The folks over at Freakonomics always do good work, and their latest masterpiece is their “Dough Bowl Team,” a list of the best bargains at each position.
Several Patriots players made the list. It should come as no surprise that Rob Gronkowski was one of them. With only a $405,000 base salary this year and a cap hit of $853,120, Gronk’s record setting season has to rank among one of the biggest bargains the team has enjoyed in a long time.
Also making the list were punter Zoltan Mesko and linebacker Rob Ninkovich. Mesko averaged 46.5 yards per punt, good for 10th in the NFL in only his second season. Ninkovich had 43 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and intercepted 2 passes, returning one for a touchdown.
There’s actually at least one more Patriot who would undoubtedly be on the list, if not for his overachieving teammate. Aaron Hernandez had an outstanding season, with 79 catches for 910 yards and 7 TD, but once again he has been overshadowed by Gronkowski’s all-time great season. If the Dough Bowl Team had a 2-TE set, both of these guys could be on there, although Saints TE Jimmy Graham ($405,000) would make quite a strong case as well.
For the full list, check out Freakonomics.