Today’s best and worst entry features the New York Giants
Best Contract: Walter Thurmond
For the most part picking through the Giants best contracts comes down to identifying short term deals that seem like good values. Many of their longer term contracts are heavier on bonus money and/or guarantees that lead to a much more player friendly rather than team friendly structure. Of the better contracts on their books I liked Walter Thurmond’s contract as much as anyone’s on the team. I see the Giants as a team somewhat at the crossroads where their long term prospects are tied to how Eli Manning looks in 2014. If Manning looks good the Giants have as good a chance at winning the NFC East as anyone and most likely he will be the face of the Giants for another four years. If he looks bad the Giants will probably need to reboot their team.
Thurmond fits in with both scenarios. He is a high upside player that has the potential to lock down one of the cornerback positions and be a major asset in a playoff run. If the team falters, it’s just a one year contract with no long term implications, something that is an issue with most of the Giants more recent signings.
Thurmond’s contract carries a base value of $3 million which is very reasonable for a player who could prove to be a solid number two cornerback. Because it is a one year contract and the player is hoping to hit it big in free agency the team knows they will get the best out of the player. Nothing prevents the Giants from re-signing Thurmond in the event things go well and the Giants have shown a willingness to do just that, as seen by the contract signed with Jon Beason.
There is really no downside to this contract. It is low cost and low risk and fits the team situation perfectly. If things go as expected Thurmond will likely get a nice raise next season when he signs a multi year contract extension and the Giants will benefit from a low cost year for a starting player. It’ a win-win contract for both sides.
Worst Contract: Will Beatty
If ever there was a team that deserved co-winners for worst contract it would be the Giants. I really have a hard time determining which move was worse for the team: the over-reaching on Will Beatty or the front ended contract given to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The DRC signing was one of the worst contracts of the 2014 offseason while Beatty had an entire year of regression that made him look like one of the most overpaid players in the NFL. I really could go either way but in this case I’ll select the player that has played in Giant blue rather than the player who has yet to do so.
Teams should always be cautiously optimistic when a player turns around what looks to be a middle of the road career. Beatty, a 2nd round draft pick in 2009, was a slow to develop player. In 2009 and 2010 he was mainly a special teams player and an extra lineman, starting just 6 games over the two year period. He grabbed the starting job in 2011 where he cemented himself as potential starting player and then played extremely well in his walk year. The Giants completely bought in at that point.
Beatty became the standard bearer for the non-elite tier of tackles in the NFL, being given a $7.5 million a year contract with essentially $19 million in full guarantees. The Giants gave Beatty a great deal of job security through a large $12.5 million signing bonus. Among veteran left tackles on long term deals, the percentage of contract guaranteed is first in the NFL and the full guarantee trails only Duane Brown and Branden Albert. Albert was signed a year after Beatty.
The contract structure was designed to be similar to the deal signed by Brown in 2012, if Brown’s contract was viewed as a completely new contract rather than an extension. A big difference is that Brown receiving such a structure did not hurt the Texans as badly since Houston had a year already on his contract to work with. Beatty’s contract will still contain $5 million of dead money in the 4th year of his contract compared to just $2.5 million for Brown.
Arguably the only comparable player with a worse structured contract is Sam Baker’s in Atlanta. If Beatty fails this year the Giants will take on over $8 million in cap charges if they release him in 2015. He also has a $650,000 guarantee so the Giants would need to pay him a token amount to go away. If that happens the Giants will have paid $19 million for a two year contract, which is a very high figure. They need him to last at least three seasons to justify the contract and based on what we have seen that may not be that easy.
2013’s Best and Worst Giants Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Justin Tuck (Contract expired; signed with Raiders)
2013 Worst Contract: Corey Webster (Contract voided)
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.