I’ll ue this thread to fill in some of my initial reactions to some of the contract news as it comes in, unless its something that warrants a post of its own. So feel free to check back through the day to see if I have added any names here. I’ll update from the top down such that newer names get pushed to the top of the list. Thanks for being patient with the contract updates. As I see info or receive it I will try to update accordingly. If you have any information that we dont have listed feel free to email me, tweet me ,or leave a reply here to let me know.
Brock Osweiler Signs with Texans for $18 million a year
The ultimate desperation signing for Houston who saw first hand last year what a bad quarterback can do to a decent football teams. Osweiler has played in a handful of games and got benched for the playoffs for a player who couldn’t play in the NFL. But the reality was there was nobody else for Houston. Ryan Fitzpatrick was not an option since they discarded him the year before. There was no upside in him anyway, nor would there be in any veteran like Drew Stanton, Matt Moore, etc… The numbers are staggering with $37 million paid in the first two years and the lesson learned here is that financially for a quarterback it makes almost as much sense to not play and get the media talking than to play and hurt yourself. Players like RG3, Josh Freeman and Mark Sanchez were all considered damaged goods because they played and things did not go great so they fight for table scraps at the negotiating table. Osweiler never got a chance to prove he is damaged goods and gets paid as a viable starter. Just two years ago players like Osweiler at best would have earned $5 million a year. The cap has gone up but not that much. It probably won’t happen because of the franchise tag, but in order to make the pay equitable at this position between stars and non-provens but Andrew Luck needs to sign for at least $25 million to set the stage for the next group of young quarterbacks who are proven to at least set some kind of spread to the market.
Olivier Vernon goes to Giants for $82.5 million
This was a mind blowing contract that likely exceeded any expectations. Rumors were that Jacksonville was involved which drove the price up to this point I’d imagine. Vernon’s free agency is a prime example of why, unless teams are going to offer an extension prior to the season at reasonable money, most players should roll the dice and hit free agency. Nobody in the league would have put Vernon anywhere near this money at the start of the year. Probably nowhere near this money at the combine. But teams are desperate in free agency for young players at what have become prime positions. As far as slam dunk contracts go for a player there probably won’t be one better than this signed this offseason. This could work out well for the Giants if Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul recreate what the Giants had when they had that explosive pass rush a few years back. If it doesn’t work out expect the Giants general manager to be let go because he has clearly moved all his chips in during free agency.
Mitchell Schwartz to Kansas City for $33 million over five years
This is a tremendous get by the Chiefs who are going to get good value out of this signing. I thought Schwartz had a good opportunity to push the market for right tackles and he ended up right in the same line with the top players who currently play the position. When we talk about positional importance its clear that the NFL gives a major preference on that left side of the line, both for the tackle and guard, and then leave the leftovers for the right side. With pass rushers getting so much more versatile with where they line up that continues to boggle the mind, but traditionally these are the run blockers in a league that doesnt run anymore. He’ll immediately upgrade the Chiefs line.
Coby Fleener to Saints for $36 million over 5
The Saints just can not help themselves. Fleener will have a low cap figure this year to help the Saints comply with the cap, but I don’t know if anyone can understand the logic in what they do there. They traded a superior player last year in Jimmy Graham for cap consideratons and to help gain more draft assets. That was a good move as they got him off the books and drafted a player. But rather than conserving that money last year they used it on the likes of CJ Spiller and Dannell Ellerbe. Now they turn around and more or less bring back the Graham contract with a far less effective player. The Saints cap will be better next season provided they extend Drew Brees this year and perhpas they saw what Ben Watson did in the offense and think Fleener can give Graham type production, but this just shows a bad trend when it comes to these contracts in New Orleans, in my opinion, and one that makes me think they are destined to land in cap jail again in the near future.
DeMarco Murray new deal has $12 million fully guaranteed
The Titans got Murray for next to nothing and got him to bring his price down, but the tradeoff was increasing his $9 million in guaranteed salary to $12 million with a pretty easy vesting mechanism to make it around $15. This is going to make this a two year contract for around $7.5 million a season. They had cap space so Im not sure why they moved the money around like this. I think I would have rather taken the one year risk on a more expensive contract than to lock myself in on a two year deal with someone who looked like he wasn’t interested in playing last year.
Mark Barron gets $9 million a year to stay with Rams
This was a bit of an eye opener. Barron fits what the Rams do very well which likely pushed this price but I have to think the remaining safeties see this as a chance to earn a big raise when they get signed. Off the top of my head I cant recall if the option on Barron was held by the Rams or the Bucs but he made out better by not having it exercised, the second player (Bruce Irvin being the first) to really benefit from that.
Damon Harrison to Giants for $46 million over five years
Harrison is a terrrific player who is going to solidify the Giants run defense and cover for the weak linebackers they have in New York. Harrison benefitted by getting 43 teams involved in the bidding which is what drove Dan Williams, who was higher drafted but nowhere near as succesful as Harrison, to a big deal last year in Oakland. This is a big number to pay a player who generally doesn’t rush the passer but I’d be shocked if this did not work out for the Giants. While there is always a fear that the big money has players turn the motor off I dont think Ive ever seen Harrison take a snap off.
Jaye Howard Stays in Kansas City for $5 million a year
I was stunned by this one. Howard may not have the Snacks name, but he has the ability to rush and play the run. I tend to think he was unable to drive that 43 market and ended up settling to stay in Kansas City. He may have seen things were not breaking right and decided to stay where he knows he fits in best. Better to do that than be someone who prices themselves out of the market only to land somewhere for one season where you dont get to make a name for yourself. It’s only a two year contract so he’ll get a crack at free agency again in two years. If he plays like he did last season he will get a significant increase in pay.
Chase Daniel signs for $7 million a year to backup Sam Bradford
This was a big leap for Daniel who now slots into “competing for starting job” territory. A signing like this would sure seem to indicate that the Eagles are not as committed to Bradford being anything more than a one year starter and would be willing to pull the plug if things go badly. It is certainly an expensive insurance policy and will give the Eagles close to the most, if not the most, money committed to the position in the NFL.
Danny Trevathan to Chicago for $24.5/4 years
I dont think anyone expected much out of Chicago this year except for one or two signings and this might be that one. Trevathan should be a nice piece in helping stabilize their defense and bringing a solid presence in the middle to help them as they continue to transition their roster into something new. This position generally isnt in huge demand and its a very fair contract for both sides. I would expect the Bears to be happy with this one.
Marvin Jones lands in Detroit
I’ll add to this when I see the numbers but this is one of those higher risk/so-so reward kind of contracts. Jones is a terrific number 2 that would have put up terrific numbers across from Calvin Johnson. Without Johnson, even with Goldent Tate, the risk that they run is you end up with a similar scenario as Eric Decker on the Jets in 2014. Decker struggled that year for a majority of the season and did not really do much better until they got Brandon Marshall to play with him. Stafford is a better QB than Geno Smith by a wide margin but Id worry a little here if they went over that $7.5Mish range.
Bruce Irvin officialy to Raiders for $9.25 million year
This came down late yesterday but we just got the numbers today. Irvin fits the hybrid scheme the Raiders run, but in terms of price this was a giant leap. Last years group of similar players had very difficult times using the “potential” argument to secure a big deal. This was one of the reasons Seattle passed on his otion year which was for far less money than what he will earn now. That said the Raiders will get a huge portion of the cap impact out of the way this season so his numbers will be more manegable in 2017 and 2018. I don’t expect this deal to have a bearing on anyone else unless they are competing with Oakland or Jacksonville for players.
Alex Mack signs with Falcons for $9.5 million a year
While we need to wait to see the structure come in, I love this selection for the Falcons. It hits an immediate need with one of the better players, if not the best, at the position. Salaries have been on the rise for the last year or two for centers and to me this is not representing the same jump we have seen in free agency for other positions. Granted Mack is a little older but centers are usually durable and can play out more of a contract at a starter level than other positional players.
Janoris Jenkins lands with the Giants for over $12 million a year
I had mentioned this move a few weeks back and I like the idea of this despite the risks, though this is a huge investment if the reported numbers are accurate. My guess is they are moving away from Prince Amukamara who was too inconsistent and injury prone and not releasing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The money here is big but with likely competition coming from the Raiders and Jaguars the Giants didnt have much choice if this was a player they really wanted. The risk in this deal is similar to what the risk was with Byron Maxwell or would have been with Prince- its number one money being thrown at a player that may or may not be a number 1 corner. Given the Giants big cap space they would be smart to use a minimal signing bonus here to protect themselves three years down the line. This probably ends up setting parameters for the discussions with the franchise players of Norman and Johnson a well as Sean Smith. I’ll be curious to see how Green Bay reacts to this with Casey Heyward.
Tamba Hali stays with Chiefs for $22 million over 3 years
The Chiefs let Hali’s contract void the other day (or at least Im assuming they did) allowing $3 million in bonus prorations to accelerate onto the salary cap, so its a bit of a surprise to see this happen so quickly. This should represent a slight raise from last season for Hali and they can probably use a signing bonus to essentially bring the cap charges and future acceleration right back where it was before the void. These numbers are generally in line with the aging star players so I doubt this impacts the market one way or the other, though it probably gives Derrick Johnson a little firmer ground to work from in terms of structure and expectations from KC.
Chris Ivory lands $6.5M per year contract from Jaguars
This one was a bit of a surprise. Sure the Jaguars are going to be big spenders but I didnt expect it on Ivory, who has a tough time staying on the field for 16 games. I believe John Idzik still works for the Jaguars and he was a big proponent of Ivory coming to the Jets a few years back so that may have helped seal this deal. I’d guess that there is a great deal of incentive based money in this contract for games active in order to meet the big annual value. If Ivory and TJ Yeldon can keep each other freh Jacksonville should improve greatly with their run game. The question is does this impact others. Most teams did not view Demarco Murray last year at thi price and the rumors were that Doug Martin would come in right around this figure. This could give more ammunition to Lamar Miller and Martin to seek more in free agency.
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.