Best and Worst Contracts 2016: Tennessee Titans

Best: Jurrell Casey, 4 years, $36 million, $13M guaranteed

I’m not sure anybody can explain this contract and how the Titans were able to do this one. By 2013 Casey had developed into one of the best interior defenders in the NFL. He was solid in all phases of the game, had more or less started every game since his rookie year, and had just come off a season in which he amassed 10.5 sacks.

The market comparable at the time was Geno Atkins at just under $11 million a season. Atkins was more well known but his career had followed a somewhat similar arc with similar draft status, peaking with 12.5 sacks in his breakout year before being extended. With another year of cap growth the rule of thumb is that a player usually tries to build off the top number even if you may not be considered the best player. Instead Casey came in at over $1.5M less a year, a $5 million lower signing bonus, and $1.5 million more tied to health. The 4 year

Just a few months later Gerald McCoy would blow the market away at over $13.5 million a year. McCoy was a high draft pick and well known because of that but had never notched 10 sacks in a season. Within two years the market for 34DEs and DTs simply exploded with Casey left on a $9 million a year deal. The one benefit to Casey is that his contract is just four years, but hes underpaid by millions giving the Titans one of the best values in the entire NFL.

Worst: DeMarco Murray, 4 years, $23.75 million, $9M guaranteed

Two years ago Murray led the NFL in rushing yet when he hit free agency he had a difficult time finding a home on a big money contract .The Eagles finally bit to the tune of $8 million a season and quickly realized what the rest of the NFL did- Murray wasn’t worth anything more than an average salary, which is around $4 million a year. Murray was brutal as an Eagle to the point where it looked like the Eagles were going to have to eat $9 million for a player who was going to ride the bench. Enter the Titans.

Somehow the Eagles convinced the Titans to take Murray off their hands coming off a season in which he averaged 3.6 yards per carry and got benched. Though the Titans did reduce his salary the next two years by about $3 million, which can be earned back in incentives, there was no change in his guarantee package. If Murray flames out the Titans will pay him $9 million for one season of action if they decide to cut him. If he is on the roster next May more salary becomes guaranteed.

Maybe Murray will find a way to play like he did in his final year in Dallas, but the Titans don’t have that personnel and there was no reason to take on this kind of risk for a running back.