We have talked a lot about the depth of the secondary this off season. One of the biggest assumptions is that, regardless of how we look at it, the one catalyst to those changes surround the Miami Dolphins presumably looking to get rid of one of their highest paid players due to a lack of big play ability. On the surface, the assumption may be a safe one based on the $10 million price tag, and the current potential of the youth movement behind him on the depth chart. However, the surface never tells the whole story, and maybe its time to shed some light on other parts of the story.
Many seem to believe that cornerback Byron Maxwell is being overpaid. Set to make $8.5 million this season, and $10 the next. Currently the salaries place him in the top five at the position. Most would argue that he is not a top ten player even, and thus is being paid an absorbent amount of money but not playing up to those levels. The truth is, however, that his future salaries are being measured against current salaries from other players. There is not a consideration for the salary hike every position sees from year-to-year. Top five money may not wind up being top five money in the coming years.
As for skill, the numbers tell two different tales over the course of the year. The first five games, Maxwell was highly over compensated. The situation after that, however, tells a different story. His season overall was enough to have him listed as eleventh overall at his position. Keep in mind that most of his statistical incline came after a benching. This was after joining a third team, one featuring a rookie defensive coordinator, rookie Head Coach, and a return to a style of play Maxwell was not asked to play during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. His four forced fumbles actually ranked second in the NFL, and most of those came again over the course of roughly half a season.
Another factor was his role on the defense. He went from number one corner in Philly, to basically what equates to grandmaster status in the course of one year. Meaning his role was that of not only glue, but also training manual to the young guys on the Dolphins roster. A majority of this after losing what is possibly the best player on the team in Reshad Jones, meaning instead of safety help, he was forced to pretty much play on an island while covering most teams’ number one receivers.
Before looking at Maxwell’s total state of play, we should also look at what was being asked of him. To most that say that $10 million is a lot to pay an average cornerback, I say not only should you ask yourself how much the cornerback position is typically paid, but also how much should a player being asked to do so much get paid as well. Yes $10 million is a lot by most standards, but no one thinks they should get minimum wage when asked to do more at their job than most.
I think we undervalue Maxwell’s role on this defense. As for his boasts about Miami being the next Legion of Boom, before we start questioning his sanity, let’s also remember that its part of his job to both motivate and bring that claim to fruition.