Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that exceeded all expectations and provided exceptional value to his team.
DeSean Jackson– While DeSean Jackson is only in the second year of a new contract, the structure of the contract essentially makes this a contract year for him. Jackson’s 2014 cap charge is $12.5 million which should be good for 5thin the NFL at the position. With only $6 million in dead charges Jackson will be in a spot where he is asked to take a paycut or be released. If he continues to put up numbers like he did this week (9 receptions for 193 yards) he will earn every penny of his salary in 2014. The scary thing is Jackson’s numbers could have been even better had he hauled in a bomb where the throw was slightly off and he lost vision of where he stood on the field. He also had another big score called back because of a meaningless penalty. In this offense Jackson right now is unstoppable.
Darren McFadden– Thus far in his career McFadden has proven to be more hype than substance. He is slated to be an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2014 and needs a monster year to secure a place in the plus $7 million market. We had looked at McFadden extensively last month and laid out some milestones he would need to reach in terms of touches, games played and yards. 19 carries for 129 yards is a terrific start for McFadden, especially when you consider the threat of the passing game in Oakland is next to nothing. McFadden’s 129 rushing yards represented a higher total than Terrelle Pryor’s passing yards. His YPC was higher than Pryor’s YPA. His 28 receiving yards were third on the team. No question that McFadden will continue to up his price if he can produce more games like this.
Jimmy Graham– Graham’s explosion marks an all offense selection week. Everyone knows Graham is terrific but with games like this he is separating himself from the field by so much that the Saints are going to have no choice but to franchise him next season. The numbers are scary good and are going to blow away those of comparison points such as Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten if this continues all season long. With 16 targets Graham was the offense for the Saints. His 16 targets were the same amount as all other receivers on the team combined. Graham is a rare player in that he is targeted as if he is a number 1 WR, something that rarely happens for a TE. That shows an ability for much of what he does to translate to any team in the NFL. I’m not sure there is another position in the NFL where the drop off from the best to second best overall player is as steep as the one from Graham to the next best TE.
New Contract Player Of The Week
Brian Cushing– Cushing just recently cashed in with Houston and if he had not he would have been in the above section rather than in this one. Cushing earned every penny of his extension this week racking up 11 tackles and 2 sacks. Almost all of his tackles were impact plays and he seemed to spend most of his day in the backfield or right up at the line making plays. His stuff of Chris Johnson was one of the critical plays on the drive that ended in a Safety. Thus far Cushing is having a nice bounce back season from injury.