After the Pittsburgh Steelers' season was over, Blitzburgh from SBN's Behind the Steel Curtain put together a list of the Top Ten "Bang for the Buck" players on their squad showcasing the best production for the lowest salary. I came across the article while I was compiling my much-maligned article on the Bills salary cap. I liked the idea and decided to do the same thing for the Bills.
The total payroll for the Buffalo Bills last year was $113,364,927. We had zero players in the top 25 highest paid players in the league. Because the total payroll includes practice squad and players placed on injured reserve, it doesn't always line up with the $116,729,000 salary cap from 2008. If you line up all the salaries from largest to smallest, then split the difference, the median salary on the Buffalo Bills last year was $1,154,000. The numbers listed in parentheses are the total cap hit for a player this year; salary + bonuses.
(Main contributors with cap hits less than the team median, $1.15M)
- Duke Preston ($ 1,035,070)
- Jabari Greer ($ 1,015,000)
- Paul Posluszny ($ 872,400)
- Bryan Scott ($ 800,000)
- Trent Edwards ($ 732,190)
- Ashton Youboty ($ 646,170)
- Kirk Chambers ($ 525,400)
- Keith Ellison ($ 477,030)
- Fred Jackson ($ 374,320)
(Main contributors with cap hits less than twice the team median $1.15M = $2.3M)
- Brian Moorman ($ 2,237,868)
- Marshawn Lynch ($ 1,953,073)
- Leodis McKelvin ($ 1,745,000)
- Rian Lindell ($ 1,563,720)
2008 Top Ten Bang for the Buck Team
Honorable Mentions: Kirk Chambers, Brian Moorman, Ashton Youboty
10. Duke Preston - Duke Preston was pressed into starting service due to the complete inability of Melvin Fowler to hold his own. He made over $1M this year but that was less than half the salary of the man he replaced. He wasn't earth-shattering in the lineup but he was serviceable and was the sixth-highest paid lineman the Bills had.
9. Keith Ellison - Keith is never going to be the best linebacker on the field but he is very intelligent and stepped up in a big way this year replacing the injured Angelo Crowell prior to the season opener. He had 47 solo tackles and 24 assists, two passes defended and a fumble recovery. Not bad for a sixth round pick making less than half a million for the year.
8. Leodis McKelvin - Top draft picks are going to make their money, but they'd better produce. McKelvin did both. Before the season began we saw glimmers in his kick return abilities in Toronto when he brought back a kick against the Steelers in the preseason. Leo was in the top five in the NFL in non-offensive touchdowns, longest kick returns, kick returns, kick return yards, yards per return, and kick return touchdowns. On defense, he contributed two interceptions, taking one back to the house on a spectacular play against the Chiefs. He also had 25 tackles, one forced fumble (remember that lick on that poor St. Louis receiver?), and a fumble recovery. Hopefully this is a sign of big things to come.
7. Marshawn Lynch - All he did this year was have another 1,000 yard season, score 8 rushing touchdowns, and catch 47 passes for 300 yards and another TD. Even with those great stats, he is so much more valuable than his stat line would indicate, and that's why he was in Hawaii this past weekend. On that receiving TD, he was dragging defenders into the end zone. Countless times he got to the line of scrimmage to see a wall of defenders and still managed four yards. His effort and alter ego, Beast Mode, is what makes him a fan favorite and his drive is what defines him (much better than his drive off the field.)
6. Rian Lindell - Despite his big time miss in the Cleveland game, Lindell was pretty much automatic this year as he is every year. He scored a career-high 124 points and only had one miss inside 40 yards, his first from inside that distance since 2005. He was the seventeenth-highest paid kicker in the league but his production puts him much higher on the list than that.
5. Jabari Greer - Both of Jabari Greer's interceptions went for scores this year and came in the fourth quarter of games we were trailing. He stepped up. If he had played in more than 10 games this year he would have been higher on the list. He had seven passes defended and a fumble recovery to go along with 31 tackles and the picks.
4. Bryan Scott - I originally had Scott lower on this list but when I checked his stats they were so impressive I had to move him up. He did a great job shutting down Antonio Gates and Kellen Winslow this year. He forced a fumble and recovered one, tallied a sack, and had 3 passes defended. His 51 tackles were fourth on the team ahead of higher paid guys like Chris Kelsay, Marcus Stroud, Leodis McKelvin, and Ryan Denney. He very well may end up the Bills' starting SS next year if the Bills move Donte Whitner to FS full time as expected.
3. Paul Posluszny - Many of you know I am a huge supporter of Paul Posluszny. This year Poz ranked number 124 in linebacker salary. He led the Bills in tackles with 87 solo, called the defensive plays, played all 16 games, had an interception, six passes defended, and he forced and recovered one fumble. Ray Lewis, the highest-paid linebacker, made $112k per tackle. Poz had more tackles than Lewis and made $10k per tackle.
2. Fred Jackson - To put it obviously, Fed Jackson outplayed his contract. Jackson's cap hit ranks just below some guy named Jason Snelling on the Falcons, Dan Coats on the Bengals, and Carey Davis of the Steelers. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry for his 571 rushing yards and scored 3 touchdowns on 130 rushes this year. He caught 37 passes for 317 yards and returned seven punts and 12 kicks for 297 return yards. His contribution can't be measured in stats, though. He does everything the Bills ask of him and shows up when it counts. Whether it's long catches, stepping in for Marshawn, or playing up to make kickers pay for kicking away from Leodis McKelvin, he simply does it all.
1.Trent Edwards - Trent's cap hit was below Jim Sorgi, Dan Orlovsky and a handful of other backups. In fact, Trent was number 66 in QB salary last year. Ken Dorsey was a third string QB and made more than Trent! The 25-year-old played 14 games with a 66% completion percentage, 2700 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 7.2 yards per attempt, and a passer rating of a respectable 85.4. He also ran for three more scores. He's the face of the team and the future of the franchise and as a top-half QB in the league his play far out-paced his pay.
Go ahead and make your own lists and post them in the comments. I'll do the Worst Bang for the Buck a little later so you don't need to get into that just yet.