A quick look at the current NFL major statistical leaders in terms of their earned cash in 2013. All stats are derived from Pro Football Focus, and Pro-Football-Reference.
PASSER RATING, YARDS/ATTEMPT
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles
2013 Cash: $655,880
The third round pick (#88 overall) boasts a 125.2 passer rating, and 9.1 yards per attempt through 9 NFL games in 2013. He signed a 4 year $2.7 million rookie contract in 2012. His $655,880 cap hit ranks 53rd among active quarterbacks in 2013. The potential franchise quarterback for the Eagles is signed through 2016, with an extension possible after 2014.
PASSING YARDS, COMPLETIONS, TOUCHDOWNS
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2013 Cash: $25,000,000
The 37 year old is having yet another elite season, seemingly far-removed from the career-threatening neck injury. His 327 completions have accounted for 4,125 yards and 41 TDs through 13 weeks. Peyton’s $15 million base salary leads the NFL in 2013, and his $17.5 million cap figure trails only brother Eli, and Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Add in $10 million salary advance (pro-rated over 4 years for salary cap purposes), and the 16 year veteran is being well-compensated for his greatness in 2013. His 2014 cap figure remains $17.5 million, before jumping up to $21.5M in 2015 & 2016, sparking much speculation of a retirement in early 2015.
ATTEMPTS, YARDS, AVERAGE, YARDS AFTER CONTACT, TOUCHDOWNS
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2013 Cash: $11,500,000
The #7 overall pick in 2007 was the clear-cut best running back in football prior to his 2011 injury, and has quickly re-established that title since then. His 1,208 yards (4.6 yards/carry) have accounted for 10 touchdowns in 2013, and his 801 yards after contact are 200 more than any other back in football. Petersons remains the highest paid running back in the NFL – in terms of 2013 salary, 2013 cap hit, and average salary. His $11.25 million base salary ranks 6th in the NFL, and starting in 2014 will be the only running back to average more than $10 million per year. His $96 million contract expires in 2017.
TARGETS, REC YARDS, TOUCHDOWNS
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
2013 Cash: $25,005,000
No surprise here really, he’s quickly becoming the best wide receiver of our generation. Megatron has been targeted 127 times, and caught 72 of the balls for a total of 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns (already 7 more TDs than all of 2012). A sizable restructure in 2013 cut his cap figure by $3.43 million, down to $8,773,000 – 59th in the NFL. But his $18,812,500 average salary is more than $3 million higher than the next receiver (Larry Fitzgerald) and his annual increase in elite productivity continues to back this stature up.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
2013 Cash: $4,500,000
The writing may have been on the wall here with the departure of Mike Wallace and a mediocre running game in Pittsburgh. Brown has become the clear goto target for Big Ben. His league-leading 85 receptions have led to 6 TDs, and over 1,100 yards. A restructure prior to the season dropped his 2013 cap figure to $3.12 million (39th highest for WRs). His cap hits will jump to $8.47 million the next two years, a number less than half that of Mike Wallace’s figure in Miami.
TIGHT END RECEPTIONS, TARGETS, YARDS, TOUCHDOWNS
Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
2013 Cash: $1,323,000
Once again Jimmy Graham has separated himself so far ahead from all other tight ends statistically, that it’s only fair to evaluate him with true wide receivers. Graham’s 68 receptions, 102 targets, 988 yards, and 12 touchdowns lead all tight ends handedly. Yet his $1.48 million 2013 cap figure ranks 30th among active tight ends, the final year of his rookie contract in New Orleans. It’s almost certain the Saints will work to get a deal finalized before Graham is allowed to hit the market, and might look something like this.
Vontaze Burfict, OLB, Bengals
2013 Cash: $480,000
The 2012 un-drafted free agent signing out of Arizona State has found a home in this talented, young Bengals defense. His 131 tackles leads all defensemen through 13 weeks, and his $480,333 cap figure ranks 1,436th among all NFL players.
Robert Mathis, OLB, Colts
2013 Cash: $7,000,000
The 32-year-old pass rusher is in his 11th season in Indianapolis, the second year of his 4 year $36 million contract signed last offseason. His 15.5 sacks leads the NFL, and his $10.75 million cap ranks 32nd in the league this year – pretty fair pay for a veteran with top production. His cap actually drops to $8.75M in 2014, still the highest of any Colt – leaving them in excellent shape to make a splash in free agency this offseason should they feel inclined.
DeAndre Levy, OLB, Lions
2013 Cash: $4,000,000
Highly under the radar, Levy has put together a solid 2013 campaign thus far – sporting 95 combined tackles and 6 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown) through week 13. He signed a 3 year $9.75 million deal to stay in Detroit this past offseason, and his $3.25 million average ranks 48th among active linebackers. The deal maxes out in 2015 with a $4.5 million cap, a value for the Lions should this statistical production continue.