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5 most overpaid players in the NFL in 2022

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins
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Adam Hulse

The NFL is a sport with a hard salary cap, which means teams are only allowed to spend a certain amount of money each season on their players' contracts. This means that general managers and front office members need to make wise decisions about the proper amount of money to pay each player. The goal is for their dollar value to line up with their production on the field.

Teams have to solve their salary cap situation by balancing risk versus reward along the way. It's important to pay elite players high salaries to keep them on the team and satisfied with their position. It's equally important to avoid overpaying for a player who may not produce enough down the road.

While NFL teams are cautiously aggressive when giving players contracts, it's inevitable that some players will end up being overpaid at some point.

Here are five of the most overpaid players, based on the total cash value of their contract for the 2022-23 NFL season.

#5 Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers - $25.55 million

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Only 18 NFL players will make more than $25 million in the 2022-23 season and Jimmy Garoppolo is one of them. While the San Francisco 49ers have found success with Garoppolo, including making a Super Bowl appearance, they are projected to name Trey Lance as their starting quarterback.

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That makes Garoppolo one of the most expensive back-up quarterbacks of all time. The 49ers have been actively trying to get rid of him in the trade market. However, they have been unable to find a team interested enough to make a deal.

#4 Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys - $12.4 million

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot
Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot

Ezekiel Elliot is set to make $12.4 million during the 2022-23 season as part of his six-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys. He is the highest-paid running back heading into the 2022-23 season based on total cash value.

The Cowboys are likely cutting a top WR because they signed Ezekiel Elliott to a contract everyone knew was insane the moment pen hit paper.

Elliott earned his record-breaking contract from the Cowboys for being one of the most dominant offensive players in the league. However, he hasn't exactly been that way over the last two years. After averaging 1,900 scrimmage yards per season in his first three full seasons, he has averaged just 1,300 across his last two. He is still a productive back, but probably shouldn't be the highest-paid.

#3 Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings - $40 million

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins is one of only five players set to make at least $40 million during the 2022-23 NFL season. While quarterbacks are the highest paid players in the league by far, the Minnesota Vikings may be overpaying a bit for Cousins.

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While Kirk Cousins has been statistically solid, it hasn't translated into much team success for the Vikings.

They have made the playoffs just once in his three years as the starting quarterback, while posting an average 33-29-1 record. The biggest knock on Cousins is that his record in primetime games is 8-17.

A quarterback paid as much as Cousins is should be able to produce more wins, especially in the big games.

#2 Leonard Williams, New York Giants - $19 million

New York Giants Leonard Williams
New York Giants Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams is one of the 50 highest-paid NFL players in terms of total value for the 2022-23 season. What makes his contract particularly bad from a Giants point of view is that he's one of the 10 highest-paid players based on a 2022 cap hit at &27.3 million. That ranks him in the top five among defensive players.

The Leonard Williams contract ranks 2nd behind Aaron Donald among interior defensive linemen in APY ($21M). And it ranks T-4th with Demarcus Lawrence among edge defenders....that's insane

While Williams is a solid defensive lineman, he's not a dominant pass rusher to command such a high salary. He has recorded just 36 sacks across seven NFL seasons while eclipsing 10 sacks in a single season once.

#1 Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars - $22.5 million

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk

In a shocking move during the 2022 NFL offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Christian Kirk to a massive four-year contract worth $72 million. The deal included more than half in fully guaranteed money.

The Jaguars were determined to upgrade their offense, but probably overpaid for the relatively unproven wide receiver.

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Kirk has never exceeded 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He has also never been ranked in the top 20 for receptions, yards, or touchdowns in any given year. His contract is the highest in NFL history for a wide receiver who has never eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season.

Edited by James Meyers
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