Best and Worst Contracts 2016: Jacksonville Jaguars

A little late with the Jaguars entry, but we are close to wrapping up our look at the AFC South. There is a running list in the right sidebar with links to all of our Best and Worst picks so far…

Best: Tashaun Gipson, 5 years, $36 million, $12M guaranteed

Two years ago Gipson was considered to have an outside chance at becoming the highest paid safety in the NFL, but an injury happened and that was followed by a year of lackluster play. Still we have seen other players somewhat limp into free agency and still score big and in a few cases with this Jaguars team. That didn’t happen with Gipson who signed a reasonable deal with the Jaguars.

The structure of the contract I think showed the risk that the Jaguars felt was here. The signing bonus was just $4 million, meaning they could cut him with just $2.4M in dead money in the third contract year if things don’t work out well. Each year of the contract contains $500,000 in per game roster bonuses which means if he can’t stay healthy the Jaguars will save some money on the deal.

The contract is also backloaded with a three year value of just $6.4 million and an inflated $8.375M APY in the last two years. So really when we look at this contract we are looking at a much lower than advertised value. The Jaguars have a chance to reap a great reward on this one and the risk taken is very minimal. If Gipson flops people will criticize the deal but the logic in this was very sound.

Worst: Julius Thomas, 5 years, $46 million, $21M guaranteed

Thomas’ contract is a classic example of the mistakes that teams often make in free agency. Thomas is a classic case of a player whose statistics are a byproduct of a system but somehow that gets overlooked in free agency. Thomas is also a perfect example of why no player should consider signing an extension once they make it past the halfway point of their final year under contract because there is a giant pot of gold waiting for those player.

Thomas was, as a percentage of the Broncos offense, an average tight end in every category except touchdowns where he pulled off 24 scores in two seasons. The comp players would have all been on contracts for about $5.5 million a year. But Jacksonville felt that those percentages would have risen in their offense which not surprisingly did not happen in his first year in Jacksonville where his yards dropped to 455 and touchdowns to just 5. His contract is worth more than Rob Gronkowski’s.

Not only was the valuation on the contract bad there were little things that were missed, in particular the use of per game roster bonuses. Thomas had missed 28 games in his four year career when he signed this contract. It should be a given that players with that kind of history have a decent portion of their contract tied up in playing on Sunday. Thomas escaped those clauses. He missed 4 games last year and we are still waiting on his first 16 game season. Maybe its something with the Jaguars and tight ends. They had one of the worst deals in the NFL at the position for years with Marcedes Lewis and kept the trend alive with this one.