When NFL players complain about their contract, sometimes they have an inflated idea of what their value is. Other times, they have outplayed their contract and deserve to be making more money. This list is full of the players who, for one reason or another, aren't making as much money as they should be. In some cases, players signed a new deal when they were playing well but hadn't hit their peak yet. In other cases, their market wasn't very strong in free agency so they signed the best deal they could find.
To figure out how much money every NFL player should be making, I looked at how much players at each position typically make as well as how well they have played in recent seasons per the PFF player ratings in order to find their Jahnke Value Model (JVM). This is compared to their salary-cap hit to find out how much they are undervalued.
Obviously, some of the most undervalued players are still on their rookie deals, such as Teddy Bridgewater, Odell Beckham Jr., Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald. This is because the collective bargaining agreement limits how much money younger players can make, so this list only includes players who have signed a second contract.
In some cases, a player can look undervalued because they have low cap hits now but high cap hits later in their contract. To counteract this, their JVM was compared to their highest cap hit to find how undervalued they are. All cap hit numbers were taken from OverTheCap.com.
1. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
2016 cap hit: $3.1 million
2016 JVM: $18.2 million
Value differential: $15.1 million
By far the highest value differential comes from Taylor; a player who was paid like a quality backup and played like he was a top-10 quarterback. He was one of the best quarterbacks at throwing deep. He had 1,014 passing yards and 12 touchdowns on deep passes, both among the top five for NFL QBs. He was also excellent on play-action passes in which he averaged 10.8 yards per attempt, ranking second in the league. The Bills not only get Taylor this year at a low cap hit, but next year his cap number is even lower. Typically, if a team gets a good rookie quarterback, that gives them the opportunity to spend money at other positions. Thanks to Taylor's play, the Bills have been able to re-sign players such as Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito.
2. Jerrell Freeman, ILB, Chicago Bears
2016 cap hit: $4 million
2016 JVM: $10.9 million
Value differential: $6.5 million
Arguably the biggest free-agent bargain this offseason was Freeman signing with the Bears and joining Danny Trevathan to make a potentially great inside linebacker pairing. Freeman played like a Pro Bowl linebacker last season but didn't get paid like one. It could be his age (30), only having a short history of great play, or the unorthodox path to the NFL that led to getting paid only $4 million per year each of the next three years. If the Bears can get the player Freeman was in Indianapolis, they'll be getting a bargain. Last season he had a run stop on 12.8 percent of his run plays, which was third best in the NFL.