Pro Football Focus ranked the five worst contracts at each position. San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget is at the top of his position’s list.
In June of 2015, the San Diego Chargers signed Liuget to a five-year, $51.25 million contract. There is no question that Liuget has been the Chargers’ best defensive lineman over the past three seasons, but is he worth that kind of money?
Pro Football Focus doesn’t think so. Here’s what PFF’s Eric Eager had to say:
Despite producing just the 20th-best grade among 3-4 defensive ends in 2014 (and grading negatively in 2013), the Chargers signed Liuget to a five-year, $51.25 million deal in the 2015 offseason. Liuget responded with a mediocre 2015 season, posting the 77th-best grade among interior defenders (68.9). He finished 18th among 3-4 defensive ends in run-stop percentage (8.8) and 40th in pass-rushing productivity (4.6) in 2015, a year after finishing 12th and 15th in the same categories. A foot injury limited him to 451 snaps last season, the lowest total of his career.
It’s difficult to see Liuget ever being able to produce at a level commensurate with his current deal, since he’s currently the seventh-highest-paid 3-4 defensive end and hasn’t yet finished above eighth in that group in terms of cumulative grades (and he finished eighth back in 2012). The Chargers are not a team with a significant amount of talent up and down their roster–they had the worst total grade of all 32 NFL teams last season–making every dollar paid above production level to a player like Liuget even more detrimental to their cause.
Now, Eager makes a few good points. Liuget’s numbers do not show that he is one of the best lineman in the game. However, it’s unfair to judge solely on Liuget’s numbers.
Since the day he was drafted in 2011, Liuget has been far and away the Chargers best lineman. Week in and week out the Chargers’ opponents would only have to worry about Liuget. Five years later, Liuget is still demanding double teams.
To be frank, it is stunning how little help Liuget has received in his six-year career. The elite players even have had help. Von Miller has had DeMarcus Ware, J.J. Watt has had Whitney Mercilus and Justin Houston has had Tamba Hali. Corey Liuget’s help? The likes of Kendall Reyes, Vaughn Martin and others. That isn’t going to cut it.
Giving Liuget slack because he doesn’t put up elite numbers is unfair. He deserved every penny of that contract. With the minimal talent around him, Liuget still managed to stand out.
With a revamped defense and the addition of first-round pick Joey Bosa, fans are going to be more exposed to Liuget and see how good he truly is.
Liuget deserved the big-money deal the Chargers gave him back in 2015. Even though his presence might not be seen on the stat sheet, it is felt on the field. Hopefully, Liuget can prove all of his doubters wrong in 2016 with a revamped front seven.