Best and Worst Contracts 2021: AFC East

Welcome to our third installment of our summer series looking at the best and worst contracts in the NFL. Each of these is written based on the team perspective rather than the player perspective and is strictly just based on my opinion of the deal. A bad contract doesn’t mean a bad player (in many cases it is a good player who did a great deal for themselves) nor does a good contract mean a great player on the cheap. Let’s take a look at the AFC East this week.

Buffalo Bills

Best: Daryl Williams, 3 years, $24M, $13.8M guaranteed

Buffalo has really done a tremendous job with a number of their contracts which made this one a tough choice but I opted for the recent deal for Williams, who was one of the best right tackles in the NFL last season. While obviously not as young as the players who recently signed the Bills certainly did not give in to any notion that the position should be paid at a higher rate which in hindsight now looks like a major positive for them.

Williams had some question marks around him and those are all protected in the structure of the deal with no initial guarantees in the second year of the contract and just $3.6 million in dead money if they have to move on. The first year cash is $9.75M which is 14th in the NFL and a reasonable number. Basically they have the flexibility if they need to move on or move his salary down next year, which has been a staple with many of the Bills free agent signings.

Worst: Mitch Morse, 2 years, $14M, $4.2M guaranteed

Also a difficult decision and it came down to Morse or Vernon Butler but I opted for Morse not so much because of the numbers on his renegotiated contract but on the original deal that brought him to Buffalo in 2019. That contract was worth $11.1 million per season and even with the lowered salary this year it would make the investment for Buffalo somewhere around $10.5 million per year which is a high number.

This was the Bills falling into the trap of being the team that went big right away at center during free agency. Every year what seems to occur is a number of similar players hit free agency, one cashes in big and the rest struggle and then we wonder why they paid up in the first place. The initial deal was massive with $19.45 million paid out in the first year alone, a number that would still be good for third in the NFL. It didn’t take long to realize their mistake and by year 3 they were already trying to negotiate a pay cut but the big money was already paid out.

Miami Dolphins

Best: Xavien Howard, 5 years, $75.25M, $46M guaranteed

Miami proved to be the last team able to get a top level cornerback contract done utilizing the stagnant market numbers to lock Howard up for just over $15 million a season. Within a year Miami offered Byron Jones $1.5M more per year and $8 million more in guarantees in an effort to power up the secondary. Clearly this has upset Howard who is already looking for a raise just two years after signing the contract.

Nothing about the contract really stood out in Howard’s favor.  He was a franchise player who did not sign a franchise level contract. The term of the contract was long so it is not as if he would have an early re-entry into free agency. Structure wise it was also a home run for Miami with just a $7 million signing bonus that would give the Dolphins an ability for a quick exit if things went poorly. While Howard wasn’t hoodwinked the way some others have been he probably wound up leaving $2 to $3 million a year on the table.

Worst: Jerome Baker, 3 years, $37.5M, $28.4M guaranteed

This was a solid job by Baker to secure this kind of contract extension earlier this year. Baker is a decent linebacker who landed in the top 10 at the position at $12.5 million a year. The deal itself runs just three years giving Baker, if he lives up the contract, the ability to cash in again early on. The $12.5 million in prorated money is top five at the position which at least gives the Dolphins a little pause if they want to move on in 2022.

On a per year basis the guarantees are huge. The $9.5M guarantee per year runs behind only Bobby Wagner, CJ Mosley, and Lavonte David. His full guarantee ranks 6th among multi year deals. I understand that Miami is often doing three year contracts and not changing the terms even though the years are less than others but that just leaves a team with no upside at all. Normally there is some upside with those kind of contracts with a lower up front cost but I don’t see a trace of that. His first year is around $4M more than recent free agents signed in the $10M a year range. The main positive for Miami is they did not have to get to $40M in the three year number, falling $3M short of that figure. Im not sure that is that big of a benefit since he will either receive a raise that year on an extension or be cut because he was a disappointment.

New England Patriots

Best: Stephon Gilmore, 5 years, $65M, $40M guaranteed

I almost feel a little guilty for putting this here because it is pure hindsight analysis but as far as cornerback free agent signings go, I am not sure you will find a better one than Gilmore. Gilmore has been one of the best corners in the NFL for his entire run with the Patriots and will wind up being the rare player who actually finishes out a long term free agent contract. Unlike some other players I would not have said that this was a good deal when it was signed for New England. In fact, I probably would have said it was a poor one with such a large up front salary, but the proof is in the results and the risk paid off.

This style of contract is the perfect result of what happens when you get it right in free agency or on an extension. The numbers that look questionable or top of market a few years ago make a dramatic turn, typically in the 3rd or 4th year of a contract, where the market has so shifted that you now have a bargain cost player on your hands. That bargain cost has made Gilmore unhappy with the deal and he is currently looking for more incentives or an extension to make him happy. This is the risk that is taken on by both sides on a long term deal. A player often gets more money up front, which Gilmore did, but the back end leans toward the team.  Have the Patriots done a great job with the cap charges on this one? Not really but you can not argue that he has been one of the best values for the last few years even if his cap charges are higher these past two years.

Worst:  Jonnu Smith, 4 years, $50M, $31.3M guaranteed

The Patriots 2021 offseason gave us a plethora of bad decisions to choose from but this was the one that I thought was the worst and arguably the worst free agent signing in the NFL this year. This contract was a complete roll over and play dead job by New England. They simply targeted a guy who has never even had 500 yards in a season, decided they wanted him and made him the 3rd highest paid tight end in the NFL.  I’m not even sure if another team would have been within $3 million of this annual value.

The numbers were staggering. The $15 million signing bonus only trails George Kittle among veteran players. The first year salary is tied for second in the NFL. The $31.25M in guarantees is behind Kittle and on a per year basis the two are neck and neck with Kittle at $8M a year and Smith at $7.8M a year. Smith’s guarantee is also fully guaranteed at signing- $6 million more than the next closest player in the league (his teammate Hunter Henry). Smith needs to be a superstar for New England to get any value here.

New York Jets

Best: Morgan Moses, 1 year, $3.6M, $3.1M guaranteed

This was a nice signing by the Jets a few weeks back, grabbing one of the better right tackles in the NFL for a bargain basement price.  Moses was only available because of other moves made around the Washington organization that saw Moses become a salary casualty late in the game. By that point in time there was a very limited market and while there was clearly a game being played to drive up his price the Jets seemed to hold firm and eventually landed their guy at $3.6 million.

This reminds me a bit of the Daryl Williams original contract in Buffalo which came in at $2.25 million two years ago. Williams, who needed to revitalize his career far more than Moses does, played great and landed a three year contract this past offseason. I would imagine the Jets are looking at the same possibility and could look as early as his year to extend Moses and eliminate the chance of losing him in free agency next year.

Worst: CJ Mosley, 5 years, $85M, $51M guaranteed

A parting gift from the short lived Mike Maccagnan/Adam Gase partnership, you can make a strong case that this is now the worst contract in the NFL. It is hard to fathom who the Jets were even bidding against at a price tag of $17 million a year, a number that was around $4 million a year more than the next highest paid player at the time and dramatically pulled up the entire market. The $51 million in guarantees remains the top number in the NFL an incredible $11 million more than Fred Warner’s recent $40.5 million guarantee, which came two years after this deal. The $43 million in full guarantees is $13 million more than any other active linebacker in the NFL.

While bad deals can often be good ones this has been a disaster from day 1. Mosley played about a half a game for the Jets in 2019 before he was injured. The Jets for whatever reason brought him back early and he reaggravated the injury and finished the year with about 10% playing time. He opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid and indicated he needed to “find that flame” again. Mosley still has $14 million guaranteed to him from the Jets and $12.5 million in dead money next year if they have to cut him. The Jets should actively look to trade him but may have to absorb some of the cost to do it.

Best and Worst Contracts 2021: NFC West

Welcome to our second installment of our summer series looking at the best and worst contracts in the NFL. Each of these is written based on the team perspective rather than the player perspective and is strictly just based on my opinion of the deal. A bad contract doesn’t mean a bad player (in many cases it is a good player who did a great deal for themselves) nor does a good contract mean a great player on the cheap. Let’s take a look at the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals

Best: Chandler Jones, 5 years, $82.5M, $53M guaranteed

This was such a great contract for the Cardinals. The team traded a 2nd round pick for Jones and subsequently had to use the franchise tag after his first year in Arizona. Jones was a dynamic pass rusher at that point with back to back double digit sack seasons and had developed into a 90% playtime player with the Cardinals. Basically everything really was going his way and somehow he ended up on a contract that failed to jump past the contracts of either Olivier Vernon or Justin Houston and was millions less than Von Miller’s top market contract. Even the guarantee structure here was a win for Arizona giving the team all kinds of protections if he did not work out.

Just one year later the ceiling on the position was shattered by Khalil Mack’s $23.5 million per year contract and the whole market jumped. Jones, in the meantime, was even more productive. He was named an All Pro in two of the first three years of his contract and notched 49 sacks in those first three years before being injured last season. Jones is hoping to sign a new contract this summer but he probably missed his best opportunity when he did this deal.

Worst: DeAndre Hopkins, 2 years, $54.5M, $49.4M guaranteed

This was the exact opposite of the Jones situation. The team gave up a decent pick for Jones and had to use a franchise tag to keep his rights. Here the team traded much less for Hopkins who had three years remaining on his prior contract that he signed with the Texans. Arizona in many ways rolled over and played dead signing him to a new contract that added over $27M a year in new money to the deal, about $5 million more than the next closest player at the position.

In fairness to Arizona they clearly valued this as a five year contract and not a true extension which puts the number at a more reasonable $18.8M per year. Still the terms were great considering Hopkins had zero leverage.  The first year cash of $29M was second only to Michael Thomas. His three year of just over $60 million was also second in the NFL. The signing bonus was huge- $27.5 million- tops among all wide receivers and they threw in a second year option bonus because, well why not. That put Arizona in for $36.5M in prorated money at signing which I believe was tops in the NFL (Julio Jones had received $36 million). Hopkins negotiated this deal himself and it was a homerun any way you slice the contract up.

Los Angeles Rams

Best: Andrew Whitworth, 2 years, $17M, $6.5M guaranteed

Whitworth has been terrific for the Rams since they made the decision to sign him in free agency back in 2017. Even then the team did a very good job of signing a high quality left tackle for a reasonable price most likely being able to use his age as a reason to keep the cost moderate. Whitworth finished that entire contract out and the Rams convinced him to stay for less money and then this past year after he was injured came to a new agreement that was also incredibly reasonable.

A lot of this I would guess is due to the relationship the team has built with Whitworth who, at 40, is likely not looking to jump around the NFL. But this is a position where teams often have to pay up for talent or draft a player near the top of the draft if they want a good left tackle. The Rams have been able to kind of be an outlier by having a reasonably priced veteran who has been pretty outstanding, basically getting the best of both worlds with Whitworth.

Worst: Jalen Ramsey, 5 years, $100M, $43.7M guaranteed

The Rams have largely purged themselves of the bad deals that they had on the books so I opted for Ramsey mainly because the Rams set a new market high which represented a pretty big raise from the prior high. I’m sure the Rams will argue that because this is a trade the numbers are not really as high as reported but I think most around the league certainly see this as a $20 million a year contract.

The bigger reason to put this here is the current structure of the deal. Ramsey was great last year and I am sure the Rams expect him to be great for the next few years but cornerback play is often not very consistent and converting $16 million of his salary to a bonus this year really turns the cap numbers upside down if things go bad. In a two year span the Rams added $41 million in prorated dollars to Ramsey’s contract which is a huge figure. With a favorable vesting schedule for his guarantees the Rams are likely stuck with $20M+ cap hits until 2024 at which point they would be able to consider a release. If he plays as well as an Aaron Donald this won’t be a concern but they do not have much flexibility if his play drops in the next two seasons.

San Francisco 49ers

Best: Jason Verrett, 1 year, $5.5M, $4.5M guaranteed

This was a nice contract for San Francisco with Verrett coming off the first semi healthy year he has had in ages. Sometimes in the NFL when we see players with name value and ability that have had a rough injury history all it takes is one year to make the market dramatically change. San Francisco did not do that. While the $5.5M represents a big raise from where he was before, the price is that of a third corner and Verrett clearly has the upside of a two if he is healthy.

Some may say that one year is too short to truly benefit but the one year timeframe protects the 49ers from injury implications and still leaves them in a good position to negotiate further. Verrett is making the turn to 30 and at this position in particular that can really hurt your future leverage. Basically even if he outplays the deal whatever gain is realized from that will potentially be offset by his age giving the team a good opportunity to get another year at a value somewhere between this and the market for a number two.

Worst:  Jimmy Garoppolo, 5 years, $137.5M, $74.1M guaranteed

This always stood out to me as one of the strangest decisions the 49ers ever made. It wasn’t as if Garoppolo had this long history of success. He didn’t even have a season of success. He had a total of 7 starts in the NFL and was about as much of an unknown as any random second year player with a 2nd round draft grade would be. He was the perfect case for either trying to come to a reasonable long term deal or using the franchise tag to see what would happen if he played 16 games. While it wasn’t as bad as the Rob Johnson decision about 20 years before this, the decision to make Garoppolo the top paid QB in the NFL was surprising.

The 49ers did a unique thing with the contract by frontloading most of the cap charges in the first year to make Garoppolo easier to manage on the cap if he was good and easier to cut if he wasn’t. A lot was made of that strategy of effectively placing the dead money in an active contract year but when they failed to pull the trigger when Tom Brady was available and still have Garoppolo on the roster after drafting a QB high in the draft what benefit really was there to it? I’m not sure what the team is chasing beside the slim hope that he pulls out a miracle this season, but this is a mistake that should have been corrected already.  

Seattle Seahawks

Best: Duane Brown, 3 years, $34.5M, $16M guaranteed

Seattle traded for a disgruntled Brown in 2017 and have really gotten a lot out of the relationship. They gave him a moderate raise as part of the extension in 2018 and overall got very good terms at a position where players often command top dollar regardless of age. The contract built on another solid veteran player contract mentioned above- the original Andrew Whitworth contract- but never did anything to reflect changing the veteran market the way that Trent Williams was able to this year with the 49ers, matching the top valued deals despite being on the wrong side of 30.

Seattle has always had a few high priced stars on their team but the addition of Brown gave them a chance to have a top tier player but not at a superstar level price. The breakdown of the contract was steady with the cap numbers slightly rising as the cap was expected to rise and the Seahawks were never in a position where they had to touch it for cap relief and being forced into an early extension. A really solid contract all the way around.

Worst: Bobby Wagner, 3 years, $54M, $40.3M guaranteed

Wagner is a terrific player but I thought the Seahawks really came out on the shorter end of this deal. Wagner likely benefitted greatly because of the Jets decision to pay a linebacker $17 million in free agency, but Seattle went far and above just matching that deal. Wagner’s contract was second among all linebackers in first year cash at the time of signing, had the largest signing bonus, and three year cash figure. Wagner was 29 at the time of signing and hit all of these top numbers despite being compared to younger players.

I think that the thing I disliked the most here was just the three year term. If you are going to go this high aim for a fourth year. This has the feeling, as long as Wagner stays healthy, of having a situation in 2022 where Wagner looks for another extension. He will be 32 at that point which ups the risk for the team and will make this deal worth way more than $18M a year if he gets that third extension. That should have been a safeguard here as they gave up more than enough in the contract breakdown to have been able to offset a longer deal.  

Best and Worst Contracts 2021: AFC West

Welcome to our first installment of our summer series looking at the best and worst contracts in the NFL. This year I plan on breaking contracts down by division with a new post each week looking at a different division. Each of these is written based on the team perspective rather than the player perspective and is strictly just based on my opinion of the deal. A bad contract doesn’t mean a bad player (in many cases it is a good player who did a great deal for themselves) nor does a good contract mean a great player on the cheap. Today we will start with the AFC West and next week we will have the NFC West up.

Denver Broncos

Best: Von Miller, 6 years, $19.1M, $70M guaranteed

While most people probably think it is crazy to put a contract this big on a list like this, when you have a player that actually is going to play all six years of the contract I think you have a pretty exceptional contract. It is so rare to have players work out on contracts this size. The contract that was the precursor to this was Ndamukong Suh who played for three years before his release. Justin Houston lasted four. Plenty of others have quickly faded from prized signings to “when can we release them” players.

The Broncos were able to keep from being the first team to hit the $20 million per year number even though Miller as a prolific pass rusher should have received a big raise from the Suh contract. While they did set a new high for injury protection they fell way short of the Suh full guarantee. Considering that Miller was franchised at the time those are pretty solid numbers for the Broncos. Until injury last year Miller had been very productive for the team, more than living up to the big contract.

Worst: Ronald Darby, 3 years, $30M, $19.5M guaranteed

This selection came down to two contracts (the other was Melvin Gordon) and I opted for Darby because I thought the value was too high given his past history. Darby is a good player but has already had two runs in free agency, neither of which really went well. Darby signed for 1 year and $6.5 million in 2019 and then 1 year and $3 million in 2020. While he was healthy for the first time in his career last year and should have been due for a raise I’m not sure that much separated him from other players who wound up signing one year deals.

The numbers here are pretty big for a player who has struggled in free agency and has an injury history and there is little in the way of per game protection if the injury bug strikes back in 2021. They fully guaranteed year two of the contract so they don’t have a way to bring the number down next year if he is off the field. There is certainly upside for Denver in their secondary but this was one where they should have been able to save a few more dollars before signing.

Kansas City Chiefs

Best: Patrick Mahomes, 10 year, $450M, $141M guaranteed

There is probably no better contract in the NFL for a team than the Mahomes contract for the Chiefs. The Chiefs locked Mahomes up for the 12 total seasons on this 10 year extension which is just an amazing contract in this day and age. The current rate for QB extensions is four years which means most players will have an opportunity to sign two extensions while Mahomes is still playing on this contract. While the overall number is massive, the QB market quickly reached $40 million a year after Mahomes signed this one and unless the rest of the NFL is able to maintain a block on raises due to this deal for some time it is likely that the market will exceed $50 million a year within the next few seasons.

This deal should create a similar type of advantage that we saw New England gain for years while working closely with Tom Brady on his contracts giving the Chiefs the ability to maximize the roster around a star QB rather than be forced to minimize the talent due to the QB expenditure. The Chiefs ability to pull this off should give them such a significant advantage against the field where the field pays up for good but not great play and winds up compromising their ability to surround the QB with great players to help bridge the gap created by the difference in QB quality. All in all this is a perfect contract that I never expected to see again in the NFL.

Worst: Anthony Hitchens, 5 years, $45M, $25M guaranteed

There were two other contracts I considered for this but this Hitchens deal is one that I never really cared much for. Though the price doesn’t look as outrageous now that some of the linebacker salaries have really grown, this was one of the contracts that set the wheels in motion, in my opinion, for those larger salaries. At the time I think most viewed Hitchens as a solid 50%-55% type snap guy which at the time was worth around $5 to $6 million a year. $9 million a year with $25 guaranteed was a pretty big jump up.

Structure wise the deal wasn’t great. The team went with a $14M signing bonus to keep the first year cap numbers low and then compounded that with another $5.7M salary conversion for cap relief in the second year of the contract. That really bloated the dead money and cap number for Hitchens last season where he had the 4th highest cap number in the NFL among linebackers. He has the 5th highest number this year if the Chiefs do not look to bring his salary down over the summer. Cutting Hitchens would cost the team over $8 million in dead money though it would be split across two years at this point.

Los Angeles Chargers

Best: Chris Harris, 2 years, $17M, $11.5M guaranteed

Harris’ signing is probably a better example of a good process than a deal that worked out but I always liked what the Chargers did here when they signed Harris to a two year contract last season. The Chargers read the market perfectly, waited until the right time, and swooped in and grabbed a good veteran corner from a division rival. Though Harris is on the older side he came with reasonable upside and perhaps still has a chance to help the Chargers make a playoff push this year.

The contract structure itself should have given the Chargers and ability to renegotiate down a bit if they wanted to in 2021 but I am assuming they did not do that since they have the room with a rookie QB and want to surround him with as much talent as possible. Overall though this is still a reasonable number for a player who two years ago many considered one of the top corners in the NFL and one who has a chance to get back to that level this year.

Worst: Keenan Allen, 4 years, $80.1M, $50M guaranteed

The Chargers don’t really have many deals that standout as negatives and I am sure that it looks odd for Allen to be listed here since he is such a good football player, but of all the contracts on the team I thought this was the one that the team got pulled up on more than they may have needed to be pulled on. Allen was the second player to cross the legit $20 million a year mark at the position and that was a line I don’t think the Chargers needed to cross. In hindsight it probably looks even more so that way with so many receivers struggling to get big numbers in free agency.

There are good features with the contract- in particular the three year cash is under $20M per year and they utilized a bloated final year salary to hit the number needed to sign him but his guarantees run through 2022 so if there happened to be a decline in play this year they would not have an out at all other than via trade. Going the franchise tag route probably would have been messy but they may have been able to peg the two year new money to the cost of two tags rather than a few million extra they wound up doing.

Las Vegas Raiders

Best: Darren Waller, 4 years, $29.8M, $16.5M guaranteed

Give the Raiders credit for finding a gem in Waller who had struggled with off the field issues in his career but found a home with the Raiders after they poached him from the Ravens practice squad. Waller was well on his way to a 1,000 yard season when the team made the decision to extend an offer to Waller worth just a hair under $7.5M a year rather than playing out the RFA process (including the RFA tender the contract would still be an affordable $8.8M a year).

This was a good case of scouting out the market and understanding that even though the tight end position had been rather stagnant that there were contracts on the horizon that would change the market, notably the pending free agency of Austin Hooper and Hunter Henry along with the possibility of a George Kittle extension. Waller wound up with back to back 1,000 yard years and would have been in line for a contract worth upwards of $13 million a season, which probably would have seen him leave Las Vegas. Instead he will be the best non-rookie bargain at the position in the NFL for the next few years.

Worst:  Carl Nassib, 3 years, $25M, $16.8M guaranteed

The Raiders have purged themselves of most of their bad deals which left the Nassib as the one that stood out the most on the roster. From an average value standpoint I would not really consider this that out of line with the market for a secondary rusher but the guarantee is what tipped this one into the negative column.

67% of Nassib’s entire contract was protected for injury, a number that currently ranks 12th among all edge rushers on multi year contracts while the 55% full guarantee ranks 17th. To put those numbers a bit more in perspective his annual value ranks 28th. While it is common to try to bump guarantees in return for a better contract, this one really didn’t fit that bill as the contract itself is pretty much in line with market and they certainly didn’t gain any upside in length had Nassib had a stronger season. This is a general approach for the Raiders on many of their deals but this is the one that stood out the most.

The 30 Worst Signings of 2017

This is the time of year where teams start signing extensions and in about a week the official free agency madness begins and generally everyone is very excited as they sign players, but not all those contracts work out. Normally I do these “worst of” lists during the dead part of the NFL offseason, but thought it might make more sense to do a look back at 2017 as we ramp up to the start of 2018 free agency to see just the kind of risks that teams take with some of these contracts.

As for the criteria selecting the contracts I mainly tried to look at value vs production both before and after the contract. I also tried, for the most part, to not use players that missed the whole season, ala a Malcolm Smith, since we never even saw if they could or could not justify the deal.So here are our selections for the worst 30 signings of last season.

30. Brandon Marshall, Giants- 2 years, $11 million

Marshall played in 5 games before he was injured and just never seemed to fit in with the team. Marshall only had 154 receiving yards at a paltry 8.6 yards per reception while struggling with drops.

29. Latavius Murray, Vikings- 3 years, $15 million

Just about everything the Vikings did this year turned to gold, but they reached on Murray and it was never worth the investment. While Murray salvaged a completely wasted contract when injury got him back into the lineup he is still a low tier back making upper tier money.

28. Terrelle Pryor, Redskins- 1 year, $6 million

As a gamble this wasn’t bad and most, myself included, thought this was a good contract but as things turned out it was a nightmare. Pryor either never fit in or the Redskins coaching staff had no idea how to use him. In any event it was a bad marriage from day 1.

27. Kiko Alonso, Dolphins- 4 years, $29 million

Alonso is an ok player who has struggled this year in coverage. He probably still has a decent change to justify the contract. The issue here was more to do with the Dolphins failure to use the RFA process to see if Alonso could string two decent years in a row together, which obviously he would not have done. They cost themselves millions because of the decision to not wait.

26. Stephon Gilmore, Patriots- 5 years, $65 million

Earlier in the year this looked like a lock for top 5 worst deals of the year but Gilmore played better as the year went on. Still the Patriots had to be looking for more than what they have so far when they signed Gilmore to what was clearly the top free agent cornerback contract in 2017.

25. Marcus Cooper, Bears- 3 years, $16 million

I have to think the Bears thought they were getting more than 23% playtime and one of the worst plays of the year when they signed Cooper to this three year deal. Perhaps he can have more impact in 2018, but this contract was a bit of a stretch all based on his one year in Arizona.

24. Jamie Collins, Browns- 4 years, $50 million

What did the Browns see in Collins to pay him $2 million a year more than anyone else playing the position and a guarantee at signing that on a per year basis is pretty massive?  Collins finished the year with 1 sack and 21 tackles through 6 games before his season ended with an injury.

23. Captain Munnerlyn, Panthers- 4 years, $17 million

Sometimes it’s best not to go looking to the past and bringing someone back after a few years away, which is what the Panthers did when they re-signed Munnerlyn after his three year stint in Minnesota. Munnerlyn struggled, never started a game, and finished with under 40% playtime for the year. The way his contract is structured he is in line to get another opportunity this year.

22. Datone Jones, Vikings- 1 year, $3.75 million

Guys with first round talent seemingly always get overpaid in free agency and the Vikings did that when they signed Jones away from the Packers. Jones pretty much bombed out in the preseason and was cut after the preseason wrapped up leaving the Vikings with nearly a $2 million cap charge for no games played.

21. Adrian Peterson, Saints- 2 years, $7 million

In the long run this won’t harm the Saints that much but there was never a match here at all and it showed when they had no clue how to use Peterson, leaving the Saints with a somewhat pricey, disgruntled player. Give the Saints credit for finding a way to trade him in the middle of the season.

20. Eddie Lacy, Seahawks- 1 year, $4.25 million

Hoping to catch lightning in a bottle the Seahawks made this move for Lacy. Lacy played less than 15% of the team snaps this year. For a team struggling with the cap this proved to be a complete waste.

19. Luke Joeckel, Seahawks- 1 year, $8 million

The Seahawks have had no cap room and a big reason why was the decision to spend $8 million on a bust first rounder. There was zero justification for this contract when similar players were signing for about 45% of this number.

18. Chris Baker, Buccaneers- 3 years, $15.75 million

I think the Bucs made the mistake here of reading too much into one season for a 30 year old situational player. Baker finished the year at his normal levels of about 40% playtime but with just 0.5 sacks. He was cut after the season ended.

17. Terrell McClain, Redskins- 4 years, $21.5 million

This was a deal I thought was awful from the start and with McClain finishing the year under 30% snaps I’d say I was right on this one. When certain teams who are generally bullish on their players are willing to let players walk it should always be buyer beware and that was the case here. They won’t gain much if they release him this season.

16. Dre Kirkpatrick, Bengals- 5 years, $52.5 million

Kirkpatrick seemed to get limited interest in free agency which allowed the Bengals to swoop in and re-sign him to a low tier 1 contract. Maybe they should have followed the rest of the league and not gone there. The Bengals defense fell apart this year and Kirkpatrick was far from a number 1 corner.

15. Christian Kirksey, Browns- 4 years, $38 million

I guess this was the concept of supporting your own and showing players that you make investments in your draft picks, because on the open market I’m not sure Kirksey would have been within $3.5 million of this number. He’ll rack up some stats because he is on a bad team and maybe he’ll be more impactful if the team is ever good but this was a reach.

14. Ben Ijalana, Jets- 2 years, $10.1 million

Rather than signing one expensive left tackle the Jets signed two players with the same amount of money. Ijalana has only seen action in 1.5% of the teams snaps making him one of the most expensive players in the NFL on a per snap basis. Needless to say the Jets are not bringing him back in 2018.

13. Lawrence Timmons, Dolphins- 2 years, $12 million

You know things are not going well when a player you sign in the offseason essentially goes AWOL the night before the season starts and then stories begin popping up that he wants to go back to his prior team. Miami effectively guaranteed the veterans entire contract and he failed to make an impact this season for them. Luckily they should be off the hook for his 2018 guarantee due to his leaving the team.

12. Dion Sims, Bears- 3 years, $18 million

Tight end contracts always seem to cause headaches for team. For some reason teams just get blinded by potential or something there and that’s what happened with the Bears. Sims had never even cracked 300 yards in his career and was not anything special as a blocker either. It should have been no surprise that Sims failed to crack even 200 yards.

11. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks- 3 years, $36 million

Everyone can write to me about how this latest injury had nothing to do with his prior ones, but the fact remains that the Seahawks had no reason to do this contract at all especially for a guy who has been banged up.  Now they are stuck for the next year or two with large injury guarantees for a player many think should retire.

10. Menelik Watson, Broncos- 3 years, $18.4 million

The Broncos already had a problem at tackle because they went cheap in 2016 so rather than fixing it they doubled down and once again overpaid what should have been a cheap player. The Broncos ended up with a major investment at tackle with two players, neither of whom could play. Watson will leave a $2.7M parting gift when cut.

9. Jeremy Kerley, 49ers- 3 years, $8.4 million

This wasn’t a massive financial commitment but Kerley didn’t even make it to the 49ers season opener before he was cut. Kerley received a $1.7 million signing bonus and had $2.8 million in total guarantees. He signed with the Jets for the minimum before being released after a PED suspension.

8. Nolan Carroll, Cowboys- 3 years, $10 million

I’m not sure what the Cowboys plans were with Carroll when they first signed him to this contract, but they must have changed pretty quickly. Carroll played in two games, didn’t look particularly good, suffered a concussion and was then released a month or so later. The Cowboys paid him $4 million, including a $3 million signing bonus for that brief stint.

7. Andre Branch, Dolphins- 3 years, $27 million

I rarely understand why teams sign a player to a reasonable one year contract, get an ok year out of the player with one hot streak sprinkled in, and then turn around and make a big investment which was what the Dolphins did with Branch. I have to think the Dolphins thought they were getting more than 4.5 sacks and 12 tackles though I’m not sure exactly why since this isn’t far off his norms.

6. Jermaine Gresham, Cardinals- 4 years, $28 million

Apparently a 391 yard season in 2016 was enough for the Cardinals to double Gresham’s salary and give him the 7th highest guarantee at signing in the league among tight ends. It didn’t exactly pay off for the Cardinals as Gresham barely topped the 300 yard mark this season.  He has $4M fully guaranteed next year.

5. Markus Wheaton- 2 years, $11 million

Wheaton was signed to help the Bears anemic receiving corps as the Bears hoped to strike lighting with a receiver who once looked like a true number 2. Wheaton responded with 3 receptions and 46 yards and didn’t top 20% of the Bears snaps, which is remarkably worse than Tavon Austin of the Rams.

4. Brian Hoyer, 49ers- 2 years, $12 million

Hoyer only lasted 5.5 games before the 49ers moved Hoyer to the bench despite close to a $10M financial commitment. Eventually the 49ers made the trade for Jimmy Garoppolo and when they were unable to include Hoyer in the trade simply released him allowing him to collect his full salary and go off and sign with the Patriots anyway.

3. Martellus Bennett, Packers- 3 years, $21 million

Bennett has always come with a buyer beware sign and unfortunately for the Packers they didn’t heed the warning. Bennett struggled to fit in with the team and seemed to check out once the Aaron Rodgers was injured. Bennett declared himself hurt and said he was done after this year which led to the Packers just giving up and cutting him after just 233 yards and 0 touchdowns.

2. Mike Glennon, Bears- 3 years, $45 million

Nobody could logically explain this one. Glennon was basically ineffective as a Bucs starter in the past yet somehow because a prized free agent.  You would think in light of the Brock Osweiler mess teams would have learned better but the Bears still committed $18.5 million to Glennon. Glennon was replaced after 6 starts.

1. Kenny Britt, Browns- 4 years, $32.5 million

Britt has always been a talented player but there have always been a number of questions that surround him which is why no team has been willing to make a real commitment to him. The Browns must have assumed he figured it all out when they signed him to a $32.5 million contract with $10.5 million guaranteed. Britt ended up with just 233 yards in 9 games before being released.

Worst Contracts in the NFL: NFC South

Atlanta Falcons- Mohamed Sanu, 5 years $32.5M, $14M guaranteed

Continue reading Worst Contracts in the NFL: NFC South »

Worst Contracts in the NFL: NFC West

Arizona Cardinals- Jermaine Gresham, 4 years, $28M, $13M guaranteed

Continue reading Worst Contracts in the NFL: NFC West »

Worst Contracts in the NFL: NFC North

Chicago Bears- Lamarr Houston, 5 years $35M, $8.9M guaranteed

Continue reading Worst Contracts in the NFL: NFC North »