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 »

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 »

Marcell Dareus, Outlier Contracts, and Team Precedents

Late last night following the Bills preseason game against the Browns, star defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, in the final year of his rookie contract, expressed disgust over the lack of movement on a contract extension. Dareus has stated that the offers indicate that Buffalo isn’t serious about keeping him and don’t reflect his value as a dominant talent. According to Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News, the Bills have offered a contract worth $90 million over six years, which would make Dareus the second highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL if those are the full extension numbers. Dareus is aiming for more as he looks at the outlier contracts in the NFL and sees bigger dollars for a player like himself, especially because of the Bills past history with contract negotiations for highly desired players. Continue reading Marcell Dareus, Outlier Contracts, and Team Precedents »

Examining the Marginal Value Implied in Player Contracts

There are a number of ways to look at roster construction in the NFL, and Nick recently did a great job with his roster texture charts(which you should read if you haven’t already), but today I wanted to look to see how teams really derive their value when they build a roster. Normally when we look at a roster we look at two basic numbers- salary cap charges and contract annual value- and then compare franchises across the board. But I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be a much more accurate portrayal if we put those numbers in perspective by seeing how much marginal value a team is really assigning to their highest paid players?  For example Peyton Manning makes more than Darrelle Revis, but Manning plays a position where the average salary for a starter is over $12 million. Tehnically the Jets are giving up more by having Revis as the highest paid player on the team, even if Manning has a higher stated salary. So we can best define value by determining the cost above average a team spends on their top players on the team. Continue reading Examining the Marginal Value Implied in Player Contracts »

Can a Premier Contract Player Really be a Bargain?

I read an article by Jimmy Kempski of the Philadelphia Voice the other day about Fletcher Cox and came across an interesting quote by former NFL executive Joe Banner regarding the franchise signings.

Teams signing deals today are doing so because the contracts will be looked upon as cheap down the line given the rising salary cap. I think that’s true to an extent when discussing extensions, but I think application across the board doesn’t really work and in most cases does not work for the franchise tag contracts.

Continue reading Can a Premier Contract Player Really be a Bargain? »

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 »

Suh’s Contract Cripples the Dolphins

From a salary cap perspective, this is the kind of stuff that really has interested me as someone who is striving to become an NFL agent. You have a client like Ndamukong Suh, granted there aren’t many like him, and he’s offered a contract of historical proportions, a six-year deal worth $114,375,000 with $59,995,000 fully guaranteed upon signing, but you have to have be able to advise him in a manner that is not only in his best interests financially, but you want him to be happy. If winning a Super Bowl is a player’s number one priority, then you need to help him construct a contract that gives him the best chance to do that.

Many of us have heard the study regarding the discovery that at around $75,000, your happiness level evens out and making more money doesn’t correlate to being happier. Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@ZackMooreNFL), know I love my comedian podcasts and guys like Joe Rogan talk about his first big money deal feeling like a weight was off his shoulders in that he knew he didn’t have to worry about where he was going to get money for his bills this month. It’s none of my business to tell another man (or woman) when they’ve made enough money, the market determines someone’s worth and that’s a beautiful thing. In the NFL marketplace, it’s up to an agent to understand his client and help him achieve his goals.

Now, no matter where Suh went, he was going to sign one of the richest defensive contracts in NFL history, but as his agent, what’s best for his happiness and in the long-term, does winning a Super Bowl increase the amount of money he can make? Is winning a Super Bowl and potentially being a part of a dynasty more important than an extra $15 million, when you’re already slated to make $100 million and you’ve already made about $65 million? I must say, I’ve never been put in that position, so who knows?

In my article comparing Manning and Brady (here), where I stated that Jason and I agreed that Manning and the Broncos should agree on a contract somewhere around $14 million, so he had a better chance at one more ring. With the cap going all the way up to $143.28 million, Manning dropped his cap number to $16 million which was a $4 million pay cut from what he was slated to make with the opportunity to earn it back through incentives, winning the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl.

I discussed in that article how winning one more Super Bowl would be worth more financially to Manning long-term than the extra money he would make in 2015 and at some point, I think that Suh and all players have to think about that.

Logan Mankins went from the eventual Super Bowl champion to the worst team in the NFL because he wouldn’t take a pay cut this season, part of your job as an agent is to make sure that you advice your client so that he will be happy with his career. I don’t know how Mankins feels about moving from the Pats to Bucs, but it’s up to an agent to know your client well enough to help him make the best financial and life choices.

I just got done writing about the 2014 Lions for my first completed part of the 2014 section of my coming e-book, Caponomics: Understanding NFL Roster Building through Super Bowl Champion Analysis. My main focus was on that Big 3 they had of Suh, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson because they took up an absolutely mind-boggling 38.56% of their cap, which is 16.56% higher than the Super Bowl average for the Top 3. They’re so out of whack with the normal figures, that they are 10.73% higher than the 2002 Bucs who spent the most ever on their Top 3 at 27.83% on Warren Sapp, Brad Johnson, and Simeon Rice.

This is mainly due to Suh costing 3.77% more than Steve Young’s 1994 cap hit of 13.08%, which is the highest of the cap era. The average number one cap hit for a Super Bowl champion is 9.23%, so Suh is way off the average. Generally speaking, the quarterback is the most important position on the field, he has the most impact on the game, he touches the ball every play, so it’s very hard for me to comprehend how Suh could provide 129% of the value that Young provided during the best season of his career.

In terms of defensive tackles, Suh costs 7.03% more than the Sapp’s 9.82% hit in 2002. When you analyze the top DT cap charges for the last 21 champions, Suh costs 12.89% more than the average, an insane rate.

Figure 1: Average Cap Hit for Highest Paid Defensive Tackle on Super Bowl Champions

Top Cap Hit Super Bowl DT

Something that is very interesting to me is that since the new CBA was signed, and even back to 2008, Super Bowl champions have all had a high paid defensive tackle. My theory, which I dig into a little bit in the book is that even though we’re in an age of passing and defensive tackles are primarily what I would call a run-game position, there are so few great defensive tackles, that maybe they’ve become a more important piece of success? Even so, the last four champs have had good pass rushers like Jason Pierre-Paul, Terrell Suggs, Michael Bennett and Rob Ninkovich.

Even when you account for the higher cost of DTs on recent champs, Suh still costs 10.71% more than the last four championship DTs. Simply put, Suh’s contract last year was so out of whack that it makes it almost impossible to win a championship. Compound that issue with the fact that Matt Stafford had a cap hit higher than every Super Bowl winning quarterback except Steve Young and that Calvin Johnson’s cap hit was 1.26% higher than the greatest receiver of all-time, Jerry Rice, and you realize that the Lions literally gave themselves no chance at the Super Bowl.

So now, Suh has taken his talents to South Beach and with him, he’s brought the curse of being a great player with a contract that cripples a team’s roster. As Jason said in this awesome interview with one of the greatest NFL media men of all-time Peter King, this year, Suh will “count for only $6 million against the cap, despite the annual contract value of $19.1 million. That leaves Suh with an average cap charge for the 2016-2018 seasons of $21.9 million. Quite honestly I am not sure how you compete in the NFL for a championship with those figures, especially for a defensive tackle.”

Jason then details some of the stuff I just talked about and estimates if the cap continues to rise at a rate of $10 million a season, then Suh’s cap situation isn’t going to get much easier. With a $28.6 million cap charge in 2016, Suh would take up 18.69% of a $153 million cap, which is more than double the 9.23% average for those number one cap hits. As Jason says, this is similar to the contract structure they used for Mike Wallace, which is something we all saw as an issue already.

In 2014, Mike Wallace took up 12.97% of the cap, 4.41% higher than Jerry Rice in 1994. Is Mike Wallace ever going to give you 152% of the value that Jerry Rice provided in his prime?

As Jason says, the only years that Suh’s cap number is acceptable are 2015, 2017 and 2020 if you estimate the cap to increase by $10 million each year and with a cap hit of 4.26% this season, they have a real advantage and could compete for a Super Bowl. It’s worth noting that the jump between 2013, 2014 and 2015 are the only three times that the cap has jumped about $10 million, I know that’s probably indicative of new revenue trends in the NFL. Below are the percentages of the cap that Jason and I project he will take up with this contract using that $10 million increase per year.

Figure 2: Suh’s Projected Cap Hit

Suh Projected Cap Hit

This talk about Suh isn’t about how good Jason or I think a player is, I think the world of so many of these guys in the NFL, they’re immensely talented and more of them are good people than the media let on during the 2014 season (check out what Jared Allen is doing below Jason’s interview).

Having started a small business during my senior year of college in 2011 and having made a ton of mistakes to learn from, I’ve learned that everything in business comes down to the numbers, the financials. That’s largely what really drew me to caponomics and stoked a passion for it in me. We all want to grow up to be a General Manager or an owner of a team right? What better way to learn than through the cap.

And as an agent, you want your client to make his money, but you probably don’t want them to have a contract that they can never live up to and that ruins their team’s chances for a Super Bowl.

The Lions are probably better off with Haloti Ngata anyway. They’re still getting one of the three best interior defensive linemen in the NFL and considering that he’s a little older, if they get him to sign an extension, they’re going to get him for cheaper than what Suh would have cost them. Through my research for Caponomics, I’ve realized that strength based positions can have longer careers because they rely more on strength than speed. As a wide receiver enters his thirties, he typically begins to slow down a little bit, which is why the receivers who tend to elongate their careers seem to be the cerebral types, Jerry Rice, Reggie Wayne and so on.

As Joe DeFranco said in his Industrial Strength Podcast last week, the closer you are to the football, the stronger you have to be. At defensive tackle, it’s primarily strength, which can tend to almost naturally increase a bit when a player is heading into his thirties. For instance, even as a wide receiver, if I kept lifting like I was when I played football in college, I would continue to get stronger, my weight room numbers would continue to increase, etc. I believe that a run stopper like Ngata, if he stays healthy, could be very productive at the age of say 35 years old, he just turned 31 in January.

If you want to purchase The First Annual Caponomics: Understanding NFL Roster Building through Super Bowl Champion Salary Cap Analysis, please e-mail me at, so that I can put you on our e-mail list for people interested in purchasing the book. If you join our e-mail list, I will send you the first chapter on the 2014 Lions and then the 2014 Patriots once it’s completed. I might even throw in a bonus Super Bowl champ in. 


I’m currently in the process of getting some legal stuff handled for the book and then I can put the pre-order up on Amazon, otherwise, it would already be up there. Thanks for your support and feel free to send me any questions or ideas to that e-mail address.