The word "value" is often overused when talking about the NFL. Players spout off about their market value, their overall value, the value to the team and even their value in regards to their current contract. Despite all the talk, there are some players in the league who truly are a valuable asset to their team, for not a lot of money.
There was a criteria for this list, and the most important was it avoided any player currently on his rookie contract. Obviously, Odell Beckham and Le'Veon Bell have grossly outplayed their rookie contracts, but they had no say in how much they were paid. Players who have moved on past their first contract are all eligible for the list.
So, out of the 10 players chosen, where does Harrison rank? No. 3.
See what ESPN had to say about the selection:
3. James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
2016 cap hit: $1.5 million
2016 JVM: $7.7 million
Value differential: $6.2 million
Now that Charles Woodson is retired, Harrison at 38 years old is the oldest player in the NFL outside of quarterbacks and special teamers. The Steelers have retained Harrison on a hometown discount the past three years because his play and playing time have both been expected to decline. No outside linebacker in Pittsburgh played more snaps than Harrison in 2015, and while he might not be at his peak; he's still one of the league's best pass-rushers. Harrison had a pressure on 16.3 percent of his pass rushes, ranking as the fifth best among 3-4 outside linebackers. This has helped lead him to the third spot on the undervalued players list for the second straight year. Pass-rushers are among the highest-paid players just after quarterbacks, so the fact the Steelers can get a player that good at a fraction of the cost for multiple years is amazing.
If you are wondering what 'JVM' stands for, here is what tool they used to decipher the difference between pay and overall value.
To figure out how much money every NFL player should be making, I looked at how much players at each position typically make as well as how well they have played in recent seasons per the PFF player ratings in order to find their Jahnke Value Model (JVM). This is compared to their salary-cap hit to find out how much they are undervalued.
Harrison certainly did take a hometown discount when he returned to team after ending his brief retirement to return to the black and gold in 2014, but what did everyone expect? Harrison has made his fair share of money throughout his lengthy NFL career, and he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. This wasn't a situation with a free agent on the open market trying to bump up the next hopeful bidder. Harrison's home is Pittsburgh, and with the Steelers is where he stayed, regardless of overall monetary value of his new contract.
Kudos to the Steelers for signing a great veteran to a team friendly deal, but major props to Harrison for not being greedy and truly playing for the love of the game.
You might be wondering who else made the list? Here is the Top 10:
1. Tyrod Taylor - QB - Buffalo Bills
2. Jerrell Freeman - ILB - Chicago Bears
3. James Harrison - OLB - Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Joe Thomas - LT - Cleveland Browns
5. Cam Newton - QB - Carolina Panthers
6. Michael Bennett - DE - Seattle Seahawks
7. Matt Slauson - C - San Diego Chargers
8. Luke Kuechly - ILB - Carolina Panthers
9. Casey Hayward - CB - San Diego Chargers
10. Joe Berger - C - Minnesota Vikings