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.
AJ Green– I can not figure out why people don’t realize how special Green is. Outside of the touchdown production he is every bit as productive as Calvin Johnson was at the same point in his career and there is no reason for AJ Green to not be the top paid receiver in the entire NFL. This week he put together a 131 yard game including the game winning 77 yard haul that took all the steam out of a Ravens team that had just battled back to take the lead. IMO, this is the best receiver in the NFL.
Julius Thomas– Thomas obliterated the Colts secondary to the tune of 7 receptions for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was getting open at will and toying with the coverage schemes of the Colts. Thomas is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and a few more games like this and he may end up getting a new deal before seasons end. Thomas is in an interesting contract position because the Broncos have another potential franchise tag free agent in Demaryius Thomas meaning one of the two should be able to jump into a new offer.
Jake Locker– Locker did not get the option year picked up on his contract and gets the opportunity at free agency in 2015. There was a lot of talk about how well the new coaching staff might benefit him and for this week it certainly did. Locker completed 66.7% of his passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Locker completed passed to eight different receivers and was very effective in leading his team to a surprising dominating win against the Chiefs.
New Contract Player Of The Week
Knowshon Moreno– I very easily could have gone with JJ Watt who had a dominating performance in every phase of the game for the Texans, but Moreno hit a second gear that seemed to completely catch the Patriots off guard. 24 carries for 134 yards acting like a workhorse back that could take the entire load on his shoulders and power a team to a win. His score with about 3 minutes left in the game cemented one of the big upsets of the week.
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.
Ben Tate– I wrote Sunday about how Tate was going to get an opportunity that could make or break a new contract for him and on Sunday it certainly broke. Tate, replacing Arian Foster, finished Sunday with just 56 yards on 15 carries and added next to nothing in the passing game. Tate is not in the most ideal of circumstances- he’s injured himself and his QB is not respected yet- but he has to make the most of this situation. If he fails to deliver over the next few weeks it will be hard to convince another team that Tate should be a highly paid starter.
Colin Kaepernick– During the offseason I was getting questions about how would the 49ers afford $20 million a year on Kaepernick. I thought that was an extremely high estimate and I have to think now most agree. Since being named starter last season Kaepernick had just 1 game in which he passed for under 200 yards and that includes his terrific playoff run. In 2013 he has had 7 games under 200 yards including a 91 yard game yesterday at home against the Panthers. I think Kaepernick has pretty much lost that special aura he had about him last year and with it will go the dreams of an incredibly lucrative extension in the offseason. He’ll still get an extension offer but unless he begins to play better the dollars of that offer are falling every week.
Jake Locker– Locker was injured again this week following just a disastrous start against the lowly Jaguars in which he was intercepted once and fumbled. Locker who had already missed two games this year following a hip injury will now most likely finish the season on Injured Reserve. If the injury is season ending it will leave Locker with 14 missed games over a two year stretch due to injury. Locker was eligible for either an extension or an injury guaranteed option year in 2015 that would have been worth close to $9 million. Though picking up the option for most players seems to be a foregone conclusion, with Lockers injury history I don’t think the Titans can afford to do that. Not only that but when you can not count on a player it means bringing in real competition for the spot not journeyman backups and mentors like Locker has had since 2011.
New Contract Disappointment Of The Week
Tony Romo– Romo has had his share of good games this season, but last night was not one of them. Romo and the offense was thoroughly confused by a defense that had given up over 24 points in two of their last three games. Romo could never get anything going down the field and was settling for short little throws This was by far Romo’s worst game of the season on a day where the Cowboys needed an A+ effort to go toe to toe with a high powered Saints offense. Romo did not deliver and the Cowboys were embarrassed by the Saints. Romo always get more than a fair share of criticism and this game will bring more of that his way and deservedly so in this case.