FBO Salary Analysis: NFC West
Which Cardinals, Niners, Seahawks and Rams have biggest cap hits to live up to?
During the next two weeks, Football Outsiders will look at the salary situation of each NFL team division by division. They'll tell you which player is under the greatest pressure to live up to his 2009 salary-cap number and the most important player whose contract will be up after 2010. They continue today with a look at the NFC West.
2010 team salary: $99,736,539
2010 dead money: $8.5 million
Player with highest team salary number: Larry Fitzgerald, WR ($10.4 million)
Non-tendered player in a contract year: Early Doucet, WR
With the departure of wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Doucet could be in line for a breakout season in the third and final year of his rookie contract. Although he will not be eligible for unrestricted free agency after 2010, his play this season could determine to what level the Cardinals choose to tender him in restricted free agency. If Doucet proves to be exceptionally productive, do not rule out a multiyear extension in lieu of a one-year tender.
Player who has to live up to team salary number: Levi Brown, RT ($5,867,500)
Brown, the fifth overall selection in the 2007 NFL draft, enters his fourth season and has yet to live up to the expectations of a top-10 pick. Brown has been a steady contributor on the offensive line, starting every game in the past two years, but his contributions haven't always been positive. In 2009, Brown ranked fourth in the NFL with eight blown blocks, according to Football Outsiders' game-charting statistics. The No. 3 overall pick in 2007, Cleveland's Joe Thomas, has established himself as one of the elite tackles in the game. The Cardinals continue to wait for Brown to do the same and live up to his status as the third-highest-paid player on the team.
To read the rest of Football Outsiders' salary-cap analysis for the NFC West, including why it's a make-or-break year for 49ers QB Alex Smith, you must be an ESPN Insider.