We close out week one with the Oakland Raiders
Best Contract: Tarell Brown
Much like last season I don’t think there is a lot to choose from on the Raiders. They have done their best to change the culture and makeup of the franchise, but it’s hard to pick and choose among the contracts they have on the team. For the most part all of Oakland’s contracts follow the same basic pattern but I’m not sure any of them fit the mold of a good or bad contract. Most of the contracts are essentially one year deals for players who are out of their primes and looking to prove they still belong in the NFL at higher than average salaries.
I selected Tarell Brown because I feel he not only has the most upside of their signings but was someone that probably could have gotten a better contract elsewhere. Brown’s deal is a pure one year contract worth $3.5 million, all of which is guaranteed. That is in the same range as players like the always injured Dimitri Patterson, Antonio Cromartie and Charles Tillman, all of whom are coming off worse seasons with more to prove than Brown.
I feel like this is a situation where the Raiders presented Brown with a strong chance to stand out on a defense that does not have a great reputation which could lead to a bigger payday down the line. It is the ultimate “prove it” contract in that he should get more exposure and credit than he had before and thus has every incentive to play exceptionally well for Oakland. While you would have liked to have seen this as a two or three year contract, the clear tradeoff for getting Brown at this figure was the one year contract so that he could cash in next season. The Raiders should get the most out of Brown in 2014 at a pretty reasonable price.
Worst Contract: Sebastian Janikowski
I was tempted to go with Austin Howard simply because the Raiders clearly made a mistake with the fine print in the contract, but there really is no comparison between that and the continual overpaying of Sebastian Janikowski.
Last year the Raiders finally had a chance to get things right with their kicker. He was in the final year of his outlandish contract and the Raiders finally should have been poised to move on. GM Reggie McKenzie had purged the roster of almost every bad deal and this contract was one of the lasting memories of everything wrong with the Raider organization in the 2000’s. But Janikowski is apparently like one of the characters of the Matrix movies that survives the reboot and lives forever.
Amazingly the Raiders rewarded Janikowski with a new contract that would guarantee him $8 million, which worked out on a yearly basis to about double the closest guarantees at the position. The Raiders had moved away from using signing bonuses but gave one to Janikowski anyway such that he would still have $1 million in dead money in 2015 if they cut ties with him.
Janikowski’s contract ranks in the top 10 of the Raiders annual salary structure, top 3 in total value for the team among veterans, and first overall among kickers in the NFL. He has never been the best kicker in the NFL and only been selected to participate in one Pro Bowl. The Raiders making him highest paid and guaranteed kicker just defies all logic for whatever the team seems to be trying to accomplish as they rebuild their franchise.
2013’s Best and Worst Raiders Contracts:
2013 Best Contract: Charles Woodson (Starting safety that re-signed with team)
2013 Worst Contract: Sebastian Janikowski (Signed extension with Raiders-See above)
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.