In a recent piece for ESPN Insider, Pro Football Focus examines the 10 most underpaid players across the NFL. The list is topped by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a Super Bowl champion who is playing on a rookie contract, representing tremendous value for his position.
No Patriots made the list (it should be noted that no Patriots appeared on the overpaid list either), which also included the likes of St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn and Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston.
In evaluating the compensation for NFL players, there are perhaps two buckets to consider: players on rookie contracts and everyone else.
The rookie pay scale is such that even first-round picks can be considered steep bargains, as one might say about Chandler Jones and his cap number of just over $2.2M for 2014.
Finding veterans who qualify as discounts can be a more difficult task, however. In looking at the Patriots' roster, there are some names that jump out as quality value, including special teams ace Matthew Slater (2014 compensation of $1.2 million).
But considering the position he plays, the scale of compensation for players at his position around the league and what we know he brings to the team both on and off the field, we'd make the case that perhaps no Patriots player represents a bigger bargain than quarterback Tom Brady, despite the fact that he has the team's highest cap number for 2014 at $14.8 million.
However, that cap number places Brady as tied for 11th among all NFL quarterbacks for 2014 (and again, remember there are several starters who are on rookie contracts). Names above Brady on that list include the Rams' Sam Bradford, the Lions' Matthew Stafford and the Giants' Eli Manning (who tops the list).
Brady signed a contract extension during the 2013 offseason that keeps him in New England through the 2017 season. The deal totaled five years and $57 million. There's an inherent risk to signing a player who will be 40 entering the final season of said deal, but if Brady continues to play at his current performance level, an average of $11.4 million for an elite quarterback is an exceptional bargain.