NFL

25 NFL Contracts That Are Badly Hurting Their Franchises

Darren - December 23, 2020
NFL

25 NFL Contracts That Are Badly Hurting Their Franchises

Darren - December 23, 2020
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16. Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery isn’t one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, yet the Eagles pay him like he is one. Since signing his contract extension in 2017, he did help the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title in early 2018. But since then, Jeffery has done very little to show that he was worth the investment. Philly is one of the most fiscally-mismanaged teams in the league. He will take up $18.5 million in cap space in 2021, and he isn’t even a guaranteed starter, which is atrocious.

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Even if they release him, the Eagles still have to eat over $10 million in dead money. Contracts like these are an affront to the sport, but it’s too late for Jeffery and the Eagles now. After coming back from Lisfranc surgery and missing much of a disastrous 2020 for Philadelphia, analysts expect his decline to be even more pronounced next season.

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15. Trent Brown

Recent history foretells that franchises should be very apprehensive about offering big contracts to former Patriots. Bill Belichick’s biggest success was creating a winning system that enabled every player to play a role. However, several Pats’ stars struggled after leaving Foxborough. Brown enjoyed a strong 2019 and even made the Pro Bowl for the first time after the Raiders made him the highest-paid tackle in the league.

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But 2020 has seen him spend an unreasonable amount of time on the injury list. Brown’s $66 million contract keeps him in Las Vegas until 2023. There is time for him to recover and show the type of form that Raiders’ fans expect from a man enjoying a hugely lucrative deal. He remains in his prime, which is why Las Vegas is under pressure to get top play from him, or it will be money severely wasted.

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14. Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey became the highest-paid running back in NFL history in the 2020 offseason, but it wasn’t necessarily the smartest decision the Panthers have ever made. Of course, they had no way of predicting that he would spend the majority of 2020 injured, but that’s exactly what happened.

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What makes this deal look even worse in hindsight is the fact that he was in line for an $8.5 million salary in 2021 and would not have had the bargaining power he had. Obviously, he’s an important and highly-talented player, but there’s a huge reason why running backs don’t enjoy the same salaries as other positions. They’re far too vulnerable and there are too many of them. McCaffrey has proven this.

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13. Jimmy Garoppolo

The fact that the 49ers considered replacing Garoppolo with Tom Brady before 2020 even though they made the Super Bowl the previous year says a lot about his fall from grace. San Francisco watched jealously as Patrick Mahomes lit up the Super Bowl to show what a difference a franchise quarterback can make. They expected more from Garoppolo, but it’s fair to say that he hasn’t shown that he has the ability to be a high-level franchise signal-caller.

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Yet he has cost them a lot of money. His five-year, $137 million deal still has two years left on it. It’s also going to be tough for them to get out of it because he has a no-trade clause before March 2022. That means they can’t trade him without his consent before then, so it’s not impossible. Nonetheless, the 49ers may find themselves in pursuit of a franchise quarterback in one of the next two drafts.

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12. Taylor Lewan

Another one of those contracts that make fans shake their heads, Lewan is living the good life in Nashville, Tenn. However, ‘Dad’ is definitely taking home more money than he deserves as much as Titans’ fans love him. He inked a five-year extension in 2018 that looks terrible in hindsight. To be fair, he was important in 2019 in helping Derrick Henry reach the NFL rushing title, but only after missing games due to a drug suspension.

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Later on in October 2020, he tore his ACL. Furthermore, Lewan began giving away a rising number of penalties before his injury. All of these factors combined to make his $80 million deal look overpriced. While it won’t break the franchise, it’s not exactly helpful. Also, Lewan is 29. Only time will tell how he recovers from his ligament injury and what impact that has on his future productivity.

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11. Taysom Hill

Drew Brees is the undisputed starting quarterback in New Orleans as Jameis Winston bides his time and waits to prove himself. Hill has built a reputation for himself as a gadget QB, which is all well and good thanks to Sean Payton insisting on giving him the ball. However, he is basically the team’s second-string signal-caller. Yet his contract is worth up to $16 million a year, crazy for what he does.

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Hill is one of those gadget players who somehow convince everybody that he does something so niche that he’s very important. If he were a running back, he would enjoy one of the most lucrative contracts in the league. Sure, he started more games than expected in 2020 because of Brees’s injury record, but still, he earns way too much money considering his role on the team.

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10. David Johnson

Johnson’s situation should serve as a warning to any franchise GM who is considering throwing money at a running back. The beleaguered Texans shouldn’t have done it. Their shelf life is shorter than a loaf of bread and they’re just as easy to find. The Arizona Cardinals agreed to pay him $39 million over three years with almost $25 million guaranteed. However, injuries and poor form affected Johnson’s tenure in Phoenix.

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Then the Texans decided to trade DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for Johnson and several picks. Furthermore, they picked up the terms of his Cardinals’ deal and guaranteed him all of the money that Arizona agreed to pay him. Has Johnson improved since his move to Texas? Of course not, which means this was one of the dumbest contracts in recent NFL history.

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9. Kawann Short

The Panthers are clearly not a great team and signing players like Short to massive contracts hasn’t helped matters. He signed a five-year extension worth $80 million in 2017, but it’s fair to say that things have not gone well for him since. When a player is on that kind of money, they need to change games and inspire their teams to greater things, but Short simply doesn’t have that in his armory.

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Consecutive season-ending shoulder injuries were tough for him to take, but even more difficult for the Panthers, who are obligated to pay his salary anyway. Short is a superb player on his day, but unfortunately, he isn’t able to maintain the continuity to make a consistent impact. Furthermore, the fact that his body keeps letting him down bodes ominously for the future. It’s hard not to feel bad for him.

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8. Nate Solder

A two-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots, the Giants thought that they had ready-made experience when they signed Solder as a free agent in 2019. They even made him the highest-paid offensive tackle in the league at the time with a juicy four-year deal worth $62 million. But they definitely regret it now after two years of Solder proving their optimism was misplaced.

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Solder played in all 16 games in his first season and missed out on the playoffs for the first time in his career. But he didn’t play well. Age began to catch up with him and his productivity slowed down significantly in a new system with younger teammates. Then, he opted out of the 2020 NFL season because of the global health crisis. While it’s understandable, many fans didn’t appreciate his decision at all.

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7. Brandin Cooks

Cooks is on a one-man tour of the NFL. It looks like he’s making a business visit to every region in the nation and also failing to show that he is one of the best wide receivers in the league. The Rams traded him to the Houston Texans in a deal that was somehow bad for both teams. But Cooks has no complaints because his bank balance is fatter than a Thanksgiving Day turkey.

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The Rams are paying Cooks five million dollars to play in Texas. Meanwhile, because they failed to trade him before his bonus was due, it means that instead 0f $18 million in dead money their dead cap charge sits at almost $22 million. It’s just terrible business. Meanwhile, Cooks is an aging receiver and definitely isn’t DeAndre Hopkins, so the Texans could have done much better.

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6. Adam Humphries

The Titans haven’t exactly missed Humphries this year, but they definitely could have used the money they invested in him in a much more effective way. He arrived from Tampa Bay after the best season of his career but hasn’t come close to replicating that during his two years in Nashville. Indeed, since his arrival, the pressure on Derrick Henry’s shoulders has only increased, which defeats the purpose of having Humphries there.

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A combination of injuries meant that Humphries missed a significant chunk of games in 2020. His four-year deal, worth $36 million, increasingly looks like money thrown away. The Titans could have taken his guaranteed millions in salary and used it more productively. Awarding such lucrative contracts to players after a single good season is definitely not advisable as history proves each and every year.

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5. Kirk Cousins

Cousins is one of the most overpaid quarterbacks in the NFL and maybe even NFL history. The Minnesota Vikings thought that he would take them to the next level, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, the franchise has run hot and cold with Cousins in place as their signal-caller. A 0-5 start to 2020 before turning it around to win five of their next seven shows exactly what a strange place this team is in.

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Quite simply, the Vikings can’t trust Cousins. They extended his deal in 2020 until 2023 with a guaranteed $66 million. For the sake of comparison, Aaron Rodgers takes home that type of money and Cousins absolutely is not in that bracket. Throwing massive contracts at average quarterbacks is one of those tired old NFL traditions that happens every season. But somehow, teams still fall into the same trap.

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4. C.J. Mosley

The New York Jets went on a massive spending spree in 2019 in a vain attempt to reignite their franchise. They offered Mosley a five-year deal worth $85 million as part of it. Gang Green made him the second-highest-paid linebacker in the entire league. It’s safe to say that this one has not worked out at all. The Jets have won just eight games since the former Ravens star signed one of the most disastrous contracts in the sport.

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The worst part of this for the Jets is that Mosley has only played in two games for New York. First, he suffered a groin injury and required surgery, missing almost all of 2019. Then he chose to opt out of the next season because of the global health crisis. Meanwhile, if the Jets cut him in 2021, they’ll lose $20 million. Even if they wait one more year, they’ll take a $12.5 million hit. Mosley has hurt them badly.

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3. Robert Quinn

First, Quinn is 30 and arguably in his prime but it could be all downhill from here. For some reason, the Chicago Bears rewarded him with a five-year deal worth $70 million. It’s bizarre that they handed him such a long and lucrative deal because he will only decline over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, the last time he made the Pro Bowl was in 2014, so it’s unlikely that he will suddenly become a worldbeater again.

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In 2019, Quinn achieved 11.5 sacks with Dallas. But a year later, he managed just two by Week 15. This fall in production meant that he delivered the lowest output of his career. Meanwhile, the outside linebacker plays opposite Khalil Mack, so he really has no excuses. Because of that, this is one of the worst contracts in any sport right now. What the Bears were thinking, nobody knows but somebody should answer for it.

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2. Ezekiel Elliot

The Cowboys were full of excitement and optimism after an exciting offseason. Many fans believed that they could go on a postseason run and even become dark horses for the Super Bowl. Of course, the Cowboys are fantastic at letting everybody down, and they imploded quite spectacularly. After Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome, season-ending broken ankle, the team’s form deteriorated dramatically.

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Elliot is emblematic of their poor display throughout the year. He played much better with Prescott, but without his quarterback, he hasn’t shown his qualities at all. One of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL, Elliot has averaged less than 65 yards per game and has more fumbles than touchdowns. Dallas must pay $24.5 million if they choose to trade him in 2021 or pay his guaranteed contract a year later. What a mess.

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1. Carson Wentz

Wentz’s form in 2020 has been near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories and resulted in the Philadelphia Eagles dropping him to start Jalen Hurts in Week 13. Meanwhile, the former first overall pick quarterback still enjoys one of the most lucrative contracts in the NFL. After a good season in 2019, the team handed him his first post-rookie deal. This should have come with a warning label to all other NFL teams to be wary of doing the same.

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The extension worth $128 million with a guaranteed $108 million that doesn’t expire until 2025. The Eagles are in a lose-lose situation because if they cut him it would result in a disgusting amount of dead money. We’re talking upwards of $68 million. But if they trade him, it’ll cost $33.8 million on the cap. As we said, it’s a no-win scenario unless he suddenly remembers how to play as a quarterback.

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