Each NFL team’s worst contract

NFL contracts are often a hot-button issue. People love to debate who’s making too much, too little, who deserves more and who is overpaid. Some athletes outplay their deals, while others cash in and fail to deliver. Teams obviously try hard to avoid the latter situation, but sometimes things don’t work out as hoped.

With all of that in mind, here’s a look at the worst contract on every NFL team.

Arizona Cardinals – Jermaine Gresham, tight end

The Cardinals put an emphasis on re-signing tight end Jermaine Gresham and as a result, may have drastically overpaid for him. He hasn’t had over 460 yards receiving since 2012, has seen his catch rate hover around 60% in each of the previous two seasons and hasn’t scored more than two touchdowns since 2014. Those are mediocre numbers at best for a player signed to a four-year, $ 28 million contract with $ 16.5 million guaranteed.

Atlanta Falcons – Brooks Reed, defensive end

Brooks Reed is not exactly a bad player — he’s a high-motor guy who plays a very defined role. Of course, when the Falcons signed him to a five-year, $ 22 million deal in 2015 they expected much more. Instead, what they’ve gotten for $ 9 million guaranteed is 42 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in 28 games.

Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco, quarterback

When the Ravens signed Joe Flacco to a monstrous $ 120.6 million deal in 2013, many foresaw potential issues looming. However, at the time, Flacco was coming off of a magical postseason run that culminated with a Super Bowl XLVII victory. He had earned his money. But in 2016, facing a massive cap number, Baltimore was forced to extend Flacco with a three-year, $ 66.4 million deal. Now under contract through 2021, Flacco has cap hits above $ 24 million beginning next year and throughout the remainder of his deal, large dead cap numbers that render him uncuttable and guarantees that make him untradeable. Arguably, it’s the worst contract in the NFL.

Buffalo Bills – Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle

As talented as Marcell Dareus is, he’s likely a consensus pick on a list like this. The Bills signed the nose tackle to a six-year, $ 96.6 million deal in 2015 that included a $ 25 million signing bonus, $ 60 million guaranteed and more front-loaded money than Miami’s Ndamukong Suh. Since signing the extension, Dareus has recorded 5.5 sacks and got himself suspended four games to start the 2016 regular season. He appeared in only eight games last season and hasn’t played a full 16 game schedule since 2013.

Carolina Panthers – Matt Kalil, offensive tackle

2017 was the year of massive contracts for marginal offensive line talent, and the five-year, $ 55 million deal with $ 31 million guaranteed given to Matt Kalil is a prime example of that. Even with the Year 3 team option, Kalil will cost Carolina a good chunk of change over the first two seasons. And unless the veteran takes a major leap in 2017, his expense will outweigh his performance.

Chicago Bears – Mike Glennon, quarterback

When the Bears signed Mike Glennon to a three-year, $ 45 million contract with $ 18.5 million guaranteed, jaws hit the floor. It was widely considered the worst free agent contract handed out and that perception hasn’t changed much as we near the start of the regular season. It was a move out of desperation for Chicago and one that will cost them for three years, even if they pull the plug after 2017.

Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback

The Bengals invested a tremendous amount in Dre Kirkpatrick, making him their first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Then, upon expiration of his rookie contract, Cincinnati signed him to a five-year, $ 52.5 million deal with a $ 7 million singing bonus and $ 12 million guaranteed. And while those numbers aren’t obscene for a top-end cornerback, Kirkpatrick recorded only three interceptions last season (nine in his career) and finished outside the top 50 at his position courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Cleveland Browns – Brock Osweiler, quarterback

Was there any doubt who would be listed here? The Browns knew how bad Osweiler’s four-year, $ 72 million contract was when they took it from the Houston Texans as part of a deal that also netted them a second-round pick. Initial expectations were that Cleveland would simply turn around and dump Osweiler, absorbing the massive cap hit, but that hasn’t come to fruition . . . yet. Osweiler was given a chance to compete for the starting job, but has fallen behind rookie DeShone Kizer, who doesn’t have anywhere near the $ 37 million in guarantees that Osweiler has.

Dallas Cowboys – Tyrone Crawford, defensive tackle

When the Cowboys signed Tyrone Crawford to a five-year, $ 45 million deal with $ 24.7 million guaranteed in 2015, it was done with the expectation that he’d continue to progress and become one of the elite interior linemen in the league. That has not materialized, and while Dallas has tinkered with his contract a bit, his cap hits ranging from $ 9 million to $ 10.3 million over the next few seasons loom large.

Denver Broncos – Menelik Watson, offensive tackle

Menelik Watson is another example of a marginal offensive line talent getting paid beyond their production. He’s started just 17 games and appeared in only 27 over his first four NFL seasons. A season ago, he took fewer than 24% of the Raiders’ offensive snaps and is now the 10th-highest paid right tackle in the league after signing a three-year, $ 18.4 million deal with $ 5.5 million guaranteed.

Detroit Lions – Marvin Jones, wide receiver

The Lions signed Marvin Jones to a five-year, $ 40 million contract with $ 20 million guaranteed this offseason, which would be a solid deal if it’s the same receiver who compiled a league-leading 408 yards through three games last season. On the other side of the coin, it’s not a good deal if it’s for the receiver who had only 522 yards in the final 13 games of last season.

Green Bay Packers – Randall Cobb, wide receiver

The Packers signed Randall Cobb to a four-year, $ 40 million deal with $ 13 million guaranteed after his 1,200-yard season in 2014. At the time, that seemed like a bargain. Unfortunately, injuries have limited Cobb in each of the previous two seasons and his production has decreased consistently. Now Green Bay is on the hook for over $ 12.6 million in each of the next two seasons.

Houston Texans – Brian Cushing, linebacker

Once upon a time, Brian Cushing was a healthy, dominant linebacker worthy of a six-year, $ 52.5 million deal with $ 21 million guaranteed and a $ 9 million signing bonus. Then he wasn’t. Not because his skill deteriorated, but because his health did. He’s appeared in 16 games only once over the previous five seasons and has lost an obvious step despite his high football IQ. His cap hits are just shy of $ 10 million over the next four seasons, and that’s a lot of money for a player on the wrong side of 30 and with knee issues.

Indianapolis Colts – Jabaal Sheard, linebacker

There aren’t many questionable contracts on the Colts’ roster, so Jabaal Sheard’s three-year, $ 25.5 million deal may be a bit of a reach. Still, with a cap hit of nearly $ 10 million in 2017, he’ll need to produce career highs in order to make the investment fruitful. If he doesn’t, the Colts can cut and run in 2018 with little consequence.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Allen Hurns, wide receiver

When the Jaguars signed Allen Hurns to a four-year, $ 40.7 million contract with $ 20 million guaranteed, he was coming off of a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season and looked to be their receiver of the future. In 2016, Hurns took a major step back, hauling in only 35 receptions for 477 yards, three touchdowns and a catch rate below 47%. Now in 2017, Hurns must return to his big-money form or face an uncertain future in Jacksonville.

Kansas City Chiefs – Justin Houston, linebacker

Sometimes bad contracts are nothing more than bad luck. Such has been the case in Kansas City with Justin Houston, who deservedly landed a six-year, $ 101 million deal in 2015. He had recorded 22 sacks the year prior, nearly breaking the NFL’s all-time record, and was considered among the elite at his position. Since then however, Houston has been riddled with injury, appearing in just 16 games and recording only 11.5 sacks. That’s a steep falloff for a player with a cap hit over $ 22 million.

Los Angeles Chargers – Russell Okung, offensive tackle

A year removed from grading out as the league’s 38th offensive tackle courtesy of Pro Football Focus, Russell Okung landed the largest contract at his position based on an average annual salary. Perhaps the Chargers are expecting Okung to turn back the clock to his former, better self, but if not, the four-year, $ 53 million deal with $ 25 million guaranteed could haunt them for quite some time.

Los Angeles Rams – Tavon Austin, wide receiver

Tavon Austin never materialized after being selected No. 8 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, but despite that, the Rams signed him to a four-year, $ 42 million extension with $ 28.5 million guaranteed anyway. He rewarded them with a career-high 509 yards in 2016, but his catch rate dropped to less than 55%. Those are not exactly the numbers you want out of a receiver who’s slated to count for nearly $ 15 million against the cap this season.

Miami Dolphins – Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle

Safety Reshad Jones could have arguably gone here, but the perception of his deal could change this coming season. That’s not likely to be the case for Ndamukong Suh, who deserved a substantial chunk of change, but had signed a six-year, $ 114.4 million contract in 2015. Was he in his prime? Yes. Has he played well in Miami? Yes. But despite all of that, Suh is still earning 80.4 percent over the baseline at this position league-wide.

Minnesota Vikings – Riley Reiff, offensive tackle

Surprised to see another marginal offensive lineman on this list? You shouldn’t be. Despite ranking 48th among all offensive tackles last season (via Pro Football Focus), Riley Reiff landed a five-year, $ 58.8 million deal with $ 26.3 million guaranteed from the Vikings this offseason. That was just the nature of the market this year, but it could prove costly for Minnesota (and others) moving forward.

New England Patriots – Stephon Gilmore, cornerback

Stephon Gilmore is one of the best up-and-coming cornerbacks in the league and he represented a legitimate need for the Patriots. He’s expected to play well in 2017, but that doesn’t necessarily mean New England signed him to a team-friendly deal. They rarely make a big-money splash, but that’s exactly what they did with Gilmore. His five-year, $ 65 million deal with $ 40 million guaranteed and an $ 18 million signing bonus is even richer than it seems. It’s the most guaranteed money the Patriots have ever given a player and the largest signing bonus for any active cornerback in the NFL. That’s a lot to live up to.

New Orleans Saints – Coby Fleener, tight end

Coby Fleener put up some decent numbers in Indianapolis, but when he signed a five-year, $ 36 million with the Saints, expectations were high. After all, with Drew Brees at the helm and talented receivers around him, Fleener should have set some career marks. That didn’t happen and he finished the 2016 season with just 50 receptions for 631 yards and three touchdowns. With his cap hits now rising, Fleener has to produce much more to warrant his substantial salary.

New York Giants – Rhett Ellison, tight end

The Giants have a number of large and questionable contracts, but signing tight end Rhett Ellison to a four-year, $ 18 million deal with $ 8 million guaranteed at the start of free agency more than raised a few eyebrows. Ellison had never come close to that sort of deal in the past and was primarily used as a blocking tight end in Minnesota. The deal seemed even more strange when New York spent their first-round pick on tight end Evan Engram, who is poised to be their No. 1 going into the season. Needless to say, it’s a rather large deal for a reserve tight end who serves a very specific and limited role.

New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive end

When the Jets signed Muhammad Wilkerson to a five-year, $ 86 million deal with a $ 15 million signing bonus and $ 53.5 million guaranteed, it didn’t seem as unreasonable as other NFL contracts. When the bottom fell out and he produced only 4.5 sacks in 15 games last season, that perception changed. Given the defensive line market in the NFL, another 12-sack season could alter the tone for Gang Green and Wilkerson yet again in 2017, but should he continue to struggle, the deal will only continue to look worse.

Oakland Raiders – Sean Smith, cornerback

The Raiders were in desperate need of help in their secondary a year ago, so they went out and signed former Chief Sean Smith, who was coming off of an impressive season. That did not translate however, and Smith found himself burned repeatedly early on in 2016. Although he recovered to some degree as the season wore on, he never returned to 2015 form, which Oakland had paid $ 38 million for. If things don’t change in 2017, Smith could be cut loose.

Philadelphia Eagles – Vinny Curry, defensive end

Potential sometimes leads general managers to gamble, and that’s exactly what happened when Eagles GM Howie Roseman signed Vinny Curry to a five-year, $ 47.3 million extension with $ 23 million guaranteed. Curry’s cap hit will be $ 9 million in 2017 and bloat to $ 12.25 million in 2020, although the Eagles have more flexibility in the later years. Since signing the mega deal, Curry has tallied just 38 tackles and six sacks in 32 games.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Maurkice Pouncey, center

The Steelers have a number of bad contracts, so it’s shooting fish in a barrel when choosing which is the worst. And at first glance, Maurkice Pouncey’s five-year, $ 44.13 million deal doesn’t seem that bad. Even the $ 13 million signing bonus and $ 13 million in guarantees aren’t that bad, but considering Pouncey missed the 2015 season and didn’t light the world on fire in 2016, his cap hits are becoming a bit more concerning.

San Francisco 49ers – Vance McDonald, tight end

In four seasons, former second-round pick Vance McDonald has hauled in 64 receptions for 844 yards and seven touchdowns. Apparently the 49ers decided to pay him as if those were compiled during a single season, signing him to a three-year, $ 19.7 million contract with $ 9.1 million guaranteed last year. San Francisco clearly sees some upside with McDonald, but the contract handed out is far more about what could be than what has been.

Seattle Seahawks – Luke Joeckel, guard

The Seahawks have almost no bad contracts on the books, so choosing anyone is nit-picky. But if one deal had to be highlighted, it’s the one-year, $ 8 million contract handed out to Luke Joeckel this offseason. Seattle typically doesn’t invest big money into their offensive line let alone over-pay, so after Joeckel struggled at both guard and tackle in Jacksonville, giving him $ 7 million guaranteed raised some eyebrows.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Robert Ayers, defensive end

After two solid seasons with the Giants and a career-best 9.5 sacks in 2015, Robert Ayers Jr. was a solid second-tier defensive end option in free agency a season ago. The Buccaneers pounced, signing him to a three-year, $ 19.5 million deal with $ 10.5 million guaranteed. And while those numbers aren’t bad, Ayers appeared in only 12 games and recorded just 6.5 sacks a season ago. He also struggled against the run, which highlights his $ 6.25 million cap hit in 2017.

Tennessee Titans – Logan Ryan, cornerback

The Titans released Jason McCourty and then signed Logan Ryan, a near-carbon copy, to replace him. And while Ryan recorded 92 tackles a season ago, which was the most by a cornerback in the NFL, that was a product of him giving up too many passes. Ryan has potential, but three years and $ 30 million ($ 16 million guaranteed) is a bit of a gamble.

Washington Redskins – DeAngelo Hall, defensive back

Signing veteran DeAngelo Hall to a four-year, $ 17 million deal with $ 5.65 million guaranteed prior to the 2014 season didn’t seem bad at all. But hindsight is 20/20 and few could have foreseen Hall’s fall from grace. He’s been forced to switch from cornerback to safety, and has appeared in only 17 games over the last three seasons as he’s battled multiple injuries. He’s also slated to open the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Yardbarker: NFL

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