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What The Top 100 in the NFL Would Look Like If It Was Based on Pay

The NFL Network concluded its Top 100 countdown, which was sort of based on the votes of some of the players who didn’t really rank the top 100. I thought I would take a look at what the Top 100 in the NFL would look like if we examined how GM’s viewed value, by seeing where they allocated cap space and salary.

I used the most recent salary info at the USA Today database. I also used cap value (bonuses spread over life of contract plus yearly wage) instead of current listed salary, because I think it’s a more reliable indicator. The salary for a given year includes signing bonuses, and so tends to be over-represented with guys who happened to be in the first year of their deal. The cap value is spread over time.

So, where do the GM’s disagree with a small sampling of the players? Quarterbacks, for one. Do I think that 22 Quarterbacks are really among the best 100 players? No, guys like Derek Anderson and Jake Delhomme show up on the list. It shows how important the position is, though, that they would spend that kind of coin, and how ridiculous it is that Philip Rivers was 26th. No way he slips out of the top 10 in a real draft.

Here’s a summary of each position, listing how many would be in the Cap Value Top 100 vs the NFL Network list, as well as the highest ranking in each.

  1. Quarterback (22 by cap value vs. 11). Highest: #1 vs. #1 (Tom Brady).
  2. Defensive End (18 vs. 15). Highest: #2 vs. #10 (Julius Peppers).
  3. Wide Receiver (13 vs. 18). Highest: #20 vs. #7 (Andre Johnson).
  4. Linebacker (10 vs. 11). Highest: #24 vs. #4 (Ray Lewis).
  5. Offensive Tackle (8 vs. 5). Highest: #9 vs. #28 (Jake Long).
  6. Cornerback (8 vs. 5). Highest: #7 vs. #8 (Darrelle Revis).
  7. Running Back/Fullback (5 vs. 11). Highest: #13 vs. #3 (Adrian Peterson).
  8. Defensive Tackle (5 vs. 4). Highest: #37 vs. #17 (Haloti Ngata).
  9. Offensive Guard (5 vs. 5). Highest: #53 vs #34 (Jahri Evans).
  10. Tight End (3 vs. 5). Highest: #81 vs. #22 (Antonio Gates).
  11. Safety (2 vs. 6). Highest: #74 vs. #5 (Ed Reed).
  12. Center (1 vs. 3). Highest: #52 vs. #47 (Nick Mangold).

On the flip side, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Safeties and Centers got much love in the Top 1o0 rankings relative to how they are paid by GM’s. Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu were both in the top 6, whereas no safety appears in the top 50 in salary cap value. More than double the number of running backs appear on the list than are paid like top 100 players.

A Top 20 in money spent? It would include 12 Quarterbacks, 3 Defensive Ends, 2 Offensive Tackles, and 1 each of Cornerback, Wide Receiver, and Running Back.

[photo via Getty]

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