Best & Worst Contracts: The Jacksonville Jaguars


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

Justin BlackmonBest Contract: Justin Blackmon

While I said I was more or less going to avoid all rookie deals when doing this I felt that Blackmon’s deal deserved special praise. Ever since the new CBA came into existence all we hear is how dummy proof the process is, and for the most part that’s true. The financial parameters of these contracts are all in place long before anyone signs and for the most part we predicted almost every contract correctly on the site. But there are little things that teams and players can still fight for and in this case Jacksonville fought and won big.

The standard contract for Blackmon’s slot was a large signing bonus and a fully guaranteed contract with no offsets. The Jaguars knowing that they took a risk on Blackmon due to his troubled past held firm on protecting their cash flows by giving him a smaller than slotted bonus and making up the difference via a series of fully guaranteed roster bonuses that would be treated as a signing bonus for cap purposes.

The main benefit of this mechanism is that if suspended the future contractual guarantees would all void. This is different than forfeited money in a suspension. If suspended for 4 games the most the Jaguars can recover is 4 weeks worth of signing bonus money attributed to the season of suspension. Under this contract they recover the 4 weeks of money, 4 weeks of roster bonus money, and all future guarantees void thus giving the Jaguars limited cap penalties if off the field issues cause them to release Blackmon.

Needless to say that Blackmon has already been suspended and now all his future guarantees have voided. If for whatever reason they decide they want to release him they will save themselves about $3.1 million in cash and cap acceleration due to the contractual structure, money that would have been lost to them using the standard signing bonus structure.

Marcedes LewisWorst Contract: Marcedes Lewis

Lewis is a prime example of why draft status unfairly means so much even years after a draft occurs. Lewis was a late first round draft pick in 2006 and in general did nothing for four seasons.  From 2007 thru 2009 Lewis averaged just under 37 receptions a year and 466 yards a season, numbers that at the time would have been around 20th or so in the league.

But in his contract season all the stars aligned for Lewis. Lewis would post career highs in receptions, yards, and most importantly touchdowns. His stat line was  58-700-10, numbers that pushed in right into the top 10 and one of the best TD threats in the sport. The team was a respectable 8-8 and he seemed like an invaluable piece on a team that did not have much receiving talent. He made the Pro Bowl and next thing you know the Jaguars made him the team’s franchise player as the league headed for lockout.

Lewis would have been one of the rare younger players where the franchise tag made sense.  Here was a “one hit wonder” so to speak and those players are the kind you should want to see it at least twice from before committing. But Lewis had that first round cache and when you have that all it takes is one season around contract time to hit the lottery and the Jaguars obliged.

Lewis’ 5 year deal averaged $6.8 million a year and the fully guaranteed portion of the contract was $8.65 million. There was another $3 million in a virtually guaranteed roster bonus plus $4.2 million in a second year rolling guarantee that was essentially fully guarantee for all intents and purposes putting the full guarantee around $14 million, right at the upper echelon of the position.

With the big extension in place Lewis fell right back into his normal track. In 2011 and 2012 he averaged 45-500-2. Sure he can block a little bit but you don’t pay tight ends for that anymore.  Even today if the Jaguars wanted to cut ties with Lewis it would cost them $1.15 million in cash due to the final installment of rolling guarantees in his deal. Lewis will likely be cut next year after earning $20.35 million for doing basically nothing and owing everything to a poor decision making process that looked at a draft number and one year of stats and discounting a four year history of pretty average play.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston TexansIndianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans (July 6?)

An Offseason Look at the Jacksonville Jaguars

Today we will take a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars, who finished a terrible 2-14 in 2012 and may have the worst roster in the entire NFL. It’s rare in today’s NFL to find a team that does not have at least one standout player, but with the injury to RB Maurice Jones-Drew I think the Jaguars may be that team. Though they do have an owner that seems willing to spend money to try and improve the standing of the team, this may be the toughest job to navigate in the short term.

Cap Positions

I would expect the Jaguars to be somewhere around $23 million in cap room right now, which is primarily due to carryover money that they can use from the 2012 league year, which ESPN’s John Clayton reported to be $19.4 million. The Jaguars made some name moves last year trading Mike Thomas and releasing Clint Session and Aaron Kampman after June 1st which accelerated their bonus money onto the 2013 salary cap, so it leaves them with a pretty high dead money figure for this early in the season.

There are not a lot of places that the team can really go for cap relief as they don’t have any big money talent under contract, so most likely this is a situation where they will look for cash relief as much as anything else. The biggest cap relief, $5 million dollars, would come from releasing or trading Jones-Drew. MJD held out last season in hopes of getting a new contract and the Jaguars wisely refused. He ended up injured most of the season and is probably worth more to Jacksonville as trade bait than as a player.

CB Aaron Ross did not have an impactful first season in Jacksonville and saves the team $3.416 million in cap room if released before his roster bonus due date. I don’t have the particulars of the contract, but I don’t believe any of his salary would be guaranteed if released, so that is significant cap savings while also saving Jacksonville $3.75 million in salary to boot.

The release of LB Paul Posluszny, who Pro Football Focus rated the worst defender on the team in 2012, would be the best move the team could make for cash purposes.  Releasing Posluszny saves the team $6.5 million in cash while creating $2.5 million in cap room. Of course it leaves a void at LB and he played well the year before so while possible its probably not likely.

TE Marcedes Lewis, a terrible signing at $6.8 million a year, would save the Jaguars $4.35 million in cash this year and create $1.55 million in cap room. He must be released before mid-April when a small portion of his salary fully guarantees for the year.   I would anticipate that he could be released in short order unless they see reason to hold onto him as a run blocking TE for this season.

Notable Free Agents

The Jaguars do not have any free agents of note.

Rookie Pool

The following are my estimates for the Jaguars 2013 rookie pool:

 PickSB2013 Cap2014Cap2015Cap2016CapTotal
Round 12$13,799,344$3,854,836$4,818,545$5,782,254$6,745,963$21,201,598
Round 21$2,357,528$994,382$1,242,978$1,491,574$1,740,170$5,469,104
Round 32$671,176$572,794$711,794$825,794$990,294$3,100,676
Round 41$497,028$529,257$619,257$709,257$799,257$2,657,028
Round 52$213,612$458,403$548,403$638,403$728,403$2,373,612
Round 61$128,820$437,205$527,205$617,205$707,205$2,288,820
Round 72$68,900$422,225$512,225$602,225$692,225$2,228,900

Hopefully none of this money will be spent on a Punter again this year. Seriously this can eat into cap money quickly so if the Jaguars are active in free agency they may have to use some large signing bonuses and backload these contracts to make significant improvements to their roster while remaining cap compliant.