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New York Jets David Harris, Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes on Forbes Overpaid List

September 21st, 2012 at 1:15 PM
By Donald Lappe

The New York Jets are heavily invested in David Harris, Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes. According to the Most Overpaid NFL Players List compiled by Forbes, the Jets have invested too much into those three players, who all appear in the Top 10. The list is based purely on their 2012 salary, which can lead to some discrepancy. Are David Harris, Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes being paid too much?

'New York Jets Receiver Santonio Holmes' photo (c) 2011, Marianne O'Leary - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This is always a tough question to answer given the nature of the game of football, where production hardly ever truly equals value. Schemes often require a certain type of player, and if that kind of player is a rare commodity they will be more expensive. That seems to ring true here for the New York Jets that have landed on the Forbes Top 10 Most Overpaid NFL Players List: David Harris, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie.

Rex Ryan needs top-tier cornerback to run his defense the way he wants to. That means he needs two cornerbacks that can be left on an island with good wide receivers and thrive. He has that in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Antonio Cromartie has taken some unnecessary heat for his performance, which we have shown many times. He would be the No. 1 cornerback on most NFL teams and was the seventh-best cornerback in the NFL last season in terms of completion percentage against – essentially exactly what he gets paid to do.

Clearly Forbes didn't watch Antonio Cromartie last season, judging by this quote to go with their slideshow:

"Corner sees a lot of action as opponents prefer to pick on him instead of Darrelle Revis on the other side. Cromartie’s high-risk, high-reward style leads to big plays but also a lot of burn marks."

False. Teams threw at Antonio Cromartie 85 times last season. They threw at Darrelle Revis 84 times. Antonio Cromartie has gotten much better at being physical in his man coverage and doesn't gamble nearly as much as he used to, forcing teams to look elsewhere and sometimes even forcing them to throw at Darrelle Revis. Without Antonio Cromartie, the Jets defense doesn't work.

Then there's David Harris, who actually landed on top of the list. He was put up on that perch because his 2012 salary makes him the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL. That's all well and good, but NFL salaries for individual players don't remain constant over the course of a single contract. That leads to yearly fluctuations up and down, based on the other salaries on the roster. Yes, David Harris is set to make almost $10 million this season and nearly $11 million next season, but in 2014 his salary is just $4.9 million. It's the way the NFL salary cap works. Penalizing him for a balloon year in his contract is unfair.

Finally, there's Santonio Holmes. The Jets hoped Santonio Holmes would be their main man at wide receiver when they signed him to a big money deal last year. He had a poor 2011 season. It is too soon to write off the super-talented wide receiver after a down year. He still has the tools to be one of the best wide receivers in the game. Overpaid? Maybe. Do the Jets need him? Absolutely. That need makes him valuable to the Jets, despite the price.

That's the issue with these lists. From a neutral perspective in a one year bubble certain players can seem overpaid, but that's not how the NFL works. Need dictates certain moves and salary cap maneuvering puts more money in certain years of the contract. From a Jets-centric perspective, the contracts make sense.

Also…

Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Football, New York, New York Jets, NFL, Rex Ryan, salary cap, Santonio Holmes

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