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.
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.
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.