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.
Eric Decker– The Broncos are going to have an interesting decision on their hands this offseason. Do they pay a huge price for Decker to stick around with Peyton Manning or do they let him walk and assume Manning will do well enough with what they have? Decker’s 174 yard, 4 touchdown game against what was supposed to be a great defense was quite the show. Decker has an excellent chance to set a career high in yards as he heads into free agency.
Justin Tuck– Tuck, who will be a free agent next season, had a pretty quiet year up until last night. Tuck manhandled the Redskins offensive line to the tune of 4 sacks and 5 tackles. It was one of the most dominant defensive performances of the year and will pad his statline for the season. Tuck still has 4 weeks to prove he deserves a decent contract somewhere in the NFL, but games like this can go a long way towards convincing a team that Tuck is a benefit to take a flier on next season if they feel the situation is a good one to get the maximum value out of him.
Trent Cole-I got a few comments concerning Cole this week and his contract status. My gut feeling is that he is safe, but he went a long way towards helping that status this week. Cole had two sacks against the Cardinals, one of which led to a fumble. The other sack came on a 3rd down conversion opportunity. This was his second two sack game in a row which should help him maintain a spot in Philadelphia next season. Cole had a bit of a weird extension in which he had a relatively high contract value but it was heavily backloaded, with the big payments beginning in 2015. Cole had to always assume he was getting to 2014 and he’s close to making that a reality.
New Contract Player Of The Week
Brian Hartline– Earlier this year when we discussed Hartline’s signing I felt it was pretty strong value for Miami. He proved it this week with a big game against the Jets. Hartline could not be covered by New York, whether it was Antonio Cromartie or Dee Miliner. He ended the day with 9 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. If Ryan Tannehill had not badly underthrown him on another play he probably would have been over 150 and added another score to the mix. Hartline is the most productive receiver on the Dolphins.