Every NFL Team's Worst Contract in 2021

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystNovember 12, 2021

Every NFL Team's Worst Contract in 2021

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    One bad contract becomes an albatross of an NFL team's entire operation. What constitutes a "bad" contract varies, though. 

    More often than not, a poor deal happens when an individual underperforms after he signs for an exorbitant amount. Hasty decisions to re-sign certain players or hand out massive free-agent deals can backfire. But they're not the only instances of hampering teams. 

    Injuries can ruin what looked like a promising agreement. Sometimes a player performs relatively well, but someone else on the roster with a lower salary-cap charge at the same position outperforms him. And lastly, a veteran—even if he's not vastly overpaid—can be stunting the growth of a younger player. 

    Whatever the case, a bad contract is a bad contract that needs to get off the books sooner rather than later.

Arizona Cardinals: LB Jordan Hicks

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    Contract: four years, $34 million

    The problem with Jordan Hicks' deal is twofold. 

    First, the 29-year-old defender requested a trade this offseason, per ESPN's Josh Weinfuss. For whatever reason, one never materialized. 

    Hicks, who owns a $6 million salary-cap charge this season, wanted the move after the Arizona Cardinals invested this year's 16th overall pick in the fellow linebacker Zaven Collins. 

    But Hicks is still playing more than Collins, which is a problem unto itself.

    The veteran is the team's sub-package linebacker in a sub-package league. Eventually, Collins needs to be on the field more. The first-round pick shouldn't be a part-time player for another individual who didn't even want to be in Arizona this season. 

    Hicks leads the team in tackles. But he's getting in the way of progress. 

Atlanta Falcons: QB Matt Ryan

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    Contract: five years, $150 million

    Matt Ryan is still a quality quarterback. In fact, he's Pro Football Focus' sixth-highest-graded quarterback through nine weeks of play. 

    However, his contract prohibits the Atlanta Falcons from progressing to where they need to go as they rebuild the rest of the roster.

    This offseason, the team reworked Ryan's deal to create short-term salary-cap space and pushed more into the future. Seemingly because of that, the front office decided not to invest in a quarterback during this year's draft to become Ryan's heir apparent. The Falcons passed on both Justin Fields and Mac Jones. 

    Next season, the 36-year-old quarterback holds a $48.6 million salary-cap charge, which is the highest for the 2022 campaign. Even if the Falcons were to trade or release Ryan beyond June 1, he'd still account for $24.9 million against the cap. 

    The Falcons probably aren't moving on from Ryan until 2023 at the earliest. 

Baltimore Ravens: DT Brandon Williams

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    Contract: five years, $52.5 million

    Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Brandon Williams is in the last year of a five-year contract extension he signed prior to the 2017 campaign. 

    He's now 32 years old and not the same caliber of player he once was. The veteran interior defender is also dealing with a shoulder injury that has cost him the last three games. 

    As a whole, the Ravens aren't as good at nose tackle as they have been over the years. Williams' injury and declining play are only part of the reason. Backup-turned-starter Justin Ellis hasn't performed particularly well, either. 

    In Williams' case, his $12.9 million cap hit this season is practically guaranteed. But the Ravens can be free and clear of his deal going into the next offseason if the organization chooses to go in another direction. 

Buffalo Bills: DT Star Lotulelei

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Contract: three years, $18.6 million

    For the most part, the Buffalo Bills invest wisely in the right people and positions. Quarterback Josh Allen, cornerback Tre'Davious White, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and left tackle Dion Dawkins should be and are the team's highest-paid players. The franchise has made quality investments in premium positions and plans to keep that core together. 

    Even some older players like Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are still producing despite what may be considered slightly overbudget deals at this point in their careers. 

    Star Lotulelei may be the exception. Lotulelei does play an important role in the Bills defense as the physical tone-setter along the defensive interior. However, he's in the first of a three-year deal after opting out of last season with a $7.6 million salary-cap charge that escalates to over or near $9 million during the next two campaigns. 

    Lotulelei hasn't been quite as effective upon his return and turns 32 in December. 

Carolina Panthers: QB Sam Darnold

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    Contract: four years, $30.2 million

    To be clear, Sam Darnold's deal is a holdover from the New York Jets selecting him with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The Carolina Panthers made a mistake by automatically picking up his fifth-year rookie option after trading for the 24-year-old signal-caller. His deal became fully guaranteed for $18.9 million for next season once the Panthers front office pulled the trigger. 

    The Panthers shouldn't be lambasted for taking a chance on Darnold's remaining upside. The issue was going all-in with him beyond the 2021 campaign. 

    In doing so, the organization left itself very little wiggle room at the game's most important position. A double-dip by trading for Darnold while simultaneously drafting Justin Fields with the eighth overall pick would have put the team in a much better position.

    Darnold has fallen apart quickly since his fast start in Carolina, and the quarterback is now out at least four to six weeks with a fractured scapula. 

Chicago Bears: QB Nick Foles

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    Contract: three years, $24 million

    Only 32 quarterbacks can start. Nick Foles' salary-cap hit ranks 26th overall this season at $6.7 million, yet he's not counted among them. In fact, he's the Chicago Bears' third-string signal-caller. 

    To be fair, the Bears are spending a combined $15 million on their quarterbacks. Eleven different quarterbacks have higher cap numbers themselves. At the same time, a third-stringer being the highest compensated, at least from an accounting perspective, isn't a great example of proper resource allocation. 

    Also, the Bears have tried to trade the 32-year-old veteran but haven't found any takers.

    Foles' deal doesn't break the bank, but the Bears need to move on since the keys to the offense have been handed to rookie Justin Fields. Next year, Chicago can release or trade Foles and save at least $3 million. 

Cincinnati Bengals: CB Trae Waynes

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    Contract: three years, $42 million

    The Cincinnati Bengals, who were once known as a frugal franchise, have made some significant free-agent expenditures on the defensive side of the ball over the last two offseasons. 

    D.J. Reader, Larry Ogunjobi, Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton and Vonn Bell have been excellent additions to the lineup. 

    Trae Waynes is the closest thing to an outright swing and a miss. It's not entirely the veteran corner's fault, either. He's been beset by injuries.

    In 2020, Waynes didn't play a single game after suffering a pectoral injury in training camp. He's been hampered by a balky hamstring this fall and played in only two games so far. 

    Waynes carried a $10 million salary-cap charge last season and $15.8 million this season. The number escalates to $16 million in 2022, though the Bengals can save $11 million with his release. 

Cleveland Browns: TE Austin Hooper

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    Kirk Irwin/Associated Press

    Contract: four years, $42 million

    The Cleveland Browns already rid themselves of one bloated contract when they released Odell Beckham Jr. last week. Two more could be gone after this season. Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper were the team's second- and fourth-highest-paid skill-position players going into the current campaign. 

    Landry is averaging the fewest yards per game of his career this season, though the Browns can release him after this year and save $15 million toward next season's salary cap. The Hooper selection is a little more complex. 

    Between now and the end of his contract after the 2023 campaign, Hooper holds salary-cap charges among the NFL's six highest-paid tight ends. His $8.3 million cap charge this year is the league's highest. 

    Hooper is a solid performer and second on the team in receptions. But he's not been the same Pro Bowl-caliber player Cleveland signed last offseason, and fellow tight end David Njoku has been far more dynamic. By the way, Njoku is a free agent after this season. 

Dallas Cowboys: RB Ezekiel Elliott

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Contract: six years, $90 million

    Before anyone blows a gasket, Ezekiel Elliott is an excellent running back, as he's fifth in the league in rushing. The issue isn't with his play. It's his performance commensurate with his pay. 

    For the most part, the Dallas Cowboys have invested wisely in quarterback Dak Prescott, left tackle Tyron Smith, guard Zack Martin and wide receiver Amari Cooper. For a while, Jerry Jones threw money around left and right to keep the team's core together. In doing so, the Cowboys owner made Elliott the game's highest-paid running back. 

    Elliott is good. But is any running back worth $15 million annually based on the position's value around the league? The Cowboys are getting quality contributions from Tony Pollard, whose base salary is $850,000 this season. 

    The argument isn't whether Pollard is the better back. The issue is whether the Cowboys could get a better return in their investment if they hadn't already splurged on Elliott's deal. Over the next two seasons, Elliott's salary-cap charges increase to $18.2 and $16.7 million, respectively. 

Denver Broncos: OG Graham Glasgow

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Contract: four years, $44 million

    Not to pile on to what has already been an awful few weeks for Graham Glasgow, but an acknowledgment of how the guard hasn't worked out for the Denver Broncos can't be avoided. 

    In two seasons with the franchise, the offensive lineman's play has declined from his performance in Detroit. He's also dealt with injuries during that time.

    Glasgow missed three games last year. He tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago. On Sunday, the guard suffered a season-ending fractured ankle against the Dallas Cowboys. 

    Over the next two seasons, Glasgow's salary-cap hit escalates to $12 million and $14 million. The Broncos can save $6 million with his release next offseason. The likelihood of doing so seems rather high since Netane Muti and Quinn Meinerz are promising young guards. 

Detroit Lions: DE Trey Flowers

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Contract: five years, $90 million

    It's never a good sign when a team has more than one bad contract that immediately leaps off the page. 

    An argument could easily be made to slot quarterback Jared Goff as the Detroit Lions' worst deal. Maybe it is. But the relationship between player and team is only a half-year into the process, and Detroit can move on from Goff next offseason and save $10.7 million by designating him a June 1 cut. 

    Trey Flowers, on the other hand, is in his third season with the franchise. He signed a huge free-agent contract prior to the 2019 campaign. Since that point, the defensive end has managed just 10.5 sacks. 

    Flowers' average annual salary ranks sixth among defensive ends. Cameron Jordan, Danielle Hunter, Brandon Graham and J.J. Watt have lower numbers on their current deals. Amazingly, Flowers' cap charges over the next two seasons increase to over $23 million. The organization has an out and can save $16 million by releasing the defensive lineman with a June 1 designation. 

Green Bay Packers: OLB Preston Smith

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Contract: four years, $52 million

    The Green Bay Packers are fortunate to have depth at outside linebacker since Za'Darius Smith has played in only one game this season due to a back injury. 

    Preston Smith has continued in his role as a starter with Rashan Gary playing the opposite side. Gary has thrived during his first full season in the starting lineup. Smith has provided some stability, though his performance hasn't lived up to the expectations his contract set forth. 

    In his first year with Green Bay, the 28-year-old defender registered 12 sacks. Since, his production has dipped with six sacks over the last 24 games while Za'Darius Smith had 12.5 sacks in 2020 alone. 

    Preston Smith's salary-cap hit skyrockets next year to $19.8 million. With Za'Darius Smith expected back at some point this season and Gary playing so well, Preston Smith could eventually be the odd man out of this equation. 

Houston Texans: QB Deshaun Watson

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    Contract: four years, $156 million

    At this point, the Houston Texans organization is just waiting for the right time to rid itself of quarterback Deshaun Watson. The team is paying Watson $10.5 million in base salary this season to do nothing. 

    The reasons are obvious. 

    Watson doesn't want to be with the organization. He requested a trade in January, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The 26-year-old faces 22 civil lawsuits from women who accused him of sexual assault or misconduct after he hired them to perform massages. Watson could also face 10 criminal complaints, including two from women who haven't filed lawsuits.

    The Texans would have already dealt Watson if not for his legal troubles. Depending on what's decided in the next few months, Houston can still trade the quarterback next offseason and save $24.2 million. If the Texans can't find a trade, they could release Watson outright with a June 1 designation but would have to eat his $40.4 million cap figure for next season. 

Indianapolis Colts: CB Kenny Moore II

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    Contract: four years, $33.3 million

    The Indianapolis Colts invest their financial capital wisely. General manager Chris Ballard is one of the league's most patient and picky front office executives. He rarely pulls the trigger on a significant move or big-money deal without it being the clear right choice for the franchise. 

    So the moves the team has made when investing in Carson Wentz, DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and the O-line all made perfect sense. 

    Cornerback Kenny Moore II holds the Colts' sixth-most lucrative contract. He's only 26 years old and a pretty reliable nickel corner. But like everyone else in the Colts secondary, Moore isn't playing particularly well. As a unit, Indianapolis ranks among the league's bottom 10 pass defenses. 

    Injuries have certainly played their part, which has made Moore's performance even more important and disappointing. None of the cornerback's contract is guaranteed after this season. If the fifth-year veteran doesn't improve, the possibility of an entirely reworked secondary may be in order. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: OG Andrew Norwell

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    Contract: five years, $66.5 million

    The Andrew Norwell signing has pretty much been a mistake from day one for the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

    Keep in mind, the guard market has reset in recent days with the Cleveland Browns securing Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio's services for the long term. Norwell signed his deal three-plus years ago and still ranks sixth in average annual salary (not including Brandon Scherff's franchise tag) and third in overall value. 

    Norwell hasn't been awful by any means. But the Jaguars have tried to move his contract multiple times. 

    During the 2020 offseason, Jacksonville was open for business with Norwell on the trade block, per CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. A similar report resurfaced a year later. 

    The Jaguars can recoup a savings of $13 million by releasing the former All-Pro guard (with the Carolina Panthers) this coming offseason. 

Kansas City Chiefs: DE Frank Clark

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    Contract: five years, $104 million

    The Kansas City Chiefs own one of the league's worst defenses despite having two defensive linemen paid a combined $184 million in total contractual value. 

    Chris Jones is a game-wrecker. He's among the league's best. Frank Clark? Not so much. 

    During his three seasons prior to being traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, Clark amassed 32 sacks. In his three seasons with the Chiefs, he has managed 15. 

    Obviously, sacks aren't the only way to affect the game. But Clark admitted his play this season has been affected by injuries and his offseason arrests.

    With salary-cap hits exceeding $26 million over the next two years, the Chiefs will likely look to get out of the deal.

Las Vegas Raiders: LB Cory Littleton

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Contract: three years, $32.25 million

    Linebacker Cory Littleton looked like a star in the making with the Los Angeles Rams.

    Littleton thrived in Wade Phillips' scheme, particularly in pass coverage. The fact he worked so well in space made him into the type of player others project as perfect for the modern game. 

    In 2018, Littleton earned his first Pro Bowl bid and captured second-team All-Pro honors. The Las Vegas Raiders then signed him to a significant free-agent deal during the 2020 offseason.

    However, Littleton hasn't been the same player since he made the switch. 

    To be fair, the Raiders already had three defensive coordinators in Littleton's year-plus with the organization. But the linebacker still doesn't appear to be the best overall fit for Gus Bradley's scheme. He's struggled in coverage based on what's asked of him. 

    The Raiders can save $11.75 million in cap space by designating him a post-June 1 release or trade next offseason.

Los Angeles Chargers: RT Bryan Bulaga

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    Contract: three years, $30 million

    The Los Angeles Chargers knew they had to build a better front five to properly protect second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

    This offseason, the Chargers signed All-Pro center Corey Linsley and veteran guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi. They also selected left tackle Rashawn Slater with the 13th overall pick. 

    The line was set and ready to improve from the league's worst to one of its better units. However, back and groin injuries have forced the lone holdover, Bryan Bulaga, to miss all but one game. 

    The 32-year-old tackle missed six games last year as well.

    Although Bulaga is good when healthy, he hasn't been reliable since joining the Chargers. Salary-cap hits of over $11 million this year and $14 million next year don't represent good value when a player's availability is always in question. 

Los Angeles Rams: P Johnny Hekker

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    Contract: five years, $18.8 million

    The Los Angeles Rams may not build their roster in a traditional manner with how willingly they trade draft picks for veteran talent. But they must be doing something right if their punter has their worst contract.

    Johnny Hekker entered this season as one of the 10 highest-paid players on the Rams in total contractual value. Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Robert Woods, Leonard Floyd and Cooper Kupp have all lived up to expectations with their respective contracts, while Von Miller just joined the team.

    Hekker is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the game's highest-paid punter. He's still excellent, but the high-powered Rams probably don't need such a high investment in the position.

    Hekker has salary-cap charges of at least $4.7 million this season and the next two years as well. 

Miami Dolphins: CB Byron Jones

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    Contract: five years, $82.5 million

    Timing and situation are everything when it comes to free agency.

    Byron Jones became one of the league's best cornerbacks while working in Rod Marinelli's Cover 2-inspired scheme with the Dallas Cowboys. When he reached free agency in 2020, the Miami Dolphins made him the game's highest-paid cornerback (for about six months). 

    The deal became problematic on two fronts. 

    First, Jones entered a new system and hasn't been the same player. Second, his deal created tension with Miami's standout corner, Xavien Howard, who was a first-team All-Pro in 2020.

    Howard wanted a reworked deal commensurate with his performance, asked for a trade this offseason and engaged in a short-lived holdout. Eventually, the two sides worked out their differences. 

    Still, Jones has cap hits of $16 million or more over each of the next three seasons if the Dolphins decide to move forward with him. 

Minnesota Vikings: QB Kirk Cousins

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    Contract: two years, $66 million

    Kirk Cousins ranks among the top 10 leaguewide in completion percentage and quarterback rating this season. However, he falls more toward the middle of the pack in passing yardage, touchdown passes and QBR. 

    Therein lies the problem. 

    The Minnesota Vikings are caught in limbo with a good-but-not-great quarterback, yet they're paying him like he's elite. Cousins' salary-cap charge this and next season are among the three highest in football. 

    The Vikings are currently 3-5, and they've gone 25-21-1 with Cousins' under center over the previous three seasons. Their overall performance doesn't fall entirely on the quarterback's shoulders, but they're paying for a top-tier signal-caller and he isn't living up to that deal.

    To make matters worse, the entirety of Cousins' $35 million base salary next season is guaranteed. And the Vikings are currently over the projected 2022 NFL salary cap. 

New England Patriots: TE Jonnu Smith

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    Contract: four years, $50 million

    Jonnu Smith is only nine games into his New England Patriots career. No one knows whether he'll eventually turn into the type of tight end whom they envisioned when signing him in free agency or if the contract is already a major misfire. 

    The truth likely falls somewhere between those two points. 

    The Patriots have invested wisely across their roster. Smith earns this spot almost by default since he hasn't produced as a No. 1 tight end despite being paid like one.

    His 193 receiving yards so far this season are tied for 26th among tight ends. Teammate Hunter Henry, who also signed with New England at the start of free agency, has more receptions, receiving yards and touchdown grabs.

    Both will be among the league's three highest-paid tight ends in 2022 and 2023. 

New Orleans Saints: WR Michael Thomas

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Contract: five years, $96.25 million

    Michael Thomas has been spectacular when healthy. But his health has been a contributing factor to potential discontent between the individual and the New Orleans Saints organization. 

    Thomas played through injuries in 2020 to complete one last run with quarterback Drew Brees. He and the team then didn't see eye-to-eye on how he handled his recovery and eventual decision to get ankle surgery.

    Thomas has since experienced a setback in his recovery, which will cost him the entirety of the 2021 campaign. 

    The Saints can get out of Thomas' contract by cutting or trading him after June 1. They'd eat a $8.9 million dead cap hit, but they'd save $15.8 million by doing so.

    The situation moving forward depends on how the two sides view one another. If the contentiousness has been settled, a healthy Thomas can help the Saints. If not, they might need to make a tough decision. 

New York Giants: OT Nate Solder

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    Contract: four years, $62 million

    The New York Giants almost immediately grew to regret signing offensive tackle Nate Solder to a record-setting contract prior to the 2018 season. 

    The organization overspent on a tackle who never even made a Pro Bowl before he entered free agency. His level of performance has since decreased every year he's been with the Giants.

    The 33-year-old made the transition from left to right tackle this year after opting out of the 2020 campaign amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. At $9.5 million this year, Solder is underperforming.

    His cap hit escalates to $18 million in 2022—the final year of his contract—though the Giants can save $14 million with his release. 

    Offensive linemen are hard to find. The Giants tried to invest in the position and overpaid as a result.

    Solder has never been a terrible player, but he certainly hasn't been worth what New York spent. 

New York Jets: LB C.J. Mosley

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Contract: five years, $85 million

    The sins of a past regime often fall on whomever takes over the organization. 

    In 2019, the New York Jets gave C.J. Mosley the league's most lucrative deal for an inside linebacker. Two years later, they have a different general manager, head coach and defensive coordinator.

    Mosely played in only two games during his first season before ending up on injured reserve with a groin issue that required surgery. He then opted out of the 2020 campaign amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

    He's starting again this fall, but he's putting together the worst season of his career. 

    Unless the Jets can somehow get another team to trade for Mosley, he's going to be on the squad next season with a guaranteed $16 million base salary.  

Philadelphia Eagles: OG Brandon Brooks

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    Contract: four years, $56.35 million

    When healthy, Philadelphia Eagles guard Brandon Brooks is outstanding. At points in his career, he's been counted among the league's best blockers.

    However, he hasn't been healthy for quite some time. 

    His 2019 campaign ended when he suffered a dislocated shoulder in Week 17. He missed entire the 2020 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in training camp. This year, he suffered a pectoral strain in Week 2 and is back on injured reserve, although the injury shouldn't be season-ending.

    Brooks still has three remaining years on his deal. All three seasons include a salary-cap charge of $18 million or more. 

    Availability is an important skill, and Brooks can't provide it. The Eagles can save $13.5 million by designating him a post-June 1 cut next offseason.

Pittsburgh Steelers: TE Eric Ebron

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    Contract: two years, $12 million

    The Pittsburgh Steelers tend to be thrifty spenders, unless they're investing in homegrown talent.

    T.J. Watt, Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward are the Steelers' highest-paid players. Ben Roethlisberger has also been handsomely compensated throughout his Hall of Fame career, though he took a significant pay reduction this past offseason to play one more season with the team. 

    However, the Steelers' investment in tight end Eric Ebron in free agency last year came as a surprise.

    During his first season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, Ebron looked like he'd finally realize his full potential. Instead, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft regressed the following season in Indianapolis and hasn't played any better with the Steelers. 

    Rookie Pat Freiermuth is Pittsburgh's best tight end, while Ebron has a salary-cap hit of $4.6 million this year. He also has four void years beyond this season.

San Francisco 49ers: DE Dee Ford

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    Contract: five years, $85.5 million

    How well has the acquisition of Dee Ford worked for the San Francisco 49ers?

    A year sending a second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for Ford, Niners general manager John Lynch looked to trade the defensive end in hopes of cleaning up the team's salary-cap issues, per former NFL front office executive Michael Lombardi

    The largest parts of Ford's deal have already been paid out. But the edge-defender still carries a salary-cap hit of $11.9 million in 2022, although the Niners can save $7 million by designating him a post-June 1 release, according to Over the Cap.

    Ford hasn't come anywhere close to living up to his huge contract. He has 9.5 sacks in three seasons. He missed all but one game in 2020 with neck and back injuries.

    When he's on the field, he's a rotational piece behind Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. 

Seattle Seahawks: DE L.J. Collier

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    Contract: four years, $10.8 million

    Defensive lineman L.J. Collier can't help the fact that the Seattle Seahawks spent a first-round pick on him in the 2019 draft. But he's still carrying a first-round contract. 

    For the most part, the Seahawks' highest-paid players contribute and improve the squad. Collier can't count himself among that group yet.

    Collier entered the NFL as a base end who lacked twitch but could reduce inside and rush the passer over guards. He hasn't been nearly as effective in the NFL, as he has only three sacks in 29 games played.

    Unless something drastically changes over the second half of the season, the Seahawks aren't likely to pick up the fifth-year option on Collier's rookie contract.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE Cameron Brate

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    Contract: six years, $40.8 million

    Tight end Cameron Brate has always been in a weird spot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

    The Harvard product clearly outperformed expectations as an undrafted free agent, which warranted a substantial contract extension prior to the 2018 campaign. The Buccaneers gave him that deal despite spending a first-round pick on O.J. Howard during the 2017 NFL draft. 

    Last offseason, Tampa Bay only further cluttered its tight end room. It signed Tom Brady and brought his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, along for the ride. 

    Regardless, Brate has found a way to contribute. He's played more snaps this season than Howard and Gronkowski. But the 30-year-old has only 13 receptions.

    The potential issues start next offseason when Brate's salary-cap charge jumps up to $7.3 million. He's an ideal candidate to be cut since the team can save $5.4 million by doing so. 

Tennessee Titans: OLB Bud Dupree

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    Contract: five years, $82.5 million

    The Tennessee Titans' defensive front can now take control of games with multiple defenders taking turns to disrupt opposing offenses. 

    However, Bud Dupree can't be counted among those players yet. His transition from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Titans defense hasn't gone smoothly. 

    Jeffrey Simmons, Denico Autry and Harold Landry III are potential game-wreckers, but Dupree has struggled so far. Considering how much the Titans invested in him because of a perceived need at the position, the early returns are a major disappointment. 

    Granted, Dupree has dealt with a knee injury, and his comfort level should increase as the weeks progress. But the idea of him being a disappointment with a $5.1 million salary-cap charge this season will only be exacerbated when he's in the $19-20 million range over the next three seasons. 

Washington Football Team: S Landon Collins

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    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    Contract: six years, $84 million

    If someone was to ask who the NFL's highest-paid safety is, the trio of Jamal Adams, Kevin Byard and Justin Simmons would all be good guesses. 

    But Landon Collins of the Washington Football Team is the correct answer (and by a wide margin). 

    Collins was a three-time Pro Bowl selection before he signed with Washington in 2019. He hasn't been to one since.

    He played well during his first season with Washington and led the squad with 117 tackles. However, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon last year, and he's now a part of one of the game's most disappointing units. 

    The 27-year-old has always been a better box safety, but he's a downright liability as part of the league's 32nd-ranked pass defense. Amazingly, Collins still has salary-cap hits of $15 million or more over the next three seasons, though none of those seasons are guaranteed beyond his prorated signing bonus.