Every NFL Team's Worst Contract Heading into the Offseason

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 10, 2020

Every NFL Team's Worst Contract Heading into the Offseason

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    "They're all overpaid," says my grandmother.

    A separate argument can be made that, considering they play in a league with revenue in the $16 billion range, all NFL players are underpaid. 

    But some contracts are better than others from a team standpoint, and every franchise has a "best" contract as well as a "worst" contract. Some are harder to recognize than others, but they have to be there. And we're here to shine light on the bad ones. 

    Some fine print: 

    • We're looking only at players who are 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 salary cap that is expected to push the $200 million mark in 2020. 
    • 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 2020 season.
    • We're strongly considering trajectory. Obviously, a team is better off paying a premium for a player on the rise than for a player in decline.
    • We're focusing mainly on 2019 production, with some sympathy for those who might have experienced aberrational down years or tough luck with injuries.

    So here's an updated breakdown of NFL every franchise's worst active contract. 

          

Arizona Cardinals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The player: Running back David Johnson

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

                                                       

    Why it stinks

    This is one of the worst contracts in the league. The 28-year-old Johnson has put together one great season, and he's become an utter afterthought in the Arizona Cardinals' backfield.

    His 3.6 yards-per-attempt average over the last three seasons ranks 42nd among 43 qualified backs, and he's totaled just 16 touchdowns since scoring 20 during an All-Pro 2016 campaign. 

    Both Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds greatly outplayed Johnson in 2019, but it would cost the Cardinals $16.2 million to part ways with the 2015 third-round pick this offseason. Instead, they'll likely be forced to swallow his $14.2 million salary-cap hit before inevitably releasing him at a $3 million cost in 2021. 

    You can bet the Cards will spend plenty of time this offseason trying to avoid that, but it won't be easy.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The player: Cornerback Desmond Trufant

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

                                                        

    Why it stinks

    Not only has Trufant missed 15 games the last four seasons, he also hasn't been to a Pro Bowl since 2015, and he's coming off an injury-plagued age-29 campaign in which he was routinely burned in coverage. So it's problematic that he's one of just four NFL corners earning more than $40 million in guaranteed money. 

    Barring a surprising late-career turnaround from a 30-year-old Trufant in 2020, the Atlanta Falcons will likely eat $5.8 million and release the 2013 first-round pick next offseason. But until then, he'll cost $15.2 million. 

    Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett all possess much more lucrative contracts, and they arguably haven't lived up to those deals. But those three remain elite, while Trufant's best days are well behind him. 

Baltimore Ravens

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    The player: Safety Earl Thomas III

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

                                                       

    Why it stinks

    Just a faint smell here. The Baltimore Ravens don't have any glaringly bad contracts (kudos to Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta), but Thomas isn't the player he used to be. He was more of an asset than a liability in his debut season with the birds, but Thomas disappeared at times and often struggled with his run defense in 2019. 

    The good news is he cost the Ravens just $7 million this season, but that number skyrockets to $15 million in 2020 and $16 million in 2021, with Baltimore essentially handcuffed to Thomas until he'll be on the verge of his age-33 season in 2022. And even then, it'd cost them $5 million to part ways. 

    The former Seahawks star hasn't been a first-team All-Pro since 2014 and missed 19 games in his final three seasons in Seattle. So while year one in Baltimore was a mild success for Thomas, the Ravens might soon find themselves frustrated with his contract.

Buffalo Bills

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    Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    The player: Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei

    The bad contractFive years, $50 million with $24.7 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                                                    

    Why it stinks

    You could make arguments here for tight end Tyler Kroft as well as fellow Buffalo Bills defensive linemen Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy, but the Bills can get out of contracts belonging to Kroft and Murphy for cheap dead-cap charges, and Hughes is still the best pass-rusher on the roster. 

    But the Bills are pretty much locked in to Lotulelei's $10.1 million cap hit for 2020, and it'd cost them $5.2 million to part ways with the so-so 30-year-old next offseason. And while he performed better in 2019 than he did in 2018, he was still frequently outplayed by Ed Oliver and even Jordan Phillips this year.

    With Harrison Phillips coming back from a torn ACL at some point and Corey Liuget also an option inside, the Bills would probably prefer to have Lotulelei's money for someone else. 

Carolina Panthers

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    Mike McCarn/Associated Press

    The player: Defensive tackle Kawann Short

    The bad contractFive years, $80.5 million with $35 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Short, who is about to turn 31, spent most of the 2019 season on injured reserve with a partially torn rotator cuff. And while a terrible Carolina Panthers run defense could have used the 2018 Pro Bowler down the stretch, it's not as though Gerald McCoy and Brian Burns were liabilities up front.

    Short's a slight upgrade over Dontari Poe, Kyle Love and Vernon Butler, but that doesn't mean he's worth his hefty contract. He's one of just six defensive linemen slated to carry a cap hit of more than $20 million in 2020, and it'd cost the Panthers nearly $11 million to escape his $20.8 million hit in 2021. 

    With McCoy, Butler, Love and Bruce Irvin scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, the Panthers have little choice but to stick with Short and hope the 2013 second-round pick can bounce back from a serious injury as a new decade begins. 

Chicago Bears

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    The player: Edge defender Khalil Mack 

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

                                                

    Why it stinks

    There was some consideration given to playing it safe here with tight end Trey Burton, who has just 653 receiving yards since he signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Chicago Bears in 2018. But injuries are a factor there, and Burton's $8.6 million cap hit isn't exactly back-breaking. 

    Eventually, we might not be able to say the same thing about Mack's $23.5 million average annual salary. He's the highest-paid defensive player in the history of the league, and the Bears have won zero playoff games since they handed him that contract before the 2018 season. 

    That isn't Mack's fault, but for that money, you have to be transcendent. He has 21 sacks in 30 games as a Bear, which is good but not great. And the Chicago defense took a big step backward statistically in 2019. 

    What's most concerning is the 2014 first-round pick wasn't even expensive the last two years. But he'll account for more than $26 million against the cap in each of the next three seasons, with Chicago only able to get out of the third year with a $12 million dead-cap charge. Not ideal considering Mack will be 29 next month. 

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    The player: Defensive tackle Geno Atkins

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

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Atkins remains a great player, but he'll turn 32 this offseason. And to keep him around, the Cincinnati Bengals will be on the hook for cap hits in excess of $14 million in each of the next three seasons.

    That's unfortunate considering his best days are likely behind him. The eight-time Pro Bowler hasn't been a first-team All-Pro since 2015, and his sack and quarterback hit totals plummeted from 10 and 19 in 2018 to 4.5 and 10 in 2019. 

    The Bengals, who rarely face burdensome long-term cap hits, can get out of Atkins' deal at a reasonable cost of $7.8 million in 2020, but that would hurt them dearly on the field. They'll likely keep paying up or look for a restructure, which would only delay the pain. 

Cleveland Browns

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The player: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. 

    The bad contract: Five years, $90 million with $65 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                                                       

    Why it stinks

    On the bright side, Beckham is still a superstar with a high ceiling at age 27, and he's guaranteed just $2.8 million of the remaining money on his massive deal. The Cleveland Browns can thank the New York Giants for that, but there's a reason New York parted with Beckham soon after signing him to that pact. 

    OBJ is a handful off the field, and it's fair to wonder how long it'll take before he starts pushing for a new contract. The Browns gave up two premium draft picks and two good players for Beckham and defensive lineman Olivier Vernon, so they're likely to feel obliged to keep Beckham happy. 

    At the very least, even if they don't succumb to Beckham's inevitable future demands, they'll likely be stuck paying the 2014 first-round pick between $14 million and $16 million per year between now and 2023, which would be far from ideal if he doesn't get back on track after three consecutive non-Pro Bowl seasons. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    The player: Running back Ezekiel Elliott

    The bad contract: Six years, $90 million with $50.1 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2019, expires in 2027)

                                                   

    Why it stinks

    Just before the start of the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys made Elliott the NFL's highest-paid running back. And while he responded with a Pro Bowl season, the Cowboys missed the playoffs. 

    It's another reminder that running backs make a limited impact in this day and age. Elliott started all 16 games and amassed 1,777 scrimmage yards and 14 touchdowns, but Dallas was a mere 8-8. 

    Beyond that, Elliott had 300 carries for the third time in his first four seasons. He's only 24 years old, but he's probably in his prime at a position with a famously short shelf life. And so while his $6.3 million 2019 salary-cap hit was fine and dandy, the Cowboys might eventually feel anguish over the fact that they owe him $41.1 million over the next three seasons, with no realistic way out (they could cut him in two years, but that'd cost them $10.8 million in dead-cap money). 

    That might be problematic considering that Dallas might soon have to pay up to keep Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones. 

Denver Broncos

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    David Eulitt/Getty Images

    The player: Quarterback Joe Flacco

    The bad contract: Three years, $66.4 million with $44 million guaranteed (restructured in 2019, expires in 2022)

                                                   

    Why it stinks

    As expensive as Von Miller is, he's still a star pass-rusher who's coming off a Pro Bowl season. As expensive as Ja'Wuan James is, the Denver Broncos can have justified hope that the 27-year-old offensive tackle has a bright future. 

    The same can't be said of Flacco, who carries the team's highest average annual salary ($22.1 million) despite no longer serving as a starter. 

    Regardless of what the Broncos do with Flacco, they'll be on the hook for at least a $13.6 million 2020 dead-cap charge. And it seems clear Denver will ride with 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock, who won four of his five starts and completed 64.1 percent of his passes in place of the injured Flacco (neck) to close out his rookie campaign. 

    The Broncos will either lose more than $13 million dead money or spend the 2020 season with a backup quarterback making $23.7 million. 

Detroit Lions

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The player: Edge defender Trey Flowers

    The bad contract: Five years, $90 million with $56 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                                                 

    Why it stinks

    When the Detroit Lions made Flowers one of the league's highest-paid defenders last offseason, they were betting he'd take off after four increasingly productive, effective seasons with the New England Patriots. 

    But that didn't happen. 

    The sixth-highest-paid defender in the game ($18 million AAV) actually saw his sack total drop from 7.5 in 2018 to seven in 2019, and his quarterback hit total of 21 was below his average in that category from the previous two campaigns (22.5). Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value metric found that it was tied for his least valuable campaign as a regular NFL starter. 

    What went wrong? It might have been that he lacked the support in Detroit that he had in New England. But that's the Lions' problem, and they owe Flowers $36.7 million over the next two seasons with no off-ramp. They can't realistically move on until 2022, and even then it'll cost them a dead-cap hit of $11.2 million. 

Green Bay Packers

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    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    The player: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

    The bad contract: Four years, $134 million with $98.7 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expires in 2024)

                                                      

    Why it stinks

    The Green Bay Packers don't hand out a lot of bad contracts, and highly paid pass-rushers Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith came through in stupendous fashion after landing in Green Bay as free agents in 2019. With overpaid, declining tight end Jimmy Graham cuttable at practically no cost this offseason ($3.6 million), there were few glaring options for the Pack. 

    That leaves the team's highest-paid player, especially because Rodgers ($33.5 million AAV) hasn't lived up to his massive contract in recent years. 

    Ever since he fractured his right collarbone in 2017, the two-time MVP's passer rating has sunk from 104.1 to 96.6, and the Packers haven't won a playoff game since 2016. 

    If Green Bay suddenly wins the Super Bowl this year, Rodgers will be worth every penny. But the Packers haven't played in that game since 2010. If that slump continues and Rodgers doesn't begin to dominate again at age 36, the team might dread the fact it that owes him $36.4 million in 2021 and $39.9 million in 2022. 

Houston Texans

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    The player: Edge defender Whitney Mercilus

    The bad contractFour years, $54 million with $28.5 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                                                    

    Why it stinks

    This is a freshly signed deal, which means the Houston Texans don't have any regrets about it. But there aren't any deeply problematic contracts in Houston, especially considering that a healthy J.J. Watt is due to make a reasonable $16.5 million average over the final two years of his contract, with none of that guaranteed. 

    But that $13.5 million average annual salary is a big one for Mercilus, who turns 30 this summer and has never been to a Pro Bowl. He's been a strong starter for the Texans since 2013, but he has just one eight-sack season on his resume. 

    The Texans might not be as thrilled about this deal when they're essentially obligated to pay Mercilus $12 million in 2021, and they'd still have to spend $3.1 million to get rid of him in 2022. 

    Not a back-breaker by any means, but every team has to have a "worst" contract. 

Indianapolis Colts

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett

    The bad contract: Two years, $30 million with $20 million guaranteed

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Brissett isn't the long-term answer at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. He barely completed 60 percent of his passes and posted a subpar passer rating of 88.0 while averaging just 6.6 yards per attempt in 2019. He doesn't have the arm talent to carry an NFL offense, and the Colts have probably realized that. 

    But they gave him a new contract last offseason that guarantees him $12.5 million in 2020, even if he's released.

    The Colts might be able to trade him, but they'd still be on the hook for $5.5 million. And in this quarterback market, there's a good chance nobody else will be willing to foot the bill for the remaining $7 million. 

    That's not a catastrophic scenario for a team that does a fantastic job of managing its payroll, but nobody else on the Indianapolis roster is remotely overpaid. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Nick Foles

    The bad contract: Four years, $88 million with $50.1 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                                                 

    Why it stinks

    The $15.4 million 2020 cap number belonging to Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye is rather outrageous when you consider Bouye's struggles in 2019. But at least he's still an accomplished and occasionally reliable starter, and the Jags have the option to move on for only $4 million. 

    Is Foles a reliable starter? Is he even a starter? He was outplayed by rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew II in 2019, but there's nothing the Jaguars can do about his $21.1 million cap number in 2020. And even if they want to release him in 2021, it'll cost them a $12.5 million dead-cap hit. 

    There's still a chance Foles becomes a star in Jacksonville, but the odds are better that at age 31, he fades into relative obscurity as a backup-caliber quarterback with a starting-caliber salary. 

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    The player: Edge defender Frank Clark

    The bad contractFive years, $104 million with $62.3 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                                                      

    Why it stinks

    There's a lot to dislike about the contract belonging to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who is an average-on-a-good-day linebacker with limited playmaking ability and a $12.7 million guaranteed cap number for 2020. But he can at least be cut in a couple of years at a cost of "only" $4.2 million. 

    Clark is more of a high-impact player with a much higher ceiling, but should he really be one of just four defensive players making more than $20 million per year? The 26-year-old recorded just eight sacks in his debut campaign with the Chiefs, and that wasn't exactly an aberration for a player who's never had more than 13 in a season. 

    The Chiefs, though, are stuck with Clark for at least the next two years at a cost of $46.9 million, and they'd have to cough up $10.4 million to avoid paying him $24.7 million in 2022. 

    That's a lot of money for a one-time Pro Bowler who has registered more than 10 sacks just once in his first five seasons. 

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    The player: Offensive tackle Russell Okung

    The bad contractFour years, $53 million with $25 million guaranteed (expires in 2021)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    The Los Angeles Chargers can easily get out of this contract, as only $2.5 million of Okung's $15.5 million walk-year salary-cap hit is guaranteed.

    But that would just leave them with a hole at one of the most important positions on the field, and the potential alternative problem is that's a hell of a lot of money for a guy who missed much of 2019 because of a pulmonary embolism that resulted from blood clots in his lungs and then later missed more time because of a groin injury. 

    The Bolts can gain wiggle room by extending Okung's contract, but even that's risky considering his age (32) and injury history. It's just not an optimal situation. 

Los Angeles Rams

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Jared Goff

    The bad contractFour years, $134 million with $110 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2019, expires in 2025)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Must we pick just one!? It's serenity now, insanity later for the YOLO Los Angeles Rams, who mortgaged the future for another Super Bowl run in 2019 and proceeded to miss the playoffs. 

    Wide receiver Brandin Cooks (due more than $16 million the next four seasons and coming off a two-touchdown campaign) and running back Todd Gurley II (who'll almost certainly earn more than $30 million the next two years and has lost a step as a result of a bad knee) would take this cake on a lot of other rosters, but they and others take a back seat to Goff. 

    Not only is he one of just four players in the league with an average annual salary north of $33 million, but his $110 million guarantee is the largest in NFL history. That's wild, because he's yet to emerge as a steady franchise quarterback and is coming off a poor season in which he threw 16 interceptions and just 22 touchdowns, while his rate-based numbers plummeted. 

Miami Dolphins

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The player: Safety Reshad Jones

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

                                                 

    Why it stinks

    Jones has missed 24 games in the last four seasons, he's made the Pro Bowl twice in 10 NFL campaigns, and his best days are behind him as he prepares to turn 32. That means he's unlikely to be a valuable part of a long-term rebuild for the Miami Dolphins. 

    But Miami made him one of the highest-paid defensive backs in the NFL a few years ago, and all that guaranteed money has essentially made the 2010 fifth-round pick an untradable asset. 

    Jones is slated to make $15.6 million in 2020, and even in 2021 it'd cost the Dolphins more than $4 million to part ways ahead of Jones' age-33 season. 

    The Dolphins have so much salary-cap space that it isn't likely to matter, but this is the worst deal on a payroll that dumped pretty much every other meaningful contract last offseason. 

    Cornerback Xavien Howard, 26, is the only other Dolphin who's making more than $10 million per year, but he's a lot younger and has room to grow. 

Minnesota Vikings

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    The player: Cornerback Xavier Rhodes

    The bad contractFive years, $70.1 million with $32.8 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2017, expires in 2023)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Kirk Cousins' $31 million 2020 cap hit is a pain in the Minnesota Vikings' you-know-what, but at least the team can move on from Cousins free of charge in 2021 when he becomes a free agent. Plus, Cousins is still making a positive impact. 

    The same can't be said of Rhodes, who has declined rapidly the last two seasons and is coming off an abysmal campaign. He's intercepted just one pass and has 13 passes defensed since the start of 2018, and he's on the verge of 30. 

    He's probably toast, but it'll cost the Vikes nearly $5 million to wave goodbye to him this offseason. And if they're desperate enough to keep him around, they'll be on the hook for his $12.9 million 2020 cap hit along with at least a $2.4 million dead-cap charge in 2021. 

    They probably wish they could have that 2017 extension back. Turns out, Rhodes was just about to peak.

New England Patriots

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    Billie Weiss/Getty Images

    The player: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore

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

                                                 

    Why it stinks

    Few teams in professional sports do this whole contract thing as well as the New England Patriots. But again, everybody needs a "worst" contract, and the least best deal in New England belongs to Gilmore.

    Why? Because it's one of the few market-level contracts on the payroll. Not sure how Bill Belichick does it, but essentially everybody else is underpaid. And even in the case of those who are paid handsomely, the Pats are sure to cover themselves with limited long-term guarantees.

    That applies to Gilmore too. Even if for some reason the Patriots move on next offseason, they can do so at a not-too-wacky cost of $7.7 million. But that's unlikely, which means that without an extension or a restructure, they'd owe the 29-year-old $38.3 million over the next two seasons.

    Even for the best cornerback in the NFL, that's a lot of dough. No other player at that position is slated to count for more than $32 million before the end of the 2021 campaign.

New Orleans Saints

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The player: Quarterback Drew Brees

    The bad contractIt's complicated

                                                

    Why it stinks

    How can we list a player whose contract is about to expire? It's simple. Even if Brees doesn't play for the New Orleans Saints in 2020, they'll owe him a comical $21.3 million in dead money. Committing more than 10 percent of your payroll to a retired dude is an awful scenario. 

    And sure, that's the worst outcome. But even in the best-case scenario, Brees' contract is the "winner." Because if he does return—and he hasn't indicated he won't keep playing at age 41—whatever he negotiates with the Saints will fall on top of that $21.3 million total. 

    They'd likely again stash a bunch of that cash in a voidable second year, but eventually the Saints will have to pay their bill in full. And it's going to hurt. 

New York Giants

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The player: Offensive tackle Nate Solder

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

                                                            

    Why it stinks

    Easy arguments can be made that New York Giants wide receivers Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are overpaid, but those two are off the hook thanks to the off-the-charts pending cap hits associated with Solder, who was a turnstile in 2019 and is declining dramatically at age 31. 

    Solder is the only player on the Giants' payroll slated to make more than $12.5 million per year, and his backloaded contract is a problem. He'll count $19.5 million against the cap in 2020 and $20.5 million in 2021—both of which are high-water marks at left tackle. 

    There's no way the rebuilding Giants can pay that kind of money for a player who appears to be running out of gas and wasn't even a Pro Bowler when his tank was full. And they probably won't, but it'd still cost them $13 million to move on this offseason or $6.5 million to part ways in a year. 

    This was a terrible free-agent signing in 2018, and it'll continue to bite the Giants in the behind as they enter a new decade. 

New York Jets

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The player: Linebacker C.J. Mosley

    The bad contractFive years, $85 million with $51 million guaranteed (expires in 2024)

                                                     

    Why it stinks

    This could have easily gone to New York Jets cornerback Trumaine Johnson (who was a colossal bust as a 2018 big-money free-agent signing and will likely be paid $12 million to walk this offseason) or running back Le'Veon Bell (who fell on his face as a 2019 big-money free-agent signing and is due a ridiculous $15.5 million in 2020).

    But Mosley's numbers are too out of whack to ignore. 

    Among off-ball linebackers, only he and Bobby Wagner are making more than $15 million per year. But Mosley doesn't belong in the same sentence as Wagner. Mosley is a good player, not a great one. And yet the Jets owe him $35 million over the next two seasons, with the only realistic out coming at a $3 million cost in 2022. 

    Even if they move on then, they'll have paid Mosley $51 million for three years' work, and we can already report that year one offered little return on Gang Green's investment. Mosley missed practically the entire season because of a core muscle injury.

Oakland Raiders

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    The player: Offensive tackle Trent Brown

    The bad contractFour years, $66 million with $36.3 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Brown inexplicably made the Pro Bowl despite missing five games and struggling as a run-blocker at right tackle in 2019, but he's not a good player. He's a decent pass-blocker who excelled with tremendous support for one year in New England and leveraged that into a blockbuster free-agent deal in the 2019 offseason. 

    He's a massive man (6'8", 380 lbs) who could still grow from a skill standpoint at age 26, but it's silly that he's due a $21.5 million salary-cap hit and won't even protect the blind side in 2020. 

    None of his contract is guaranteed beyond that, but that'd still work out to $36.8 million over two years. Only one other right tackle in football (Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles) makes more than $13 million per year, and Johnson is in a different atmosphere. 

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    The player: Quarterback Carson Wentz

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

                                                

    Why it stinks

    We considered Alshon Jeffery's inflated, restructured deal, and we toyed with Malik Jackson's oddly large contract (three years, $30 million). But ultimately, the Wentz deal is too big to pass up. And like Goff's, it came earlier than it needed to. 

    Because frankly, we still don't know if the Eagles can rely on Wentz consistently. He's failed to remain healthy for playoff action in three consecutive years. And although he came on late in 2019 despite a significant lack of support, he hasn't completely rediscovered the magic that made him an MVP candidate in 2017. 

    Yet from 2021 to 2023, the one-time Pro Bowler is slated to carry cap hits totaling $102.2 million with limited potential relief for the Eagles, who can't realistically move on sans a huge dead-cap hit until 2024 ($6 million). 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Al Pereira/Getty Images

    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

    What does Big Ben have left? He's about to turn 38, is coming off a major elbow injury, struggled before suffering that injury early in 2019, and failed to make the Pro Bowl while throwing a league-high 16 interceptions in 2018. 

    The Pittsburgh Steelers might be better off going in a new direction, but Roethlisberger will count $33.5 million against the cap in 2020, with $25 million of that already guaranteed. They can save $19 million by parting ways in 2021, but even then they'll spend $12.5 million on somebody who isn't on the field. 

    Zero-time Pro Bowler Stephon Tuitt will count nearly $30 million against the cap the next two seasons, but he's at least a high-quality player essentially in his prime at 26. The same can no longer be said of the wildly expensive Roethlisberger. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    The player: Center Weston Richburg

    The bad contractFive years, $47.5 million with $28.5 million guaranteed (expires in 2023)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo makes a lot of money for a player with few NFL accomplishments, but his five-year, $137.5 million contract is essentially a year-to-year deal. Ditto for highly paid defenders Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford, both of whom have contracts with reasonable outs. 

    And while they've gotten nothing out of running back Jerick McKinnon's four-year, $30 million contract, the 49ers can at least move on from him for $4 million

    But cutting Richburg would cost $5.6 million, and there'll still be a dead-cap charge of $3.7 million for the 49ers to get out of his $10.2 million cap hit in 2021. That's extremely unfortunate considering that, according to PFF, Richburg surrendered the third-most pressures of any center in the league in 2018 and then had his 2019 campaign derailed by injuries, a torn patellar tendon among them. 

Seattle Seahawks

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The player: Linebacker Bobby Wagner

    The bad contractThree years, $54 million with $40.3 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2019, expires in 2023)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Wagner's deal stinks by default, because the Seattle Seahawks don't have any egregiously bad contracts. Russell Wilson is the highest-paid player in NFL history, but that won't last long as the quarterback market explodes. Besides, he's the type of game-changing player who could carry an average team to a Super Bowl in any given year. 

    Only six other players on the Seattle roster who are under contract beyond 2019 make more than $5 million per year, and five of those six could be released at a cost of less than $5 million. But Wagner's relatively new deal essentially locks him in for the next two seasons at $32 million, which is a pretty penny for an off-ball linebacker who will turn 30 in June. 

    So while the five-time first-team All-Pro might wind up in the Hall of Fame, he clearly has the "least good" contract in Seattle. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    The player: Offensive tackle Donovan Smith

    The bad contractThree years, $41.25 million with $27 million guaranteed (expires in 2022)

                                                

    Why it stinks

    Smith took so many penalties and was responsible for so many sacks in his first four seasons that nobody would have been surprised if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers let him walk when his rookie contract expired last offseason. But they saw a 25-year-old with potential who hadn't missed a start in four years, and they doubled down. 

    It hasn't panned out. 

    Smith showed mild signs of improvement in the first season of his new contract, but he was still inconsistent and frequently penalized. Now he's slated to have a $14.5 million cap hit in 2020, which is the eighth-highest mark in the league at the left tackle position. 

    The Bucs also owe him $14.3 million in 2021, but that's not guaranteed. And if Smith doesn't finally put it together and make a run at his first Pro Bowl next year, they'll probably cut their losses.

Tennessee Titans

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    The player: Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan

    The bad contractFive years, $80 million with $50 million guaranteed (signed as an extension in 2018, expires in 2024)

                                                       

    Why it stinks

    Lewan's 2020 cap number is $18.2 million, which is the second-highest mark in the AFC. That likely means a restructure is coming, which could just push more guaranteed money into 2021 and beyond. And that would suck, because the 28-year-old hasn't been reliable of late, and it's a bonus that he can be released next year at a cost of just $4.4 million. 

    Lewan has been heavily penalized the last few seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 despite struggling with injuries and a lack of consistency. Then he was suspended four games for a performance-enhancing drug violation to start the 2019 campaign, and he never got on track after that. 

    Maybe he'll put it together again in 2020. But if he doesn't and is still playing under this contract, it'll be a shame that his deal will take up about 10 percent of Tennessee's payroll. 

Washington Redskins

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The player: Quarterback Alex Smith

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

                                                

    Why it stinks

    We didn't want to do this. We wanted to lambaste the deal belonging to box safety Landon Collins, who is pretty much guaranteed more than $31 million the next two seasons and has zero interceptions, three forced fumbles and one sack in his last 27 games. We wanted to make fun of the contract possessed by forgotten wide receiver Paul Richardson, who has caught 48 passes and scored four touchdowns in two seasons as a member of the Washington Redskins and is due another $28.3 million over the next three years. 

    But unfortunately, Smith hasn't played a game in 14 months, and it doesn't seem as though he's on the verge of returning from a significant leg injury. The Redskins have seemingly moved on anyway. New regime, new first-round pick at quarterback in Dwayne Haskins. But they can't do so from a financial perspective because the 35-year-old carries $21.4 million cap hit in 2020. 

    In fact, beyond that, the organization would have to pay Smith $10.8 million to walk away in 2021. It's clear he's not about to willingly leave the game, which is his prerogative. That could mean that, barring an injury settlement, the Redskins will just have to keep paying Smith. 

                

    Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

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