While professional athletes make far much more money than the rest of us do, even they have gripes when it comes to compensation. And one sport where "pay disparity" is most common is the NFL. A league where contracts aren't fully guaranteed (if at all), contracts are often restructured (pay adjustment), and players don't always get their full market value (see Le'Veon Bell). Because of all the ruckus about money, free agency has become a media circus throughout the years. Does anybody remember when NFL players lashed out on social media about the contracts NBA players were receiving in 2016?
Every team has at least one player who's proven on the field that they deserve more than what they are currently making. That especially holds true for the Chicago Bears. Here are three Bears in particular who are deserving of a pay raise.
Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, S
The former Green Bay and Washington defensive back was the crown jewel of the Bears' free-agent acquisitions this offseason. After posting 378 tackles, 25 pass deflections, 14 interceptions, and 5.5 sacks since entering the league in 2014, the former Alabama standout was due for a nice payday. At the same time, he also wanted to play for a winning team. And considering his experience in the NFC North division, it made sense that he chose the Packers' archrivals. So he signed a one-year deal with the Bears to the tune of... $3.5 million?
Yep, he basically signed a "prove it" deal when he obviously could have made more elsewhere. In signing the contract though, Clinton-Dix proved that he was more concerned about playing in the postseason than what was in his bank account. If he has a big season for the Bears this year, he just might get that long-term investment.
Sherrick McManis, CB
While the former Houston Texan doesn't always fill up the stat sheet, his abilities and skill set can't be denied. The 2010 fifth-round draft pick is entering the final year of a two-year deal, worth $3.5 million, that he signed prior to last season. He's set to make just $1.5 million in 2019 (per Spotrac), but he's worth more when you consider his consistency and the fact that he's managed to stay healthy. His effectiveness as the Bears special teams leader since 2012 has helped him last through four head coaching changes and two different general managers.
McManis has also made the most of his opportunities to play on defense as evidenced by his 74 career tackles, two tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits, six pass deflections, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, and one sack. He's the general on special teams and can play cornerback in a pinch. McManis is well deserving of a contract extension.
Cody Whitehair, C
All the Kansas State alumnus has done since being drafted 56th overall in 2016 is play in all 16 regular-season games in each of his three seasons. Whitehair, 26, is heading into the fourth and final year on his rookie contract. He's making just a little over $1 million this year (according to Spotrac), but he's well outplayed his deal. Not only has he been effective in both run and pass blocking, but he's also stayed healthy while the four positions that surround him have seen a variety of injuries during those same three years. The fact that he hasn't received a contract extension yet surprises me.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.