Moving on to the champions of the NFC East…
Best Contract: Jason Kelce
Philadelphia is one of those teams where there are always a number of good contracts. They are one of the best run front offices in the league and are often signing very team friendly contracts. There were a few places I thought of going with this including Brent Celek (who got the nod last season), Trent Cole, and even Riley Cooper, but thought that the Jason Kelce contract was just a bit better than all the others on the books.
Kelce is one of the bright young centers in the game, having started every game he was healthy enough to play in since his rookie year in 2011. Kelce was entering the final year of his contract and would have likely become a free agent in 2015 as the cost of the Franchise tag for centers is usually prohibitive for using a tag on the position. Kelce’s deal was also important for the Eagles to do sooner rather than later since they realized that the market could potentially change once Alex Mack hit free agency, not to mention expected extensions for the Pouncey brothers. While teams were awaiting final word on salary cap possibilities the Eagles entered into negotiations with their players and signed them before the new salary cap rise was made public knowledge.
The Eagles pretty much hit it right on all accounts. The higher priced centers did seem to extend the market. The salary cap rise was large. None of it mattered to Philadelphia as Kelce was locked into a six year extension that pays $6.25 million a season. The value of the contract over the first three and four years is just $6 million a season and the signing bonus was also $6 million. By 2016 Kelce could be released with $3.6 million in cap charges and the last two years of the contract carry no dead money.
Over the first three years of the contract Kelce’s cap charge will never exceed $6.2 million and the Eagles did not give away much upside to get that. Kelce can only incase the value of the contract by $200,000 for each time he makes the Pro Bowl. The guarantee per year and percent guaranteed in the contract are well below the norms for a player in his salary range. About the only thing missing that could have benefitted the Eagles would have been per game roster bonuses to protect in the event of injury. That’s a very minor quibble on a very good contract.
Worst Contract: James Casey
Last year there were plenty who disagreed with my selection of LeSean McCoy as worst contract on the team and the selection looked even worse in light of a great season. I still believe $10 million a season for almost any running back qualifies as a poor contract, but in light of last years use of James Casey I felt the need to change the pick.
Casey is one of those players that can play some tight end or a bit in the backfield. In today’s game I’m not sure that this is worth $4 million a season on a three year contract, but I know it is not worth it when you never play the player. Casey officially saw action in just 153 offensive snaps (around 14% of their plays) for the Eagles in 2013 and was relegated to mainly playing just special teams. The year prior, in Houston, Casey played in over 50% of the teams offensive plays.
What made it worse is that the Eagles guaranteed 50% of his contract- $6.05 million upon signing. If they were to release him this season it would cost the Eagles $2 million in cash. I don’t know if the Eagles did not play him because they were hoping they could find a trade partner and were afraid that playing him might hurt his trade value or just because they did not have space for him, but they essentially have a $4 million hole in their salary cap.
I’d guess they will see if they can trade him this preseason the way they traded Isaac Sopoaga last season, who had a similarly structured bad contract and rarely played, but I would think that ship has sailed. Maybe the Eagles will try to negotiate his contract down this season or perhaps they can find a role for him in the offense, but something will need to change to make the contract fit with the performance.
2013′s Best and Worst Eagles Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Brent Celek (Starting TE)
2013 Worst Contract: LeSean McCoy (Pro Bowl RB)