt Stafford a top tier quarterback and makes the Lions worth watching for the first time since the days of Barry Sanders.  So long as he stays upright, the highlight reel catches will keep on coming for Megatron.

While I took you through 1-5, Jim will now take you through 6-10:

6. Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)
To quote an ’80s song, “You don’t know what you got, ’til it’s gone.”  The Packers entered Week 9 of the season at 5-2 and on top of the NFC North, then Chicago’s Shea McClellin sacked Aaron Rodgers and fractured the quarterback’s left clavicle.  Green Bay would go winless the next 5 weeks sand A-Rod.  Matt Flynn came in to right the ship as best he could and kept the Packers in the hunt for the division title.  In the season finale, Rodgers returned and led the Packers down the field for a division clinching drive in Chicago.  Packers’ fans are hoping for a healthy Rodgers to lead Green Bay back to division dominance.

2013 Salary: $12,700,000
2014 Salary: $18,678,571

Jim’s Take: His net worth was evident when he went down to injury.  The Packers fell apart without Rodgers under center.  And when he came back in the season’s biggest game, he was money.  I think Aaron Rodgers will be playing with a chip on his shoulder and the Packers will be the favorite to win the division and maybe more because of that.  The only thing worse than a healthy Aaron Rodgers is a healthy Aaron Rodgers who has something to prove.

Carl’s Take: I had mentioned last year that he should get an additional 5-7 million tacked on and that’s exactly what the Packers did. Despite breaking his collarbone last year in week 9, he was able to return in time for a win or go home showdown with the Bears and he was one of the main reasons why the Packers ended up winning the NFC North with an 8-7-1 record, plus some solid play by re-signed backup QB Matt Flynn. He should be back to top form while helping develop the continuing WR skill sets of Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, and Randall Cobb. Packers also have former divisional enemy Julius Peppers and drafted Ha Ha Clinton Dix on defense.

7. Jay Cutler (QB, Chicago Bears)
In January, the Bears and Cutler agreed on a 7 year deal worth over $126 million ($54 million is guaranteed).  When healthy last season, Cutler performed fairly well under first year head coach Marc Trestman throwing for 19 TDs and a career high passer rating of 89.2.  However, he was bit by the injury bug and missed 4 games due to a groin injury.  Critics will be quick to point out that he set the all time Bears’ franchise record for being the most sacked quarterback in Bears’ history last season surpassing Jim Harbaugh.

2013 Salary: $14,668,750
2014 Salary: $18,100,000

Jim’s Take: If he can stay healthy for a full season, I think he has what it takes to take Chicago to the postseason.  He’s got great weapons to work with and I’m a believer in the system Marc Trestman put in place.  It’s all a matter of Cutler staying healthy which, I believe, won’t be an easy task.  The Bears signed Cutler to a long term deal in the offseason, so they see the upside.  Are they prepared for the potential downside, though?

Carl’s Take: Cutler’s starting to show his age a bit here and I think his season won’t be as good as the last few have been. The Bears fought hard with Josh McCown having to come in while Cutler got injured himself but ultimately missed the playoffs by only a 1/2 a game. If he can keep the same tandem going with Brandon Marshall, the Bears should have a good shot at at least a wild card spot. Matt Forte can only do so much for this team.

8. Tony Romo (QB, Dallas Cowboys)
2013 was both the best of times and the worst of times for Dallas’ big money QB.  He threw for 506 yards and 5 TDs at home against the Denver Broncos, but he also threw what would be the game deciding interception in the final 2 minutes of the fourth quarter.  His 27,485 passing yards through 100 starts was the most for an NFL quarterback since 1960.  On the penultimate week of the season against Washington, Romo gutted things out playing with a herniated disk.  It would prevent him from facing Philadelphia in the division deciding season finale, a game the Eagles would win.

2013 Salary: About $11,818,835
2014 Salary: $17,071,428

Jim’s Take: As an Eagles’ fan it pains me to say the sentence that follows.  I feel sorry for Tony Romo.  In almost any other market, he’d be a top 5 quarterback.  Under the microscope of being a Dallas Cowboy he performs well, but all too often makes mistakes when it counts the most.  Put him on any other team and I truly believe he’d have greater success.  But in Dallas, where the owner is senile, the coaching staff is in disarray and certain teammates can’t get away from Johnny Law, Romo will likely never win the big one.

Carl’s Take: I said it on the show some time back and I’ll mention it here…I really think the Cowboys will be at the bottom of the NFC East this season upcoming. As long as Jerry Jones is in power, they’re going absolutely nowhere at all. Even the diehard fans know it and there’s not much that can be done. Tony Romo to me is the most overrated, overpaid QB in the last 25 years of the National Football League and no matter who they get to help him out, it’s not gonna matter much when Kyle Orton or even Brandon Weeden could end up starting before the end of this season if Jones actually gains a brain in that head of his.

9. Larry Fitzgerald (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
A new head coach and having the same quarterback under center for a full season helped Larry Fitzgerald return to his old form.  His 10 receiving TDs were the most since 2009.  He’ll be sharing targets with Michael Floyd, but having Carson Palmer as the signal caller can only do favors for Fitzy.

2013 Salary: $16,140,000
2014 Salary: $16,062,500

Jim’s Take: Fitzgerald had his first double digit TD season in 5 years.  If the QB carousel has finally stopped in the Arizona desert, maybe Fitzgerald will get to 1,000+ receiving yards and 10+ TDs in 2014.

Carl’s Take: If Carson Palmer stays as the starter in Arizona, Fitzy should have the same kind of season…still a very underrated WR who’s had horrible luck having the right QB throwing the ball to him since Kurt Warner’s retirement. Just ask yourselves where the likes of Derek Anderson, John Skelton, and Kevin Kolb are nowadays. Fitzy continues to mentor the young Michael Floyd who’ll eventually become #1 if he remains there. Fitzy should be commended more, in my honest opinion.

10. Mario Williams (DE, Buffalo Bills
In 2 seasons in Buffalo, Williams has started in each and every game.  He’s shown improvement in the sack department improving upon his 10.5 sacks from 2 years ago with 13 total sacks last year.  He made the Pro Bowl along with 3 of his defensive teammates.  Can he continue to rejuvenate his career in Buffalo?

2013 Salary: $16,000,000
2014 Salary: Exact same

Jim’s Take: Are 13 sacks a year worth $16,000,000?  The Bills seem to think so.  Me?  Not so much.  Yes, he’s had double digit sacks in each of the last 2 years and it’s entirely possible that he’s going back to his form of 2007 and 2008.  I’m not 100% sure though.

Carl’s Take: Why are still seeing his name on this list? The team he’s on has been poorly run for the past 20 years and his numbers will continue to go down even less this season. Jim had called him a cunning con artist last year, but now even more so with a lot more nothing.

11-25 in smaller form:

11. Darrelle Revis ($16,000,000)
[Carl: what a joke….now a Patriot, you can watch his career slowly fade away]
[Jim: The island has become an atoll.  Small and diminutive in both size and stature.]

12. Matthew Stafford ($15,300,000)
[Carl: Still very underrated, 3 straight years with 4000+ yards and look for a 4th]
[Jim: He’s nothing without Megatron, but with him he’s a top 7 QB.]

13. Eli Manning ($15,271,428)
[Carl: He’s slipping a bit, despite injuries all around the Giants last year.]
[Jim: Eli is the sum of his parts and when his parts are banged up, he eats plenty of Meadowlands turf.]

14. Philip Rivers ($14,035,714)
[Carl: If we see more of the 2013 Dolla Phil this year, he should get a new deal]
[Jim: Will the real Philip Rivers please stand up?  We’ll see if last year was a fluke.]

15. Julius Peppers ($14,000,000)
[Carl: Still a bit much for a player well into his 30s, but we’ll see]
[Jim: One of the better players at his position?  Yes.  Worth that much money?  I’m not sure.]

16. Adrian Peterson ($13,714,285)
[Carl: Said it awhile back, his numbers are going way down since they’re going outdoors at home for 2 years.]
[Jim: Here’s hoping he makes it to the new stadium.  Running in ice and snow in November and December will be a challenge.]

17. Matt Schaub ($13,230,000)
[Carl: Not even he can save the Raiders organization from sewage hell.]
[Jim: I’m not sure this is the fresh change of scenery he was looking for, but the Raiders are a dark horse that could use his services.]

18. Sam Bradford ($13,000,000)
[Carl: Called him a possible bust last year on the show, going in the middle now. We shall see what he does.]
[Jim: This may well be a make or break year for the Bradford Exchange in St. Louis.]

19. Ben Roethlisberger ($12,750,000)
[Carl: Sorry, Ben. You’re definitely not going to age 40 while still playing in the league.]
[Jim: And he throws passes to who?  Oh yes, the other team.  His time in the league is growing closer to an end.]

20. Gerald McCoy ($12,687,450)
[Carl: He’s pretty much the Bucs defense now.]
[Jim: He’s one of the only reasons to maybe watch the Bucs, but one solid player a defense does not make.]

21. Charles Johnson ($12,666,666)
[Carl: If the Panthers want to go anywhere besides the divisional round, they needed to lock this guy up for awhile]
[Jim: Worth the money given what he means to the Carolina defense.]

22. Haloti Ngata ($12,200,000)
[Carl: Without him, the Ravens won’t be a .500 team at all.]
[Jim: The veteran anchor of a defense that needs an upgrade.]

23. Chris Long ($12,062,000)
[Carl: Very key player with the Rams along with who we call “Baby Animal” James Laurinaitis.]
[Jim: Howie’s son has great potential to give quarterbacks fits this season.]

24. Ndamukong Suh ($12,000,000)
[Carl: When he keeps his temper in check, he’s easily one of the best defensive players out there.]
[Jim: Dirtiest player in the game, but also one of the most feared on defense.]

25. Eric Berry ($12,000,000)
{Carl: Jim can agree with this: One of the key reasons Andy Reid was able to turn the Chiefs around in just one year.]
[Jim: I will agree with Carl.  Can he follow up a career year in 2014?]

And there ya go, hopefully there won’t be another gap in between columns this time around. Season 6 of the BS Big Show is set the start in mid June. Hope to see you then!

The BS Big Show is our podcast that covers every aspect of the NFL that recently celebrated 5 years on the Internet. Season 6 is set to debut in the middle of June.

Carl Chenier can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

Jim Williams can be found on Facebook and on Twitter also, along with running his personal website, jimwilliamsontheair.com.

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