Today we look at the best and worst contract on the Jacksonville Jaguars
Best Contract: Sen’Derrick Marks
Last year the Jaguars were the most difficult team in the NFL to find a best contract on and were the only team where a rookie contract had to be used because of its unique structure. This year there are a few players to pick from as the team was active in free agency and made more than a few deals that should be considered as pretty solid moves.
The Jaguars are one of the teams in the NFL that is pushing a near all cash model in their roster construction, but it is very different than the all cash model used by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers usually use high guarantees to make up for the lack of signing bonuses, but the Jaguars have shied away from that and instead improve a players cash flow through the use of roster bonuses but for the most part guarantee nothing firmly outside of the first year of the contract, which can be a difficult thing to get players to accept.
Though Sen’Derrick Marks does not follow that model exactly (he received a $1 million signing bonus which was the only thing the Jaguars could do when they signed him late in 2013) it is a very flexible contract with good value at the position. The Jaguars guaranteed Marks $5 million with a first year payout of $5.025 million and for that locked up a 27 year old, improving defensive tackle for the next four years.
Marks first year payout is $875,000 less than Domata Peko’s in Cincinnati and $5.75 million less than Paul Soliai’s first year number in Atlanta. Those two are a bit more established but both are on the wrong side of thirty and received incredibly larger guarantees on a per year basis. Marks has the highest upside of three.
Jacksonville also maintains flexibility in the event he regresses and needs to be released with just $600,000 in dead money in 2015. This is a far better structure than negotiated by other teams for players like Kendall Lankford of the Rams or Earl Mitchell of the Dolphins. Marks can make up for it by performing well and earning some additional incentives, but the Jaguars pretty much beat the market with this contract extension.
Worst 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 him 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. Not only that but the Jaguars put incentives in the contract to reward Lewis further for performance and honors.
With the big extension in place Lewis fell right back into his normal track. In 2011 and 2012 he averaged 45-500-2 and fell to 359 yards with just 11 games in 2013. Sure he can block a little bit but you don’t pay tight ends for that anymore. Lewis still has $2.8 million in dead money sitting in his contract and this ranks as one of the all time contract blunders in the NFL. How he is still on the team in 2014 set to make $6.85 million, 4th in the NFL at the position (behind only a first round rookie, free agent signing, and a franchise player), is a mystery to me and I have to imagine to him as well.
2013’s Best and Worst Jaguars Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Justin Blackmon (Serving indefinite suspension)
2013 Worst Contract: Marcedes Lewis (Remains starting tight end)
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.