Who are the best values in the AFC South?
Jason LaCanfora of CBS.com has a position-by-position list of the best values in the league.
He lists 31 players. Four of them are from our division -- two from the Texans, two from the Colts:
Vontae Davis -- Indianapolis Colts ($1.9M cash; $1.9M cap): When the Colts acquired him, smartly, from Miami, they kept him on his rookie deal. Davis has the size and ability to continue his growth, and in the meantime is a vital part of a Colts team that reached the playoffs last year due in large part to its young talent.
J.J. Watt -- Houston Texans ($1.4M cash; $3.1M cap): Watt looks like someone who will be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation for quite some time. He swats down passes, eats up tackles and tears through quarterbacks. With plenty of young talent around him, that won't subside soon. And with guys like Mario Williams and Connor Barwin no longer there, the Texans know they won't have Watt this cheap for too much longer, but he can't get a penny more in 2013 as he enters his third season.
Brian Cushing -- Houston Texans ($3.1M cash; $4.6M cap): Few inside linebackers are as productive as Cushing, and though he has missed a lot of time due to suspension and injuries, the Texans are a decidedly better unit with him at present and his loss caught up to them as last season wore on. In the final year of his deal, barring a major injury blow, he's headed for the franchise tag as a worst case scenario.
Cam Newton -- Carolina Panthers ($2.4M cash; $6M cap); Robert Griffin III -- Washington ($1.4M cash; $4.8M cap); Andrew Luck -- Indianapolis ($1.4M cash; $5M cap): I've combined all three of these guys -- all of them a top-two overall pick or higher in the past two drafts prior to 2013, because all look like true franchise quarterbacks, all have set some sort of rookie quarterback record or another, and all will be stuck playing for this through 2013. Newton, who is entering his third year, will be the first test case for the new CBA when it comes to extensions and options.
Cushing and Davis are heading into contract years. The Texans have indicated they hope to extend Cushing before the season starts. Davis could set himself up for a big payday, and if he’s good, the Colts will be in line to give their best corner a payday.
Watt is not as immediate a concern as he’s signed through 2014. He’ll be the most expensive of the three defenders barring a dramatic drop off in production.
Luck is obviously a huge value until he gets his second contract, which will likely come in 2015. With a team-option for a fifth-year, he's secured through 2016.