Best and Worst Contracts 2016: Cincinnati Bengals

The best and worst picks continue in the AFC North with the Bengals…

Best: Andy Dalton, 6 years, $96 million, $17M guaranteed

There are so many places to go with the Bengals who are one of the best teams, in my opinion, and consistently negotiating good contracts with their players. They are very unique in that they drive good deals that give the team major flexibility but unlike others they have almost every intention of honoring the entire contract when its signed. It makes for a different decision for a player and his agent when deciding if he should or should not sign a contract. For many players the two or three year cash flow is incredibly important because come year four the player is cut or asked to take a pay cut. The decision should come down to the more or less the entire Bengals offer versus the other teams up front cash and what you might earn after being cut in three years. Continue reading Best and Worst Contracts 2016: Cincinnati Bengals »

NFL Stock Down: Week 7

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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 hurt 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 did not live up to the expectations that his contract sets for the player.

Stock Down

Brian Hoyer– Maybe Hoyer was reading into the press clippings too much but this was a dog of a game that looked more backup level quarterback than competent starter. To complete 39% of your passes against Jacksonville is about as bad a game a player can have in the NFL. For a player at his level he cant afford many games like this.

CJ Spiller– I always dislike putting an injured player in this category, but this was really devastating for Spiller who will likely miss the rest of the season. Spiller needed more of an opportunity in his walk year to do something special enough to warrant a mid tier contract. Now he could be looking at either a one year “prove it” type contract in the same pay range of Knowshon Moreno or a far lesser two year contract like Ben Tate.

Osi Umenyiora– Another game and another empty stat sheet for Umenyiora. The Falcons are not out of the race because the NFC South is so bad, but if there is a player they should trade its Osi, who doesn’t fit in the system and isn’t benefitting either side by remaining in Atlanta.

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New Contract Disappointment Of The Week

Andy Dalton– When Dalton is bad he can be atrocious and after a hot start it looks like the Bengals have entered the bad Dalton period of the season. The franchise QB finished the day 18 of 38 for a sad 126 yards and no scores. That can’t be what the Bengals expected when they signed Dalton to a $16 million a year extension this offseason.

Salary Cap Breakdown of Andy Dalton’s $96 Million Extension

Stock Up: Week 16

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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.

Stock Up

Greg Hardy– Hardy registered 3 sacks against the Saints and had Drew Brees showing the look of fear on more plays than not. Hardy has 11 sacks on the season and with a great crop of young pass rushers all eligible for new contracts its going to be a race to see who gets the most money in the new pass rushing marketplace. The Panthers don’t really have the cap space to franchise him and carry him on that tag for any period of time and he has a teammate already making wild money that he will use as a starting point in negotiations. With the playoffs coming up he has a chance to earn some big money.

Robert Quinn– Another 3 sack game for Quinn, who now has five multi-sack games on the season and three games with three sacks. He has 18 sacks on the season, dominates the competition, and seems to make this list every week. The one thing he does not have going for him that Hardy does is the fact that he is not a free agent next season, while Hardy is. Quinn is extension eligible which gives a bit more leverage to the Rams when working out a contract with him. Still this is going to be a race to crown the highest paid player and one likely playing leapfrog over the other.

Andy Dalton– I’ve given up trying to figure Dalton out. He is all over the map this season but he sure did tear it up against the Vikings. Dalton threw for 4 touchdowns and 366 yards on the day. I don’t know what the Bengals really do here. The team is good enough to win it all, perhaps even this season, which could leave Dalton getting a Joe Flacco like contract. Of course the bad Dalton is going to leave you stuck with a Matt Schaub type contract if you extend early. Big decision is looming for the Bengals here.

 

New Contract Player Of The Week

Julian Edelman– Edelman could really go in either category since his contract was just a one year deal, but imagine where the Patriots offense would be without him?  In a season of injuries and turnover at the position, Edelman has been the lone steady force out there. On Sunday he racked up another 7 receptions for 77 yards and he is going to surpass 1,000 yards on the season. Not too bad for a player with incentives for just low level of catches since nobody expected much from him. I’m not sure if the Patriot “system” has watered down the value of their players following flops of players like Deion Branch, Randy Moss, and David Givens over the past decade once they left the Patriots, but Edelman is one of the best values at his position this year and will likely earn a low level number 2 type deal next season.

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Stock Up: Week 8

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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.

Stock Up

Lamarr Houston– The Raiders Defensive End is going to be one of the most sought after free agents on the market provided that he is not slapped with the Franchise tag, which would seem likely. Houston is one of those rare pass rushers in the NFL that can be just as effective against the run as he is sacking the QB. He finished Sundays game with 1 sack and 5 tackles, two of which were for a loss.  He is one of the most well rounded players at the position. The Raiders salary cap situation is so unique that he could find himself getting an incredibly lucrative front loaded contract if this level of play persists. He can be a force for a long time on what is becoming a formidable defense.

Andy Dalton– I had pretty much thrown Dalton out for the rest of this season when it came to contract talks next year, but over the last three weeks he has shown improvements and I think we can at least discuss the possibility of an early extension for the Bengals QB. Dalton ripped the Jets apart for 325 yards and 5 touchdowns bringing his 3 week total to 1,034 yards with 11 Td’s to just 2 interceptions. Statistically that is an incredible pace and way into the upper echelon of QB play in the NFL. Sure he still may miss a few deep throws here and there, but the bottom line right now is nobody can say that the Bengals are winning in spite of Andy Dalton. As they look to lock up their young core talent Dalton may be in line for that extension after all.

Antrel Rolle Rolle only has one more year remaining on his contract with the Giants and at a $9.25 million dollar cap charge he is either going to become a free agent or get extended. Rolle is the vocal leader of the Giants defense but put forth an effort where he was more than just vocal. Rolle began the day by intercepting the Eagles and helped set the tone for the Giants defense all day long. Rolle was all over the field with 4 tackles, a sack, and a pass broken up to go along with his interception.  Rolle is set to earn $7.25 million if he is not cut next season.  Big games like this one might give him the opportunity to earn that much money from the Giants or someone else.

New Contract Player Of The Week

Aaron Rodgers– Rodgers looked every bit the highest paid player in the NFL with his performance against the Vikings on Sunday night. Rodgers, despite his lack of receiving targets, sliced and diced his way through the Vikings defense with pinpoint accuracy. Some of the throws he made were incredibly difficult as he helped bring his team to a 41-17 point lead in the 4th quarter. This year has not been kind to the $20 million plus contract players except Rodgers, who is the only mega dollar player at the position who looks like he deserves the money and can justify the spending.

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Stock Down: Week 4

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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 hurt 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 did not live up to the expectations that his contract sets for the player.

Stock Down

Hakeem Nicks– Nicks complained to some extent last week about his lack of getting the ball thrown his way, but this week the ball went his way and too often fell off his fingertips. Nicks, who after 2011 was poised to be a top paid WR, has struggled for the last two years. He hadn’t really made the kind of impact the team was expecting and against Kansas City he was a major disappointment. Nicks finished the day with 33 yards, which was 33 yards more than the week before, and had multiple passes that he could have hauled in end up on the ground. Early in the game he dropped a deep sideline pass and immediately began looking for a flag. Luckily for him there was one, except on the Giants which called the play back, making his drop easily forgotten. Later in the game he again was there down the sideline and he attempted a one handed grab for a reason only he could answer as he easily could have gotten a second hand under it. Two years of struggling on a team with another receiver doing well may prove difficult when he hits free agency looking to be paid like Mike Wallace. Like the Giants he needs to turn the season around.

Andy Dalton– Entering his third season in the league, Dalton was supposed to take the leap and establish himself as a bonafide top level starter in the NFL. He’s had the near perfect situation with a defense that is considered among the top 5 in the game, a solid offensive line, and playmakers in the passing game to make a playoff run that likely would lead to a lucrative contract extension after the season from the surprisingly high spending Bengals. Instead Dalton has been underewhelming and on Sunday was outplayed by a player most considered a  journeyman backup. Dalton is going to be perceived similar to Josh Freeman in that he is highly dependent on one receiver and if that receiver was removed from the game his stats would fall to far below average territory. The Browns did a decent job of taking that receiver, AJ Green, out of the mix and Dalton struggled badly. More games like this and the extension talk is going to turn to “finding another QB before we waste the talent” talk very quickly

Maurice Jones-Drew– MJD has been here before and let’s face facts its over for him. Maybe he will find a home somewhere next season and have a surprising one year wonder resurgence like Jamal Lewis did with the Browns in 2007, but his ability to command big dollars is pretty much gone. Jones-Drew has yet to break 50 yards this season and this weeks’ 1.8 yards per carry is a season low, topping last weeks’ 2.26 YPC disaster.  There was a time in his career when he could have at least made a team like the Jaguars with no viable QB at least look like a professional team, but now he just looks like the rest of the Jaguars. At this rate MJD may find it hard to even find a team to try him out next season.

New Contract Disappointment Of The Week 

Matt Flynn– I could have easily gone with Joe Flacco this week after his 5 interception outing versus the Browns, but I chose Flynn instead. Flynn went up against one of the worst defenses in the NFL and did nothing. Flynn led the team to just 7 offensive points, but returned the favor with a pick 6 to give the Redskins life. He was sacked 7 times and fumbled once. The Raiders traded for Flynn this offseason assuming he would be a holdover starter for one to two seasons while they rebuilt the organization. The Raiders were the second team to learn that there is no upside to Flynn and benched him before being forced to start him this week due to injury to their actual starter. This was Flynn’s opportunity to prove everyone wrong and he failed badly. Flynn has just become another in a long line of failed backup QBs that should all have a buyer beware sticker around their neck at this point.

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Why Does Geno Smith’s Contract Contain Such Large Bonuses?

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According to ProFootballTalk the Jets have added large workout bonuses into QB Geno Smith’s contract. I speculated yesterday that Smith’s contract would contain at least $100,000 in workout or offseason bonuses but was a bit surprised at the amount that these contain, $690,819. Some speculate that it’s a sign the Jets could be worried about Smith’s offseason dedication while others say that it was a masterful negotiation by Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Which is it?

In terms of offseason money this is the largest amount for a non-first rounder over the final two years of his contract. The prior largest figure was Janoris Jenkins, whose deal contained $684,163 in season roster bonuses, an amount that was chosen because of Jenkins off the field problems. That doesn’t mean it is uncommon to have bonus money, I believe 18 of 32 second rounders had some sort of bonus money last season, just uncommon for it to be of this size. That could indicate some issues with Smith that the Jets are trying to ensure don’t pop up.

While the Jets in the past have been big workout bonus believers, their new GM, John Idzik, has come from a system where the offseason money is not a priority. Considering the Jets let go of the teams lead contract negotiator it is highly unlikely that they would be looking at workout bonuses as a main component of contracts. Again this paints a unique picture for the GM making this a somewhat unique situation.

On the other side of the coin offseason bonus money is always in the players favor as it forces a teams hand to release a player early or pay him. It’s almost like having a “no-offset guarantee” clause in your contract if you make it through workouts or a roster bonus date.  In terms of cash flow it is beneficial to get more money early rather than needing to wait for the season to begin.

Again its not uncommon, specifically for the QB. Colin Kaepernick had $200,000 in workout bonuses with the 49ers. Andy Dalton received $200,000 in reporting bonuses from the Bengals. Brock Osweiler has $349,245 in roster bonus money coming his way from the Broncos. So the precedent for the bonus money is there and in all of these cases this was money pushed for by the agents to improve the cash flows to a very highly valued asset.  Osweiler’s situation is probably the most unique because of the presence of Peyton Manning which is why he pushed for high roster bonuses rather than the later bonuses the others received.

So what was the purpose of the high bonus?  First I would say it depends on the guarantee structure of the contract. As of typing this I do not know  if Smith’s 2015 base salary was guaranteed. I would assume that it was based on former treatment of QB salaries. Dalton received a guarantee on his 3rd year salary. Kaepernick had close to $600,000 of his third year salary guaranteed. Osweiler, selected much later in the round, received his first two years guaranteed. All of their contracts, more or less, represented a premium in guarantees over the slot. That is the QB premium I talk about that exists in the draft.

If Smith did receive a full $585,000 guarantee on his P5 in 2015 that is a big win for the player. The presence of the workout bonus in this case essentially guarantees him  a full guarantee on his third year. That is better than Kaepernick and puts him in the same category as Dalton, both players drafted a few slots higher. That’s a big win.  If there is no year 3 guarantee then Smith lost big and the workout bonus was just a compromise to cover for the guarantee. That will be a big blow for Jay Z’s first client in the NFL and one that will be used against him.

The Jets tied all his extra year 3 and year 4 compensation to workouts, normally meaning something like 70-80% attendance. As I said before the number is a surprise especially given Idzik’s track record.  It may not have anything to do with Smith the player, as is being speculated, but more Jay Z the agent. The Jets have to assume that Smith is going to be their QB of the future. The NFL permits contracts to be renegotiated after the 3rd season in the NFL. This agency is a complete unknown around the NFL and there could be a feeling that Smith is going to be advised to holdout in the future to make it known that he wants a new contract.

The workout bonus gives the Jets protection for that in year 4. A roster or reporting bonus can allow Smith to collect without being present in the offseason, staging a bit of a mini-holdout as we have seen others do. The large workout bonus makes it almost mandatory for Smith to participate even if unhappy with his contract status. About 40% of his 2016 salary is connected to workouts now. That should at least help, a little bit, the potential of an agency turning the offseason into a big story about contracts. The Jets have been down this road multiple times with Darrelle Revis.  Idzik himself even saw a little bit of this last year when someone starting floating a story about how Russell Willson was underpaid and was going to demand his contract redone, even though the CBA didn’t allow it. It was likely a bogus story from the start, but it takes the focus off football.

So when the details of the contract are official we can make a better determination of the whys of the contract. If that guarantee is missing from 2015 then it was a win for the Jets side and they have likely tried to protect themselves from any outside forces keeping Smith from attending the offseason programs. If the guarantee exists then Smith’s team did a really good job and maybe the Jets felt that this was the best protection they could get in the future. We should know the answer later today.

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