Best and Worst NFL Contracts 2016: New York Jets

We wrap up the AFC East with a look at the New York Jets. We’ll be moving to the AFC North next week…

Best: Brandon Marshall, 3 years, $26 million, $9M guaranteed

I had a hard time selecting a best on the Jets as very little really stands out on the team as a great team friendly contract. By the same token they don’t have a bunch of bad ones either. Most are just your average middle of the road contract. I think Marshall’s contract fits in that same category but there were a few things that I thought helped it stand out as a bit better than expected. Continue reading Best and Worst NFL Contracts 2016: New York Jets »

2015 NFL Stock Up Week 2

Every week during the season I’ll take a look back at the games and select three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on gameday. 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. So let’s see who made the cut in week 2…

Stock Up

Michael Crabtree– Crabtree took a risky one year contract with the Raiders and it paid off this week. Crabtree put up 111 yards and a touchdown, which are the kind of numbers that can get him back on track to earning that number 1 receiver type of contract he desperately wants. Continue reading 2015 NFL Stock Up Week 2 »

Jets to Trade for Brandon Marshall

According to a number of different reporters the Jets will be trading a mid round draft pick to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears. My assumption is that the pick will be a 5th rounder since the Jets 4th and 6th round picks will technically be tied up in the Percy Harvin trade from last season through the NFL draft.

Marshall is a very accomplished receiver that had posted seven 1,000 yard seasons in a row before falling to just 721 last season as he struggled with injuries and an ineffective offense. Marshall is 31 years old and should be able to produce for at least two more years at the 1,000 yard level, provided he stays healthy. The Jets will take on $7.7 million in salary for Marshall this year. His 2016 and 2017 salaries of $8.1 and $8.5 million are non-guaranteed, meaning that if the 700 yard season was a sign of things to come he can be released without future salary cap implications. Neither side should push to rework the contract given that Marshall was just signed in 2014.

The Bears had signed Marshall to a contract extension last year that paid him a $7.5 million signing bonus and $7.5 million salary. The team ended up getting just one year for $15 million, essentially as if he was a franchise player, so from that perspective the extension was a disaster for the Bears. The Bears will now carry $5.625 million in dead money for Marshall this season, but that will allow them to create another $3.95 million in cap room. For Chicago this is probably a sign of the lack of faith that the new regime has in the roster that was constructed by former GM Phil Emery and they will be looking to turn over as many veteran pieces as possible.

This move should signal the end of Harvin’s brief tenure with the Jets last season. Harvin was acquired in the middle of the season when then GM John Idzik was getting hammered in the press for not being proactive in his approach to help the team. Harvin was highly overpaid by the Seahawks and had been overvalued for some time around NFL circles. With the Jets already having Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro under contract, Harvin should be the odd man out.

Harvin was set to earn $10.5 million this season and he would need to bring that number down if he wanted to stay. Reports were that he balked at such a move and this trade would seem to indicate that the Jets realized it was time to move on. Marshall is not only more productive but also cheaper. Last season Harvin did not reach 500 receiving yards. He will likely struggle to earn $6 million a year if he is released.

The trade can not be official until March 10, which likely means the Jets would not make a move with  Harvin until that date. We will not update any of the cap charts to reflect the trade until it is actually official with the NFL.

Stock Up: Week 12

[adsenseyu1]

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

Knowshon Moreno– Moreno ate up the Patriots last night rushing for 224 yards. He has been a beast all season, resembling nothing of the frustrating player that has suited up for Denver since 2009. Moreno gained more yards on the ground than Peyton Manning threw for in the air and he is averaging over 74 yards a game. He’s also added almost 350 yards receiving as well. Moreno’s contract will void this offseason making him an unrestricted free agent so his rebirth is coming at the perfect moment. He apparently was injured in the overtime and hopefully it is nothing serious but he has more than earned a new contract with his play in 2013.

Karlos Dansby– I have to imagine Dolphins fans are wondering where this player was in Miami because he has been a very good player and excellent fit inside the Cardinals defense. Dansby was signed to a low cost one year contract in Arizona this offseason and has far exceeded the contract this year with his play. On Sunday Dansby was credited with five solo tackles and had an interception that he returned for a touchdown. The touchdown broke the game wide open giving the Cardinals an insurmountable 21 point lead. He leads all linebackers this year in both unassisted tackled and passes broken up. Dansby isn’t a young man anymore but he has probably earned himself a two or three year contract based on his play with the Cardinals.

Brandon Marshall– On a day where little went right for Chicago, Marshall continued his dominant season with 10 catches for 117 yards, his 3rd 100 yard game in the last 4 games. Marshall has one year remaining on his contract after this season and with the Bears in a state of flux it is very likely that Marshall could see himself with a new contract either with Chicago or another team if he is traded in the offseason. Marshall has been a model citizen since leaving Miami and ranks second in the NFL in receptions and 9th in yards. His production is consistent year after year and shows no signs of going down. Most important he is one of the rare players in the NFL that seems QB proof in that the production remains constant regardless of who he plays with.

 

New Contract Player Of The Week

Ryan Fitzpatrick– I’ve always given Fitzpatrick a lot of grief for somehow tricking the Buffalo Bills into paying him as a true starting Quarterback off a few game hot streak despite years of being relegated  to backup status. On Sunday, however, there was no doubt that Fitzpatrick played to the level of that contract, even if that contract does not exist anymore. Signed in the offseason as insurance for injury prone Jake Locker Fitzpatrick revived the Titans playoff chances with a 320 yard, two touchdown game that his team won in the final seconds on the road against the Raiders. You can not ask for more than that out of anyone.

[adsenseyu4]

[subscribe2]

Is the Wide Receiver Market the Next to Fall?

[adsenseyu1]

The other night during the Dolphins loss once again the thought of Mike Wallace being underutilized/overhyped was afloat on Twitter. I was not a fan of the contract the Dolphins gave Wallace, but the repeated comments made me to consider if the wide receiver market as a whole is going to decline this season much in the way the cornerback and defensive end market did in 2013.

Since 2011 there have been a number of big contracts signed at the wide receiver position and this year in particular featured a number of free agents including Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Victor Cruz, and Greg Jennings.  Here is a look at who we have estimated to be the 15 highest paid players at the position and what their projected production is this season:

Name

Annual ValueProj RecProj Yards

Calvin Johnson

$16,207,143

99.4

1695.0

Larry Fitzgerald

$16,142,857

69.3

876.4

Percy Harvin

$12,849,000

0.0

0.0

Mike Wallace

$12,000,000

71.1

880.0

Dwayne Bowe

$11,200,000

58.7

656.0

Brandon Marshall

$11,194,750

106.7

1397.3

Vincent Jackson

$11,111,111

81.8

1176.9

DeSean Jackson

$9,700,000

86.4

1444.8

Andre Johnson

$9,685,714

110.2

1511.1

Miles Austin

$9,016,667

33.0

275.0

Greg Jennings

$9,000,000

60.4

728.9

Victor Cruz

$8,600,000

88.9

1269.3

Roddy White

$8,544,000

32.5

322.8

Pierre Garcon

$8,500,000

108.4

1427.6

Santonio Holmes

$8,416,667

27.5

668.3

The average production for the group is 69 receptions for 955 yards. Now that number could rise if Percy Harvin comes back strong from injury in the last 7 games, but for the most part 4 of the top 7 salaried players are financial busts at the position. Those seven players represent the top tier of the market. Johnson is justifying the cost while Brandon Marshall is always consistent every year as is Vincent Jackson. The bottom 8 has 4 busts though Roddy White has more than justified his contract over the last three or four years.

Essentially we are looking at paying over $10 million a year for a 50/50 shot at having a player that justifies the big investment. That sounds a lot like the NFL draft except with a far more money being spent. That makes me think that downgrading the entire position is a reality next season.

In terms of per game yardage this season the top 15 includes eight players on rookie contracts (Julio Jones, Justin Blackmon. AJ Green, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffery and Eric Decker),  one player on a low cost deal (Jordy Nelson), and four lower upper salaries (Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Antonio Brown, and Pierre Garcon). That leaves just two elite salaried players (Marshall and C. Johnson) to make the list. If we remove those  who played 5 or less we add one lower upper salary (Cruz) and one rookie (Randall Cobb) to replace two rookie contracts.

This season is not really an aberration. Here are the top 15 players in yards per game sorted by contract. Elite would be a player earning over $10 million a year, high end over $8 million, low is all other veterans while rookies are those on rookie deals.

Year

Elite

High End

Low

Rookie

2011

4

2

3

6

2012

3

4

2

6

2013

2

4

1

8

I tend to think that the performance this season of the big money signings might be a tipping point in the way some teams approach free agents. With a few notable free agents and a handful of players in potential extension scenarios in 2014 I guess we’ll see if teams continue to spend high or bring the top end of the market back down into the $9 million per year or less range.

[adsenseyu2]

[adsenseyu4]

Nicks, Britt, and Gordon- Should they be Traded?

[adsenseyu1]

With trade rumors swirling in the NFL, I thought it would make sense to look at three of the big names mentioned at Wide Receiver and the reasons why the teams might or might not pull the trigger on trading their players.  The big names in question are the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks, Browns’ Josh Gordon, and Titans’ Kenny Britt. All three would seem to be on the block for various reasons and we’ll try to look at some comparables to determine what the players may gain in a trade.

Kenny Britt

Of the three names Britt is likely the least appealing. Britt is a former 1st round draft pick whose best seasons came in 2009 and 2010 when he looked poised to break out as one of the next great receivers in the game. Britt suffered a serious knee injury in 2011 that seemed to de-rail his career. Prior to his injury Britt averaged 17.5 YPC and was looked to be at a minimum a 55 catch/900 yard type player. Since then his numbers have plummeted to under 13 YPC and he has basically been benched by the Titans for general ineffectiveness. Britt’s off the field problems are well documented and I think there are some who question whether Britt is simply not recovered from injury or just unhappy in Tennessee.

Britt will be a free agent in 2014 and there is no chance that the Titans would designate him a franchise player. For Tennessee they first need to weigh what they would receive in draft compensation in 2015 if they let him walk next season. I don’t believe it would be much anything because there are so many questions surrounding him that it would seem hard to imagine a team signing him to anything more than a two year low base value but incentive laden contract.

There are rumors that the Titans are looking for at least a 3rd round pick for Britt. That number is insane and I’m not sure what justification there would be to that price tag other than management preferring to have him suffer through the rest of the year on the bench. The best high end comparison I could come up with for Britt was Santonio Holmes. Holmes was 26 years old when traded to the New York Jets prior to the 2010 NFL draft. Holmes was in the final year of his deal and had well documented off the field issues. He has just finished a season in which he went off for more than 1200 yards and was two seasons removed from being named Super Bowl MVP. Holmes only fetched a 5th round pick.

Another possible player to look at would be Ted Ginn, Jr, who was just 25 when he was traded from Miami to San Francisco. Ginn’s productivity was nowhere near that of Holmes and like Britt had seemingly regressed, though he was never at as high of a level as Britt. Ginn did not have the off the field issues and also had tremendous value as a kick returner. Ginn also only cost a 5th round pick and was set to enter free agency one year following the trade.

The final possible look would be Davone Bess. Bess was a bit older than Britt and never had the upside or cache of Britt, but maybe one could make an argument that a motivated post-injury Britt could be productive as a shorter field threat capable of gaining maybe 500-650 low impact yards a season. The trade for Bess amounted to a 5th rounder in return for Bess and a 7th. Bess was set to be a free agent when traded.

At the most the Titans could expect to receive a 5th round pick for Britt and even that could be pushing it due to his lack of use this season. He was never as good as Holmes and may not be as varied a threat as Ginn especially post-injury. My gut feeling is that they should be happy with receiving a 5th for him and giving up a 7th in return, similar to the Bess trade. Even a 6th rounder might be worth doing. I don’t see the compensatory pick being very large in this case, if it happens at all. It seems to be a trade that should happen if anyone is really interested.

Josh Gordon

Gordon is a very interesting prospect because he still has two years remaining on his rookie contract and will thus be an extremely low cost option for a team that acquires him. As a rookie Gordon had over 800 yards and this season would be on pace for 1700 yards if he played 16 games. So the upside with Gordon is tremendous. So why are the Browns looking to trade him?

In this case I think this is the Browns trying to strike before the clock strikes 12. Gordon has had many drug issues in the past and is one strike away from being out of the NFL for a full year. I doubt the Browns trust him to stay clean and he missed two games for a failed test this season. If he was to slip up again next year he goes from high value to no value.

The Browns are said to be seeking a first round pick for Gordon. It is pretty much impossible to find a comparable player because players this young never get traded.  In terms of off the field trouble Holmes would be a comparison, but contractually they were in very different spots. Godson would give a team 2 ½ low cost years while Holmes was only going to give one.

That said the only receivers in the last few years to get a 1st round pick in return were Percy Harvin and Roy Williams, both of whom were entering their contract years and received extensions following the trade. Williams was a colossal bust and Harvin has yet to play a game for Minnesota. Prior to that would be Deion Branch in 2006 and Randy Moss in 2005. Considering Gordon’s history I think a first rounder would be out of reach, though a 2nd rounder from a playoff contender could be in play.  Even a second, though, could be high. Brandon Marshall is the only recent trade (the one that sent him from Denver to Miami) to include a 2nd round pick. Beyond Marshall the only other trade I can recall is the 2007 in-season trade of Chris Chambers from the Dolphins to the Chargers.

Whatever decision is made with Gordon will take a great deal of guts on both sides. If the Browns think he can be clean then they should hold on to him. If they feel he is going to fail another drug test they should take a 2nd or 3rd for him.

Hakeem Nicks

Of the three names Nicks is the most intriguing. Nicks has had monster years in the past and has been treated as a true number 1 target. But injuries in 2012 seemed to move him to second fiddle behind Victor Cruz and it’s clear that he never regained his chemistry with QB Eli Manning. Nicks is on pace for nearly 1200 yards this year but it seems like a quiet 1,200 yards as he has battled drops and gaining the attention of his QB. Some seem to perceive a rift between Nicks and Manning that most will blame on Nicks going through the motions and not putting in the work.

Nicks is in the final year of his contract, but unlike Britt is going to be a Franchise player. I get the feeling that Nicks is not too thrilled to stay with the Giants but he is going to get that tag which will allow the Giants to control his rights for next season as well. While nobody expects the young wideout to really sign a contract with another team as a Franchise player it does set a bar even now as to his worth. The other two teams can dream and ask for whatever they want but the Giants are the only team that can truly block Nicks with the price they want.

I tend to think the rumors of the Giants being open to offers for Nicks is more of a fishing expedition to hear what he is worth to teams next season. They could just be setting the groundwork for a trade next year rather than this one. Provided the Giants don’t go wild in free agency next year, which they likely won’t, at worst he is worth a compensatory 3. So they are the one team that can really set parameters of a 1 all the way down to a 3 and have reasons behind those parameters.

Finding the trade value for Nicks is difficult because the results are so varied. Nicks is a much more proven player than Harvin and the Seahawks gave up a fortune for him in both draft picks and money. Harvin is also injury prone. Going back to the Williams trade in 2008 the situations could be looked at as similar. Williams often had lingering injury issues, but he had shown tremendous talent when healthy. Dallas gave up a first rounder and other mid round picks to get the job done. I would think both would be the Giants ideal scenarios.

Other teams could use the Braylon Edwards in season Browns to Jets trade as some type of lowball offer. Edwards was an extremely high draft selection who never really lived up to expectations in Cleveland and had fallen out of favor with the new coaching staff. Edwards still was somewhat productive and the Jets traded a 3 and a 5 along with some spare piece players in order to acquire Edwards from the Browns. Edwards was in the final year of his contract at the time of the trade. Other deals involving third round picks include Marshall from Miami to Chicago and Anquan Boldin from Arizona to Baltimore. Both players were in different stages of their carriers than Nicks

Nicks has been t he better pro than Edwards and remains more productive even now. Edwards was almost like a firesale trade because he clashed with the coach. The least the Giants should settle for is the two second round picks that the Dolphins gave for Marshall in 2010. Marshall also signed an extension almost immediately upon being traded. Teams could make the deal at a 2 and a conditional 3, with the 3 becoming a 2 if Nicks is re-signed.

The Giants clearly have options here and with the Franchise power probably do not have any reason to trade him this year. Unless he gets injured his value should remain the same and teams have shown a willingness to spend on the position. The only reason to trade him now would be because they want to make certain they have additional draft selections in the 2014 draft, which may not occur if they have him on the tag.

If it was me I would not trade him, but Franchise him instead and let him more or less seek out his own trade next year. If they do that early enough they should grab two picks over the next two drafts. It allows the Giants to keep up a mirage that they think this season means something and probably will not compromise their position in the long run.

[subscribe2]