If you are going to have a successful team in the NFL, one of the most important elements is making sure that the front office manages their contracts well. If they don't, you can often see teams drown for years while they have to let amazing players slip by while they pay out contracts that were based on a version of the player that was long gone.
Some contracts start out looking great but by the time those final years start getting closer, you can find yourself scratching your head as to how this contract had ever been offered in the first place. But for every awful contract in the NFL, there are moments when your favorite player lives up to or even exceeds the expectations put in front of him. Though then you just get to start worrying about if they are going to decide to take the upcoming season as the perfect time to holdout. Let's just hope that any potential deal that gets given to a player that decides to holdout is one that ends up being beneficial for both the organization and the player.
As if watching your team perform on the field wasn't stressful enough without having to deal with all the potential drama that comes away from the action! Not to mention any injury that happens may become a lot more stressful if the team has elected to put a large chunk of their spending into that one player.
20 Take Back: Jordan Reed - 5 Years ($46.7 Million, $22 Million Guaranteed)
Jordan Reed carries the 2nd highest cap hit of any tight end in the NFL behind only Rob Gronkowski. Which may make Redskins fans even more apprehensive anytime Reed seems to come up in discussions around a potential injury that could keep him on the sideline. Injuries have hurt his impact in the past, including last year that saw him only receive 211 yards over 6 games. Not exactly the production Washington had been hoping for, not to mention anyone that had the misfortune of having him in their fantasy league. Let's hope Reed finds himself having good chemistry with Alex Smith.
19 Worth It: Russell Wilson - 4 Year ($87.6 Million, $61.5 Million Guaranteed)
It is impossible that you can make the argument that the Seattle Seahawks are paying too much for Russell Wilson when you consider the impact he has for the team. Back in the 2017 season, the Seattle Seahawks put up 5,286 yards of offense. Russell Wilson was responsible for 4,571 yards (which is 86%). He also had 3 of the 4 rushing touchdowns and was the team's leading rusher. Wilson's contract of 4 years, $87.6 million (with $61.5 million guaranteed) makes him the 8th biggest cap hit for an offensive player in 2018. Though he could be #1 and still be on this list
18 Take Back: DeSean Jackson - 3 Years ($33.5 Million, $20 Million Guaranteed)
Do you think DeSean Jackson is the 12th best wide receiver in football? Because according to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that's the value that they've placed on him. There is no question that Jackson's 3 year 33.5 million contract (with $20 million guaranteed) definitely puts a big spotlight on him. But now at 31 years old, Jackson's best days may be behind him. Last year's statistics of 668 yards over 11 games played definitely also does not much to instill that confidence. Nor does the fact that the team is going to be without Jameis Winston for the first 3 games of the NFL season.
17 Worth It: Everson Griffen - 4 Year ($58 Million, $34 Million Guaranteed)
If you want to give credit to the Minnesota Vikings defense the best answer as to why they're so dominant could be Mike Zimmer. But Everson Griffen is one of the best players in the league and is also a pretty good answer to give!
Griffin signed a 4-year, $58 million ($34 million guaranteed) contract back in 2017 and the following year posted his best year with 13 sacks and had his first inclusion to the Second-Team All-Pro. Griffin also jumped from the 73rd best player in the NFL to the 19th this past year according to NFL's top 100.
16 Take Back: Joe Flacco - 3 Years ($66.4 Million, $44 Million Guaranteed)
It's hard to argue with the Ravens decision to sign Joe Flacco to a massive contract after he took the team to a Super Bowl title. But did you know that Joe's got the 4th highest cap hit out of anyone on the offensive side of the ball? Flacco's contract comes at the hands of a 3-year extension that was signed in 2016 that see's Flacco earning $66.4 million (with $44 million guaranteed). The high cap hit may be even harder for fans to accept if they start feeling antsy for the team's 32nd overall draft pick from this past draft, Lamar Jackson, who by has seemed very impressive in camp so far.
15 Worth It: Luke Kuechly - 5 Year ($61.8 Million, $34.3 Million Guaranteed)
Luke Kuechly should be commended for making sure that he has done everything he can to protect his health, especially considering his issues have been centered around concussions. But when Kuechly is on the field he is often showing why he was the defensive player of the year back in 2013.
Kuechly managed to play in 15 games back in 2017 and put together one of his best seasons that saw the league recognize him as the 12th best player in the NFL according to their Top 100. He is currently playing on a contract signed in 2015 that was for 5-years, $61.8 million (with $34.3 million guaranteed).
14 Take Back: Joe Haden - 3 Years ($27 Million, $5.75 Million Guaranteed)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are definitely at least a little concerned with what Le'Veon Bell's future contract is going to mean for the team. And if they are hoping for ways to improve their odds of keeping him, having the expensive price tag of Joe Haden on their team isn't helping. Haden is the 4th highest Steeler (with Big Ben, Bell, and Heyward being higher) but his performance in the upcoming year may be one that makes you less confident. The first year in his 3-year, $27 million contract (with $5.75 million guaranteed) saw him play in only 10 games after fracturing a fibula. This was part of the factor in PFF ranking him as the 51st cornerback in 2017.
13 Worth It: Adam Thielen - 4 Year ($19.2 Million, $9.6 Million Guaranteed)
The Minnesota Vikings took a big gamble with Kirk Cousins but if he's going to succeed, it's going to come in part due to Adam Thielen. Which means that fans may be more than happy to try and get behind the idea of having Cousins throw the ball for them.
At the moment, Thielen's 4 year, $19.2 million contract (with $9.6 million guaranteed) definitely looks like it may end up being a steal. Thielen's 1,276 yards from this past year - thanks in part to pristine route running that was constantly being put on display - may not be matched next year, but regardless of his final numbers, the contract will be hard to look like a mistake.
12 Take Back: Randall Cobb - 4 Years ($40 Million, $13 Million Guaranteed)
It's very beneficial that Randall Cobb has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football. And after his 2014 season where Cobb racked up 1,287 yards and 12 TD's, Cobb was rewarded with a 4 year deal worth $40 million (with $13 million) guaranteed. But Cobb's following years have had many disappointing moments including under 700 yards the past 2 seasons. Here's hoping that he can turn it up next year and help earn the last bit of his contract. One thing that should help him out is the new presence of Jimmy Graham and the hopefully increased performance of Davante Adams.
11 Worth It: Darius Slay - 4 Year ($48.1 Million, $23.1 Million Guaranteed)
The Detroit Lions know that they're going to have to deal with Aaron Rodgers at least two times a year, so re-signing Darius Slay to a contract extension back in 2016 was definitely a priority. And while the 4-year $48.1 million extension (with $23.1 million guaranteed) wasn't cheap, Slay has definitely outperformed those numbers.
He was one of the best cornerbacks in football back in 2017 with a First-Team All-Pro nomination, tying the league lead with 8 interceptions and being ranked as the 49th best player in the NFL Top 100. Though I wouldn't blame him if part of him wished that he had managed to get one more interception!
10 Take Back: Kam Chancellor - 3 Years ($36 Million, $25 Million Guaranteed)
Kam Chancellor should not be blamed for putting his long-term health above the game of football, especially with the Seahawks looking like they may struggle next year. But the Seahawks front office must be wishing they hadn't signed Chancellor to the contract they did. While Chancellor won't officially retire, as doing so would void his contract, his neck injury that he suffered during the last season will see him be physically unable to perform. As a result, it will stop him from playing but not from being paid, as Seattle is expected to send upwards of $12 million his way over the next 2 years.
9 Worth It: Antonio Brown - 4 Year ($68 Million, $19 Million Guaranteed)
When Antonio Brown signed his 4-year, $68 million contract (with $19 million guaranteed) back in 2017 it made him the highest paid wide receiver in the game. But since that time, 24 other wide receivers have come along and caused their team a more expensive cap hit. And if you're in the thought process that Brown is the best wide receiver in football, then that may make Brown's contract all the more appealing. This past year Brown was named as the 2nd best player in the NFL Top 100. If you're interested, it's currently Mike Evans for Tampa Bay that has the highest cap hit with $18.2 million versus Brown's which is $7.9 million.
8 Take Back: Jordy Nelson - 2 Years ($14.2 Million, $13 Million Guaranteed)
How good is Jordy Nelson, and was he only good because he had Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball? Because no offense to Nelson, but Rodgers is definitely going to find himself in the Hall of Fame one day. That is a question that the Oakland Raiders are going to find out this year after they signed him to a 2 year, $14.2 million contract (with $13 million guaranteed). The Raiders are hoping Nelson will step into the shoes of Michael Crabtree who signed with the Ravens. But if he ends up struggling to stay healthy or make an impact, Oakland may be wishing this money had gone elsewhere.
7 Worth It: Chandler Jones - 5 Years ($82.5 Million, $51 Million Guaranteed)
In the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angelas Rams may be the two teams gunning for the top spot, but you would be silly if you forget about the Arizona Cardinals. And you definitely don't want to forget about Chandler Jones who is more than living up to the 5-year $82.5 million (with $51 million guaranteed) contract that he signed back in 2017. The subsequent year Jones lead the league with 17 sacks and 28 TFL. He was also a First Team All-Pro and jumped up 57 spots to become the 28th best player in the NFL in this past year's top 100 ranking.
6 Take Back: Albert Wilson - 3 Years ($24 Million, $14.5 Million Guaranteed)
The Miami Dolphins know they are always going to have an uphill battle as long as Tom Brady is playing football. But there's only so much you can do when you're having to compete against the GOAT.
But their decision to sign Albert Wilson to a 3-year, $24 million contract (with $14.5 million guaranteed) is one that may only continue to put the team back. Wilson wasn't unimpressive with the Chiefs last year, but his stat line of 554 yards and 3 TDs isn't exactly going to jump off the page. Which means it's also more than enough of a reason to make many people worried that this contract could end up hurting the team.
5 Worth It: David DeCastro - 5 Year ($50 Million, $16 Million Guaranteed)
One of the best things you can have in a player is that you can rely on them to be able to play come game time. And as far as the Steelers are concerned, you definitely can always rely on David DeCastro. DeCastro has spent his entire year with the Steelers and has played in every game since 2014 which made the team more than comfortable giving him a 5-year $50 million extension (with $16 million guaranteed) back in 2016.
The subsequent two years DeCastro was the 97th highest ranked player and bumped it up even higher to be considered the 44th best in 2018 according to the NFL's Top 100.
4 Take Back: Jimmy Smith - 4 Years ($41.1 Million, $21 Million Guaranteed)
Jimmy Smith earned himself a four-year, $41.1 million (with $21 million guaranteed) contract back in 2015 with the expectation that he'd continue being a standout cornerback. But while Smith can say part of his 2016 was due to injuries, the reality is that his performance on the field still saw him finishing the year as the 48th highest rated cornerback according to PFF. He, to his credit, was successful at bumping that up to 15th with his 2017 performance. Though 2017 also saw him tear his Achilles tendon back in December. Even if Smith stays healthy it'll be an uphill battle living up to that contract.
3 Worth It: Bobby Wagner - 4 Year ($43 Million, $21.9 Million Guaranteed)
The Seattle Seahawks may lose a step next year in comparison to when they were considered to be among the top Super Bowl contenders, but any potential failings on the field is not going to be due to Bobby Wagner. Wagner has consistently put up over 100 tackles a year and in 2018 was ranked as the 21st best player in the NFL. This is a jump up from the previous year when he was considered the 39th best. Both nice ways to repay the Seahawks for the fact that in 2015 he signed a four year, $43 million contract with $21.9 million guaranteed.
2 Take Back: Russell Okung - 4 Years ($53 Million, $25 Million Guaranteed)
Anyone who watched Russell Okung play for the Seahawks should know that his contract with the Chargers is sure to be a question mark. Okung was frequently banged up, missing 24 games over the course of his career with the team. That didn't stop the Broncos, and eventually the Chargers, from taking a shot on Okung. But his 4-year, $53 million contract (with $25 million guaranteed) that was handed out by the Chargers makes Okung the offensive lineman with the 2nd biggest cap hit in the league behind Tyron Smith. He did play 15 games in his first year under the contract, but that may not be enough to quell some fan's concerns.
1 Worth It: Tom Brady - 2 Year ($41 Million, $28 Million Guaranteed)
There is probably never going to be a player who is going to be as successful as Tom Brady. Though I'm sure there are many players out there who would probably be happy with the idea of winning one Super Bowl, much less several. Which also means that if you're spending a lot of time hating on him, perhaps take a moment to realize you're getting the chance to witness greatness. Brady could ask the Patriots for far more than he's earning and they'd give it to him, but his current contract of 2 years and $41 million (with $28 million guaranteed) puts him as the 11th biggest cap hit for QBs and is surely worth every penny.