Stock Down: Week 6


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

Antonio Cromartie– In 2012 Cromartie was arguably the best player on the Jets defense often drawing the most difficult assignment and shutting him down. 2013 has been a completely different story. Cromartie has been ineffective and often is spending a good deal of time playing catch up anytime someone puts a move on him at the start of a play. While he was nursing a knee injury yesterday he has been giving up too many big plays on the season and yesterday was no exception as he was toasted by Emmanuel Sanders of the Steelers on a 55 yard touchdown pass. Cromartie is set to earn $9.5 million next season and with a cap charge close to $15 million dollars this is essentially a free agent season for the cornerback. Give the soft state of the CB market and general worries about happens when Cromartie gets older and begins to lose some of that explosiveness, this is as bad a time as any for this kind of season.

Chris Johnson–  Johnson spent a long time trying to get an extension with the Titans following his explosion in 2009 where he rushed for 2000 yards. Finally in 2011 the Titans caved and signed him to an absurd contract making nearly $13.5 million a year with $30 million in guarantees. Johnson, unlike Adrian Peterson, was never able to recapture that real special season and has been little more than one of many overpaid and underperforming running backs. Yesterday Johnson was nearly worthless against the Seahawks rushing for just 33 yards on 12 carries. What’s even scarier is that this was his best game in 3 weeks. His 3 week total is now just 71 rushing yards on 37 carries for an average of 1.9. Johnson has a $10 million dollar cap figure and will earn $8 million in 2014. With just $6 million in dead money he’ll likely be cut and will probably not make $8 million over the span of the entire contract he signs with someone next season.

Ben Tate– Tate had tremendous expectations going into the season and early in the year there seemed to be a chance that he was going to get more work as he looked explosive at times. At some point a team would be convinced that he could be a featured back and he would get his salary in the $5 million a year range. But a few fumbles later and a resurgent set of performances by starter Arian Foster has seen Tate maintain a minimal workload. Tate only saw action on 20 snaps and it seems as if most of them came in mop up time when the game was out of reach.  On the second to last drive he did score a touchdown and pick up a 4th down conversion but that came after being stuffed three times in short yardage situations. All in all he ended up with 10 carries for 12 yards. He needs to get more meaningful opportunities and do better in the opportunities provided to try to get that contract he wants from someone next season.

New Contract Disappointment Of The Week

Greg Jennings– The Vikings paid Jennings big money to help revive their struggling passing attack but for the most part he has just become another limited use piece in the Minnesota offense. Jennings caught 6 passes on Sunday for just 34 yards. He is on pace to have his worst statistical non-injury plagued year since his rookie season. Despite earning $9 million a season he ranks 3rd on the team in both receptions and yards. It’s not all his fault but he’s a perfect example as to why in 90% of the cases you need to have some type of QB in place before spending big money on a wide receiver. The Ponder/Cassel tandem was not that type of QB.

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Antonio Cromartie and Franchise Tag Rules


There seemed to be a bit of confusion today in Jetsland over an article Manish Mehta wrote in which he stated that if the Jets were to consider using the Franchise tag on Antonio Cromartie in 2015 that it would cost the team $17.74 million dollars.  Some people I know felt that couldn’t be the number because the Franchise tags are smoothed out in the new CBA and would project closer to $10 million for corners. But Manish was correct and here’s why.

All Franchise Tenders are not created equal. The CBA has various rules in place for Franchise tag values. The numbers are dependent on exclusivity of the tag, position played, times being named the Franchise player, and prior years’ salary.  In the case of Cromartie he falls under the category of prior years salary.

The Franchise tender information published by the NFL is the minimum amount that a Franchise player must earn. If his salary the year before is close to or exceeds the number he is entitled to 120% of his prior years salary. The loose definition of salary in this case would be salary cap number minus workout bonus.

For Cromartie his 2014 salary for the Franchise calculation is $14.78 million. That number is made up of a $4.3 million dollar base salary, $5 million dollar roster bonus, and $5.48 million in prorated dollars. That makes his 2015 tag value equal to the number from Manish’s article. At those kind of cap numbers it is highly unlikely that he would be on the Jets, which is why the Jets will either extend him after this season or trade or cut him before his roster bonus is due in March of 2014. The Jets had restructured his contract in 2013 for cap relief but took a cautious approach and did not consider extending him despite the down market at the position.

Beyond Cromartie though that got me to thinking about players in the final year of their contract this season that could see their Franchise tenders be so high that the tag is not even an option for the team. Digging through my lists these were the names and approximate tag figures I have for the players (that means there is always a chance for a mistake) that I thought might make someone think twice before applying the tag. In the case of Anthony Spencer his tag will actually be that of a Quarterback because this is his third time tagged, so his real value is higher than this. I believe Vinatieri only played on the tag once in New England. If it was twice he may also be able to earn the QB tag value.



Estimated Tag

Jared Allen



Anthony Spencer



Michael Johnson



Brandon Albert



Darren McFadden



Antonio Smith



Randy Starks



Henry Melton



Paul Soliai



Adam Vinatieri



Pat McAfee




Best & Worst Contracts: The New York Jets


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

Antonio CromartieBest Contract: Antonio Cromartie

This was a difficult task because the Jets contract situation has become so muddled in recent months with numerous restructures turning what were at one time good deals into ones that don’t look so good. The problem is that the majority of players the Jets have under contract are rookies, who I wont consider for this category, or guys hoping to prove capable of playing 900 snaps. Just in terms of value I’d say Willie Colon may be the best value if healthy, but it’s a big if with him. So I went with a guy that proved to be a good bargain at the time of signing.

Back in 2011 when the Jets re-signed Cromartie the reality was the Jets had little leverage. The Jets had coveted signing a contract with Nnamdi Asomugha that would pair him up with Darrelle Revis, putting the two best corners in the NFL on the same team. Asomugha went on to sign with the Eagles leaving the Jets to go back to Cromartie. All it took was one year for the Jets to sour on Kyle Wilson as anything more than a nickel corner at least in the short term so the Jets had no other options.

Cromartie and Asomugha were both represented by the same agency so perhaps there was some discussions about parameters for both at the time, but the Jets did eventually lock up Cromartie on a contract that would pay only $8 million a season, which, at the time, was a very fair number for a player that some teams might see as a number 1 option.

Cromartie has been one of the better coverage guys in the NFL the last two years and his 8 million a year pricetag has been far more cost effective than higher priced players such as Asomugha, Revis, Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan. The Jets agreed to pay Cromartie $22.5 million over three years and in return would get to release him in the 4th year at almost no dead money charge while retaining significant trade flexibility if they needed to move him before that. Its essentially the same deal the 49ers would sign with Carlos Rogers a year later with Cromartie being the much better player.

Cromartie’s contract was restructured this year to reduce his cap charges which has made the contract now look worse than it really is- he will now cost the Jets nearly $5.5 million to release in 2014- but in a sea overpriced positional deals or significant restructuring the contract for Cromartie persists as the best value on the Jets roster.  I don’t know if that is saying much, but at the end of the day they will get better value from him than anyone else on the roster.

David Harris


Worst Contract: David Harris

Harris is a nice football player. He can rush the QB a bit. He’s a fundamentally sound team player. He is not Patrick Willis, but the Jets paid him as if he was. Harris’ contract was a landmine since day 1. Running only 4 years the Jets guaranteed Harris nearly 70% of his entire contract upon signing, the largest of any veteran player in the NFL at the position.  His $24.9 million dollar guarantee was higher than anyone else at the ILB in the league. Harris’ percentage of total contract guaranteed only trails two first round rookies and those players have contracts that are slotted. The next closest high priced veteran has about 46% of his contract guaranteed.  The guarantee per year of $6.225 million is more than $2 million more a year than Willis’ face value guarantee.

When Harris signed the 4 year contract his agent mentioned how the Jets wanted to do a longer deal but they turned it down. Of course they did. The Jets gave Harris all the perks of a long term contract without the long term giving him a wonderful opportunity to have his cake and eat it too. Harris’ contract contained no offset language giving the Jets no recourse in the event that his play dropped after signing, which it did.

Harris’ statistical performance from 2008-2010 was closer to that of former Jet Jonathan Vilma and other mid tier ILB’s. My valuation at the time indicated that Harris should be worth around $6.5 million a year to a team. The Jets gave him $9. As the team began to break apart around him all the warts that you could kind of see in his lack of output leading into the contract extension shone brightly. He wasn’t fast enough to be an impact player no strong enough to shed blockers who were no longer being occupied by another ILB as well as a Nose Tackle. He is too slow to cover down the field, a major concern with more spread offenses that feature a Tight End.

The bottom line is Harris is a nice player to have on a good defense, but he is by no means a player that you build a defense around, and the Jets did just that with their financial commitment to him. Harris’ $13 million dollar cap charge is the highest for an ILB in the NFL and his $7 million dollar cap charge in 2014 will be in the top 10. Had Harris performed well the Jets were set to reward him with an additional $5 million in 2014. I would think  that ship has sailed, but without knowing the particulars of those escalators I guess the possibility still exists. Harris will likely be cut next season, when his dead money reduces to $2 million, leaving the Jets with a $31 million dollar bill for 3 seasons of pretty bland play

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England Patriots, New York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens (June 27)