Analyzing the Best Contracts in Today's NFL

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Analyzing the Best Contracts in Today's NFL
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Bitter contract disputes, calculated leveraging tactics and teams forcing players to renegotiate deals in order to squeeze under the salary cap are ubiquitous business practices in the NFL

With all that in mind, which guys are playing under the best contracts today? Not necessarily the most team-friendly or player-friendly deals. Contracts that are essentially "perfect" for both the team and the player. 

(Rookie deals have been deliberately omitted, and no specific formula was used.)

 

Darrelle Revis, CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Contract: Six years, $96 million, no guaranteed money 

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When healthy, Revis has proven to be the most effective man-to-man, drop-your-completion-percentage cornerback in the NFL. No defensive black boasts his blend of press-coverage prowess, mirroring abilities and ball skills. 

He'll only be 28 when the 2013 regular season begins, and Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees attempted a total of 1,770 passes last year—the highest divisional three-quarterback total in all of football.

On their way to a 7-9 record, the Buccaneers allowed 297 yards through the air per game and were one of five teams in the league to surrender an average completion percentage over 65.

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In short, Tampa Bay desperately needed Revis in its secondary. 

What really makes his current contract so great is the absence of guaranteed money. Essentially, Revis is on a pay-as-you-go deal, which should serve as ideal motivation for him to return to preeminent defender status. 

If he plays to his potential in 2013 and doesn't get injured, Tampa Bay will likely be at the negotiating table to restructure his contract. 

But right now, this is one of the best contracts in football. 

Revis is getting the money he deserves this season, and the Buccaneers absolved themselves of the peril that comes with throwing major guaranteed dollars at a premier player coming off an injury. 

 

 

Ahmad Brooks, OLB San Francisco 49ers

Contract: Six years, $37 million, $8.25 million guaranteed 

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Brooks isn't as impactful as his linebacker-mates Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, but at his spot on the outside, he's a vital force to the 49ers' vaunted defense. 

He exhibited vast improvement in 2012 from a down year in 2011, as ProFootballFocus rated him as the No. 5 3-4 outside linebacker behind Anthony Spencer, Clay Matthews, Aldon Smith and Justin Houston. 

The 29-year-old University of Virginia product had 47 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, one pick-six, two forced fumbles and six passes defended last year. 

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Brooks is a 6'3'', 260-pound downhill thumper with deceptive pass-rushing skills and surprising range. Though he hasn't proven to be another double-digit-sack guy in San Francisco, he has found a niche along the front seven and is a fine Aldon Smith complement. 

With only $8.25 million guaranteed and a base salary that never reaches $7 million per season, the 49ers were able to lock up inside linebacker studs Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman to long-term deals. 

For such a complete player, Brooks' deal is among the best in the NFL. 

 

 

Kyle Williams, DT, Buffalo Bills

Contract: Six years, $33.555 million, $17 million guaranteed

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Williams has been labeled as underrated for the last two or three years, so it's debatable whether or not he deserves that distinction anymore.

Regardless of reputation, Williams is one of the most disruptive pass-rushing interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Despite being only 6'1'' and around 300 pounds, he's a stout run-stopper as well. 

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ProFootballFocus rated only Geno Atkins and Gerald McCoy as better defensive tackles than Williams in 2012, and in 2010, he was given top honors at his position.

As a team, the Bills have struggled against the run during Williams' tenure in Buffalo, but imagine how bad they would have been had Williams not been on the roster. 

He has played through multiple injuries and has been the one defender the opposition has had to game-plan around when facing the Bills over the last three seasons. 

Williams is aptly paid for a player of his caliber, but his deal doesn't restrict the Bills from allocating money elsewhere to sign others. 

He'll make less than $4.5 million base salary for the next three years. 

 

 

Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers 

Contract: Four years, $13.989 million, $5 million guaranteed

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The Packers made an exceptionally shrewd and, frankly, rather lucky move when they inked Nelson during the 2011 campaign—a season in which the Kansas State product accumulated 68 receptions for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

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Nelson is under contract through 2014, and he won't make $4 million per year this season or next. 

For a 6'3'', 215-pound receiver who does just about everything well and has caught 22 touchdowns over the last two years, it's easy to argue that his contract is the most team-friendly in the NFL. He has been a consummate No. 3 wideout in Green Bay, but with his size and overall skill set, he could be a true No. 1 wideout elsewhere. 

Nelson hasn't proven to be a volume chain-mover, however, as he had 45 catches in 2012, which lends credence to the idea that his current contract isn't necessarily unfair.

 

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