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Two Vikings top Forbes’ most ‘overpaid’ NFL players list

MANKATO, Minn. — Two Minnesota Vikings players topped Forbes most ‘overpaid’ list of NFL athletes.

Fullback Jerome Felton and tight end John Carlson came in at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively as Forbes utilized Pro Football Reference’s “Approximate Value” metric rating, which was then changed to a per-game figure across the last three seasons.

Both Felton and Carlson have not had stand-out seasons across the last three years, but one thing Forbes seems to miss is that most contracts are paid out on potential, meaning what each player is going to do, not entirely based on what they’ve already done.

So using a figure like “Approximate Value,” which is a metric that places a numerical value on a player’s contributions to a team as a whole, and cross referencing it with contract dollars, which are allotted to players for future performance and are not all guaranteed — seems off.


Coming off a Pro Bowl year, the Vikings invested heavily in Felton, who signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract this offseason after his first year with the team.

In the NFL, the money from player’s contracts are not all guaranteed and therefore do not always amount to what each athlete earns. In Felton’s case, Forbes’ calculation of $2.5 million per year is correct as he’s guaranteed exactly that in 2013.

Felton’s contract included a $2 million signing bonus and he’s earning $850,000 base salary — $500,000 of it is fully guaranteed — and a $150,000 workout bonus that caps his first-year take at $3 million.

However, the remainder of Felton’s cash is tied up in base salaries in 2014 and 2015, meaning it could be a one-year, $3 million deal if the Vikings choose to release him after this season, which seems highly unlikely.

Felton said he doesn’t care about what Forbes lists, adding a quip that he must’ve been a detriment to running back Adrian Peterson’s historical season, racking up 2,097 yards with Felton leading the way.

“I don’t pay much attention to that,” Felton said. “I feel like my best football is ahead of me.”

“If I can stay out of [Peterson’s] way, I hope he can get 2,500 yards, according to Forbes.”


The Vikings also heavily bought into Carlson when the tight end came off injured reserve in 2011 from a shoulder injury, signing him to a five-year, $25 million contract, with $7.9 million guaranteed in 2012.

But after failing to reach expectations with the Vikings in his first season, due in part to a sprained knee that kept him out of the preseason and his fourth documented concussion during the season, the team restructured his deal.

Carlson, 29, played in 14 games, started six and finished with eight catches for 43 yards and no touchdowns. He was initially due $1.2 million of his scheduled $2.9 million base salary in 2013.

Forbes did not use Carlson’s restructured deal in the calculations.


Forbes took Carlson’s initial contract of $5 million per year, but he can only make $3 million with incentives for this season after the restructure.

Carlson’s pay-per-year fixes below $4 million across the next four years, but he still took home around $8 million in 2012.


by Andrew Krammer

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