Best & Worst Contracts: The Oakland Raiders


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.

Charles WoodsonBest Contract: Charles Woodson

The Raiders don’t really have any good contracts on their team. There is really no long term anything in place outside of the rookies who don’t qualify for best consideration unless something out of the ordinary was done with their contract. Really it is a series of one year, low cost, band-aid type deals that make up a majority of the Raiders team.  If there was one I had to go with I’d select Charles Woodson.

Why Woodson?  In fairness it seemed very few teams were interested and the Raiders certainly did not get him for the minimum (it’s a base value of $1.8 million and the potential to increase by $2.5 million more), but the Raiders needed a player like Woodson and they were creative enough to work a deal to get him on the team this season when their salary cap nightmare is still ongoing due to the near $50 million in dead money on the books in 2013.

Whether Woodson can or can not play at a high level is immaterial as the Raiders are not likely going anywhere. But Woodson brings a professionalism to the organization that has been lacking for close to a decade. Woodson was around Oakland for the last hurrah and when things really started to get bad with Bill Callahan and Norv Turner as head coach. Woodson ended up in Green Bay, one of the best organizations in the NFL, was selected to four more Pro Bowls and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Coaches can only show players so much. They need other players to carry out a vision and get others to follow their lead. It’s why Ray Lewis was so important to the Ravens even as he declined as a player. It’s why great coaches often have “their guys” on a team that keep everyone else in check and with the program. The Raiders have not had any leadership on or off the field since 2003 and are desperate need of it if they intend to win in the future. Woodson can be that player that helps them sort things out and teach young guys how it should be done, rather than how it has been done in Oakland.

The Raiders likely would not have been able to fit Woodson under their salary cap if all things were equal between Oakland and Denver. But the Raiders came up with a little contract structure that gave Woodson some reasonable incentives that would not count against the cap this season.  Most likely he will earn at least another $1.1 million if healthy but it will not really impact the cap until 2014 at which point Oakland has so much cap space the loss of $1 million means almost nothing if Woodson can help the team grow and lay the foundation for years to come.

Sebastian JanikowskiWorst Contract: Sebastian Janikowski

The Raiders finally purged themselves of all the old bad contracts, but the one that remains is the incredible $16 million dollar contract that the Raiders awarded Janikowski in 2009. At the time it was the largest ever contract for a Kicker, and not surprisingly remains on the books as the largest deal in history.

Oakland guaranteed Janikowski $7.7 million dollars, 48% of his contract. That is nearly $3.5 million more in guarantees than any player at the position and 10% higher in percent of contract guaranteed than Adam Vinatieri, the next closest long term contract.  The $16 million doesn’t even include the fact that the Raiders gave Janikowski the potential to earn even more through yearly incentives based on items like touchbacks. If he was to max out his incentives he earned an additional $200,000 per year.

The craziness with Janikowski began years ago when he was drafted in the first round of the 2000 draft, a move that typified how out of touch Raiders owner Al Davis was with the rest of the NFL. Janikowski made 1 Pro Bowl in his career and certainly has a big leg, but he was never any more certain than any other player in the NFL, the leg just afforded him more opportunities.

For a team as bad as the Raiders to spend, and keep spending, this type of money on a kicker is really unthinkable. It’s not as if there are clutch situations where they need a player like that, even if he was the best in the NFL, which he is not despite the salary. His $4 million dollar a year average ranks 4th on Oakland and his $5.1 million dollar cap hit ranks 2nd in 2013. Maybe it’s a testament to Davis’ memory that he is still here, but there is no football reason at all for Janikowski to still be on the Raiders, let alone at that salary.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans

AFC West: Denver BroncosKansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers (July 11)



Thoughts on Raiders’ Restructuring of Matt Flynn’s Contract


Matt Flynn reportedly restructured his contract for a 2nd time since being traded to the Raiders according to Ian Rapoport. Assuming he took a minimum salary of $715,000 the Raiders will create $1,267,500 in cap space and Flynn will carry a cap charge of $3.607,500. His 2014 number would then rise to $7,892,500.

The Raiders needed to do this move in order to sign CB/S Charles Woodson. My numbers are bit off on the Raiders and Im still missing details on Josh Cribbs, both of which I will try to correct in the near future, but according to the NFLPA the Raiders had only $179,987 in cap room, which would not be enough to sign Woodson, who should carry a cap charge of $1.8 million. In order to sign a player to a contract the league mandates that you have enough cap room before they allow the contract to be accepted.

Now if you quickly do the math you will see that the money created still is not enough to sign Woodson, but it is worth noting that the Raiders have a June 1 cut on their roster in Michael Huff. The NFL and NFLPA calculate June 1 cut data differently and in this case the NFL calculates it properly and in accordance with the CBA. The NFLPA immediately moves the player into “dead money” and out of the top 51, which forces another player to count in the top 51. Per the CBA the June 1 designated release has his contract count as if he is on the team, meaning he maintains his place in the top 51. That means as of today the Raiders cap is under-reported by $480,000 using NFLPA accounting methods. If you take that into account the Flynn restructure would leave Oakland with $1,927,487 in cap room, just enough to sign Woodson, a move that was officially accepted by the NFL yesterday.

With Woodson signed the Raiders will only have about $130,000 in spending money but once Huff comes off the books on June 2nd the team will pick up $7.52 million of net cap space as he saves the team $8 million and will be replaced by a player likely earning $480,000. So don’t expect the Raiders to sign many, if any, rookies until June 2nd. They could fit some later round picks who will only have their prorated money count towards the cap, but most likely they would just hold off.

My first reaction when I heard the news was “same old Raiders”, but after giving it more thought I dont see any issue with the deal. Oakland has so much cap room in 2014 due to finally gutting the roster in 2013 that the added cap charges for 1 player has no material impact on the team whatsoever. Flynn’s 2014 cap charge is still low for a starting QB and even if he is relegated to backup status he will likely be backing up a high draft pick QB, whose cap charge will be just over $4 million. So the Raider positional cap allocation would still be extremely low at the position.

While some may say what purpose is there to an older player whose best days are long behind him to a team like this, I think there is a solid answer to that question. The Raiders are going to be a young team and have just invested a top draft pick on a cornerback, DJ Hayden,. who the Raiders felt was actually worth the 3rd pick in the draft if they had been unable to trade down. Sometimes you want your young players to learn from the right people and Woodson has seen and done it all at the position. He can serve as a mentor to Hayden and to the team. The Raiders have been devoid of anything resembling leadership and Woodson brings that. Woodson knows the situation he is getting into and the role he is to play so I would expect him to embrace the role as a leader of young men trying to turn an organization around.


Packers to Release CB/S Charles Woodson

Ian Rapoport just confirmed that the Packers are about to release Charles Woodson from his contract.

Woodson, who was moved from Cornerback to Safety, was due to earn $9 million in 2013 between base salary and roster bonuses plus an additional $62,500 for each game in which he was active.Woodson has no more guarantees or prorated money left on his contract as he primarily played on a cash to cap basis for the Packers most of these years, so it creates a cap windfall for Green Bay. We’ll get the cap pages updated when the release become official.