Best and Worst NFL Contracts 2016: Miami Dolphins

Over the summer we’ll be putting up our selections for the best and worst contract on each team. We continue today with the AFC East and the Miami Dolphins

Best: Reshad Jones, 4 years, $28M, $15M guaranteed

Miami has been a bit odd through the years in that they often sign what would be considered very player friendly contracts with free agents but when it comes to negotiating with their own players are actually much more conservative than other teams. I think that was somewhat evident with the Reshad Jones extension back in 2013. The Jones contract is a prime example of how teams can exploit certain demands from the player side by conceding on things like annual value but structuring the contract in a way where the real value is far lower. Continue reading Best and Worst NFL Contracts 2016: Miami Dolphins »

Eagles Working on Maxwell Trade to Dolphins?

The Miami Dolphins are reportedly in discussions to with the Philadelphia Eagles to trade for cornerback Byron Maxwell according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Maxwell signed a $63 million contract in free agency last year that had $25 million guaranteed. Maxwell was a disappointment in Philadelphia and one of the big money acquisitions in the lone season with Chip Kelly in charge of the roster so it is not surprising that the Eagles would want to move on. It is surprising that Miami would want to take on $11.5 million in guarantees for him however.

Continue reading Eagles Working on Maxwell Trade to Dolphins? »

Should the Dolphins Restructure Ndamukong Suh’s Contract

Yesterday Mike Tannenbaum of the Miami Dolphins told ESPN that restructuring the contract of Ndamukong Suh would be a possibility to gain cap space to help improve the team.  The Dolphins currently are one of just a handful of teams we project to be over the cap so they will need to make some moves, but should this be one of them is the real question. So let’s look at his contract and what a restructure could look like for the Dolphins.

Continue reading Should the Dolphins Restructure Ndamukong Suh’s Contract »

Opinion on Ryan Tannehill’s New Contract

So, here’s how it works out when you break it down by the years:

Figure 1: Ryan Tannehill’s Contract and Projected Cap Figures

(Remember: Click on the figures to open them up and enlarge them.)

Ryan Tannehill Contract Figures

So on Tuesday, when I saw this contract, I was the guy I HATE, the Stephen A. Smith type, provocative assclown who thinks they know everything. I tweeted out, “Tannehill could be a terrific QB, I believe in him, but Tannenbaum just paid him like he’s already arrived.” To be honest, I kind of took my pent up annoyance with Ndamukong Suh’s current contract and let that spill over into this situation. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Tannenbaum doesn’t understand the percentage of the salary cap analysis of the cap and that Suh’s Contract Cripples Dolphins (don’t you just hate when people do bad things to dolphins?), but this Tannehill contract is very good. Continue reading Opinion on Ryan Tannehill’s New Contract »

Looking at Ndamukong Suh, the $19 Million Man

The news broke today that Ndamukong Suh is set to sign a record breaking $19 million per year contract with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday. Rumors are that Suh will receive $60 million guaranteed and at least $55 million in the first three years. That latter number is roughly in line with what was earned by JJ Watt and Mario Williams on their most recent record setting contracts.  The $19 million total is unlike any in the history of the NFL. Is Suh worth it?

At an annual salary of $19 million a year, Suh becomes our top NFL “position buster”. A position buster is a player whose salary so far exceeds the norms the position they require an extra special player to warrant such a salary. Usually for this index I use the 5th highest paid player at the position. Here is my current chart:

PositionPlayerAPY5th Highest APY% Increase
RBA. Peterson$14,380,000$7,600,00089.2%
CBP. Peterson$14,010,000$10,020,00039.8%
43DE/34OLBM. Williams$16,000,000$12,050,00032.8%
SE. Thomas$10,000,000$8,000,00025.0%
TT. Smith$12,200,000$10,000,00022.0%
QBA. Rodgers$22,000,000$19,000,00015.8%

In looking at the above chart it would seem that the contract was strongly based on JJ Watt’s recent contract extension with the desire from Suh to push the price as a generational player similar to Watt. I think most agree Watt is a generational player coming from a 34 defensive end position. But is Suh that kind of player for a defensive tackle? Let’s examine using some of the statistics maintained by Pro Football Focus

Pass Rushing

Suh is one of just 10 defensive tackles that has rushed the passer more than 700 times in the last two seasons. That is something that makes him unique. It means there is essentially no pass situation that he can not play in.  Here is how Suh stacks up in his pass rushing performance against that group of players:

 PlayerSnapsSacksTot. Pressures% Sacks% Hits/Hurries% Total Pressures

Clearly this is very good for Suh, but he doesn’t rank first as that distinction goes to Gerald McCoy, who recently signed for $13.6 million per season and will earn about $44.5 million over three years. Sen’Derrick Marks provides the best value at $4.5 million per year. Still Suh has clearly put himself into an elite class.

Run Defense

For run defense I mainly just want to look at stops, which are basically the big stuffing type plays that Suh will make. Suh is one of 19 defensive tackles that has played more than 500 run snaps over the last two seasons.  Everyone on the above list also made the cut except Atkins, whose injury filled 2013 saw him just miss out. Here is how our subset of players performs.

NameSnapsTacklesStopsTackle %Stop %

Again Suh is not the best player, but again he has separated himself from the field with a 10.6% tackle rate and 9.1% stop rate. This is the category where he separates himself more from McCoy.

Soft Factors

While these produce some type of expected statistical performance, PFF actually grades players on every snap. There may be a large number of plays where Suh is standing out and simply not getting a statistical grade for it. So I’ll look at their run and pass grades (I don’t see coverage or even penalties having a bearing on this) and weigh them at 43/57% which is basically the run/pass split in the NFL.

NameRushRunCom. Score

This kind of confirms what we saw above. Over the last two seasons Suh is in an elite category, but it is certainly arguable whether or not he is the best at the position, let alone worth that much more than McCoy.

Final Take

For this kind of deal to work out for Miami Suh will either need to continue to improve in both facets of the game (his run performance spiked significantly in 2014) or have a material impact on his what is a decent defensive core around him. While that did not seem to be the case in Detroit (most year’s their defense was poor) the Dolphins do have better personnel. Miami may consider the fact that the current overwhelming weakness in the AFC East is line interior line play which can also benefit the statistical impact that Suh can have or help the team have.

Miami may also view Suh as one of a few players in the NFL at the position that can play all three downs. Those players are not available that often, at least ones who are very good. They may see Suh at $19M a better investment than drafting a player and hoping they become a high quality three down player or having to sign a run-stuffer and situational rusher for likely $10-$11million combined and likely not getting the same result as Suh. On a per dollar basis it’s clear Miami will lose out here, but they have virtually no risk of failure beyond injury, and that exists with every team.

In most of these cases of the big contract, the perception of the greatness of the player clouds the judgment of an organization when it comes to valuing the player. The fear of life without the player far exceeds the potential negative risk that signing such a contract will cause. For Suh he caught the perfect storm to earn this contract. The Lions poor handling of Suh’s contract made Suh a giant focus of the last two years furthering the reputation of the player. Suh’s nasty on the field antics made sure he was a household name like few others that play defense. It was essentially a free marketing tool that caused a market frenzy like no other.

Few of these big deals work out for a team, at least to the expected levels. Certainly the Peterson and Johnson led offenses haven’t led to deep playoff runs. Former position busters like Nnamdi Asomugha (Raiders), Darrelle Revis (Buccaneers), and Chris Johnson (Titans) have led to poor results. Mario Williams was arguably a position buster and it took years for that defense to become great around him and it still hasn’t even led to one playoff game. Maybe Suh will be the player to change it. Miami is certainly banking on it.

Best & Worst Contracts 2014: Miami Dolphins


Yesterday was the Jets, today their big rivals- the Miami Dolphins…

Best Contract: Cameron Wake

Cameron WakeThis is one of the easiest decisions to make for any team. One can still make the case that Cameron Wake Wake is the best defensive player in the NFL and he was certainly close to being the best when he signed this contract. Former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland hit a lot of foul balls and big strike outs with his contracts, but this was a home run.  Ireland steamrolled Wake, who was a in the final year of a low cost contract, into accepting a contract that offered little protection as he got older and the need to continue to perform at a high level in order to earn incentives to bump the value of his contract to a reasonable level.

11 veteran pass rushers on multiple year contracts have a higher annual value than Wake does. The base value of his contract is about 48% less than that of Mario Williams. In the last two seasons Wake has produced 27 sacks and 130 additional pressures compared to 25 sacks and 100 pressures for Williams. Those numbers illustrate the huge disparity and benefits that exist between a good and bad contract. Wake’s contract does contain escalators but even if earned they would max him out in the Tamba Hali range of contracts. To earn them is likely difficult as he has yet to earn an extra penny despite the solid play.

Whether it was an over-reliance on a fluke sack conversion stat or something else off his 2011 season, Wake took a deal that will never push his cap number beyond $9.8 million on the base value of the contract. When he turns 33, there is only $2.8 million of dead money on the books if they decide to release him. Quite frankly he’ll probably be in a position where he may be forced into a paycut. It was this bargain deal that allowed Miami to spend wildly in the 2013 offseason and the deal is arguably the best non-rookie contract in all of the NFL.

Worst Contract: Mike Wallace

Mike WallaceThere are a number of places to go with Miami when it comes to bad contracts. Most of the contracts came during a wild spending spree in 2013 that most observers thought seemed wildly optimistic regarding the prospects of their signings. I don’t think anything occurred in 2013 that should change the opinion as to whose contract was the worst of the bunch- Mike Wallace.

Wallace was a high risk gamble that for the time being has not paid off. Miami offered Wallace $12 million a season despite coming off a disappointing season in Pittsburgh where he sulked over his lack of a contract extension.

Wallace had never really shown an ability to be a true number 1 receiver as a Steeler. He was a deep threat target that played as part of a system rather than a receiver that was the star of the system. There is nothing wrong with that, but at the time that type of player would command a contract on the order of $9 million a season. Wallace was brought in to help Ryan Tannehill grow as a QB, but the two never really clicked as Wallaces strengths of playing down the field did not mesh with Tannehill’s lack of ability to throw deep. Wallace average just 12.7 yards per catch and failed to catch for 1,000 yards for the second straight season. The maturity issues that seemed to manifest themselves in Pittsburgh as he wanted a new contract, carried over to Miami as Wallace complained early about his role on the offense.

The contract structure pushed the deal into clear worst category. In order to make his cap hit artificially low in 2013, Wallace’s cap number will never be below $12.1 million over the course of the deal and this year he is carrying a $17.25 million cap charge.  He earned an additional $3 million in 2015 salary guarantees by being on the roster this offseason, pushing his dead money in 2015 to $9.6 million.

Wallace’s failures, along with a few other receivers, seemed to impact the future market at the position. Somewhat similar players like Eric Decker and DeSean Jackson signed contracts worth no more than $8 million a year. Hakeem Nicks, a talented player with declining stats and perceived authority issues, had to take a low cost 1 year contract to prove he was worth a multiple year investment. With these changes in the market, Wallace can probably never justify the contract unless he plays at a level very few players in the NFL ever play at.

2013’s Best and Worst Dolphins Contracts:

2013 Best Contract: Cameron Wake (See above)

2013 Worst Contract: Mike Wallace (See above)

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