Ranking the NFL's 7 Worst Contracts from This Offseason

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

Ranking the NFL's 7 Worst Contracts from This Offseason

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    Bad contracts are simply a part of sports. Whether teams get into bidding wars for bad players or simply shell out more money than they should for a good one, some players make out like bandits when free agency opens up.

    This offseason was no different in the NFL. Though there were few contracts the size of Albert Haynesworth's, some teams overpaid or simply made poor decisions.

    Here are seven players who landed great contracts for themselves at the expense of their teams.

Pierre Garcon

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    Naturally, the Redskins are involved in a conversation about "worst contracts."

    The market was flooded with receivers at the outset of free agency. From Vincent Jackson Stevie Johnson to Robert Meachem, there was plenty of talent available.

    Was Pierre Garcon among the best available? The Redskins seemed to think so.

    While the Redskins had just been hit with a $36 million cap penalty, they still had enough to sign a receiver to a hefty contract.

    Unfortunately, instead of shelling out $42.5 million over five years for someone like Stevie Johnson or Marques Colston, the Redskins decided to splash the cash on Pierre Garcon.

    In fairness, Garcon is not a bad player, and only $20.5 million of his salary is guaranteed. His career trajectory was stunted when Peyton Manning's neck forced Garcon to deal with the likes of Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky.

    But the Redskins could have done better, either by paying Garcon less or using that money elsewhere. The relatively unproven player will certainly have his chance to prove me wrong.

Peyton Manning

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    Signing a legendary quarterback while simultaneously ridding themselves of an unwanted one was a savvy move for John Elway and the Broncos; don't get me wrong. It's the contract that bothers me.

    Indeed, the Broncos built a shrewd clause into their contract with Peyton Manning—they can escape after one season if he cannot come all the way back from his neck injury—but does giving a 35-year-old quarterback coming off neck surgery a $96 million contract seem wise?

    What if he makes it through the season unscathed but does not play as well as hoped? Do they take the plunge on another two years or pull the plug?

    If Manning is passable or better this season, the Broncos will be forced to keep him or his salary on for at least two more seasons at $20 million per year.

    They may have had a ton of cap room during the offseason, but this is the kind of contract that could quickly become an albatross if things go south.

Eric Wright

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    There is no doubt the Buccaneers needed help at cornerback this offseason. Aqib Talib, their best, was embroiled in a nasty court case that has since been dismissed. Their veteran complement, Ronde Barber, was being moved to safety, another position of need in Tampa Bay.

    The cornerback market was not terribly hot, but several good players signed elsewhere before the Bucs landed Eric Wright from the Detroit Lions.

    The Lions' pass defense left something to be desired, and Wright was a big culprit. Quarterbacks threw at his receiver a whopping 120 times last season, the second most in the league.

    He allowed 75 catches on those targets en route to the sixth-worst rating, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Not only was his five-year, $38 million contract puzzlingly large, but Wright has joined the offseason DUI parade, getting into legal trouble himself.

    This deal will keep looking worse for the Bucs once the pads go on.

John Carlson

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    The Vikings have Kyle Rudolph, a second-round pick from 2011 who is ready to move up the rankings ladder among tight ends this year. They like to run two-tight end sets, but did they need to bring in John Carlson, a perennial disappointment in the Pacific Northwest, for $25 million? 

    His contract is cut-friendly after two seasons, yes, but that does not preclude them from being labeled as over-spenders here.

    Carlson was one of the worst-rated tight ends in 2010—catching just 31 passes—and he sat out 2011 with a torn labrum. His veteran experience notwithstanding, Minnesota might have been better served using a mid-round draft pick on a tight end.

Mark Sanchez

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    The Jets flirted with Peyton Manning before he stiff-armed them.

    Their response? Sign embattled, incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez to a pricey extension, naturally. New York signed Sanchez to a new five-year, $58.5 million deal, though he is unlikely to see all of that money unless he turns into Drew Brees—his base salaries are not guaranteed from 2014 through 2016.

    Granted, Sanchez's contract is not in the same stratosphere as Manning's, but the fourth-year quarterback is currently being paid more than Aaron Rodgers. That is simply a travesty.

    Not only did they give Sanchez a huge extension, but the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, giving them two quarterbacks with the accuracy of Imperial Stormtroopers at $63.2 million over the next five years, barring an extension for Tebow as well.

Laurent Robinson

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    The Jaguars' receiving corps last season resembled a hypothetical race between the Ryan brothers, Rex and Rob. It wasn't pretty.

    As such, Gene Smith pledged to upgrade the unit this offseason, both via free agency and the draft. His attempt began with Laurent Robinson, despite the rich crop of receivers on the market.

    There is nothing necessarily wrong with signing Robinson with the intent to complement the move with Justin Blackmon in the draft, but Smith did so by giving Robinson a $32.5 million contract. 

    The five-year journeyman parlayed one good season into a nice contract. You will note that Robinson had a good year, but he had just 858 yards receiving. His 11 touchdowns looked great on his stat sheet, but the touchdown is a fickle friend.

    As you might imagine, Robinson had not even totaled half that many touchdowns in the four years prior to landing in Dallas with Tony Romo slinging the ball and talent galore surrounding him.

    Once again, Smith had an opportunity to sign a more proven veteran, and he had the cap space to upgrade the offer. Robinson got himself a nice payday, but it might come at the expense of Jaguars fans.

Levi Brown

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    Brown has not lived up to his first-round status with the Cardinals.

    Arizona deserves credit for giving him an extension that would cut down his cap number for 2012—his contract was an albatross to their cap space this season—but was the disappointing left tackle worth another five-year, $30 million investment?

    The fifth-year lineman was the worst-rated tackle in the league according to PFF last season. Need I say more?

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