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)
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.