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Texans terror J.J. Watt might be the best defensive player in football, but he's not paid like it.
It could be argued that everyone in sports is overpaid. But compared to the amount of money being made by leagues, owners and even other players, there are some who deserve considerably more money than they are currently making.
1. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2012 salary (scholarship): $57,805
The average Notre Dame undergraduate student expense budget (according to ND.edu) includes $42,971 in tuition and fees, $11,934 in room and board, $1,200 in personal expenses, $950 in books and supplies, and $750 in transportation. That’s a lot of gold flake. Even better, the senior design major is on pace to graduate from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters — after graduating from Honolulu’s Punahou School, the same high school as President Barack Obama.
On the other side of the gold coin, the Te’o-led No. 2 ranked scoring defense (11.1 ppg) in the country has led the Fighting Irish to a 10–0 start and all but secured a BCS bowl berth — and roughly $20 million payout — for Notre Dame. Te’o is one of the most important players in ND history. The Heisman Trophy candidate middle linebacker has led Notre Dame back into the national title hunt and returned the Irish to legitimate NBC “must see TV” national prominence. What is the value of that?
2. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
2012 salary: $615,000
The Giants have won the World Series in both of Posey’s healthy seasons in the big leagues — beating the Texas Rangers during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2010 and taking down the Detroit Tigers during his NL batting champ (.336) season in 2012. Along with being award-worthy, Posey is the club’s heart and soul behind the plate, managing one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.
3. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
2012 salary: $480,000
The 20-year-old first-year phenom had one of the greatest rookie seasons in history — hitting .326 with 30 HRs and 83 RBIs, while leading the AL in with 49 stolen bases and 129 runs scored. And he did so at 1/25th of the price of free-agent teammate Albert Pujols ($12 million in 2012). After falling out of the sky to the Angels at No. 25 overall in the 2009 MLB Draft, the Jersey boy made less than the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore in 2012.
4. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
2012 salary: $390,000
The heir to the Peyton Manning throne in Indy, Luck is making rookie minimum. But thanks to his $14.52 million signing bonus, Luck counts $4.015 million against the cap this year after factoring in his base salary and $3.63 million prorated signing bonus. The No. 1 overall pick has a 6–3 record over his first nine games and the Colts are jockeying for Wild Card position in the AFC Playoffs. Meanwhile, Manning is cashing an $18 million check in 2012 to kick-start his five-year, $96 million behemoth contract with the Denver Broncos.
5. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
2012 salary: $390,000
Clearly, RG3 is not hurting financially, with adidas and Subway spokesman money rolling in. And even his base salary for 2012 is misleading, considering the $13.8 million signing bonus for the No. 2 overall pick. All told, Griffin is a $3.84 million cap hit for the Redskins this season — a bargain for an electrifying face of the franchise who has posted 2,522 total yards, 14 total TDs and five turnovers over the first nine games of his career.
6. David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2012 salary: $4.35 million
Phillies lefty Cole Hamels just signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension that will pay him $19.5 million in 2013 and $22.5 million in each of the following five seasons. Yankees lefty CC Sabathia made $23 million in 2012 and will do every season until 2016, when the number jumps to $25 million. That’s the going rate for ace-caliber lefties, especially one with Price’s stats — at 27-year-old, 6’6”, 220-pounder coming off a year in which he had a 20–5 record, 2.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 205 strikeouts in 211 innings.
7. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
2012 salary: $7 million
The Brew Crew wisely locked up Braun before he was arbitration eligible, a move that was mutually beneficial. Braun got more money up front than Milwaukee had to pay, while the Brewers made the correct long-term gamble that their 2007 Rookie of the Year had MVP potential — which was realized in 2011. This past season was nearly as good, as Braun hit .319 with a career-high 41 HRs and 112 RBIs, with 30 stolen bases and 108 runs scored, all at a discounted rate.
8. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
2012 salary: $885,795
The leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year counts $2.55 million against the cap for the Texans, with his base salary and $1.67 million prorated signing bonus. But that’s chump change compared to the type of money lesser players are getting on the open market. This past offseason, Mario Williams inked a six-year, $96 million contract with $50 million guaranteed from the Buffalo Bills. As the No. 11 overall pick in 2011, Watt has clearly outplayed his draft status — with 10.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections and countless disrupted plays in his second season.
9. Ray Allen, SG, Miami Heat
2012 salary: $3.09 million
The silky-smooth-shooting Jesus Shuttlesworth pulled a Judas by turning down a contract with the Boston Celtics that was reportedly worth twice as much annually as the one he signed with the rival Heat. Kevin Garnett won’t shake his hand or look him in the eye, but Miami loves looking at the bottom line for sweet Ray. It’s early, but Allen is sharpshooting to the tune of 56.7 percent from 3-point land and 87.5 percent from the free throw line.
10. Tiger Woods, Golfer
2012 salary: $6.13 million
Granted, Tiger’s earnings are based on his performance on the course. In 2012, Eldrick won three PGA Tour events, had nine top-10 finishes and made the cut in 17-of-19 events played. But consider the ripple effect Tiger has on the game of golf, including tournament attendance, television ratings and sponsorship dollars. Tiger is a one-man brand who largely carries the PGA Tour on his back. He represents more than just “another player.” Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant ($27.85 million) and New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter ($16 million) are both representative of a role bigger than just one spot on a roster — and are paid accordingly. Tiger, however, is not.
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