No one has been more instrumental in the Buccaneers' surprising 5-2 record than Josh Freeman. He sports a 8-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and has led the Bucs to come-from-behind victories versus the Browns, Bengals and Cardinals. And despite earning less than most of his teammates, Freeman has no trouble garnering their respect.
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RB: Chris Johnson
Realizing he was a steal in 2009, Chris Johnson campaigned for a contract extension before the 2010 season. The Titans opted for some creative accounting instead, meaning 2009's leading rusher is still a bargain. Though Johnson's numbers are down somewhat in 2010, he's still in line for a huge payday at season's end.
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WR: Hakeem Nicks
Plaxico who? In the wake of Burress' departure from the New York Giants, a wealth of talented, cheap receivers have admirably filled the void. No receiver has been more affordable or more skilled than Hakeem Nicks. The 2009 first-round pick out of North Carolina has developed into Eli Manning's favorite end-zone target, and does it all for a fraction of what Burress made in 2008, his last year in the NFL.
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WR: DeSean Jackson
Though DeSean Jackson has emerged as the NFL's premier big-play receiver, the Eagles are in no rush to give him a raise. The 2008 second-round pick out of California tied the record for most touchdowns of over 50 yards (eight) last year, and in the process he was named to the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver and kick returner. And yet, Jackson still makes $150,000 less than fellow wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who still hasn't made a Pro Bowl.
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TE: Jermichael Finley
After a breakout season in 2009, Jermichael Finley looked on track to continue his ascent to tight end stardom in 2010 before knee surgery ended his season prematurely. Nevertheless, the Packers love their pass-catching tight end, who delivered a dominant six-reception, 159-yard performance in his only playoff appearance. In a position that's by and large a value on the football field, Finley's base salary looks like a total steal.
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OL: Michael Oher
The Ravens didn't need an offensive lineman in the 2009 draft, but as a team that always drafts the best available player, they couldn't pass up Michael Oher, the massive stalwart. Oher has done everything for the Ravens, including switching between left and right tackle before digging in as Flacco's blind-side protector this season. He's quickly ascending to elite offensive lineman status, and the Ravens are counting their lucky stars that they have him for so cheap.
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DT: Vince Wilfork
Quick off the snap and constantly demanding double teams, Vince Wilfork is arguably the MVP of a Patriots run defense that has been top 10 in 2010. Like Tom Brady, Wilfork got his extension, and he'll officially be kicked off the All-Value team in 2012, when he's scheduled to earn $4.5 million.
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DE: Haloti Ngata
One of the few defensive linemen athletic enough to play any position along the defensive line, Haloti Ngata has also been receiving some snaps on the offensive side of the ball this season too. The multifaceted lineman isn't going to become a wide receiver anytime soon, but the Ravens will happily settle for the havoc he wreaks on opposing running games.
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LB: Clay Matthews
A walk-on at the University of Southern California, Clay Matthews has had something to prove his entire career. But after a Pro Bowl rookie season with the Packers, Matthews might be able to rest on his laurels a bit. Never one to do so however, Matthews opened the 2010 season with six sacks in the first three weeks (10 through seven games). Next conquest for Matthews? A raise.
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CB: Vontae Davis
Brett Favre called Vontae Davis one of the best cornerbacks that no one knows about, and Davis is certainly paid like a no-name. Offenses , however, are starting to take him into account: Favre threw only two passes in his direction; the Jets' Mark Sanchez only three passes. Hopefully, for his sake, the Dolphins will start taking notice too
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S: LaRon Landry
A switch to the 3-4 in Washington has helped LaRon Landry evolve into one of the premier safeties in the league. Ironically, before the season many would have deemed Landry, who was extremely inconsistent, overpaid. But as Landry proved with his performance against the Green Bay Packers (13 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble), he's not only worth every penny; he's severely underpaid.
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