Top 10 Worst Contracts Ever Given in Sports

Jacob Betzner@@JacobBetznerCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2012

Top 10 Worst Contracts Ever Given in Sports

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    It's hard to predict the future, especially in the world of professional sports.  Teams sign players to high paying, long-term deals and expect elite performance on the field, rink or court. They value the athlete based on previous seasons, expectations and countless other factors.

    While it's debatable whether any athlete, even 2012 Super Bowl MVP, deserve millions of dollars for throwing a ball better than the average Joe, but we love sports, and that's a debate for another article.

    Many players live up to expectations and deliver results.  However, some players signed to big-time deals left fans simply scratching their heads and general managers flinging expletives as they sign the athlete's check.

Potential Bust: Ilya Bryzgalov

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    The Philadelphia Flyers tried addressing problems at the goaltender position by acquiring the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov and essentially restructured the entire team to sign the goaltender to a nine-year, $51 million deal.

    Bryzgalov earned $10 million this season and makes between $5.5 and $8 million a season through 2018 before his contract drops off and ends in 2020.

    The Flyers shipped team captain Mike Richards and leading scorer Jeff Carter to Los Angeles and Columbus, respectively, to clear enough cap space to sign Bryzgalov, a good but unproven goaltender.

    While the 31-year-old won 33 games and finished with a 2.49 goals against average and a .909 save percentage this, he faltered in the playoffs.  His Flyers advanced to the second round in spite of Bryz's poor play.  The Russian netminder dropped four consecutive games to the New Jersey Devils after his team won game one of the teams' second round series.

    Luckily for fans, Bryzgalov's lengthy contract gives him eight more years to live up to the big money.

Coaching Bonus: Rick Pitino

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    Two seasons after coaching his University of Kentucky Wildcats to an NCAA National Championship, the Boston Celtics signed Rick Pitino to an enormous seven-year, $70 million contract in 1997.

    Pitino failed to match his success at the NCAA level, coaching the Celtics to a 102-146 record and failing to make the playoffs in three seasons.

    Pitino decided to resign as the Celtics bench boss during the 2000-2001 season and took the head coaching job at the University of Louisville.  He hasn't won another NCAA Tournament, but his Cardinals did advance to the Final Four this season, losing to the eventual champion and Pitino's former team, the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

    It appears Pitino won't try to salvage his NBA reputation, telling multiple sources including he plans to retire when his contract with Louisville expires in 2017.

No. 10: Vincent Lecavalier

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    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier's contract pays him $10 million annually from 2009 to 2016 and counts against the team's salary cap at just over $7.2 million.

    The 32-year-old won a Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 2007, three years after captaining the Lightning to a Stanley Cup, leading the NHL with 52 goals in the regular season.

    He failed to match his league leading goal total the following season, finishing with 40 tallies, and scored 29 times the year he signed his enormous extension with Tampa Bay.

    Since signing a deal keeping the former first overall draft pick in Tampa Bay until 2020, the Quebec native hasn't scored more than 25 goals and his Lightning team failed to make the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs after advancing within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals the previous season.

No. 9: Grant Hill

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    Grant Hill wanted more money than the Pistons could offer to keep their former third overall draft pick, so Detroit sent the former Duke University star to the Orlando Magic.

    Grant signed a seven-year, $93 million contract with Orlando, before suffering a slew of injuries, limiting him to 57 games through his first three seasons.

    Hill probably would have continued his dominance in the NBA had it not been for his poor health, but the Magic learned the hard way that lengthy, high-paying contracts can sometimes backfire.

    The small forward has played the last five seasons for the Phoenix Suns, averaging between 10 to 13 points a season and playing for a lot less money.

No. 8: Eddy Curry

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    A professional athlete plagued by off-the-court issues, Eddy Curry signed a six-year, $60 million contract with the Chicago Bulls before the 2005-2006 season.

    However, he refused to be tested for a heart condition and was promptly shipped to the New York Knicks.  Curry played three average years in New York, but has appeared in only 24 NBA games since the 2007-2008 season.  During this stretch, the center's points per game average peaked at 3.7.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves bought out the final year of his contract in 2011 after acquiring the big man in a trade, making him a free agent.  He signed with the Miami Heat for the 2011-2012 season, with whom he plays a limited role.

No. 7: Ryan Leaf

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    Ryan Leaf was recently arrested twice, only four days apart, for burglarizing a home in search of prescription pain killers according to

    Drafted second overall behind superstar quarterback Peyton Manning, Leaf never lived up to his potential in the NFL.  He signed a four-year, $32.5 million contract after being drafted by San Diego in 1998.

    He played in ten games in his rookie season, completing 45.3 percent of his passes and throwing 15 interceptions.  He missed the 1999 season because of an injury but returned in 2000 to improve his completion percentage to 50 percent and his passer rating to 56.2 in 11 games.

    The Chargers waived Leaf prior to the start of the 2001 season, and after an unsuccessful tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he signed with Dallas Cowboys, playing in four games with similar numbers.

    Leaf hasn't had the easiest life in the world, being under near constant scrutiny and surviving a surgery to remove a benign tumor from his brain stem last year, but, alas, he will forever be remembered as one of the biggest draft busts and worst contract signings of all time.

No. 6: Rick DiPietro

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    The New York Islanders thought they had drafted the goaltender who would help the Islanders re-emerge as a dominant team in the NHL when they took Boston University's Rick DiPietro with the first overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

    After playing through an entry level contract and a one year extension, the netminder inked a 15-year, $67.5 million contract, paying $4.5 million annually.

    The Islanders have failed at building a team around DiPietro, but the oft-injured goaltender hasn't played enough to let the team figure out what exactly they need to build.  He played two full seasons under his 15-year deal, but has played in a total of 47 games since the 2008-2009 season, going 14-24-7.

    His save percentage peaked at .900 during this four year stint, paired with a 2.60 goals against average.

    The 30-year-old is signed through his 39th birthday during the 2020-2021 season, but doesn't look like he'll make it much past 35 in his NHL career with his laundry list of injuries.

No. 5: Larry Hughes

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers thought signing Larry Hughes would give the team the boost they needed and LeBron James the help he needed to win an NBA Championship.

    They inked the guard to a 5-year, $70 million contract in 2005, and the former St. Louis University star rewarded the team with a high of 15.5 points per game during his two and a half seasons with the Cavs, never appearing in the NBA Finals with the team.

    Ironically, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls in a three-team trade that brought another terrible contract in Ben Wallace to Cleveland.

    Hughes appeared in nine games with the Magic this season, averaging 1.3 points per game.

No. 3: Alex Rodriguez

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    The Texas Rangers signed superstar Alex Rodriguez to an astounding 10-year, $252 million contract in 2000.

    Now, Alex Rodriguez lived up to the hype on the field, becoming an offensive and defensive superstar and winning the 2003 AL MVP Award, but he tested positive for steroids and admitted using performance enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003.

    The Rangers sent A-Rod to the New York Yankees because they could no longer afford his contract, agreeing to pay nearly $67 million of his new deal with the Yanks.

    Hopefully, a similar situation doesn't arise for Texas with power-hitting outfielder Josh Hamilton, scheduled to be a free agent at the end of this season and demand a lot of money.

No. 2: Scott Gomez

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    Scott Gomez signed a huge deal with the New York Rangers prior to the 2007-2008 season.  Somehow, the Rangers tricked the Canadiens into trading for the 32-year-old before the 2009-2010 season.

    Since then, Gomez has been a huge disappointment for the Canadiens, even compelling one fan to create a website at the expense of Gomez's goal drought.

    In three seasons with Montreal, the Alaska native's goal total dropped from 12 to seven to two.  Last season he finished with 11 points and a minus-nine rating in 30 games, averaging about $3.75 million per goal.

    Gomez is scheduled to make $5.5 million next season and $4.5 million the following year, which, barring some sort of miraculous resurgence, may be his last in the NHL.

No. 1: JaMarcus Russell

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    After being selected first overall in the 2007 NFL Entry Draft, JaMarcus Russell signed a six-year, $61 million contract, the richest rookie contract in NFL history.

    Russell played in 31 games over three years, completed just over 52 percent of his passes, threw 18 touchdowns compared to 23 interceptions and fumbled 22 times.  He finished his stint in Oakland with a 65.2 passer rating.

    Considered by many as the biggest NFL Draft bust of all-time, Russell's poor work ethic and weight issues have kept him off an NFL roster since 2009.