Andre Brown #35 RB, New York Giants
And here we go. David Wilson is an explosive back with the upside of a high end RB1 in the NFL. Although Tom Coughlin could give any General a run for their money on the topic of discipline, Wilson’s ability alone made his absence in the backfield a mystery. Everyone (and I mean everyone) claim it is a product of his early fumble and subsequent drop of a Manning pass. The drop I can understand, but I find it hard to believe that the coaching staff thinks that Wilson is a fumbler. Guys with fumblitis do not get granted Kick Returner status.
The reason that Wilson will not get the time on the field that his ability dictates, is because he is terrible in Pass Pro. Pass Pro are the schemes that offenses use to protect the QB on pass plays. Along with scheme, a player must have the ability to block the defender that he is assigned. Take it from a former RB, the great college and NFL backs make this look astoundingly easier than it is on the field. First a read must be made at the line by eight different guys. These reads are then communicated among the offensive personnel (ever play telephone as a kid?) including the RB who is usually 7-8 yards deep in the formation. Imagine being that far away and trying to keep up with the communication, all along not tipping any information to the defense. Granted on obvious passing downs this isn’t an issue, but watch how many times there is a missed assignment on non-obvious passing downs. We have heard all spring into the summer how the Giants feel that Wilson has improved on his Pass Pro. Considering yesterday’s report, I find it hard to believe that the Giants truly feel this way.
This brings us to Andre Brown, a man who has bounced around a bit since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He signed his 1 year, $2 million tender in March which makes him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He is a devastating runner. One that can wear down a defense when given a healthy dose of him. He makes you think of a UPS truck when he is running which is why the slogan “What can Brown do for you?” follows him. It will be extremely interesting to see him when he is called upon in this hot hand setup. Brown is the orphan, while Wilson is the crowned prince. Disney usually makes Brown the victor in these battles. I believe this real life battle will go the same.
Estimated New Contract: New York Giants 2 years, $6 million
Jared Allen #69 DE, Minnesota Vikings
Johnny Manziel should take some pointers about alcohol consumption from Jared Allen. Allen’s two DUIs in 2007 nearly derailed his eventual Hall of Fame career. Although the Kansas City Chiefs truly wanted to offer a contract extension commensurate with his talent, the team had to take into account that off the field, Allen was spiraling out of control. The Chiefs eventually used the highest RFA tender to retain him for the 2007 season.
After serving a league mandated two game suspension-reduced from four- Allen went on an absolute tear, recording 15.5 sacks in only 14 games. Chiefs GM at the time was Carl Peterson who vowed “We will not lose Jared Allen”. Instead of offering a long term contract to their reformed superstar, the Chiefs decided to play hardball and slapped the Franchise Tag on him. Obviously Allen did not take kindly to this and demanded a trade out of Kansas City which was granted. On April 23, 2008 Allen was traded to the Minnesota Vikings and received a then record-breaking (for a defensive player) 6 year, $73.5 million contract.
This bring us to today. Allen has honored not only his contract but also staying away from drinking. Over the past six years he has built upon his Hall of Fame resume. At 31 years old, my assumption is he will be awarded an extension by the Vikings commensurate to the one Cameron Wake signed lasted year.
Estimated New Contract: Minnesota Vikings extention 5 years, $38 million
Kenny Britt #18 WR, Tennessee Titans
Today we are going to analyze another #18 with a much different free agent market outlook. Kenny Britt was the 30th pick of the 2009 NFL Draft. His production has been consistently below his immense talent. For the most part, the Titans are to blame for his inefficient production on the field. Constant change at the QB position and offensive philosophy has stunted Britt’s play. Last year, Britt struggled staying healthy with multiple knee injuries that required an off season to heal. Dowell Loggains has been brought in as OC to create a stable high-powered offense. The Titans have also bolstered their offensive line by utilizing their first round pick on Chance Warmack and free agent signing of Andy Levitre.
The wide receiver market is paced by Kenny Britt. There is no question that a big year will put Britt in the Top-5 WR money. We have to model around Mike Wallace’s 5 years, $60 million contract signed last off season. As long as the knee troubles do not continue, expect the 25 year old Britt to become a very rich man.
Estimated New Contract: 5 years, $64 million
Jeremy Maclin #18 WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Here is the “Dark Side” of NFL Contract Year Series players. Any time the player gets to his contract year, the risk profile of the relationship explodes. Sometimes the team holds the majority of the risk, but for the most part if a player is allowed to play out their contract, the risk is squarely on his shoulders. In Maclin’s case, that weight was squarely on his knees and his right knee unfortunately succumbed too the pressure.
The 2014 WR Free Agent market just got really interesting. Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt just received a huge boost to potentially expediting extensions, while Emmanual Sanders, James Jones, and Golden Tate will be recipients of the value created by Maclin’s injury. As for Maclin’s value, we must consider that this is the second time he will be having ACL surgery on his right knee. Adrian Petersen’s amazing season one year removed from ACL surgery has jaded the followers of the NFL into thinking that returning from this devastating injury is getting easier. For a person that has gone through the process, I can tell you that what AP did was the exception and not the rule.
Prior to the injury, I would have placed Maclin in the $7.5-$8 million range on the high end. I would imagine that with a satisfactory rehab process, at the age of 25, he will still command a premium veteran salary.
Estimated New Contract: 2 years, $7 million
Tarell Brown #25 CB, San Francisco 49ers
Baffling to me, is a person that does not know the requirements to collect a reward offered by an employer when the contract is signed. This state of bewilderment is directly correlated to the size of the reward. Imagining the state I am in presently after hearing Tarell Brown’s plight, can only be placed in the world of understanding Lindsay Lohan’s decision making process.
I mean, $2 million is an amount that the player should be responsible to understand what the requirements are to obtain. Brown fired his agent and rightfully so, but to blame him entirely is sour grapes. My assumption is that Tarell Brown has the ability to read his contract. These documents are not beyond the ability for a high school graduate to understand. Even if he could not, it is Tarell Brown’s signature at the end of the document, correct? This fact means that Tarell Brown, and Tarell Brown alone, takes responsibility for the contractual agreements set forth in the document.
Either way, the 49ers are in an interesting bind. Brown is a bona fide CB1 in the NFL and will likely be paid as one at the end of this season. If the team just gives Brown the $2 million it sets a terrible precedent of allowing players to not abide by their contract. If the 49ers stay firm on not giving him anything, then they may be perceived as “not being player friendly” which is not good for future business. This is where an immediate, fair market value extension for what is likely the best valued CB in the 2014 Free Agency market makes everything go away. The 49ers will be retaining a solid player at a fair value and they can even “take some flesh” from Brown through slightly higher hurdles in the new contract (to the tune of $2 million). Tarell Brown can get the slap on the wrist that is deserved in this case, but he gets a second chance to get what is rightfully his in the spirit of his existing contract.
Estimated New Contract: 4 years, $24.8 million with $1 million roster bonus for week 1 and a $1 million NLTBE 3 interception incentive
Jimmy Graham #80 TE, New Orleans Saints
To quote the great Winston Churchill, Jimmy Graham is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. He used his 6’7″ 265 lbs frame to secure a scholarship at the University of Miami- playing basketball. It was only after he graduated from college that he decided to play football for Miami while taking graduate classes. Graham parlayed his 17/213/5 season into a 3rd round selection of the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Along with NFL personnel directors, many fantasy football owners are wondering which Jimmy Graham will be on the field in 2013. He followed up a 2011 line of 99/1310/11 with a somewhat disappointing 85/982/9 2012 season. In baseball, there is a well known fact that the second time though the league, the new player has a much harder time repeating his original success. This is especially true for Joker (or Move) Tight Ends in the NFL. This style of TE provides a special piece in the chess game played by coordinators on Sundays. Once a Joker shows the ability to continually beat opposing LB and SS, usually DCs begin using their Slot CB to defend them. So this is where real GMs and fake GMs differ in their valuation process. Even though Graham’s numbers may have declined, he has opened up opportunity for the other Saints receivers.
The Tight End market in the NFL is between $6M-$7.5M APY for Top-15 TEs. I would imaging that if Graham’s puts up similar numbers to 2011/12 he will become the highest paid TE in the NFL.
Estimated New Contract: 5 years, $41 million
Geno Atkins #97 DT, Cincinnati Bengals
When discussing NFL Draft steals, a name that is rising up the list, like a rocket, is Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Tackle- Geno Atkins. The knock on Atkins prior to the 2010 Draft was he is simply too small to play as an interior lineman in the NFL. Well the past three years have obliterated the experts’ opinion of him. From a production standpoint, Pro Football Focus has graded Atkins as the highest ranking player on the Bengals defense for each of his first three seasons. With 12.5 sacks, 54 tackles, and 49 QB hurries, his 2012 season ranks with the best players -defense or offense- since PFF began ranking players in 2008.
Let’s analyse Geno Atkins’ market value. The highest paid NFL DT is the 3rd overall pick from the same draft, Tampa Bay Bucanneers’ Gerald McCoy. McCoy has recorded a total of 9.0 sacks and 69 tackles in his entire 3-year career. This stat line has cost the Bucaneers $12.7M APY and considering his Pro Bowl nomination in 2012 they should be happy with his deal. There are two other DT’s that have crossed the $12M APY threshold- Haloti Ngata and Ndamukong Suh. After these three players, there is a large break to the next level between $8M-$8.5M range of Randy Starks, Henry Melton and Vince Wilfork.
McCoy will command at least $12M and possibly upwards of $13.5 if he puts together another big year. Time is actually on the side of the Bengals in this negotiation as Atkins will be hard pressed to repeat his amazing 2012 season. This is also one of the few situations that the franchise tag will be a cost savings as well as a time filler for the Bengals. I looks as though Atkins won’t hit the open market until after the 2014 season.
Estimated New Contract: 5 years, $67.5 million