Every NFL Team's Worst Contract

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 12, 2019

Every NFL Team's Worst Contract

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Some NFL teams have more good contracts and more bad contracts than others, but every squad has a best contract and thus a worst contract. 

    We're here to shine some light on the latter. 

    First, some fine print:

    • We're looking only at players making north of $5 million per year because anything less than that is little more than a drop in the bucket in a league with a $188.2 million salary cap. 
    • We're focusing on both short- and long-term money, but extra weight is given to contracts that look to be especially prohibitive beyond the 2019 season. Most of the bills have already been paid for this year.
    • We're strongly considering trajectory. Obviously, a team is better off paying through the roof for a player on the rise than for a player in decline. 
    • We're focusing mainly on 2018 production, with some sympathy for those who might have experienced aberrational down years or tough luck with injuries. 

    With that out of the way, here's a breakdown of every NFL squad's worst active contract.

             

Arizona Cardinals

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    The player: Running back David Johnson

    The bad contract: Three years, $39 million with $24.6 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expiring in 2022)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Johnson plays a low-value position with a short shelf life, and it's possible that he's a one-hit wonder who was an All-Pro in 2016 but hasn't been remotely the same since suffering a wrist injury in 2017. 

    The 27-year-old has rushed for a combined total of 963 yards the last two years and is coming off a full, healthy season in which he posted the worst yards-per-attempt average in the league (3.6) among 14 players with at least 200 rushing attempts.

    And yet the Arizona Cardinals are realistically married to Johnson for the next two years. It'd cost them $16.2 million to release him next offseason. 

Atlanta Falcons

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The player: Cornerback Desmond Trufant

    The bad contract: Five years, $68.75 million with $41.5 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2017, expires in 2023)

                                          

    Why it stinks

    Trufant is a good cornerback, but he's hardly a great one. Yet he remains the seventh-highest paid player at that position. He's never been an All-Pro, and he was last a Pro Bowler in 2015. He'll turn 29 in September, and his best days are probably behind him.

    But the Atlanta Falcons aren't getting out of that contract in the next two years, and even if they decide to part ways in 2021, it'll cost them $5.8 million. That's far from ideal considering that Trufant has just four interceptions over his last four seasons. 

    Matt Ryan and Jake Matthews have much more costly deals with longer-term commitments, but the Falcons' hands were tied in both of those cases. You can't walk away from a franchise quarterback with an MVP award on his resume, and Matthews is a rising left tackle who became a Pro Bowler in his age-26 campaign in 2018.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The player: Safety Earl Thomas

    The bad contract: Four years, $55 million with $32 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                                                                      

    Why it stinks

    It's understandable that the Baltimore Ravens felt the need to make a splash after losing several popular defensive players early this offseason, and it's possible Thomas will get back on a Hall of Fame track and live up to that hefty contract in 2019 and beyond. 

    Still, the team will be paying the six-time Pro Bowler handsomely for a minimum of three seasons—his deal has a potential out after 2021—which is risky considering that he's on the wrong side of 30 and missed 19 games in his last three campaigns with the Seattle Seahawks. 

    Thomas might never be the same. He hasn't been a first-team All-Pro since 2014, and the broken leg that prematurely ended his 2018 season was no joke. This is one signing the Ravens might soon regret. 

Buffalo Bills

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    The player: Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei

    The bad contract: Five years, $50 million with $24.7 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                      

    Why it stinks

    This was a tossup between Lotulelei and fellow defensive lineman Jerry Hughes, both of whom make between $10 million and $11 million a year and are tied to the team for several more seasons. But while Hughes is one year older, he's at least a pass-rusher, and he can be released at a small cost in 2021. 

    Lotulelei doesn't generate splash plays as an interior defensive lineman, he'd cost $5.2 million to get rid of in 2021, and he was essentially replaced when a team that already had Harrison Phillips and Jordan Phillips used a top-10 draft pick on highly touted defensive tackle Ed Oliver in April. 

    Lotulelei isn't a bad player. But the 29-year-old is basically an average starter, and he's coming off a zero-sack, zero-forced-fumble debut season in Buffalo. The Bills probably already wish they could have that free-agency purchase back.

Carolina Panthers

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    The player: Defensive tackle Kawann Short

    The bad contract: Five years, $80.5 million with $35 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                         

    Why it stinks

    It doesn't. It just smells a little. It's not a terrible contract, but it is still the worst on the Carolina Panthers' payroll, which reflects well on the team's front office.

    Cam Newton is a steal with an average salary of $20.8 million; Luke Kuechly is well worth the $12.4 million he makes per year; Trai Turner ($11.3 million AAV) and Matt Paradis ($9.7 million AAV) are on the rise with big salaries; and at least Dontari Poe can come off the books for just $3.3 million next offseason.

    Short might be declining at age 30. His pass-rushing numbers in particular dropped off in 2018, even if he was a Pro Bowl alternate. He's also making a position change this offseason that Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus pointed out could be a challenge.

    But he's the fourth-highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL, and the Panthers don't really have a way out of his deal until 2021, when they could pay $4 million to escape. By then, there's a good chance he'll be washed up. 

Chicago Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The player: Edge defender Khalil Mack 

    The bad contract: Six years, $141 million with $90 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expires in 2025)

                                    

    Why it stinks

    Great players can possess bad contracts from a team/fan standpoint, and that's the case with Mack. Dude often looked as though he was worth every penny in 2018, but the Chicago Bears still failed to win a playoff game with the highest-paid edge-rusher in NFL history. 

    You can't fault the Bears for paying up for Mack. Teams know that in order to go all-in, they usually have to overpay quarterbacks, offensive tackles and pass-rushers. But the three-time first-team All-Pro is probably in his prime right now as a 28-year-old. That might no longer be the case when he's owed $27.2 million three years from now, with Chicago having to pay $12 million to break free. 

    For a team that has made expensive but smart commitments to rising starters Eddie Goldman and Bobby Massie and will soon have easy outs on deals belonging to Prince Amukamara and Allen Robinson, Mack is the only real candidate on the roster.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    The player: Defensive tackle Geno Atkins

    The bad contract: Four years, $65.2 million with $25 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expires in 2023)

                   

    Why it stinks

    The Cincinnati Bengals don't paint themselves into too many financial corners, and right now, they have easy ways out of big contracts belonging to key players Andy Dalton, Cordy Glenn, Dre Kirkpatrick and—to a lesser extent—Carlos Dunlap. But Atkins is the highest-paid player on the team in terms of average annual value, and there's a good chance the nine-year veteran will begin to decline soon. 

    It might already be happening. The seven-time Pro Bowler is 31 now, and in 2018, he posted his lowest overall grade (83.5) and pass-rushing grade (85.1) from PFF since 2014. 

    In order to part ways with Atkins in even two years, it'll cost the Bengals a dead-cap price of $5.2 million, which is something that might drive owner Mike Brown nuts. 

Cleveland Browns

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    The player: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson

    The bad contract: Three years, $37 million with $21 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                           

    Why it stinks

    The two highest-paid players on the Cleveland Browns' roster—Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon—will be paid a combined $24 million this season by their former team, the New York Giants. And Cleveland isn't on the hook for many big cap hits beyond this season. But the Browns could wind up regretting the fact that it'd cost them a minimum of $5.3 million to part ways with the newly signed Richardson before 2021. 

    The 2013 first-round pick is coming off a decent season with the Minnesota Vikings. But he's now on his fourth team in as many years, and he hasn't gotten back to the Pro Bowl since earning a nod as a sophomore in 2014. 

    He'll turn 29 this season and might not be worth his $12.3 million average annual salary, a rate that makes him the ninth-highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The player: Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence

    The bad contract: Five years, $105 million with $65 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                          

    Why it stinks

    This is a similar situation to Mack's in Chicago. Mack and Lawrence are the only two pass-rushers making $21-plus million per year, and Lawrence's new deal with the Dallas Cowboys ties him to the team through at least 2021. Even after that, it'd cost Dallas $10 million to cut him ahead of the 2022 season. 

    Lawrence did prove that his 14.5-sack, four-forced-fumble 2017 campaign wasn't a fluke with a Pro Bowl season in 2018, but the 2014 second-round pick did see a drop in his sack total to 10.5 and only had two forced fumbles.

    That kind of money for a man with 34 career sacks comes with a risk. 

Denver Broncos

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The player: Offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James

    The bad contract: Four years, $51 million with $32 million guaranteed (expires in 2023 with a club option for 2022)

                     

    Why it stinks

    With Joe Flacco essentially on a year-to-year deal, James' contract is clearly the most perilous one on the Denver Broncos' payroll. He's now the second-highest-paid right tackle in the NFL at $12.8 million annually, but he's never made a Pro Bowl in five NFL seasons and has missed at least half of two campaigns over the past four years.

    The 2014 first-round pick still has plenty of upside at age 27 and is coming off his best year yet with the Miami Dolphins, but he'll have to take a major step forward. The Broncos are paying him big bucks, and they can't afford to release him in the next two years.

    Even in 2021, it'll cost the team $6 million to part ways, which has got be daunting for an organization that is otherwise relatively free beyond 2020. 

Detroit Lions

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Matthew Stafford

    The bad contract: Five years, $135 million with $92 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2017, expires in 2023)

                           

    Why it stinks

    The main problem with Stafford's contract with the Detroit Lions might be that the 31-year-old's deal makes him essentially untradeable. It'd cost the Lions $20 million to trade Stafford before 2021 and a minimum of $26 million to get out of his contract via release prior to that year. 

    That stinks because Stafford has failed time and again to help the Lions take the next step forward. The team is just 31-33 the last four seasons, and it still hasn't won a playoff game 10 seasons into Stafford's career. Most of his rate-based numbers declined significantly last season, he's still never been an All-Pro and he hasn't been a Pro Bowler since 2014. 

    But Stafford is the eighth-highest-paid player in NFL history. Ugh.

Green Bay Packers

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    The player: Edge defender Za'Darius Smith

    The bad contract: Four years, $66 million with $20 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                                                              

    Why it stinks

    For the Green Bay Packers, it's either Smith or quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose four-year, $134 million contract could make it hard for Green Bay to remain competitive a few years down the line. But the Packers know that the highest-rated passer in NFL history gives them their best chance to capture another Vince Lombardi Trophy in the next half-decade. 

    Smith's new deal isn't close to as large. But he's one of just 11 NFL edge-rushers making more than $16 million per year, and the contract's structure doesn't give the Packers an out until they'd owe him $5 million to walk in 2022. 

    And while there's plenty of hype surrounding the 26-year-old following a breakout season in Baltimore, he's still a fifth-year fourth-round pick with zero Pro Bowl nods and 18.5 career sacks. 

Houston Texans

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The player: Cornerback Aaron Colvin

    The bad contract: Four years, $34 million with $18 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                                            

    Why it stinks

    The Houston Texans signed veteran Bradley Roby to a $10 million prove-it contract this offseason, and they used a second-round pick on corner Lonnie Johnson Jr. That might indicate that they're already losing confidence in Colvin, who shone to an extent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 but didn't stand out before that. And he struggled before and after he was sidelined by an ankle injury in his maiden season with the Texans in 2018. 

    The 27-year-old has zero interceptions since coming into the league as a fourth-round pick in 2014. But he's slated to cost nearly $9 million in each of the next three years, and the team would still owe $2 million in order to release him in 2020. 

    Colvin's contract isn't a backbreaker, but Houston probably already has buyer's remorse. 

Indianapolis Colts

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    The player: Tight end Jack Doyle 

    The bad contract: Three years, $18.9 million with $7.5 million guaranteed (expires in 2020)

                          

    Why it stinks

    This is a tremendous reach, but that's just how good Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard is at his job. The Colts have just seven players with at least $5 million salaries who are owed money beyond this season. All are key players, and none appear to be overpaid. 

    That sort of leaves us with Doyle by default.

    Top Colts tight end Eric Ebron broke out with 13 touchdown catches last season, making Doyle one of the highest-paid backups in the league. The 2017 Pro Bowler remains a strong player when healthy, but he's scored just six touchdowns in the last two seasons combined, and he's coming off an injury-derailed 2018 campaign. 

    The 29-year-old is unlikely to be worth his $5.3 million cap hit in 2019, but we're nitpicking considering it's a walk year and the Colts are flush with salary-cap space.

    Well done, Chris. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The player: Guard Andrew Norwell

    The bad contract: Five years, $66.5 million with $30 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                     

    Why it stinks

    The upside is still there for Norwell, who was one of the best guards in football with the 2017 Panthers and is still only 27 years old. But he's the second-highest-paid interior offensive lineman in the NFL, and it's not as though he was dominating even before he suffered an ankle injury that ended his 2018 season in November. 

    His PFF pass-blocking grade ranked just outside the top 10 at his position, which isn't satisfactory for a player who will carry a $16 million cap hit at a non-premium position in 2019. 

    With that salary, Norwell will have to prove his 2017 campaign wasn't a fluke. But even if the 2014 undrafted free agent fails to deliver in 2019, he'd cost the Jacksonville Jaguars $9 million to cut in 2020 and $6 million in 2021. 

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    The player: Edge-defender Frank Clark

    The bad contract: Five years, $104 million with $62.3 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                     

    Why it stinks

    It takes an especially bad contract to beat out the deal the Kansas City Chiefs have in place for inconsistent, oft-injured receiver Sammy Watkins, who will carry a $19.2 million cap charge in 2019. But at least Watkins can be cut for $7 million next offseason and is off the books in 2021. Clark's new deal in K.C. is much more likely to hurt when the team is paying major money to Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and possibly even Tyreek Hill in a couple of years. 

    Not only is Clark the third-highest-paid edge-rusher in the NFL despite the fact he has 35 sacks and zero All-Pro or Pro Bowl nods in four years, but the 26-year-old's deal contains cap hits north of $24 million in 2021 and 2022. And in order to even break free three years from now, it'll cost the Chiefs a $10.4 million dead-cap hit. 

    There's a chance he turns into a star. But because that's yet to happen, this is one of the riskiest contracts in the NFL. 

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    The player: Cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. 

    The bad contract: Three years, $33.25 million with $20 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expires in 2022)

                  

    Why it stinks

    It actually doesn't, but it's the least good contract among a Los Angeles Chargers payroll loaded with great ones. Hayward is one of the best veteran corners in the NFL, but he might be beyond his prime. After two huge seasons with the Chargers, the 29-year-old failed to earn any accolades in a zero-interception 2018 season that featured just eight passes defensed (down from 20-plus in 2016 and 2017). 

    He might be slowing down as he approaches his 30th birthday, making it less than ideal that he's slated to cost at least $10 million in each of the final three seasons of his current contract. And to move on next year, it'd cost the Bolts $4 million. 

    Again, it's not a back-breaker, but it's certainly not a team-friendly deal. 

Los Angeles Rams

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The player: Running back Todd Gurley

    The bad contract: Four years, $57.5 million with $45 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expires in 2024)

                        

    Why it stinks

    It might be the worst contract in professional football. The Los Angeles Rams offense hardly missed a beat when Gurley was injured down the stretch during last year's run to a Super Bowl matchup with the New England Patriots, proving once again that running backs—even the best ones—aren't significant difference-makers in this day and age. 

    And yes, Gurley is one of the best. He's only a season removed from winning 2017 Offensive Player of the Year. But running back shelf lives are also famously short, and the balky knee that hampered the 24-year-old late in 2018 could continue to do so going forward if indeed there's an "arthritic component" to said injury. 

    He's just the eighth player this decade to receive 250-plus touches in four consecutive seasons, and it's fair to wonder if he'll regain what he had going for him early in 2018. That has to terrify the Rams because Gurley is owed nearly $40 million over the next three years, and releasing him earlier than 2022 wouldn't save them more than a few million bucks off that total.

Miami Dolphins

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    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    The player: Safety Reshad Jones

    The bad contract: Five years, $60 million with $35 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2017, expires in 2023)

                      

    Why it stinks

    Up until March, Jones was the highest-paid safety in the NFL. That's not ideal when we're talking about a 31-year-old who has never been an All-Pro and has been to two Pro Bowls in nine seasons, especially if that 31-year-old is also recovering from major shoulder surgery. 

    Unfortunately for the Miami Dolphins, they're stuck either paying Jones nearly $33 million to play for them the next two seasons, or they can cut him loose next offseason at a total two-year cost of $27.4 million. That's what they call a lose-lose, which is probably why the Dolphins "would prefer" to trade Jones, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

    Jones is still a good player, and he might bounce back from injury and perform well in 2019. But he's not worth anywhere near what he'll cost the team.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    The player: Quarterback Kirk Cousins

    The bad contract: Three years, $84 million with $84 million guaranteed (expires in 2021)

                     

    Why it stinks

    The Vikings have so many options. Cousins, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph, Riley Reiff and Eric Kendricks all have terribly high-priced long-term deals that could cause the Minnesota Vikings to feel immense regret in upcoming offseasons. But Cousins' contract still takes the cake. 

    The 30-year-old is making nearly twice as much as everyone else listed above, and he failed to make the playoffs or the Pro Bowl while ranking near the bottom of the league with 7.1 yards per attempt in his first season with the Vikes. 

    The former Washington Redskin has led just two fourth-quarter comebacks in his last two full seasons. He's 5-13 in prime-time games, he's 4-25 against winning teams and he's 13-23-2 in road games. He just hasn't gotten the job done, and there's little reason to believe that'll change in his eighth season.

    Barring a trade, the Vikings owe him $60 million the next two seasons regardless of what he does.

New England Patriots

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    The player: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore

    The bad contract: Five years, $65 million with $40 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                        

    Why it stinks

    You're always going to be nitpicking with the smart, well-disciplined New England Patriots' front office, and that's the case here. Gilmore might be the best cornerback in the NFL. Pro Football Focus says he is, and he was a first-team All-Pro in 2018. So he's worth an average annual salary of $13 million.

    Instead, the nitpick is with the structure of his deal. 

    Following a restructure in March, the seven-year veteran is slated to count more than $38 million against the salary cap in 2020 and 2021 combined, and it'd cost the Patriots $15.3 million to get out of that deal next offseason. 

    That probably means Gilmore is tied to the Pats at an exorbitant rate for the next three seasons, which is at least mildly concerning considering he'll turn 29 in September. 

New Orleans Saints

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Drew Brees

    The bad contract: It's complicated

                   

    Why it stinks

    Brees signed a two-year, $50 million contract to remain with the New Orleans Saints last offseason. But he and the team restructured that deal this March, pushing $10.8 million into what is essentially a ghost year in 2020. The problem is that the extra year already carried an eight-figure cap charge, and now the 40-year-old is slated to cost $21.3 million in 2020 dead-cap money regardless of whether he's on the roster. 

    That'd be Brees' cap charge if he played for free. If he returns at that $25 million rate he received a year ago, his cap charge would be over $46 million. 

    The Saints can keep kicking money into the next season until Brees retires, but eventually they'll have a huge tab and no flexibility with how they can pay that final bill.

New York Giants

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The player: Offensive tackle Nate Solder

    The bad contract: Four years, $62 million with $34.8 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                    

    Why it stinks

    Eli Manning's $23.2 million cap hit is an easy target here, but at least the veteran quarterback comes off the books next March. And while I have bones to pick with deals belonging to Janoris Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, the fact Solder is likely married to the Giants at a cost of $34 million over the next two seasons makes this simple.

    The 31-year-old was never an All-Pro or a Pro Bowler during his seven seasons with the Patriots, and that didn't change after the Giants made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history in 2018. In fact, he ranked outside the top 20 at his position, per Pro Football Focus, in another good-not-great campaign.

    The Giants have the option to cut Solder after he collects his $17 million in 2019, but that'd still cost them $8 million in 2020. And if they hold on for one more year, they'd be committing $21 million more to a player who is well beyond his prime. That's bad. 

New York Jets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The player: Linebacker C.J. Mosley

    The bad contract: Five years, $85 million with $51 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                

    Why it stinks

    The New York Jets are incredible, and I mean that in the worst possible way.

    Jamison Crowder's abysmal new deal pretty much guarantees him $17 million over the next two seasons, and the same applies to the recently extended Henry Anderson. Trumaine Johnson makes way too much green for a slightly above-average cornerback, and no running back should be making an eight-figure salary in 2019, so Le'Veon Bell's deal is comical. 

    Any of those guys would have the worst contracts on a lot of other teams, but the careless Jets outdid themselves with Mosley's deal in March. 

    Mosley is a good player, but he isn't a game-changer and doesn't play a premium position. There's a reason no other off-ball linebacker in the NFL makes even $14 million per year, let alone the $17 million he got.

    The Ravens were smart to let Mosley go. A player who had one pick, half a sack and zero forced fumbles last season is now guaranteed $43 million in his first three seasons with the Jets, even if the team were to release him after just one year. 

Oakland Raiders

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    The player: Offensive tackle Trent Brown

    The bad contract: Four years, $66 million with $36.3 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

               

    Why it stinks

    It's basically a two-year deal worth just north of $36 million in guaranteed money. But if Brown is a bust in 2019, the Oakland Raiders will have to grit their teeth and pay him $21.5 million to suit up at right tackle again in 2020. 

    The 26-year-old is the size of a bachelor apartment, but he failed to make an impact with the San Francisco 49ers during his first three NFL campaigns. And while he fared much better in New England last year, he still lacked consistency, and it's hard to get a read on an offensive lineman's effectiveness when he's blocking for Tom "Lighting Delivery" Brady. 

    "He was average by pretty much all of our metrics," PFF's Michael Renner wrote of Brown in January. "He earned a 66.9 overall grade and ranked 30th out of 57 qualifying tackles in pass-blocking efficiency. The latter of which is undoubtedly helped by Tom Brady having the fifth-fastest average time to throw in the NFL." 

    And yet, he's now the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. 

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Carson Wentz

    The bad contract: Four years, $128 million with $108 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2019, expires in 2025)

                   

    Why it stinks

    The Philadelphia Eagles are deeply committed to both Fletcher Cox and Lane Johnson at big salaries until they'll be well into their 30s, and it was odd to see them throw another $27 million in guaranteed money at good-not-special pass-rusher Brandon Graham this offseason. But Wentz's new deal still gets the nod here because it just didn't need to happen yet. 

    The 26-year-old still had two seasons remaining on his rookie deal, including an option year, and the franchise tag remained in Philadelphia's back pocket, as well. The Eagles could have saved a lot of cash while making sure Wentz can get over his injury woes after he missed back-to-back playoff runs due to season-ending injuries. 

    Instead, they made him the fourth-highest-paid player in NFL history with $93 million due in the next four years and no realistic way out. That's a tad concerning for a potentially injury-prone player with one Pro Bowl appearance under his belt entering his age-27 season. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

    The bad contract: Two years, $68 million with $37.5 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2019, expires in 2022)

                        

    Why it stinks

    The Pittsburgh Steelers don't typically guarantee their players much money beyond the first year of their contracts, which makes it difficult to find bad deals on the payroll. But Roethlisberger is an exception. And while the team figured it couldn't afford to play chicken with a walk year in 2019, Big Ben's new deal is going to be quite costly in his age-38 and age-39 seasons. 

    Roethlisberger's $33.5 million cap hit in 2020 will take up more than 15 percent of the payroll, and he'll cost $31.5 million as a 39-year-old in 2021 (or $12.5 million if the Steelers decide to part ways by then). 

    I know, he's a two-time Super Bowl champion and a future Hall of Famer. But he's 37 and coming off a campaign in which he led the NFL with 16 interceptions and missed the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2013. He's declining, but he's the second-highest-paid player in the game. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    The player: Center Weston Richburg

    The bad contract: Five years, $47.5 million with $28.5 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                  

    Why it stinks

    You might have expected this to go to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is the seventh-highest-paid player in the NFL despite starting just 10 games in five professional seasons. But Jimmy G's contract is practically a year-to-year deal, and the 49ers can bail next offseason at a cost of just $4.2 million. 

    We'll instead go with Richburg, who, according to PFF, surrendered the third-most pressures of any center in the league during the first season of a pact that is likely to keep him in the Bay Area for at least two more years. 

    The 2014 second-round pick was never particularly special with the Giants, and he completely bombed in 2018 after becoming one of the five highest-paid centers in the league. While he could bounce back at the age of 28, it's not a good sign that Richburg has been sidelined throughout the 2019 offseason.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Russell Wilson

    The bad contract: Four years, $140 million with $107 million guaranteed (sign as an extension in 2019, expires in 2024)

                          

    Why it stinks

    As the highest-paid player in NFL history, Wilson and his 2020 cap charge of $31 million will make it difficult for the Seahawks to keep both Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed. That might even explain why they traded Frank Clark under the franchise tag. 

    When you're paying a quarterback that much money, it's extremely difficult to prevent the rest of the roster from becoming watered down. That's what happened to the Packers and Ravens after they won Super Bowls when their franchise quarterbacks were still relatively inexpensive, and the Seahawks could encounter the same issues after essentially deciding to handcuff themselves to Wilson for at least the next four years. 

    Wilson is, of course, a tremendous player. But the Seahawks have won just two playoff games since losing Super Bowl XLIX in 2014, and they don't appear to be on the brink of anything special despite Wilson's expensive presence.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The player: Offensive tackle Donovan Smith

    The bad contract: Three years, $41.25 million with $27 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                     

    Why it stinks

    To the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' credit, they have very few contracts with a substantial amount of dead money after the 2019 season. Jason Pierre-Paul will make $14.9 million while recovering from the fractured vertebra sustained in a May car crash, and he may not play until October or November in a best-case scenario, per ESPN's Jenna Laine. But that's a short-term concern as the injury isn't a career-threatening one. Plus, JPP can also be released free of charge in 2020. 

    The same can't be said for Smith, who is owed $27 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. Should the consistently shaky 2015 second-round pick really be one of the five highest-paid left tackles in the league? 

    "Though health hasn't been a concern, Smith's performance when healthy hasn't been pretty, as he's earned sub-65.0 overall grades in each of his four seasons in the NFL," PFF's Austin Gayle wrote in February about a player who lacks speed and athleticism. "His pass-blocking grades have improved in the last two years, but he's still allowed 42-plus pressures every year of his career."

Tennessee Titans

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The player: Cornerback Malcolm Butler 

    The bad contract: Five years, $61.25 million with $30 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                      

    Why it stinks

    Butler bombed in his maiden season with the Tennessee Titans, performing terribly during a penalty-plagued first half of the year before redeeming himself (to an extent) with a strong second half. But a good half-season isn't satisfactory when you're one of the 12 highest-paid corners in the NFL. 

    Maybe the Pats were smart to let the Super Bowl XLIX hero get away. He hasn't been to a Pro Bowl since 2015 and has never been an All-Pro, and now he's on the verge of 30. He's been living off that stretch, and it's fair to wonder if he'll ever recapture that magic. 

    The worst part is that even if the Titans want to move on after this season, it'll cost them $6 million to do so. 

Washington Redskins

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The player: Quarterback Alex Smith

    The bad contract: Four years, $94 million with $71 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expires in 2023)

                       

    Why it stinks

    Smith might never play again and is likely to miss the entire 2019 season. But he's optimistic he'll eventually return, so an injury settlement or retirement announcement probably isn't on the horizon.

    And while the financial aspect of Smith's unfortunate circumstances has often been overlooked, upcoming cap hits of $20.4 million in 2019 and $21.4 million in 2020 have to sting. The Washington Redskins can't save a dollar by cutting Smith before 2021. 

    The team has essentially signaled it's moving on by using a first-round pick on Dwayne Haskins, but it looks like Smith will continue to hog up about 10 percent of the payroll until Haskins is preparing for his third season. 

    While Landon Collins and Josh Norman are both being gratuitously paid, at least they're able to play. Much respect to Smith, but his contract is a killer right now. 

         

    Contract information courtesy of Spotrac