2016 NFL Free Agency: The Most Interesting One-Year Contracts

Richard Janvrin@@RichardJanvrinFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2016

2016 NFL Free Agency: The Most Interesting One-Year Contracts

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Every NFL offseason, multiple players sign the legendary one-year "prove it" deals.

    Whether it be for coming off an injury, a bad season or another circumstance, these players are determined to illustrate they are worth a bigger payday during the following offseason.

    Of course, these one-year deals come with a lot of risk. If the player suffers another injury, his whole career is up in the air.

    For the purposes of this slideshow, players who received the franchise tag will not be included. Also excluded are players with options, such as Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Kelvin Beachum.

    The eight players listed caught our eye with their one-year deals for a number of reasons, from the amount of money and incentives to how little we were expecting them to ink this kind of contract.

    Let's begin with a guard who signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

Evan Mathis, OG, Arizona Cardinals

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Guard Evan Mathis, who underwent ankle surgery this offseason, was contemplating retiring from the NFL after playing out a one-year deal with the Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos, per Mike Klis of KUSA in Denver.

    However, Mathis ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, a team about 30 minutes from where he's lived for 11 years. Mathis is expected to switch from left to right guard, where he will be quite the upgrade from Jonathan Cooper. The Cardinals recently traded Cooper to the New England Patriots for Chandler Jones.

    Last season, Mathis ranked No. 7 among all guards, according to Pro Football Focus.

    From contemplating retirement to signing a one-year deal with his hometown team, let's see if Mathis can carry over his magic from his one-year deal with the Broncos and bring the Cardinals a Super Bowl title.

Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Brad Penner/Associated Press

    According to Pro Football Focus, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne has regressed each season.

    Not only that, but PFF also notes that Claiborne was the 112th overall cornerback among 118 qualifiers in 2015.

    The former sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft may be fighting for his career in 2016, which is crazy to think about.

    Outside of his one-year renewal with the Cowboys, Claiborne's market was likely going to be nonexistent when you take into account his poor play and the 24 out of 64 possible games he hasn't played in over the past four regular seasons.

    If Claiborne doesn't find his way in 2016, he may have trouble convincing future teams he's worth a roster spot.

Prince Amukamara, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports

    He's undoubtedly talented and productive when healthy, but staying healthy has been cornerback Prince Amukamara's kryptonite.

    In five seasons, Amukamara has missed 25 games, with exceptionally injury-riddled campaigns in 2014 and 2015.

    Pro Football Focus has given Amukamara positive grades in each of the past four seasons, and he has excelled in pass coverage, but his health has made it hard for a team to rely on him as an every-week No. 1 cornerback.

    While a "prove it" deal was likely for Amukamara, where he landed is quite interesting—the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    The Jaguars made a series of moves this offseason—signing running back Chris Ivory, defensive end Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson and Amukamara.

    Potential is a word being thrown around for the Jaguars. They have the potential to be a solid, maybe even playoff-bound, squad in 2016.

    A healthy, consistent season from Amukamara will play a huge role in the team reaching the playoffs—a feat the Jaguars haven't accomplished since 2007.

Rod Streater, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    What makes wide receiver Rod Streater's contract so interesting is, well, his contract.

    With only $110,000 in guaranteed dollars and a base salary of over $800,000, Streater's deal with the Kansas City Chiefs could be "worth up to" $4.8 million, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.

    Of course, Streater would need to have a stellar, career season to max out at that $4.8 million. The incentive pay is tied to touchdowns, catches and yardage, per Aaron Wilson of National Football Post, via Arrowhead Pride.

    Streater has shown in the past he can be a reliable receiver, catching 60 passes for nearly 900 yards in 2013.

    Since then, however, Streater has just 10 catches in two seasons for less than 100 yards and one score.

    According to Ourlads, the Chiefs have receivers like Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Chris Conley and also tight end Travis Kelce on the roster for 2016.

    As a result, Streater may have some trouble climbing out of the depths of the depth chart.

Terence Newman, CB, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Set to turn 38 years old in September, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Terence Newman just keeps on going.

    After playing nearly 1,000 snaps in 2015, Newman's role will likely be reduced in 2016 due to the Vikings' depth at the position, including fellow cornerbacks Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn.

    2016 may wind up being Newman's final season after being drafted fifth overall out of Kansas State by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003.

    Including the postseason in 2015, Pro Football Focus graded Newman as the 34th overall cornerback, even at the ripe age of 37.


    If this is Newman's last season, he's had one heck of a career.

Andre Smith, OT, Minnesota Vikings

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    Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    With Matt Kalil set to line up at left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, right tackle is kind of up in the air.

    Going into 2016, the Vikings will have newly signed Andre Smith, Phil Loadholt and T.J. Clemmings as options.

    However, the signing of Smith indicates he will play the position because Clemmings needs to develop and maybe Loadholt's Achilles injury is worse than Minnesota expected.

    Smith has not been his usual self over the past two seasons, and he will look to reinvigorate his market for next offseason.

Chris Long, DE, New England Patriots

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    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    The Los Angeles Rams cut ties with defensive end Chris Long, who was set to make in excess of $10 million in 2016, after two straight injury-riddled seasons in which Long recorded just four sacks.

    After the New England Patriots traded Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals, the Patriots had a hole at defensive end. And just like that, Long had a home.

    Remember, it wasn't too long ago that Long was one of the premier pass-rushers in the league, amassing 41.5 sacks from 2010-2013.

    If the Patriots can get anywhere close to Long's past production, their one-year, $2 million deal will be a typical Patriots steal of a deal.

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Predicted to become a very rich man after the 2015 season, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was involved in an accident over the summer before the season we all know about.

    Less than one year later, Pierre-Paul has opted to re-up with the Giants on a one-year deal worth $10 million, with over $8 million guaranteed.

    Amid much speculation about how Pierre-Paul would perform after his accident, he played well in his limited time in 2015, posting positive overall and pass-rushing grades from Pro Football Focus while recording just one sack.

    If Pierre-Paul is able to rebound and show that he can still play with the injury, he'll have another chance at hitting his big payday. However, if Pierre-Paul struggles, the Giants are only in this relationship for one season.

    With a rebuilt defensive line, including newly signed defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Damon Harrison, Pierre-Paul will be surrounded by some amazing talent in 2016.

    Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus. Contract details courtesy of Over The Cap and Spotrac.

    Follow me on Twitter @RichardJanvrin.


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