Amazingly I was able to get through all 32 teams in making my selections for best and worst contracts for each team. Some of the teams I felt were easy to do and others incredibly difficult, but I wanted to link up to each article in the event anyone wanted to look back at them especially when some “worst contract” player goes out and has the great season. While many of the deals have a backwards looks many were forward looking for new deals signed just this season. That should be the fun in these articles. You can go back and say “boy was I wrong” or maybe go back and say you picked the right one. I had a request from Ghoston to basically do a summary of the Best and Worst Contract series and to go over who I felt was the best and worst in the division and in the league overall. Since the summaries are done for everyone (and 1 of the players was already released) I figured why not.
So without further ado here are my selections in each division
So why some of the choices? I don’t think Wake really needs explaining. He is a dominant pass rusher that doesn’t make dominant rusher money and is easily cut if he slows down. Williams is one of those players that should have been flagged before he even signed the contract. It’s a contract that he can never live up to. In the North Thomas is a team friendly deal for a top player in a division that is lacking in that regard. Flacco is an example of a player pinning down a team because of the teams poor salary cap situation and knowing the team needs him more than he needs them.
Andre Johnson was as good as anyone in the NFL for most of his career and never came close to Larry Fitzgerald money. The Titans committed a cardinal sin by overemphasizing a season that occurred in the past and assuming money would make it happen again in the future. Charles is a nice little bargain in a division that has few while Meachem is one of many duds in the West and on his own team.
The NFC East was difficult as I didn’t really have any overwhelming choices for a best deal giving Celek the label of best in the bunch while Ratliff was just a terrible extension that served no purpose at the time. Tillman has been so good for so long that he was an easy choice while Carlson’s no show in Minnesota made him an easy choice as well.
White is a terrific player that never cashed in like a Mike Wallace even though he had every reason to based on his production. Nobody can explain the why of Jonathan Stewart and what dirt he must have had on the Panther organization to receive the type of contract he received. Finally the 49’ers have Joe Staley as a top tier left tackle for rookie type money while the Rams signed Jared Cook based on expectations that I am not sure he has any ability to fill.
So out of all these deals which is the best and worst for each team? I think I would actually go straight across the AFC East. Wake is probably the biggest bargain in the NFL. He plays an impact position that should rank second to only QB in the grand scheme of things and he’s one of the best in the game, but being paid as if he is just another “good” player. Williams’ cost is just so high and there is so much money in those first three seasons that I think it trumps the overall mess that is the Stewart deal. Williams will produce more than Stewart, but Williams is being paid to be an MVP. If you take away the fact that he was the number 1 overall pick in the draft he never would have gotten the money he received and a team should never use that as a reason to expect greatness from a veteran. There were years of good but not incredible play to lean on when setting a price. They failed to do that in Buffalo.
Here are the links to each team’s article for best and worst contract.
Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles
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.