Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will receive approximately $1 million per game this season — not to undermine the hundreds of hours of preparation put in during practice and training camp this year, along with his time spent in community engagement and, potentially, the playoffs.
The $16.1 million salary nevertheless makes Fitzgerald the 12th highest paid player in the NFL, edged out only by Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson amongst earners at his position. Fitzgerald will make $100,000 less than Johnson this season.
Forbes, a business magazine, says that’s too much.
Using its own value metric, the publication listed the soon-to-be 31-year-old Fitzgerald as the sixth-most overpaid player in the league.
They explained their criteria for the ranking.
Our metric for performance is Approximate Value (AV), a stat that boils down a player’s impact to a single number that can be compared across positions. AV is a cumulative stat, so we adjusted each player’s AV to a per game figure and then extrapolated it to a 16-game season so that players weren’t punished for games missed due to injury. The ten players who receive the most money per AV point generated are our picks for the league’s most overpaid players.
Last season, in his 10th season with the Cardinals, Fitzgerald reeled in 82 catches for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns — eclipsing double-digit scores for the first time since 2009. He has seen his production plummet since 2011, when he logged a career-high 1,411 receiving yards, logging just 1,752 yards in his following two seasons.
Johnson, meanwhile, caught 84 balls for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013.
As Forbes notes, no other wide receiver besides those two makes more than $12 million in a season.
Some readers protested Fitzgerald’s inclusion last year, and will likely do the same this time around, but the simple truth is that, talented as he may be, he’s so far failed to justify being the second-highest paid receiver in the game. In fact, Fitzgerald’s eight-year deal currently pays an average annual salary over $16 million, while no other wide receiver not named Calvin Johnson makes more than $12 million. And of the seven receivers who make $10 million or more per year, only Dwayne Bowe has put up worse numbers than Fitzgerald on a per-game basis.
Fitzgerald, Forbes says, should be making closer to $7.3 million, according to their Approximate Value metric.
The publication also listed Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen as the league’s most overpaid player, while including Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his $20 million salary on its top 10 list.