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Who were the Philadelphia Eagles' most underpaid/overpaid players in 2012?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus has been releasing a series of interesting studies this week on performance based value. The idea is that they quantify in dollars what a player was worth based on his performance in 2012. The number ends up based on the player's position and PFF's own ratings.

After getting their "true" value, PFF compares it with their 2012 cap hit and comes up who was most underpaid and overpaid relative to their performance.

Before we get into the Eagles, I thought it was worth noting that in the NFL, as is the case in pretty much every sports league, stars are underpaid. Even in very team based game like football, there are a limited amount of guys who account for a large share of the production. No doubt you've seen people grouped into "bell curves" under the assumption that performance will be evenly distributed through a group with most coming from the average and with tiny outliers at either end.

In sports, that is really not the case. The best players account for a large share of the production and the salary cap ensures that they aren't properly compensated for that, while the lesser players often get overpaid. Browsing through the team by team data PFF compiled, I found this to be generally true. Even guys who have big contracts, if they play well, exceed them.

The Eagles are a team that pretty much everyone assumes is massively overpaid and that's right, but there's hope for the future. Overall, PFF says the Eagles overpaid by $8.7 million based on the production they actually got this year.

Here are the team's top 5 most undervalued players

Player Value differential
Evan Mathis $9.2m
Brandon Graham $5.4m
LeSean McCoy $4.5m
Fletcher Cox $2.4m
Nick Foles

Not a huge shock at the top as we know how much PFF loves Evan Mathis. His cap hit will rise in the coming years, but as you see there's still a long way to go before his compensation even approaches his performance level.

Brandon Graham comes with a bit of caveat in that this is based on what he did on a per snap basis. He was really good (best 4-3 DE in the NFL by PFF's ratings) on a per snap basis... But he didn't play a lot of snaps before the Eagles cut Jason Babin. That said, there are a lot of reasons to expect Graham to continue to play at a high level as he gets more work. The fact that he's young and was a highly rated prospect out of college are the biggest.

Fletcher Cox is an example of what you get when you combine a good player with the new rookie wage scale.

Finally, Nick Foles played competently at a premium position on a 3rd round rookie deal.

Here are the team's top 5 most overvalued players

Player Value differential
Michael Vick $-11.2m
Nnamdi Asomugha $-9.9m
Cullen Jenkins $-3.9m
Trent Cole $-2.9m
Demetress Bell $-2.6m

No shocks here. Vick carried a $13.9m cap hit last year. Nnamdi was $11m. Obviously neither guy was near that kind of value. Jenkins and Cole just didn't live up to their deal and Bell was overpaid at almost any price.

The silver lining is that of the team's top 5 most overpaid players, 2 are gone already and Nnamdi is likely next. At the very least he'll be on a restructured deal. Vick had his pay cut dramatically... So a lot of the mistakes made last year in terms of guys being overpaid, are being corrected.

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