One NFL Contract Each NFL Team Wishes Would Vanish
Every year we see a flurry of free agent moves. Big deals are handed out routinely, sometimes seemingly without thought, and not all of them pan out.
The following is a list of contracts each team might want to make disappear. The reasons range from players simply being overpaid to just awful play.
Contracts signed during this offseason aren't included in the list because we have yet to see those players play a down for their new team. Everything else is fair game.
All salary cap figures courtesy of spotrac.com.
Worst Contract: Levi Brown, OT
Contract Terms: Five years, $30 million. Signed in 2012.
Levi Brown isn't a bad tackle. He was lost for the 2012 season after an injury, and Arizona's offensive line was exposed as a result.
But is he worth $30 million?
In truth, the Cardinals managed to get rid of their real albatross this offseason by cutting Kevin Kolb and his $63 million contract.
Worst Contract: Justin Blalock, OG
Contract Terms: Six years, $38.4 million. Signed in 2011.
If you had to venture a guess at Atlanta's top five contracts, would Justin Blalock even cross your mind?
Matt Ryan and Roddy White are predictably the best-paid Falcons, with Sam Baker not far behind, but Blalock is fourth on the team. His massive contract is ahead of guys like Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones—albeit he is on a rookie contract—and William Moore.
Has he been worth that $38.4 million deal? Absolutely not. Baker, the team's left tackle, signed a deal worth just $2 million more than the left guard's.
Blalock has been fine on the field, but guards rarely get paid big money.
Worst Contract: Joe Flacco, QB
Contract Terms: Six years, $120.6 million. Signed in 2013.
Let's be clear here: the Ravens need Joe Flacco. They just don't need that massive contract that goes along with the reigning Super Bowl MVP.
Flacco had all the leverage in the world after a historic playoff run that culminated in the team's second championship since moving to Baltimore. The Ravens had to give him what he wanted, which just so happened to be the richest contract in NFL history at the time.
The contract was structured so Baltimore wouldn't feel the impact this season, but there will be a salary cap reckoning soon enough. And Flacco hasn't exactly proven himself to be elite during the regular season.
Worst Contract: Mark Anderson, DE
Contract Terms: Four years, $21 million. Signed in 2012.
The Bills went on a spending spree last offseason, acquiring Mario Williams in the biggest free-agent deal this side of Peyton Manning. It didn't quite pay off in year one, though Williams did a fine job most of the year
A less-heralded move that has not paid off was the signing of Mark Anderson to pair with Williams.
Anderson had a good year with the Patriots in 2011, and he parlayed it into a nice contract with the Bills. The defensive end had injury woes in his first year in Buffalo, and he was terrible when he was on the field.
Worst Contract: Jon Beason, LB
Contract Terms: Six years, $50 million. Signed in 2011.
The competition was fierce on the Panthers roster for "worst contract." DeAngelo Williams and Jon Beason both have massively underperformed their contracts.
But Beason's cap hits have been minimal thus far because of the structure to his contract. He might not have been on the field much the past couple of seasons because of injury.
Williams, meanwhile, hasn't been a picture of health himself, but he has been a drag to Carolina's cap number, while Beason hasn't.
The cap situations flip starting this season, however. Williams' cap number shrank to $5 million.
Beason, meanwhile, will account for $9.5 million of the cap this season. Carolina couldn't just cut him because it would create $12 million of dead money. It was worth more to keep him, even if Luke Kuechly has supplanted him as the starting middle linebacker.
That makes Beason's contract the clear winner in this battle.
Worst Contract: Devin Hester, WR/KR
Contract Terms: Four years, $41 million. Signed in 2010.
The Bears have one of the highest paid receivers in the NFL in Brandon Marshall, who is No. 2 at his position in base salary.
Did you know they employ a different receiver with a top-10 average salary? His name is Devin Hester, and he might not see the field much on offense this season.
Worst Contract: Domata Peko, DT
Contract Terms: Seven years, $30 million. Signed in 2008.
There aren't many bad contracts on the Bengals roster at this point. Domata Peko sticks out with that $30 million deal. There are only a couple of years left, but Peko is playing below average.
Worst Contract: None
Contract Terms: N/A
It's hard to find a contract the Browns might want to make disappear. On the one hand, the highest paid guys are quite productive. Joe Thomas is on a massive $80 million deal, but it's hard to argue against his presence on the roster.
On the other hand, Brandon Weeden is still the quarterback. But he is on a $8 million rookie deal.
Perhaps Paul Kruger would be a good fit here, but the Browns just signed him.
Worst Contract: Tony Romo, QB
Contract Terms: Seven years, $119.5 million. Signed in 2013.
Alright, so the Cowboys and Jerry Jones probably don't really want Tony Romo's contract to vanish given they just signed him to a massive extension. And, given he is 33, the odds that he'll see the $40 million over the final two years in the deal are about as good as me winning the Powerball jackpot.
But what has Romo exactly done to merit the third-largest contract in the NFL? It is a quarterback league, and Romo isn't as bad as the memes would have you believe. But that's just an eye-popping, cap-killing deal that he has simply not earned.
Worst Contract: Knowshon Moreno, RB
Contract Terms: Five years, $17.1 million. Signed in 2009.
It's difficult to find a bad contract for the Broncos.
D.J. Williams is gone. Peyton Manning is in his second year of a $96 million deal, but that appears to be paying off. Champ Bailey signed a $40 million deal last year, but no signing bonus means Denver could cut him without a cap penalty.
Also, Bailey is still pretty good.
How about the man with the fifth-highest contract on the team? That would be Knowshon Moreno, who has been a disappointment for approximately 97 percent of his career.
This is likely his last year—there is a club option for 2014, but the Broncos aren't shelling out $5 million to keep a third-string running back—and there is a chance he could be cut before the season.
Worst Contract: Mike Thomas, WR
Contract Terms: Four years, $10.2 million. Signed in 2012.
Mike Thomas somehow managed to steal money from the Jaguars last year. He then managed to get traded rather than cut after an abominable start to his 2012 campaign.
He fared no better with the Lions last year, unable to crack the starting lineup despite injuries that decimated the wide receiving corps.
It's a wonder he is still around.
Green Bay Packers
Worst Contract: A.J. Hawk, LB
Contract Terms: Five years, $30 million. Signed in 2012.
Ted Thompson doesn't do bad contracts very often, but perhaps he would like a mulligan on A.J. Hawk's big deal.
Hawk is fine, but not great. Maybe he lost some of his abilities when he cut his hair.
Worst Contract: Matt Schaub, QB
Contract Terms: Five years, $66.2 million. Signed in 2012.
Matt Schaub's deal is a relative bargain when compared to those signed by big name quarterbacks this offseason, but $66.2 million isn't chump change.
What has Schaub done to convince us he can get the Texans to the next level? He is better than your average game manager, that much is true, but how much so, and can he ratchet up his performance when it counts?
Thus far the Texans have done little with Schaub at the helm. Sure, they finally got to the top of the AFC South, but a strong running game, much-improved defense and the Colts' fall from their perch had more to do with it than Schaub.
Worst Contract: Donald Brown, RB
Contract Terms: Five years, $11.2 million. Signed in 2011.
The Colts have spent the better part of the last two offseasons re-imagining their roster. The last vestiges of their former incarnation under Peyton Manning are all but gone.
That means Dwight Freeney and his big contract are no longer a part of this conversation. In fact, aside from a few eyebrow-raising signings this offseason, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has managed to steer clear of bad contracts.
Since we should give this year's free-agent crop a chance to prove Grigson right, Donald Brown is the man here.
Brown is a would-be parting gift from Bill Polian, who essentially ran the Colts into the ground. His job was usurped by average rookie Vick Ballard.
Worst Contract: Tyson Alualu, DT
Contract Terms: Five years, $28 million. Signed in 2010.
The Jaguars probably wish Blaine Gabbert would just disappear, but he has a friendly rookie contract.
Tyson Alualu's rookie deal is not so friendly, however. He has simply failed to live up to his first-round status and contract with the Jaguars.
Kansas City Chiefs
Worst Contract: Branden Albert, OT
Contract Terms: One year, $9 million. Franchise tagged in 2013.
Branden Albert is a fine player. But the Chiefs tried to trade him after slapping him with the franchise tag, so they actually wish he wasn't on the team.
Kansas City took Eric Fisher in the NFL draft, who will play right tackle as long as Albert is on the team. In other words, the team took a right tackle with the first-overall pick in the draft.
Worst Contract: Dimitri Patterson, CB
Contract Terms: Three years, $16 million. Signed in 2012.
This might just be a matter of time considering Miami's cap situation. Patterson has been dumped by two teams over the past two years, which is not exactly the best endorsement for the veteran cornerback.
Miami added Brent Grimes, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis via free agency and the draft this offseason, and they could be strapped for cap space next offseason. Cutting Patterson would save them over $9 million over the next two years.
Luckily for the Dolphins, they can make his contract disappear without much of an issue.
Worst Contract: John Carlson, TE
Contract Terms: Five years, $25 million. Signed in 2012.
The Vikings need a mulligan on this contract. Why they gave a marginal tight end a $25 million contract when they had Kyle Rudolph on the roster is a bit of a head-scratcher.
John Carlson caught eight passes last season, just about $1 million per catch thus far.
New England Patriots
Worst Contract: Stephen Gostowski, K
Contract Terms: Five years, $15.8 million. Signed in 2012.
You will be hard-pressed to find a bad contact on the Patriots right now. In years past, Brandon Lloyd and Chad Johnson would be easy choices. They have trimmed the fat since then.
Perhaps the best choice in this endeavor is the kicker, Stephen Gostowski. He is good at his job, but he is being paid a pretty penny to be on the field for roughly two minutes per game.
Gostowski is the third-highest paid kicker in the league at the moment.
New Orleans Saints
Worst Contract: Will Smith, DE
Contract Terms: Six years, $61.4 million. Signed in 2008.
Will Smith has simply not lived up to that big contract. The Saints are switching to a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Smith will be 32 and playing out of position this coming season. He would account for more dead money if he is cut, though, which is probably the only reason he is still around.
New York Giants
Worst Contract: Corey Webster, CB
Contract Terms: Six years, $43.5 million. Signed in 2008.
New York's secondary was a bit troublesome last season, and Corey Webster was one of the offenders.
The veteran cornerback is simply not the player he once was, but the Giants can't afford to lose him. For starters, his cap hit would be higher if they cut him than if they kept him this season.
Then, there is the cornerback depth on the team, which would be a bit thin should he get cut.
Still, Webster is being paid an awful lot to be awful.
New York Jets
Worst Contract: Mark Sanchez, QB
Contract Terms: Five years, $58.5 million signed in 2012
The Jets had so much confidence in Mark Sanchez last year that they gave him a contract extension. Only it came after they failed to get their foot in the door for Peyton Manning's services.
Sanchez rewarded their penitent faith with an abysmal season.
The four-year starter was probably the worst starter in the league, although he did not have the best supporting cast last year.
New York brought in the since-departed David Garrard and drafted Geno Smith this offseason. If cutting Sanchez wouldn't cost the Jets $17 million in dead money, he might be gone already.
Worst Contract: Mike Brisiel, OG
Contract Terms: Five years, $20 million. Signed in 2012.
The Raiders have dealt with cap hell for a couple of years now, and they are on the verge of emerging on the other side.
Darren McFadden is still playing out his $60 million contract, but it runs out after this season. If he gets injured again, it will likely be curtains for him in Oakland.
Perhaps the best choice here is a man who signed a recent contract.
Mike Brisiel signed a $20 million deal last offseason and did not perform up to snuff. He was one of the worst offensive guards in the entire league last season per Pro Football Focus.
Worst Contract: Brent Celek, TE
Contract Terms: Five years, $34 million signed in 2008
Brent Celek has had his moments in Philadelphia, but the end is nigh for the big tight end.
The Eagles brought in James Casey and Zach Ertz this offseason via free agency and the draft. Celek has simply not been productive enough to warrant such a contract, and he might not be a good fit in Chip Kelly's new offense.
It wouldn't be a total shock to see him cut in the preseason if Kelly's two new guys work out.
Worst Contract: Heath Miller, TE
Contract Terms: Five years, $35.3 million. Signed in 2009.
Heath Miller finally had his breakout season last year, scoring touchdowns galore for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Unfortunately, he tore his ACL at the end of the season. Maybe he'll come back stronger, but it seems like tight ends have issues returning from devastating knee injuries. Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum sat out all of 2012 after tearing theirs in Super Bowl XLVI.
San Diego Chargers
Worst Contract: Robert Meachem, WR
Contract Terms: Four years, $25 million. Signed in 2012.
Robert Meachem could never live up to potential in New Orleans with Drew Brees at the helm. Naturally, the Chargers signed him to a $25 million deal last year.
A.J. Smith and Norv Turner, the architects of this amazing move, are no longer around to revel in their brilliance. Too bad the Chargers are still saddled with this unproductive albatross, albeit the contract isn't in Albert Haynesworth territory.
San Francisco 49ers
Worst Contract: None
Contract Terms: None
It's difficult to argue with what the 49ers have built in San Francisco.
This is a young team on the cusp of greatness, and they have gotten there by being smart in free agency and the draft. Perhaps Andy Lee—one of the highest paid punters in the league—or Carlos Rogers would belong here, but they are pretty good at their jobs.
Worst Contract: Sidney Rice, WR
Contract Terms: Five years, $41 million. Signed in 2011.
Sidney Rice is simply snake-bitten.
The talented receiver has rarely been healthy for long stretches of his career, and his injury woes have followed him west to Seattle.
With Percy Harvin and his big contract on the books, paying Rice this much money seems luxuriant.
St. Louis Rams
Worst Contract: Sam Bradford, QB
Contract Terms: Six years, $78 million. Signed in 2010.
This contract is a relic.
Players went on strike, and when the dust settled, a rookie wage scale was in place in the new CBA. Sam Bradford's massive contract is simply a thing of the past unless players push to revoke the wage scale in future iterations of the CBA.
Bradford hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been very good since he came into the league. Injuries, coaching and a poor supporting cast have been big contributors to his issues, but the Rams surely wish the wage scale was in place when they took him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Worst Contract: Davin Joseph, OG
Contract Terms: Seven years, $52.5 million. Signed in 2011.
The Buccaneers spent so much time saving money that, until last year, there weren't many big contracts to dissect.
Davin Joseph is a good candidate here, however. He had an average 2011 season after signing his big extension, and then spent much of last year injured.
How many offensive guards sign $50 million deals? Quite few, and they quickly lose their luster if they underperform.
Worst Contract: Michael Griffin, S
Contract Terms: Five years, $35 million. Signed in 2012.
Michael Griffin had a nice start to his career with the Titans, and he signed a new deal after they slapped him with the franchise tag last year. But it was a forgettable year for the Tennessee safety.
Griffin was the third-worst safety in the entire league, per Pro Football Focus. He led the league in missed tackles and allowed the second-most passing touchdowns.
Worst Contract: Adam Carriker, DE
Contract Terms: Four years, $20 million. Signed in 2012.
It's refreshing not to see the likes of Albert Haynesworth or Donovan McNabb here. Dan Snyder and the Redskins have been far more prudent in recent years, though some of that might have to do with the cap penalties they have faced.
Perhaps they would like a mulligan on the Adam Carriker deal, however.
Carriker was fresh off a mediocre season when the Redskins gave him a new deal. He failed to live up to it, largely due to injuries. It's not a major contract faux pas, but Washington could have used that cap space.