We wrap up the AFC East with a look at the New York Jets. We’ll be moving to the AFC North next week…
I had a hard time selecting a best on the Jets as very little really stands out on the team as a great team friendly contract. By the same token they don’t have a bunch of bad ones either. Most are just your average middle of the road contract. I think Marshall’s contract fits in that same category but there were a few things that I thought helped it stand out as a bit better than expected.
The Jets acquired Marshall via trade but it was a bit of a different trade scenario in that Marshall’s side was somewhat of an active participant in the deal that it almost becomes a mini free agent scenario. Under those conditions teams often end up significantly modifying a contract especially as it pertains to guarantees to land the player.
While the Jets did a slight modification they did not include any signing bonus nor any real guaranteed for the 2nd year of the contract. The contract was, in essence, a one year trial for Marshall on a team desperate to be relevant in 2015.Marshall played at a Pro Bowl level and at $9.5 million in 2016 remains a pretty big bargain as 1,000 yard receiver.
Harris has had a long career with the Jets, but being with one team for many years isn’t justification for a $7+ million a year contract in which nearly 70% of the contract was fully guaranteed upon signing. In a different era Harris would likely still be considered a higher level linebacker, but in today’s passing era he is a liability more often than not.
Most comparable players would earn in the $5 million range with a much lower guarantee. It was a bit surprising that the Jets opted to guarantee Harris two full seasons on the team considering that their deal with Antonio Cromartie and Marshall did the more logical 1 year guarantee. As veteran players I would have considered them to be somewhat equivalent talents respective to their position.
This is actually the second great contract that Harris has signed with the Jets. In 2011 the Jets somewhat surprisingly used the franchise tag on him which helped lead to a pretty big contract for a player who was generally considered the number 2 in the pecking order behind Bart Scott. Part of Harris’ luck with the Jets probably deals with timing. In 2011 the Jets were making an example following the Darrelle Revis holdout in 2010 and also trying to prove a point that they do take care of their own in the locker room. Harris 2015 contract came on the heels of the John Idzik era in which the team had been purged of almost all veterans. Harris was the perfect candidate for the new GM to show that a new system was in place and that it wasn’t business as usual. It’s doubtful that Harris will get so lucky a third time as he’ll likely be cut in 2017.
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.