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 over-paid 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.