Ranking the NFL's 10 Best Contracts from This Offseason

Wes StueveContributor IIIJuly 11, 2012

Ranking the NFL's 10 Best Contracts from This Offseason

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    During the 2012 offseason, many contracts—some great, some horrible—were given out. Free-agent contracts received most the hype, but they weren't the only new deals signed.

    Of the many contracts signed during the offseason, a few stand out as significantly better than most. Not all of them received all that much hype either.

    Did your team make one of these super deals?

10. Stevie Johnson Re-Signs with the Buffalo Bills

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    Before hitting free agency, Stevie Johnson agreed to a new seven-year deal with the Bills worth $36.25 million and about $18 million guaranteed. 

    For a wideout of Johnson's caliber, that is a steal for Buffalo. Johnson is just 25 years old and already has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt.

    Not many players can boast that on their resume. 

9. Reggie Wayne Re-Signs with the Indianapolis Colts

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    Despite being one of the NFL's most consistent wide receivers over the past decade, Reggie Wayne got just a three-year, $17.5 million contract.

    At 33 years old, Wayne isn't an elite wideout, but he has played fewer than 16 games just once in his career, and until 2011, he had a seven-year streak of at least 1,000 receiving yards.

    Players like that usually get more money and years than Wayne did.

8. Trent Cole Extends with the Philadelphia Eagles

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    One of the least talked-about elite players in the NFL, Trent Cole deserved every bit of his five-year, $53 million extension, which gives his deal a total value of six years, $59.3 million.

    Cole has 68 sacks in his seven NFL seasons, and he isn't just a one-dimensional pass-rusher. The star defensive end adds value on all downs.

    Many defensive ends of lesser ability make just as much or even more than Cole does, and the 29-year-old should continue to play at a high level for years to come.

7. Lardarius Webb Extends with the Baltimore Ravens

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    In a year in which many cornerbacks picked up big deals, Lardarius Webb signed a reasonable contract extension with the Ravens for a six-year, $50 million deal. Webb is an immensely talented player, and he is a steal for $20 million guaranteed.

    The 26-year-old is better than Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan, both of whom signed for a higher annual salary with new teams. Baltimore, meanwhile, locked up its own lockdown cornerback. 

6. Eric Winston Signs with the Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Texans shocked many by releasing Eric Winston, and the Chiefs snapped the stud right tackle up. Widely considered one of the game's best right tackles, Winston signed for just four years and $22 million.

    Barry Richardson was awful for Kansas City in 2011; Winston looks to be a massive upgrade. At just 28 years old, Winston still has several high-quality years left, and he is a far better player than his contract suggests.

5. Calais Campbell Extends with the Arizona Cardinals

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    Arguably one of the NFL's top three 3-4 defensive ends, Calais Campbell is clearly worthy of a huge contract. The Cardinals may have paid a hefty price, but Campbell is worth it.

    Despite his primary job being to stuff the run, Campbell picked up eight sacks in 2011 and wreaked havoc in the backfield. At just 25 years old, Campbell is a star.

4. Rob Gronkowski Extends with the New England Patriots

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    There's no question about it: Rob Gronkowski is the NFL's best tight end. And now the Patriots have him locked up for eight years.

    Though Gronkowski certainly got paid, he isn't the NFL's highest-paid tight end according to annual salary. New England has one of its key players locked up for the foreseeable future.

    There is some risk for New England—Gronkowski has an injury history—but there is tons of reward. 

3. Calvin Johnson Extends with the Detroit Lions

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    During the offseason, Calvin Johnson signed one of the biggest deals in NFL history. And can anyone argue he isn't worth it?

    Name a non-quarterback more important to his team than Johnson is to the Lions. It can't be done. "Megatron" is possibly the best player in the NFL, and he is just entering his prime.

    By the time Johnson's contract ends, he should still be playing at a high level. With his physical ability, there's no reason for him not to be. 

    Sure, this deal was expensive, but Johnson is worth the price. 

2. LeSean McCoy Extends with the Philadelphia Eagles

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    On a team loaded with talent, LeSean McCoy is the Eagles' most important player, save possibly Michael Vick. And McCoy just might be the NFL's best running back.

    So it was no surprise when Philadelphia rewarded McCoy with a five-year, $45 million contract. It is often bad business to give a running back a big contract, but McCoy is just 23 years old.

    That means by the time this deal ends, McCoy will still be in his prime. He won't be over the hill and stealing money from the Eagles. He will still be earning it.

    The only potential downside for Philadelphia here is injury, and that's always unpredictable. Philadelphia locked up a star through his prime, and no later.

1. Peyton Manning Signs with the Denver Broncos

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    Yeah, huge surprise, I know.

    People have hyped up Denver signing Peyton Manning for a reason. When Manning is healthy, he's one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Five years, $96 million isn't all that much money for an All-Pro quarterback.

    If Manning is healthy, the Broncos are immediately a playoff team. If he isn't, they can cut him after one year without losing much. Only the first year of Manning's contract is guaranteed.

    That one year is still $18 million, but isn't that a worthwhile gamble for the potential reward?