For the last two seasons I have done a summer “Best and Worst” contracts for each team in the NFL, but I decided this year to put that on hold since it recycles so many players and instead take a positional approach to the concept. So during the course of the summer I’ll do my choices for the top three and bottom three contracts at each position from a team perspective. As usual the rules are no rookie contracts allowed in the selection. Here are my selections for the worst contracts at the running back position.
For the last two seasons I have done a summer “Best and Worst” contracts for each team in the NFL, but I decided this year to put that on hold since it recycles so many players and instead take a positional approach to the concept. So during the course of the summer I’ll do my choices for the top three and bottom three contracts at each position from a team perspective. As usual the rules are no rookie contracts allowed in the selection. We start this week with a look at running backs.
For the last two seasons I have done a summer “Best and Worst” contracts for each team in the NFL, but I decided this year to put that on hold since it recycles so many players and instead take a positional approach to the concept. So during the course of the summer I’ll do my choices for the top three and bottom three contracts at each position from a team perspective. As usual the rules are no rookie contracts allowed in the selection.
Today I’ll give my opinion on the worst contracts at the quarterback position. That doesnt mean worst player, just the deals I felt teams may have most compromised themselves on the structure or stuck their head out most on the valuation of the contract.
For the last two seasons I have done a summer “Best and Worst” contracts for each team in the NFL, but I decided this year to put that on hold since it recycles so many players and instead take a positional approach to the concept. So during the course of the summer I’ll do my choices for the top three and bottom three contracts at each position from a team perspective. As usual the rules are no rookie contracts allowed in the selection. Today we start with my selections for best quarterback contracts in the NFL and I’ll be back later this week with the worst QB contracts in the NFL. Continue reading Best & Worst 2015: The Best Quarterback Contracts »
Well it took awhile to complete but we have successfully finished our Best and Worst Contract selections for 2014 and I thought it would be good to summarize the series. For those who have not read this yet I guess it is worth pointing out a few ground rules. No rookie contracts are considered for the best or worst deal unless the team did something extraordinary in the negotiation. Why? Draft salaries are basically slotted so it’s not the benefit or fault of the team it’s simply the system. Secondly you don’t have to be a bad player to have a bad contract nor a great one to have a good contract. These are simply contracts that stand out for a number of reasons ranging from structure to price to leverage at signing. Finally this is written from the team perspective and if we wanted it from the agent perspective simply flip it around.
For this post I’ll go division by division and give a selection for best and worst deal and then quickly select the two players that I think have the best and worst contract.
Best- Cameron Wake. Wake is the runaway winner in the East. He is a superstar player now and was one at the time he signed a low priced bargain contract. It’s pretty amazing that Dolphins former GM Jeff Ireland was responsible for this contract as he left the team with a number of high priced duds which led to him being fired.
Worst- Mario Williams. Mike Wallace has a pretty terrible contract and David Harris and Logan Mankins were both grossly overpaid, but none came close to being the top paid player on the side of a ball despite never even being close to that level. This was the classic case of desperate team, with a desperate GM, seeing a former top draft pick and doing anything to get him.
Best- Andrew Whitworth. I think it was a given that the best had to come from the Bengals as they are by far the most shrewd organization in the North. This was a terrific low risk high reward type of signing that had paid off extremely well for the Bengals.
Worst- Paul Kruger. Not the easiest selection as Ray Rice’s deal looks worse and worse each day, but this was a senseless signing. You never take a part time player, see a big season in a walk year, and anoint him a high paid starter. The Ravens have some really bad contracts on the books but even they knew the Browns were doing something that there was no justification to even consider.
Best- Andre Johnson. The Texans have made a mess of his contract, but even in that mess they were able to hold Johnson’s feet to the fire this year when he wanted out or a new deal and withhold money from him due to a poor deal he negotiated years ago. This contract was one of the great heists in NFL history for a team.
Worst- Marcedes Lewis. One of the great mysteries in the NFL is how in the world Lewis is still playing on this inflated contract that he signed in 2011. This was an example of a team desperately wanting to believe a first round draft pick was a great player. He showed signs of being decent one time and got a massive pay day. This is a prime example why teams need to not let emotions and past scouting get in the way of more unbiased analysis.
Best- Jamaal Charles. Charles signed a new deal on the day I wrote his blurb but even with the slight raise he is still dramatically underpaid. Charles had done more than enough to warrant an $8 million a year contract back in 2010 and instead took a deal worth just over $5 million with almost no guarantees. He carried the Chiefs offense the last few seasons at a next to nothing price.
Worst- Sebastian Janikowski. The only reason I can even come up with for this deal is the owner wanting Janikowski on the team at a huge price as a homage to his father. There is nothing good about paying a kicker big money especially when he is not one of the best players in the NFL and the Raiders made sure to protect Janikowskis status as the top pay guy and best protected kicker in the league.
Best- Jason Kelce. If ever there were examples of insider trading in NFL front offices it was this deal. Philadelphia wisely locked up Kelce hours before it became know that the salary cap would stunningly rise to $133 million. Philadelphia did a great job in also making sure this got done before any other extensions occurred as the position got higher in price after years of a flat market.
Worst- Jason Hatcher. Tough choice as the Giants and Cowboys both had great candidates, but even without playing a down for the Redskins I am very confident that they will regret this one. You should never pay a 30 year old interior lineman like he is 26, but the Redskins did. Not just that but they don’t even run the type of defense that saw him break out last season and expecting a break out to continue at this age is nothing more than a prayer.
Best- Jordy Nelson. Nelson signed an extension after I wrote this up, but his original deal was one of the best in the NFL and even his current contract has him underpaid based on what he typically brings the Packers. This is the model example of how to handle the contracts of young promising players who exceed even their own expectations.
Worst- Ndamukong Suh. This is one of the rookie exceptions because the Lions tinkered and tinkered with this contract multiple times to basically create one of the worst contracts in the history of the NFL. The team has been stripped of their leverage and stuck with a defensive tackle counting $22 million against the cap and millions of dead money waiting to hit the cap in 2015 when his contract expires.
Best- Roddy White. Tough call between Junior Galette and White, especially since White signed a new deal that makes his old one obsolete, but White’s contract is like the anti-Lewis deal. White played well for more than just one year and the team was emotionally invested in him, but they negotiated a great contract with him. He’s been underpaid for almost his whole career.
Worst- Jonathan Stewart. Maybe the worst overall contract in the NFL should be named the Marty Hurney award because he negotiated multiple contracts for the Panthers that are worse than most of the other deals on this list. Stewart was by far the worst of them all. I don’t know what they saw in Stewart outside of one season of decent play but they decided that he was one step below Adrian Peterson. Since then Stewart has about as many yards as I have in the NFL.
Best- Anthony Davis. Another example of the great contract with multiple failsafes designed to protect the team. The Davis contract is littered with gameday active roster bonuses, weight incentives, and workout de-escalators. The Rams contract with Jake Long is very good as well and has plenty of team protections, but the Davis deal stands out even more due to the team protections.
Worst- Larry Fitzgerald. We had three big contenders for this with Percy Harvin and Jared Cook, but the Fitzgerald contract is just a death trap for the Cardinals. Maybe Arizona thought they did well when they put some late contract de-escalators in the contract but the way the deal was structured those would never come into play and the Cardinals have played right into his hands with the terrible contract restructures including one this season. This is the model contract for agents to study when trying to get one over on a team.
I’m sure I could change my mind about these selections but if I was forced to choose a best and worst overall contract I think I would opt for Cameron Wake and Jonathan Stewart. Wake is really a standout contract that is giving the Dolphins at least $3 million a year in value. There are some real bad ones to select from and last year I went with Mario Williams and Larry Fitzgerald’s restructures made him a strong candidate as well, but I can at least understand a little bit more overpaying those players. If you put Stewart out there as a free agent I’m not sure he would fetch $1 million.
Hopefully everyone enjoyed this series and as usual I got some good feedback on this. Remember to keep checking back during the season to see what we have going on during the NFL season. Each week we’ll likely do our “stock up and stock down” posts, we will start our NFL statistical Power Rankings in week 4 or 5, I should be doing weekly nfl predictions as well as continuing our fantasy outlooks, and I’ll be mixing in contract stuff whenever there is time. Feel free to send in any suggestions for topics.
But before the season starts I will have a special look at the salary cap in what I hope will bring some interesting insights.
Here are the links to all our best and worst contracts:
OTC’s Best and Worst Contracts of 2014
We finish our best and worst contract series with the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks
Best Contract: Max Unger
I know this is going to be a complete rehash of last year’s post on Seattle but there is really no reason to change anything with this selection. Max Unger is one of the top centers in the NFL and one of the reasons the Seahawks offensive line continues to be a strength for the team.
Seattle has a tendency to jump high on certain players either with high value contracts or favorable contract structures. Unger did not get that. Rather than jumping up into the Nick Mangold/Ryan Kalil contract territory, which one may have expected, they signed Unger to a reasonable contract, one that only looks more reasonable in light of the Maurkice Pouncey and Alex Mack contracts. There were no outlandish guarantees as just his 2013 salary was fully guaranteed and at any point after that he could have potentially been released.
Unger’s contract, which was worth just under $25 million for 4 seasons, represented a 24% savings in annual value over Ryan Kalil’s contract with the Panthers. His $11.5 million in guarantees is less than Chris Myers of the Texans and Scott Wells of the Rams had at the time the contract was signed. The contract itself is also a well structured deal with no real peaks or valleys making the cap management job of such a player relatively worry free. His cap charges fluctuate from $5.6 to $6.1 million, though there is some room for small escalators to advance those numbers.
The contract figures are very manageable and with no spikes there is never a point where the Seahawks will be forced to renegotiate the terms of the contract for cap relief which has already happened multiple times with Kalil. This is the kind of deal that both sides should be happy with over the term of the contract especially if Unger continues to prove himself to be one of the best in the game. This is the type of solid veteran contract that allows the Seahawks to go out and take chances on some of the more questionable deals they have done over the years.
Worst Contract: Percy Harvin
There are 11 receivers in the NFL who have contracts worth over $8.5 million a season. Of those 11 just one failed to produce a 1,000 yard season before signing a new contract. That one player is Percy Harvin, whose contract is worth a whopping $12.849 million a season.
There is almost no justification in the entire decision making process as it related to Harvin. Harvin was unhappy with the Minnesota Vikings and wanted out of Minnesota unless he received a new contract. Harvin had minimal leverage. He was coming off another injury filled season that saw him appear in just 9 games. Harvin was very productive in those games, but teams are always cautious with players who seem to miss at least a game each season.
Seattle came in and threw a number 1 draft pick at the Vikings to take Harvin. Believing that Harvin’s production was hurt by the Vikings lack of offense they assumed he would perform much better in Seattle. They put a big value on the fact that Harvin was kind of a jack of all trades that was a very good kick returner and could also run the football. Kind of like what the Bears did with Devin Hester, except at 2.5 times the cost.
The team bought in at huge dollars and gave themselves no protection. There are no roster bonuses tied to health, despite the fact that Harvin was recently injured and you could pencil him in for at least one missed game a season and a few late week decisions. Harvin received a $12 million signing bonus that likely protects his roster spot through 2015.
As a receiver Harvin has no additional negotiating leverage than Victor Cruz of the Giants and was statistically inferior to Cruz. Cruz had to settle for $8.6 million a year and a $9.5 million signing bonus. In fact of all the players who earn over $7 million a season Harvin is just one of three players to have not produced a 1,000 receiving yard season before signing. The other two were Pierre Garcon ($8.5M) and Mike Williams ($7.924M). Harvin should have been paid in that $8-$9 million a year range, but somehow he made Mike Wallace’s $12 million a season contract look a bit less comical.
Harvin missed all but one game in the 2013 regular season, before making his return in the playoffs. He had three big plays in the Super Bowl, including a kick return for a touchdown. The Seahawks need to see a lot more of that to justify the contract that the signed with Harvin.
2013’s Best and Worst Seahawks Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Max Unger (See above)
2013 Worst Contract: Zach Miller (Reworked contract to remain on team)
We are now down to the final two in our best and worst contract series…
Best Contract: Terrance Knighton
While the Broncos have their fair share of good contracts, I think the contract for defensive tackle Terrance Knighton now really stands out as the best contract on the team. Knighton had a terrific 2013 season, was arguably the second best player on the defense, and became somewhat of a household name through the latter part of the season. He became one of the best bargains in the NFL.
The most logical comparison to Knighton was Sen’Derrick Marks. Both were players with some upside that were in the need of new homes. Marks was able to receive a contract worth around $1.5 million all of which was guaranteed from the Jaguars, Knighton’s old team. The contract was just one year in length.
The length of contract is an important one when realizing the strength of this deal. Knighton would receive just $525,000 more than Marks in 2013, but in return for that contract gave up both guarantees and a year of free agency. Knighton only had $500,000 of the entire $4.5 million contract guaranteed and could have been cut with almost no issues for the Broncos.
By accepting a contract year worth just $2.5 million in 2014, Knighton was essentially agreeing to the fact that the best he could do was be the same player he was in 2012 and that there was almost no room for improvement. There would be no contract escalation for his 2013 performance nor any other incentives to go further. Marks, on the other hand, received a big contract extension worth over $4 million a season to reflect his performance in 2013. Since he was not under contract to the Jaguars in 2014 he had a good deal of leverage to get a contract.
Following the completion of the 2013 playoffs Knighton made it known he wanted a new contract and felt he was underpaid. He was underpaid, but there was no incentive for the Broncos to rework his deal and the story about his contract quickly vanished. That’s the sign of a rock solid contract.
Worst Contract: DeMarcus Ware
This is not the easiest decision to make as it came down to two players. One was punter Britton Colquitt, who would get the nod for the same reason as Mike Scifres of the Chargers- it’s a lot of money to spend on a punter no matter how good the player is. But Colquitt’s total contract is smaller than Scifres’ and the Broncos were not cap pinched the way the Chargers were when doing the deal.
I do believe that DeMarcus Ware could pay huge dividends for the Broncos, but a $10 million a year contract for a 32 year old pass rusher coming off injury seems excessive. Ware received $16.5 million in full guarantees and $20 million in virtually guaranteed salary on this contract.
The best comparisons for Ware are Jared Allen and Julius Peppers, both aging players who signed new contracts this offseason. Allen signed a deal for $8 million a season, with $15.5 million guaranteed while Peppers received $8.67 million a year and just $7.5 million guaranteed. Allen’s $15.5 million is his max two year salary while Peppers is $17.5 million, both significantly less than Ware.
Part of the reason I am also selecting this contract is the fact that they had a more economical and younger option on their team last offseason in Elvis Dumervil, who they released and failed to re-sign during the fax-gate episode. With pass rusher Von Miller coming off injury and one slip up away from a major suspension, I think this Ware signing showed a bit more desperation than the Broncos usually show when modelling their contracts.
2013’s Best and Worst Broncos Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Wes Welker (Still on team)
2013 Worst Contract: Joe Mays (Released before 2013 season)