In the NFL it is nearly impossible to not have a terrible contract (or a few) on the roster every year and sometimes the same player for multiple years. With the price of new contracts increasing every year these days it makes it hard to negotiate and still retain/obtain talented players.
There are many cases where an up-and-coming star will land a large “star player” market value contract only to be outperformed by a second year player on a very generous rookie contract. Injuries are an unstoppable beast in professional sports and especially in the NFL. Other times a “star” player is signed to a market value contract, but misses 30 of the next 32 games because of injury.
These are mainly the players/contracts that have made the list and we picked one player from every team that has a terrible contract for the 2015 season. Our list consists of talented players, less than average players, injury plagued players and some players that are simply adored by their team (Larry Fitzgerald…..) A bad contract doesn’t necessarily mean a bad player, it may just mean the contract simply exceeds the value of the player.
Unfortunately, there are too many bad contracts out there to fit them all on our list and we know we missed some. Please feel free to comment below with anyone we missed or your thoughts. I have broke the list down to each division starting with the AFC and finishing with the NFC to try and keep it simple.
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco
I know he won a Super Bowl and had a great 2012 season, but with the mega contract he signed (six years, $120.6 million with $52 million guaranteed) back in 2013, I certainly expected him to live up the the expectations that come with that contract.
In 2016, Flacco’s contract will result in a $28 million dollar cap hit toward the Ravens salary cap and that will increase to $31 million in 2017. That is a lot of money for a quarterback who has struggled to regain his 2012 form. Maybe it is because he lost of few key pieces since then including Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin. Maybe he will bounce back this season. Time will tell if this contract was worth it. You have to think that the Ravens expect a Super Bowl in the life of the contract.
Cincinnati Bengals – Rey Maualuga
Let’s see, $5 million per year after a season with only 59 tackles for a starting inside linebacker? He did miss four games last season due to a hamstring injury, but 59 tackles through 12 games is not worth $5 million per year.
Reports are that he looked solid and aggressive for the final six games last year, but he will need more than that to make his three year contract for $15 million a smart deal.
I almost put Andy Dalton and his enormous contract here because he has not even won a playoff game yet, but he clearly has made the Bengals a better team since he has been there. If he does not win a playoff game this year I will stand corrected and he will be on the list next year.
Cleveland Browns – Josh McCown
Oh boy…..where do I start?
What were the Browns thinking with this deal? Could they not easily have grabbed a player (maybe even a rookie) who could come in and more than likely put up the same numbers McCown will?
He could not succeed with two talented receivers on his team last season, and he is moving to an offense that is even worse. Is he going to mentor Manziel? There are a lot of players who would take a three year, $15 million with over $6 million guaranteed to mentor a QB with what seams like limited potential. I think the Browns should have thought this through…
Pittsburgh Steelers – Cortez Allen
Allen happened to be in a position where the Steelers desperately needed him and were willing to take the gamble to keep him with large contract for an unproven player.
His contract is four years for over $26 million which results in a cap hit of nearly $7 million for the Steelers salary cap this season. That is a hefty price for a corner who is unproven and was not able to make the necessary plays last year.
Houston Texans – Whitney Mercilus
The Texans had the option to take the fifth year of his contract and sign him for the 2016 season if he improved enough to keep him. It would have saved them quite a bit of money toward the cap, but instead they declined the fifth year option and signed him to a four year contract worth $26 million with a hefty $10.8 million guaranteed.
Mercilus has a cool name, no question. Unfortunately, he has not been able to live up to the expectations and has only registered 18 sacks in the last 47 games after being signed to produce sacks. Maybe J.J Watt is hogging all the sacks?
Indianapolis Colts – Arthur Jones
Arthur Jones was signed to a $33 million contract in order to improve the Colts defensive line and help them against the tough teams in the conference, mainly the Patriots. His performance has been underwhelming to say the least, but he is still the fifth highest paid player on the Colts this season.
His first year with the Colts was plagued by an ankle sprain in the beginning of the season that never seemed to go away. He desperately needs to come out strong this season and make the defensive impact he is being paid to make.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Julius Thomas
We all know that Thomas can catch a well thrown football from Peyton Manning. What receiver or tight end has not increased their stats while playing with Manning?
There is a reason the Broncos let him go and that is because his blocking is a serious liability and his catching can be replaced (or close to it) for a much better price.
The Jaguars struggled mightily last season and produced far less offensively than the Broncos. Thomas started his four year, $46 million contract with $24 million guaranteed by fracturing his hand in the first preseason game. He should be back in time for the season, but his success and contract worth will greatly depend on the play of Blake Bortles.
Tennessee Titans – Michael Griffin
Michael Griffin has failed to live up to his first few seasons in a Titans uniform. Griffin’s contract carries a cap hit of $8.3 million for the 2015 season and expires in 2017. That’s a lot to pay for a safety on a defense that ranked 27th overall last year. As for Griffin’s performance, he did have over 100 tackles last year, but that was partly because the defense couldn’t get off the field and he had time to stack numbers. He had shoulder surgery this past offseason and we’ll see if he can have a greater impact in 2015.
Buffalo Bills – LeSean McCoy
The Eagles knew exactly what they were doing when they traded McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso and I think they made the right choice.
Despite his two very productive seasons he has been fairly injury plagued and was rumored to not get along with coach Chip Kelly. To top things off, McCoy has carried the football over 700 times in the last two seasons which is a lot for a player with previous injury history.
The contract he got from Buffalo is close to crazy, (five years, $40 million) but apparently that is the market for running backs who play well for a couple seasons in an offense that had no problem throwing the ball. That will not be the case for McCoy in Buffalo and I doubt he is able to live up to the contract they gave him.
Miami Dolphins – Ndamukong Suh
If we had a number one on the list Suh would more than likely be there with his history and the contract he signed with Miami. His contract may be known as the worst contract ever given in NFL history right next to Albert Haynesworth.
Six years for over $114 million with nearly $60 million guaranteed.
That is a ton of money for a player with a serious anger/violence issue on the field who has attempted to injure players on multiple occasions. Is that the only reason he can make an impact? Maybe, maybe not.
At this point his attitude alone should have warranted a lesser contract. The Lions let it be known they had enough of his antics. Maybe he will be able to replenish his reputation with Miami. We shall see.
New England Patriots – Jerod Mayo
Mayo just signed a deal for one year at $4.5 million after basically missing two straight seasons for the Patriots. He makes more than any other linebacker under contract for the Patriots including Dont’a Hightower who has produced solid numbers for them over that two year span when Mayo was out.
I know $4.5 million is not even close to the contracts on this list and I commend the Patriots for having a relatively small contract as their worst for the year. We will have to wait and see if Mayo can resurface this year and make an impact after missing time. If anything it’s a testament to the Pats that they don’t have any contracts worse than this.
New York Jets – David Harris
Harris inked a three-year deal worth $21.5 million with an insane $15 million guaranteed. Who is he again? Oh right he is on the Jets I think. That is well over 2/3 of his contract guaranteed and he will be 31 years old this season.
The next closest veteran linebacker to make more than $5 million per year only had 50% of his contract guaranteed and his name is Karlos Dansby who is in my opinion a far better linebacker than Harris. All that money could have gone toward a new quarterback or running back and been much more positive for the team, especially since the punch.
Denver Broncos – Ryan Clady
Back in 2013 Clady signed a five year, $52.5 million contract with $33 million guaranteed. Maybe at the time it was thought to potentially be a good deal based on his talent. However a Lisfranc injury ended his 2013 season early and a torn ACL suffered this offseason will keep him out of action for 2015.
Injuries are extremely unfortunate, but are part of the game and the Broncos just had bad luck with this contract. Hopefully Clady can stay healthy next season.
Kansas City Chiefs – Alex Smith
Last season the Chiefs decided to make Smith an offer he could not refuse with a whopping five year, $76 million contract with $45 million guaranteed. Did you know that Smith makes more than Tom Brady? How is that possible?
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Smith is not a superstar quarterback and never will be. He is great at managing a game, but that does not convert to wins and last year it did not result in a playoff berth. Smith is severely overpaid. Hopefully he can throw a touchdown to a receiver this year.
Oakland Raiders – Nate Allen
Oakland has a history of over paying players who are a bit past their prime and on the wrong end of 30. A lot of veterans finish their career in Oakland attempting to gain one more decent payday before they can no longer get a deal in the NFL.
This is the case with Nate Allen who spent most of last season on the trading block and was released by the Eagles after having a below average season. Somehow he convinced the Raiders to give him a four year, $23 million contract with nearly $12 million guaranteed.
Allen is making far more than Raiders own Charles Woodson who after 18 years in the league still puts up better numbers than Allen. Maybe Woodson will be able to help Allen have a productive season this year and make the deal worth it.
San Diego Chargers – Donald Brown
With all the running back depth the Chargers have at this point it is going to be very difficult for Brown to make the team. If he does, he will make over $4 million this season as the fourth string running back. That is pretty insane.
The Chargers can either bite the bullet and cut him which will cost them $2.2 million instead of the $4.1 million if they keep him to barely play at all.
To make things worse, Brown has had some injury issues and did not see the field as much when the Chargers needed him last season with the injury to Danny Woodhead.
Chicago Bears – Jay Cutler
Despite Alex Smith and Joe Flacco having outrageous contracts, Cutler takes the cake as the most overpaid quarterback in the NFL to date. He is the only quarterback who has signed a contract worth $125 million, but based on his performances and high turnover rate he will more than likely miss some of that money.
In 2014 the Bears signed Cutler to a 7 year $126.7 million deal with $54 million guaranteed. That season he did well in passing yards, but had 18 interceptions averaging over 1 per game and losing a few of them all by himself.
Detroit Lions – Stephen Tulloch
I am sure you all remember Tulloch from his ecstatic sack celebration after sacking Aaron Rodgers? He attempted an incredibly exaggerated version of the “discount double-check” to mock Rodgers and tore his ACL in the process.
That single play puts his contract on this list because he missed basically the entire season and now has to make a comeback from ACL surgery. The play will go down in history as one of the most embarrassing and stupid stunts ever done in the NFL.
No discount for the Lions apparently.
Green Bay Packers – Sam Shields
After being one of the better defensive players in the Packers secondary in 2012 and 2013 Shields signed a 4 year $39 million contract with a $12.5 million signing bonus. Although he played well for the Packers, his stats/performance landed him right around the middle of the corner hierarchy which should have netted him around $5 million per season.
Apparently the Packers either thought he was worth it or they were afraid of losing him and not getting a solid replacement in Free Agency. Either way I feel like they would have spent close to the same amount of money, but they could have landed a better corner.
Minnesota Vikings – Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace played great for the Steelers and thrived with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his great downfield passing. The Dolphins thought he could produce the same numbers for them and signed him to a five year $60 million contract with $30 million guaranteed back in 2013.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins (and now possibly the Vikings) he did not pan out and produced results far below expectations and was traded to the Vikings. Just like in Miami, Wallace is with a quarterback who is not good at throwing the deep ball which is more than likely going to hurt his contribution.
Atlanta Falcons – Tyson Jackson
Unfortunately for Jackson, he has been given contracts that are beyond his talent level since he came into the NFL as a rookie. His rookie deal had to be restructured and he was eventually released from the Chiefs who drafted him.
For some reason the Falcons thought Jackson would be a perfect fit and really improve their defense in the run defense while contributing to the sacks department. They signed him to a five year $25 million contract with $9.5 guaranteed and an $8 million signing bonus.
The Falcons ended up with the worst defense last year and Jackson played less than 50% of the time because of his poor production. He knocked down the quarterback a total of two times last season and received $8 million before the season even started.
Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Stewart
Stewart had a few productive years for the Panthers back in the day, but once he was signed one of the biggest running back contracts in history he has been far less than productive.
Since his six year, $37.8 million contract with $22.5 million guaranteed he has barely eclipsed 1,300 yards in rushing over three seasons and has only been available for 21 games due to various injuries.
Hopefully Stewart will give the Panthers their money’s worth this season and surprise us.
New Orleans Saints – Jairus Byrd
Byrd signed a six year, $54 million contract with $26.3 million guaranteed last season in 2014 after having a similar situation to Sam Shields.
After playing well for the Bills and making a few Pro Bowl appearances New Orleans decided to throw the heavy contract at Byrd and gamble that he could produce the same results for them. Unfortunately, he was injured basically all last season and has just recently been cleared to play after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee.
It will be a tough road, but Byrd needs to recover well and play above expectations from here out to make the contract worth it.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Logan Mankins
The Patriots shipped Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers early last year. Mankins is now costing the Bucs a $7 million cap hit for 2015 and 2016. That’s an awful lot to pay for a 33-year-old guard and knowing the shrewdness of New England, you have to think that they knew something when shipping Mankins off last year. The Pats initially struggled last year without Mankins protecting Brady (they recovered quite nicely, didn’t they?) but Mankins struggled last season. The Bucs better hope Mankins can protect their no.1 pick, Jameis Winston.
Dallas Cowboys – Brandon Carr
Back in 2012 the Cowboys gave Carr a five year $50.1 million contract with a guaranteed $25 million which came out to over $10 million per year.
Since the contract he has played well and established his spot in the corner rotation. However, he certainly has not played at the level of an elite corner and certainly not a shutdown corner. There is a good chance the Cowboys attempt to restructure Carr’s contract soon to save on the salary cap hit.
New York Giants – Will Beatty
Beatty had a rough start to his NFL career and did not play well for the Giants the first few years in the league. He eventually won the starting job (over an on-the-verge-of-retiring David Diehl) and played decently for the 2012 starting campaign.
The Giants decided to give him a massive five year $37 million contract from one decent year out of four in the league and the following season he gave up an astounding 11 sacks. He played another decent year in 2014, but has had another setback the Giants cannot afford.
Beatty tore his pectoral muscle while lifting weights this offseason and has been placed on the PUP list (physically unable to perform) which means he will miss most of 2015. The Giants still have to pay him though and are in a tight spot at tackle.
Philadelphia Eagles – Riley Cooper
This was a tough decision with all the crazy contracts and moves the Eagles have compiled already, but Cooper had to be on the list. DeMarco Murray is being paid too much and so is Byron Maxwell, but at least they have proven potential/talent. Sam Bradford was almost on the list as well, but we know if he can stay healthy he will be great.
Cooper is a very underwhelming player who has under-performed consistently as a starter with the Eagles. Last season as a starting receiver he had less than 600 yards on the season even though the Eagles had a high powered and fast offense.
He was signed to a five year $22.5 million contract with $10 million guaranteed in 2014 and will not be able to live up to the expectations.
Washington Redskins – Dashon Goldson
Goldson had a good stint with the 49ers, but has fallen far down the NFL player poll ever since with multiple problems on and off the field to go along with his absolutely terrible play the with the Buccaneers who got him on this list.
The desperate Buccaneers signed Goldson away from the 49ers with a five year, $41.25 million contract with $22 million guaranteed. The two seasons he had with the Buccaneers were awful and he was traded to the Redskins for a 6th round pick that may have been able to play as good as Goldson anyways. Now the Redskins get to pay him nearly $8 million per year to finish his contract.
Did I mention Goldson is a serious headcase?
Arizona Cardinals – Larry Fitzgerald
Let me start by saying that Fitzgerald is an outstanding player on and off the field. He has had a stellar career, but unfortunately was victim of the quarterback carousel that has been rotating on and off since Kurt Warner retired.
His numbers are down, his age is up and he now has a fully guaranteed a two year, $22 million contract that will save the Cardinals now, but could cost them in the future. The deal is a bit different than most and the Cardinals may end up paying Fitzgerald nearly $10 million for the 2017 season whether he is on the team or not because of all the restructures they have done through the years.
With a healthy Carson Palmer and a revamped offense Fitz may be able to break the 1,000 yard mark this season and grab some red zone touchdowns for the Cardinals.
San Francisco 49ers – Colin Kaepernick
The Torrey Smith signing almost took the cake for this pick, but Kaepernick had to end up on this list after his play last season. Based on his contract he should at least have a Super Bowl ring. (or two)
He had a great start to his career, but since he signed a seven year, $126.97 million contract with a crazy $61 million guaranteed in 2014, he has not played well. To make things worse, a number of key pieces were lost this season for the 49ers and they wasted a lot of money signing Torrey Smith rather than filling in the defensive gaps.
Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson
Now that we have the non Super Bowl winning quarterback out of the way, let’s move on to Russell Wilson and his new contract as a Super Bowl, record breaking player.
After going to the Super Bowl two times in his first three seasons Wilson has impressed a lot of people and become a fan favorite for Seattle. However, was it Wilson, or the defense that won him that Super Bowl? Was it Wilson or the defense that got them to the second Super Bowl? Was it Wilson or the defense that lost that second Super Bowl?
He signed a four year extension, worth $89.142 million with a ridiculous $60 million guaranteed and an unheard of $31 million sighing bonus. I can think of a handful of starting Super Bowl quarterbacks who never dreamed of that kind of signing bonus.
Anyhow, the market is the market I suppose and if Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler get it, why not Wilson right?
St. Louis Rams – Rodger Saffold
Saffold is the 3rd highest guard paid in the league right now and has under performed throughout his hefty contract. In 2014 he was signed to a five year $31.347 million contract with $19.5 million guaranteed. It was overpay from the beginning and his play from last year proved it.
According to PFF (Pro Football Focus) Saffold was the best player of the worst bunch in 2014 which does not bode well for the Rams, their new starting quarterback Nick Foles or their running game.
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