An NFL roster is a zero-sum game, thanks to the salary cap. Paying one player more means you have to pay another player less. That means it's important for every team to get value out of its veteran contracts. Football Outsiders analyzed the rosters of all 32 NFL teams and picked out the most valuable contract on each one.
In this analysis, we considered present value, likely long-term value and percentage of the salary cap tied up. The length of a deal is less of a consideration than it would be in other sports because injury can end a player's career at any time.
Finally, we will not use drafted players on rookie contracts because then the entire list would be rookie contracts. A good player on a rookie contract is immensely valuable, as you have likely learned from the discourse about teams with good young quarterbacks being able to field better teams around them. However, we did consider players on UDFA (undrafted free agent) contracts because any team had a shot at them, though most teams do not have a UDFA worthy of being on our list.
All contract information used was cobbled from Over The Cap data. Future cap percentages are based on a publicly available $218.2 million estimate for the 2023 salary cap. Stats listed are through Week 12. Teams are listed in alphabetical order by conference.
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
Baltimore Ravens: Justin Houston, EDGE
Remaining contract (cap hit, percentage of cap):
2022: $3,500,000 (1.7%)
In terms of bang for your buck, there aren't many players who will give you more bang than Houston. The edge rusher has missed a short stretch due to injury, but when available, Houston has been wreaking havoc in the backfield for Baltimore. Houston, 33, leads the Ravens with 9.0 sacks in eight games, also sharing the team lead of seven tackles for loss and is second to Calais Campbell in quarterback hits. According to Sports Info Solutions, Houston's 5.4% sack rate leads all edge rushers and linebackers across the league with at least 100 pass-rush attempts.