The Worst Contract on Every NFL Roster

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2019

The Worst Contract on Every NFL Roster

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    It's always exciting when your favorite NFL team acquires new talent. New additions bring with them a sense of positivity and hope, which is why the draft and free agency are two of the league's biggest events despite coming in the offseason.

    Unfortunately, new players don't win games just by arriving. No matter how great an acquisition looks on paper, some don't work out. Those unsuccessful additions can negatively affect teams from both a roster standpoint and a salary-structure standpoint.

    With the first half of the 2019 season now in the books, it's a great time to examine each team's worst contract. Not only do we have a good idea of which players are panning out, but we also can begin to guess which teams are already looking ahead to the offseason.

    Not every contract here is strictly about dollars and cents, but in most cases, the financial investment far outweighs the production.

Arizona Cardinals: RB David Johnson

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Three years, $39 million with $31.8 million guaranteed

    In September 2018, the Arizona Cardinals inked running back David Johnson to a lucrative three-year, $39 million extension. Considering he was two years removed from an All-Pro campaign, the base amount wasn't particularly eye-opening at the time.

    The problem was that the Cardinals guaranteed a ton of money for a player at a position where injuries are common. On top of that, Johnson was coming off a season in which he missed 15 games because of a wrist injury.

    Yes, Johnson finished with more than 2,000 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2016, but he has not been the same player since. This year, he's been limited to seven games and only 615 combined rushing and receiving yards. He hasn't averaged 4.0 yards per carry since the 2016 season, either.

    Johnson still has $16.2 million in dead money remaining on his deal, so cutting him after the 2019 season isn't a feasible option for Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons: DE Vic Beasley

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Contract terms: One year, $12.8 million, fully guaranteed

    Atlanta Falcons edge-rusher Vic Beasley is playing on the fifth year of his rookie deal. However, the Falcons didn't pick up that option in April 2018 based solely on performance, according to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic.

    "The Falcons were concerned cutting Beasley loose would upset CAA, which also represents [Julio] Jones and [Grady] Jarrett, both of whom were entering offseason negotiations," Schultz wrote.

    Before Atlanta exercised his option, Beasley had 5.0 sacks in 2017. That was a significant drop-off from his league-leading 15.5 sacks in 2016.

    Beasley has only 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks in eight games this season, and the Falcons put him on the trade block ahead of the Oct. 29 trade deadline, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. Although they couldn't find a taker for him, they can move on without any financial penalty after the season.

Baltimore Ravens: TE Hayden Hurst

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Four years, $11 million with $8.6 million guaranteed

    The Baltimore Ravens appear to have gotten a steal with quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 32nd pick in the 2018 draft. But seven picks earlier, they took South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst, who hasn't worked out quite as well.

    Through a season-and-a-half, Hurst has caught only 29 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Injuries limited him to 12 games as a rookie, although he has played in all eight contests this season.

    Hurst has been overshadowed and outproduced by 2018 third-round pick Mark Andrews, who has 470 yards and three scores this season. Would Hurst be more productive if Andrews wasn't on the roster? Perhaps, but Andrews is there, and the Ravens are more or less stuck with the underperforming Hurst for another season.

    Baltimore will still owe Hurst $4.5 million in dead money after 2019.

Buffalo Bills: DT Star Lotulelei

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Five years, $50 million with $24.6 million guaranteed

    In March 2018, the Buffalo Bills signed defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to a massive $50 million deal. The 2013 first-round pick had flashed some with the Carolina Panthers and was coming off his rookie deal—a great point at which to sign rising players—but he had never been a Pro Bowl-type talent.

    Lotulelei's deal didn't look great at the time he signed it, and it looks even worse now.

    While Lotulelei has started all eight games for the Bills in 2019, he hasn't been the sort of impact player the team envisioned him to be. He's been more of a space-eater than a producer and has averaged roughly one tackle per game dating back to the start of the 2018 season.

    While the Bills will have paid the bulk of Lotulelei's guaranteed money by the end of this season, they'll still be on the hook for $7.8 million in dead money if they cut him in the offseason.

Carolina Panthers: DT Gerald McCoy

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Contract terms: One year, $8 million with $4 million guaranteed

    The Carolina Panthers signed defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a one-year, $8 million contract this past offseason. That's a good value for a six-time Pro Bowler, but it made for a potentially disappointing deal on a roster full of good ones.

    McCoy, 31, has only 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks in eight games this season. Those are solid numbers, but that doesn't justify the $8 million investment.

    The bigger issue with McCoy's contract is that it's only a one-year deal. Had McCoy shined—and it's still possible that he does down the stretch—Carolina would have little leverage to renegotiate in the offseason.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, McCoy passed on more guaranteed money elsewhere to sign with the Panthers. That isn't likely to happen for a second year in a row.

Chicago Bears: TE Trey Burton

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Four years, $32 million with $22 million guaranteed

    Tight end Trey Burton had a promising season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017, catching 23 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns. The Chicago Bears jumped on him in free agency the following offseason, hoping he could be the dynamic mismatch they needed at the position.

    About that.

    While Burton had a strong 2018 campaign—he finished with 569 receiving yards and six touchdowns across 16 games—he's been a major disappointment this year. He has only 14 receptions for 84 yards, and head coach Matt Nagy recently told reporters that Burton isn't 100 percent after undergoing surgery on a sports hernia in the offseason.

    Burton still has time to change the narrative here, but the Bears are essentially stuck with him for at least one more season. He has $7.5 million in dead money remaining on his contract after 2019.

Cincinnati Bengals: OT Bobby Hart

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Contract terms: Three years, $16.2 million with $5.5 million guaranteed

    The Cincinnati Bengals were not particularly active in free agency this past offseason. Their biggest move was re-signing right tackle Bobby Hart to a three-year, $16.2 million deal.

    After his underwhelming play in 2018, though, many Bengals fans were likely baffled by the move.

    Cincinnati hasn't invested a ton into Hart, who has only $2 million in dead money remaining after this season. However, he was a weak spot on one of the league's worst lines last year, and he remains so in 2019.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Hart has already been responsible for seven penalties and four sacks. He is a liability, and he's carrying a cap hit of $5.9 million to be one.

Cleveland Browns: OT Chris Hubbard

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Contract years: Five years, $36.5 million with $15.2 million guaranteed

    Offensive tackle Chris Hubbard made 10 starts for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017. That was apparently enough to convince Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey to sign him to a lucrative five-year, $36.5 million deal in free agency.

    On one hand, Hubbard held his own as a starter in Pittsburgh and was about to turn only 27 at the time he signed with Cleveland. On the other, this was a lengthy commitment to a player who was still unproven.

    The Browns' return on investment has been underwhelming. Hubbard has started seven of eight games this season and 23 of 24 since arriving in Cleveland, but he has been a weak spot on a line that has issues almost across the board.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Hubbard has committed six penalties and allowed three sacks this season.

Dallas Cowboys: DE Demarcus Lawrence

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Contract terms: Five years, $105 million with $65 million guaranteed

    On the surface, the Dallas Cowboys' deal with defensive end Demarcus Lawrence isn't terrible. Teams pay big bucks for edge-rushers, and Lawrence had 25 sacks over the past two seasons, which was tied for fourth leaguewide.

    The issue with Lawrence's contract is that it doesn't offer a lot of flexibility. There's still more than $31 million in dead money remaining.

    The Cowboys signed Lawrence while knowing they still had to extend Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott as well. It will be difficult to get all three signed to long-term deals while staying under the salary cap, especially with Lawrence set to carry a cap hit of $21.9 million in 2020.

    Lawrence's production has dipped this season, too, as he has only 4.5 sacks through eight games. That means the Cowboys may be forced to part with one of their offensive stars because they decided to pay a merely above-average edge-rusher.

Denver Broncos: OT Ja'Wuan James

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    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    Contract terms: Four years, $51 million with $32 million guaranteed

    The Denver Broncos were desperate to upgrade their offensive line this past offseason. There's no other way to explain the massive four-year, $51 million deal they gave to right tackle Ju'Wuan James.

    James hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been excellent, either. The 2014 first-round pick didn't have any Pro Bowl-caliber campaigns in his five years with the Miami Dolphins, and he missed nine games over the last two seasons because of injuries.

    A lingering knee injury has limited James to only two games in Denver so far too.

    Perhaps James will get healthy and prove to be a longtime starter for the Broncos. They can only hope so, because he's still owed $19 million in dead money after this season.

Detroit Lions: TE Jesse James

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Four years, $22.6 million with $10.5 million guaranteed

    The Detroit Lions signed free-agent tight end Jesse James in March, one more before they landed T.J. Hockenson with the No. 8 pick in this year's draft. Still, the four-year deal they gave James was substantial for a player who had never been a premier receiving tight end.

    James had arguably his best season in 2018, catching 30 passes for 423 yards and two touchdowns with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Detroit did land Hockenson, though, and James has been relegated to a relatively insignificant role in the passing game. He has only eight receptions for 64 yards in eight games.

    The Lions are likely stuck with James for at least one more season, as he has $8.3 in dead money on his contract. He'll have $4.3 million remaining after the 2020 season.

Green Bay Packers: TE Jimmy Graham

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Three years, $30 million with $11 million guaranteed

    When the Green Bay Packers signed tight end Jimmy Graham to a three-year, $30 million deal in March 2018, it looked like a potential game-changer. After all, he was coming off his latest of five Pro Bowl appearances and had nearly 70 touchdown receptions on his resume.

    Unfortunately, Graham has failed to become a star in Green Bay. He seems to lack chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, particularly in the red zone, where one would think he'd be a major asset.

    Graham has averaged only 35.5 receiving yards per game with the Packers and has found the end zone just five times. The Packers are paying out a cap hit of $12.7 million this season for that production, the highest among all tight ends.

    If the Packers decide to part ways with Graham after this season, they will have to pay out $3.7 million in dead money.

Houston Texans: OT Laremy Tunsil

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Contract terms: One year, $10.4 million, fully guaranteed

    Laremy Tunsil is earning just over $10 million on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract this season. That's more than reasonable for a high-level left tackle, although Tunsil hasn't played at a high level in 2019.

    According to Pro Football Focus, he has allowed two sacks and committed 10 penalties in eight games.

    However, Tunsil's contract isn't bad because of its price in relation to his performance. It's bad because the Houston Texans didn't sign him to an extension upon acquiring him.

    Houston surrendered two first-round picks, a second-round pick and two players to get Tunsil and wideout Kenny Stills from the Miami Dolphins. Since the Texans didn't immediately extend Tunsil, they may be forced to use the franchise tag to keep him beyond the 2019 season. The alternative could be making him one of the league's highest-paid players.

    Given how much the Texans gave up to acquire Tunsil, they won't have a ton of leverage in contract negotiations.

Indianapolis Colts: WR Devin Funchess

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Contract terms: One year, $10 million with $7 million guaranteed

    Wide receiver Devin Funchess appeared in only one game for the Indianapolis Colts before suffering a broken collarbone. However, that isn't why his contract with the Colts was a bad deal.

    The bigger issue is that Indianapolis gave $7 million guaranteed to an inconsistent possession receiver who fell out of favor with his previous team.

    The Panthers made little attempt to re-sign Funchess after he caught 44 passes for 549 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. That's a lot of money to guarantee a player who has never been a true standout and who may not be a fit for the Colts offense.

    Even if Funchess had been a productive member of Indianapolis' receiving corps—and he still could be if he's activated from injured reserve—he comes with a hefty price tag. Only 16 receivers carry a bigger cap hit than Funchess this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: G Andrew Norwell

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Five years, $66.5 million with $30 million guaranteed

    Guard Andrew Norwell was the Jacksonville Jaguars' prize free-agent acquisition last offseason. They gave him a huge five-year, $65 million deal, hoping he could become an anchor on the offensive interior.

    Because of injuries and inconsistent play, Norwell has failed to do so.

    "It's an understatement to say that Jacksonville didn't get its return on investment in the first year of the contract," Kevin Patra of wrote.

    Norwell was limited to only 11 games in 2018. While he's been healthy enough to start all nine games for the Jaguars this season, he hasn't played like one of the best guards in the NFL, which is how he's being paid.

    He is carrying a $16 million cap hit this season. For the sake of comparison, five-time Pro Bowler Zack Martin has a $14 million cap hit.

Kansas City Chiefs: DE Frank Clark

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    Perry Knotts/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Five years, $104 million with $62.3 million guaranteed

    Not only did the Kansas City Chiefs trade away a first-round pick to acquire Frank Clark from the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, but they subsequently signed him to a massive five-year deal. 

    While Clark has been a decent all-around defender—he has 17 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception—the Chiefs are paying him to be a premier pass-rusher.

    He has massively underperformed in that area.

    After racking up 32 sacks over his last three seasons, Clark has only 3.0 sacks in seven games. Though his durability isn't a major concern, Clark has missed the last two games with a neck injury and is considered week-to-week, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

    The bigger issue is that Clark is being outpaced by teammates like Emmanuel Ogbah, who has a cap hit of only $1.4 million this season.

Los Angeles Chargers: CB Casey Hayward

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Contract terms: Three years, $33.3 million with $20 million guaranteed

    The Los Angeles Chargers don't have any egregious contracts on their books, but the three-year extension cornerback Casey Hayward signed last offseason could be problematic.

    At the time, it looked like a decent deal for Los Angeles. Hayward was coming off of two straight Pro Bowl appearances and was only 28 years old. However, it was a backloaded contract that runs through 20201.

    Hayward is now 30 and has been merely above-average over the past two seasons. He's also set to carry a cap hit of at least $10 million per year over the remainder of his contract.

    Hayward is still a solid corner, but he's going to be an expensive one.

    Should the Chargers decide to move on from him after this season, they'll still have to pay out $4 million in dead money.

Los Angeles Rams: RB Todd Gurley II

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    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    Contract terms: Four years, $57.5 million with $45 million guaranteed

    Giving loads of guaranteed money to a running back can be problematic, even when he is one of the best in the game.

    Just ask the Los Angeles Rams.

    When the Rams inked Todd Gurley II to a four-year, $57.5 million extension during the 2018 offseason, he was perhaps the most dominant runner in the NFL. However, the deal still came with notable risks.

    Gurley suffered a torn ACL in his final collegiate season. While it didn't hamper him as a rookie, Gurley was often ineffective in his second season, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry.

    He bounced back in 2017, but he also had a massive workload on his body by the time he signed his extension. In his first three seasons, Gurley had 914 combined carries and catches.

    Gurley is just now entering the most significant stretch of his contract, and he's again underwhelming with only 3.9 yards per carry. He's set to carry a cap hit of $17.3 million in 2020 and will have $25.7 million in dead money remaining after this season.

Miami Dolphins: S Reshad Jones

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    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    Contract terms: Five years, $60 million with $35 million guaranteed

    The Dolphins have been busy this season trading away players for future draft assets. They likely would have loved to deal 31-year-old safety Reshad Jones, but his contract made that virtually impossible.

    Jones is playing on a five-year, $60 million deal and is carrying a cap hit of $17.2 million this season. He's set to carry a hit of $15.6 million next season and still has $10.2 million in dead money remaining on his deal.

    Miami likely would have had to part with draft assets to get another team to absorb that contract.

    This isn't to say that Jones is a bad player. He's more than serviceable when healthy. However, he hasn't been to a Pro Bowl sine 2017 and has been limited to only three games this season because of injuries.

Minnesota Vikings: QB Kirk Cousins

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Three years, $84 million, fully guaranteed

    Kirk Cousins' three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed contract is problematic for two reasons.

    For one, it offers the Minnesota Vikings zero flexibility since it's fully guaranteed. They can't get out of it without trading Cousins, and the contract includes a full no-trade clause.

    Since it's a short-term deal, the yearly cap hits are substantial, too. Only Matthew Stafford carries a higher cap hit among quarterbacks this season, and Cousins will be tied for sixth in quarterback cap hits next year with Russell Wilson.

    Cousins doesn't seem grossly overpaid when he's performing well, as he has for much of this season. But if Cousins stumbles and Minnesota misses the playoffs for a second consecutive season, this could look like one of the worst deals in recent NFL history.

New England Patriots: RB Sony Michel

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Four years, $9.6 million with $8.4 million guaranteed

    Aside from key players like Tom Brady, Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty, most of the New England Patriots' contracts are quite reasonable. The one low-end deal that doesn't look so good is that of second-year running back Sony Michel.

    The Patriots took Michel with the 31st pick in the 2018 draft. As a first-round pick, the Georgia product is due a sizable contract that is almost fully guaranteed. While Michel has been a serviceable early-down back, he's been far from special.

    Michel offers virtually nothing in the passing game, which means he can't be an every-down back in New England's offense. He's struggled on the ground this year as well, averaging only 3.3 yards per carry.

    New England is essentially stuck with Michel for the next two seasons, as he'll have $4.9 million in dead money remaining on his contract. That's a problem, because the Patriots typically don't like paying one-dimensional players.

New Orleans Saints: QB Drew Brees

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    Bill Feig/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Two years, $50 million with $27 million guaranteed

    On the surface, the two-year deal Drew Brees signed in 2018 doesn't seem like a bad deal for the New Orleans Saints. He's carrying a cap hit of only $22.7 million this season and has a 2020 year that automatically voids.

    The issue is that Brees and the Saints restructured his contract to push cap dollars back to that nonexistent year. As things stand, Brees will be owed $21.3 million in dead money regardless of whether he plays next season.

    For the short term, this is fine, as it has allowed the Saints to put together a championship-caliber team for the 2019 season. In the long run, however, it could bite New Orleans big time.

    The Saints will likely have to restructure Brees' contract again in the offseason, assuming he re-signs with them. That will probably require pushing back cap dollars once again and further delaying the inevitable cap hit that will come for a player no longer contributing on the field.

New York Giants: OT Nate Solder

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Four years, $62 million with $34.8 million guaranteed

    Offensive tackle Nate Solder won two Super Bowls with the Patriots, which made him accomplished enough to entice the New York Giants in free agency in 2018. Though Solder had never produced a Pro Bowl-caliber campaign, New York inked him to a whopping four-year, $62 million contract.

    Solder was supposed to be the new anchor for the Giants offensive line, but he's been more of a liability.

    After a shaky start to his Giants tenure, he exhibited better play over the second half of the 2018 season. However, he's back to being one of the team's biggest weaknesses this season.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Solder has been responsible for five penalties and eight sacks this season.

    Unfortunately, the Giants can't easily walk away from his deal. While they will have paid out the majority of Solder's guaranteed money by the end of the season, $13 million in dead money will still remain.

New York Jets: CB Trumaine Johnson

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Five years, $72.5 million with $45 million guaranteed

    New York Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson is on injured reserve and has played only 17 games since he arrived in New York as a free agent last offseason. However, that isn't what makes his contract a disaster.

    It's the fact that the Jets are paying Johnson to be an elite corner, and he has been anything but.

    Johnson has often been a liability in coverage, to the point that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wouldn't even put him on the field against the Browns in Week 2. That's especially telling since Williams previously coached Johnson for two seasons in Los Angeles.

    Williams knows what Johnson is capable of, and that apparently doesn't include matching up with Odell Beckham Jr.

    This was a bad deal even before Johnson started playing rotten defense in the Big Apple. Teams give $45 million in guaranteed money to All-Pro-caliber players, while Johnson never even snuck into the Pro Bowl during his six seasons with the Rams.

Oakland Raiders: OT Trent Brown

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Four years, $66 million with $36.3 million guaranteed

    The Patriots seem to have a habit of turning middling offensive tackles into free-agency prizes. They did so with Solder, and they did so with Trent Brown this past offseason.

    After spending one season as New England's starting left tackle, Brown signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Oakland Raiders.

    Brown has been a fine starter for Oakland this seasonhe has allowed only one sack and committed four penalties, according to Pro Football Focusbut he hasn't been special. 

    The issue is that Oakland is dedicating a hefty amount of cap space to its right tackle.

    Brown is carrying a hit of $15.25 million this season—the fifth-highest among all tackles in the NFL. Detroit's Ricky Wagner has the next-highest cap hit among right tackles at $11.9 million.

    Brown's cap number jumps to $21.5 million next season.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Nelson Agholor

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Contract terms: One year, $9.4 million, fully guaranteed

    In April 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to exercise the fifth-year option on wideout Nelson Agholor's contract.

    That's looking like a mistake, as Agholor has been anything but reliable this season.

    In addition to his drop issues—which have sparked viral moments—Agholor hasn't been a consistent receiving threat. In nine games (eight starts), he has only 32 receptions for 282 yards and three touchdowns.

    The Eagles could have rescinded Agholor's fifth-year option after he finished with 736 yards and four touchdowns in 2018, but they did not. Issues at wide receiver have hampered Philadelphia's offense often this season, and the Eagles are paying Agholor handsomely to be a part of them.

Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger

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    Gene Puskar/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Two years, $68 million with $37.5 million guaranteed

    Ben Roethlisberger's contract looks worse in retrospect because he's out with an elbow injury for the remainder of the 2019 season. However, the two-year extension he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in April was risky even prior to his injury.

    Roethlisberger is one of the NFL's top signal-callers when healthy, but he is also 37 and will be approaching 40 by the time his extension is up. The guaranteed money on his deal is problematic given this year's injury—there will be $25 million in dead money remaining after the season—but Roethlisberger's cap hits are a bigger potential issue.

    Next season, Roethlisberger is set to carry a hit of $33.5 million, which is tied for the second-highest in the league among quarterbacks. If he's still playing in 2021, he'll carry a hit of $31 million in 2021. If he isn't, the Steelers will owe $12.5 million in dead cap.

    With Roethlisberger's deal included, Pittsburgh is scheduled to have just over $6 million in cap space next offseason. That's with only 39 players under contract and without considering potential extensions for young players like receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

San Francisco 49ers: DE Solomon Thomas

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Four years, $28.2 million, fully guaranteed

    San Francisco 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas hasn't been bad, but he hasn't lived up to being the third overall pick in the 2017 draft.

    Through two-and-a-half seasons, Thomas has only 86 tackles and 6.0 sacks. That's fine production for a role player on one of the league's most dominant defensive fronts.

    However, Thomas' draft status ensures that he is being paid handsomely to be that role player.

    As the third overall pick, Thomas' entire rookie contract is guaranteed. That means the Niners are on the hook for the entire $28 million unless they're able to deal him ahead of next offseason.

    The good news is that Thomas is set to carry a cap hit of only $9.0 million in 2020, so trading him may be a legitimate option.

Seattle Seahawks: DE Ezekiel Ansah

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    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    Contract terms: One year, $9 million with $6 million guaranteed

    After dealing Clark to Kansas City, the Seattle Seahawks decided to take a chance on former Lions edge-rusher Ezekiel Ansah. Although he was limited to only seven games in 2018, Seattle gave Ansah a one-year, $9 million deal with $6 million guaranteed.

    That was a poor decision for two reasons.

    Had Ansah returned to his 2017 form (12 sacks), the Seahawks would have risked losing him in free agency next offseason. On the other hand, $9 million is a lot to pay a role player, which is what Ansah currently is.

    In six games this season, Ansah has produced only 10 tackles and one sack.

    A two- or three-year deal loaded with incentives would have been a much more team-friendly option for Seattle.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Donovan Smith

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Contract terms: Three years, $41.3 million with $27 million guaranteed

    Faced with an underwhelming free-agent tackle market, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to give 2015 second-round pick Donovan Smith a new three-year deal with $27 million guaranteed over the next two seasons.

    That's a lot of money to give to a player who has been good but not great since entering the NFL.

    On one hand, Smith has been durable—he has started every game since entering the league. On the other, he can be a liability in pass protection at times.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has been responsible for five penalties and four sacks allowed through eight games.

    There are worse tackle contracts elsewhere, but the Buccaneers still overpaid to keep a known commodity.

Tennessee Titans: QB Marcus Mariota

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    Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

    Contract terms: One year, $20.9 million, fully guaranteed

    The Tennessee Titans decided to pay out Marcus Mariota''s fifth-year option to give him one final chance to prove that he can be a franchise quarterback.

    However, it's fair to wonder why.

    It was clear that the Titans were going to have Mariota on a short leash when they traded for Ryan Tannehill this offseason. They yanked Mariota after only six games and will likely give Tannehill the rest of the 2019 season to show what he can do.

    If Tennessee had such little faith in the 2015 No. 2 overall pick, paying out his nearly $21 million option was a bad decision. That isn't an exorbitant salary for an NFL quarterback, but it's a hefty price to pay for a final audition that didn't even last a half-season.

Washington Redskins: WR Paul Richardson

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Contract terms: Five years, $40 million with $16.5 million guaranteed

    In March 2018, the Washington Redskins gave wideout Paul Richardson an exorbitant five-year, $40 million contract to pry him away from the Seahawks. He was coming off a 703-yard, six-touchdown campaign and was expected to make an immediate impact on the Redskins receiving corps.

    Unfortunately, Richardson has been more of an afterthought than a building block.

    He missed nine games in 2018 and caught only 20 passes for 262 yards and two scores. He's been healthy this season but remains a secondary receiving option. In nine games (six starts), Richardson has only 27 receptions for 239 yards and two touchdowns.

    While Washington can part ways with Richardson this offseason without taking a massive financial hit, it will still have to eat $6 million in dead money.


    All contract information via Spotrac.