Pro Football Focus has been reviewing the five best and worst contracts at every position and Corey Liuget is the "star" of their Five Worst NFL Interior Defender Contracts. Liuget has never been a favorite of the player grading site and as the title no doubt clued you in, that hasn't changed today.
The Chargers, admittedly, paid a bit of a premium to ensure that Liuget would not see free agency, but given that he's been the only competent defensive lineman on the roster for years, that appeared to be (and has been) a good idea.
PFF author Eric Eager would seem to disagree:
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 cumulative grades (and he finished eighth way back in 2012). The San Diego 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.
Far be it from me to question the grades assigned by Pro Football Focus interns(?), but Liuget has been the only defensive lineman that opposing offenses have had to worry about for nearly his entire career. He regularly draws double teams and offenses prefer to challenge his rollerskate-wearing teammates in the running game. It's also not Liuget's fault that he excels as a three technique but rarely gets to play as one thanks to the unparalleled genius of John Pagano.
The suggestion that Liuget is mediocre is frankly absurd. Now that he will have competent teammates this year, the only thing holding him back will be the imagination of his defensive coordinator. Without playing any better than he has in years past, I suspect we will see much higher grades from the likes of Pro Football Focus.
What do you think? Was PFF right about Liuget? Do you think I'm the one that's mistaken? Tell us in the comments.