Atlanta Falcons- Mohamed Sanu, 5 years $32.5M, $14M guaranteed
Atlanta makes some aggressive contract decisions and this was certainly one of them. The Falcons clearly went into number 2 salary with this one and a guarantee at signing that was way over market for his salary. Sanu is basically a number 3 receiver who should earn about $2-2.5 million a year less than he is earning on this contract. As long as the Falcons continue to do well in 2017 nobody will really pay attention to this contract so its clealy not as bad as ones on other teams, but Im sure this is one they would like to get back.
Carolina Panthers- Matt Kalil, 5 years $55.5M, $24M guaranteed
I get the idea that left tackles are all overpaid these days, but for players coming off down years and an injury the league usually moved into the 1 year, “prove it” territory. The Panthers went 100% into this contract with $24 million guaranteed at signing, 5th highest in the entire NFL. Kalil was an exceptional player early in his career, but it’s not common for really great tackles to hit free agency and when one does it should indicate to a team to proceed with caution. If Kalil plays well enough nobody will pay attention to this contract and its nothing like the old Panthers deals that were the worst in the league, but I’d be pretty certain they could have gotten better terms on this one.
New Orleans Saints- Coby Fleener, 5 years, $36M, $14.6M guaranteed
As I finish up these lists I realize I have a lot of tight ends on here and maybe that’s because im less “fantasy oriented” on this position than many. It is odd to see how many GMs take a glass half full approach to the receiving tight end given that so few work out. Fleener came off a career low 491 yard season when he signed this and this was a team that traded Jimmy Graham. Fleener’s numbers were inferior to an old Ben Watson, but they went with Fleener anyway. After one year of Fleener I’m sure the Saints would like to move on but his salary is already guaranteed and he has a very favorable vesting schedule next year too. Another in a long line of Saints mistakes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- JR Sweezy, 5 years, $32.5M, $12 M guaranteed
The Buccaneers free agent follies have extended to multiple GMs and coaches and Sweezy is among the worst. When I talk with contract people in the NFL doing contracts for guards this is a contract that always comes up for every middling player. Sweezy was never good nor healthy when signed but he made a killing on this one in free agency. The Bucs did some wacky re-working of this contract this year which was reported in numerous outlets but it did nothing to materially change the contract or the fact that they got taken to the woodshed on this deal. This contract isn’t big enough to be the worst in the league, but the return is close to the bottom.
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.