Well it has certainly been a whirlwind two days. First of all I would just like to thank everyone for making OTC your spot for contracts this offseason. We definitely set some kind of visitor record yesterday and pretty much wiped out the site during the flurry of trade activity that kicked off free agency. Luckily we got that back under control and should be fine for the next few days. I also appreciate the patience with the contract uploads. I do my best to try to avoid just copying others work and passing it off as my own, which takes a great deal of time especially when crunching some of the number that arent so obvious. But enough of the site talk, here are some quick takeaways from the first days of free agency.
Ndamukong Suh’s Contract is Crazy
While I speculated at using a similar structure, I really was floored at the contract that the Dolphins gave Suh. This is a contract that Im not even sure Al Davis would have signed. Dolphins head Mike Tannenbaum fought like mad against going this route with Darrelle Revis years ago. Suh will earn $60 million in the first three years of his deal, obliterating Mario Williams prior defensive free agent high of $53 million. The team will likely need to restructure the contract next year for cap relief which will further the issues with the contract, which is going to have multiple $20M plus contract years. Miami has to bank on two things for this to be a success- one that the cap rises at least at the current rate of $10M a year, if not more, and that Suh develops into a once in a lifetime talent like Lawrence Taylor.
It’s a Great Time to be a Cornerback
The lack of talent available this offseason has driven prices to ridiculous height. Byron Maxwell a number two corner received a contract for over $60 million. Players cut this year and last in Brandon Flowers and Cary Williams have signed lucrative contracts. A 30 yer old Darrelle Revis nailed down nearly $40 million from the Jets, who also paid pretty big money to Buster Skrine. It’s strange the way the dynamics of free agency work sometimes. Last year’s group of Revis, Vontae Davis, Aqib Talib, Alterraun Verner, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was superior in every way but teams fought much harder than last year in giving in to contractual demands. This year it’s clearly the player’s market.
It’s Bad Time to be a Running Back (Unless Buffalo Wants You)
The running back market continues to be stagnant with almost every deal coming in at $4 million a year. DeMarco Murray and CJ Spiller are still searching for homes despite being the best talent out there. The Bills should be kicking themselves for what they did in landing LeSean McCoy who was going to be released and they could have picked up for less than $5 million in free agency. The only other team to really overpay was the Giants with Shane Vereen at just over $4 million a season. The Giants have done that in the past with the position.
It’s a Good Time to be a Wide Receiver
Jeremy Maclin’s number’s officially came in at $11 million a season which is quite the figure for a player most teams look at as more of a 1A than a 1. That number was probably heped by Randall Cobb hiting double digits as a slot receiver with the Packers. Both certainly pulled up Torrey Smith who surprisingly ended up with $8 million a year, albeit without a great guarante structure. Even Dwayne Harris pulled off nearly $8 million in guarantees. For the franchised players this has to be difficult to watch. If Maclin is worth $11 million Dez Bryant is worth $16. For teams with star talent like the Bengals I cant even imagine finding common ground with an AJ Green.
It’s Not a Good Time to be a Pass Rusher
Normally the pass rusher is the sexy position in the NFL, but with so many good but not great rushers available teams have been cautious with their investments. Once Jerry Hughes could not crack a double digit APY the writing was on the wall. Pernell McPhee couldnt attract the interest that many expected as he went to the Bears for about $8 million a year, $1.5-$2M less than many expected. Brandon Graham couldn’t find anything exceptional so he went back to Philly and Jason Worilds retired. If these players do well on the relative cheap maybe it will signal a new way of thinking on the position.
What Are They Doing, Part I
I think everyone right now is wondering just what is going on in Philadelphia. While Ive speculated on the benefits of moving Nick Foles to trade for Bradford one day after signing Mark Sanchez to an extension was odd to say the least. The team was correct in not matching the offer Maclin received, but there is a clear sign that Chip Kelly is gutting a good portion of the roster. While Kelly and his system were all the rage two years ago it sure is looking like Kelly running the organization is going to reuire a great deal of faith in Kelly. Now supposedly they are interested in DeMarco Murray right after signing Ryan Mathews. It’s beginning to sound like the Dream Team all over again.
What Are they Doing Part II
I think everyone was floored when the Saints traded Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, a trade that became official today. I applaud the Saints for thinking outside the box with the move and coming to the honest realization that the team, which has had a losing record two of the last three seasons, is not that good. That said I found it incredibly strange to hear that the team is hot for CJ Spiller a day after saying the trade was made so the team can invest more in the defense.
I would not be surprised if this leads to a final curtain call for the core of this successful run. Marques Colston took a steep pay cut to stay a Saint which meant he was likely given a tough ultimatum, something that would not have happened last year. There was no extension like the Falcons gave Roddy White last year. I could almost guarantee Colston could have gotten more in free agency. the team hasnt touched the contracts of the guards which means they are keeping them as easier cuts in the future. Next year Brees will be in his contract year with a crazy cap hit and the team can save $20 million if they trade or release him. Given some of the changes this may be the next step especially if Brees is unhappy without Graham and thinks the team is not commited to winning. Id watch closely as to what happens with a few of the Saints contracts in the coming weeks.
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.