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.
Jason Hatcher– The 31 year old Hatcher seems prepared to put an exclamation point on his seasons he heads into free agency and looks to land what will likely be the last meaningful contract of his career. He has already shattered his career high in sacks just 7 games into the season and has become one of the most disruptive interior lineman in the NFL. Hatcher was a monster against the overmatched Philadelphia Eagles, registering 9 pressures of which one was converted into a sack. He was credited with 3 tackles and 1 assist on the day. He has probably benefitted more than anyone on the team from the change in defensive philosophy and now has the body of work to interest all 32 teams in his services due to his versatility along the line. I’m not sure if Dallas can afford to keep him next year but his price tag is going to get higher and higher with each passing week.
Eric Decker– Decker is on pace for a 1400 yard season and was dominant for the Broncos even in a loss amassing 150 yards on the night. Decker has had at least 85 yards in 5 of his 7 games this season and has become a tremendous weapon in this passing offense. Even though there will always be a thought of “he does it with Manning” surrounding Decker he is taking the opportunity and running with it. The Broncos did not extend Decker this offseason and it was expected that with Wes Welker being signed that Decker might see his numbers drop. Instead he is leading the most productive group of receivers in the NFL . Whether he comes back to Denver or another team sees him as the perfect complimentary piece to an offense with a strong QB, such as the Colts or Falcons, he is increasing his value every week.
Devin Hester– Though it came against the Washington Redskins one can not diminish the impact that Hester can make in a return game. Hester has pretty much already set or is going to set every record in the category. Though Hester never developed as a wide receiver he is a rare player that will be able to find a home due to his returning ability. This marks his first touchdown since 2011 and gives him two 80+ yard returns on the season. These are important numbers, IMO, because it washes away any thought that Hester might not be worth worthy of a decent deal if his returns were not going to produce the monster plays of years past. Two big plays on the year should be more than enough for him to secure a new deal in 2014 when he becomes a free agent.
New Contract Player Of The Week
Matt Ryan– Ryan has been far from perfect since singing his monster contract extension this offseason, but on Sunday “Matty Ice” made his way back onto the field throwing for 273 yards on 77% passing despite a depleted WR corps. Ryan sliced apart the Tampa Bay secondary avoiding throwing at star CB Darrelle Revis and exposing every other player on that roster. Ryan is probably going to avoid scrutiny this season because of all the injuries but he needed a game like this one to get his team back on track and to hope to be able to make a push for the second wildcard spot. They need Ryan to play like a $20 million dollar QB if they are to make up the two games they are behind for that playoff spot.
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.