While we firmly believe that the players in the National Football League (as a whole) are underpaid, there are also instances where they stick it to their respective franchises, fiscally speaking. Sometimes teams pay a premium for player with immense potential; sometimes they pay a hefty price for an aging star; and sometimes they just flat-out do a terrible job of structuring contracts. The reasoning behind each situation differs, but the following 11 players have the worst contracts in the NFL today.
1. Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Total contract value: Six years, $125 million (including extension)
2016 salary cap hit: $22.55 million
Back in 2012, Joe Flacco bet on himself and won big. Going into that season, the Ravens made a modest long-term contract extension offer to the former Delaware quarterback, which Flacco decided to turn down. He went on to have a mediocre regular season, but thanks in large part to a dominating defense, the Ravens were able to win the AFC North with a 10-6 overall record. Once the postseason began, Flacco stole the show. He went on an absolute tear throughout the playoffs, playing the best football of his career, and ultimately led the Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. The Ravens have been paying for it — literally — ever since.
Flacco was three years into the six-year, $120.6 million deal he landed following his Super Bowl triumph when he signed his three-year, $66.4 million contract extension this offseason. Now, he essentially has a new six-year, $125 million deal that will keep him in Baltimore through the 2021 season. To be brutally honest, the Ravens got the short end of the stick with this contract.
Outside of his outstanding play during the 2012 postseason, Flacco has been an average quarterback at best during his eight-year NFL career. The Ravens are going to quickly figure out (if they haven’t already) that having an average quarterback eat up this much salary cap space is bad for business.
2. Brock Osweiler, QB, Cleveland Browns
Total contract value: Four years, $72 million
2016 salary cap hit: $12 million
The Texans made it abundantly clear exactly how desperate they were for help at the quarterback position when they signed Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract during free agency this offseason. It shocked us to see a player with such a small amount of NFL game experience (Osweiler has seven career starts) and success (he was above-average at best during his time as a starter) land such a lucrative contract.
We were even more flabbergasted when we learned that Osweiler signed this deal without even meeting Houston head coach Bill O’Brien. As a result of their offseason spending spree, the Texans are now in a tough salary cap situation for the foreseeable future, which isn’t a good thing considering that All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is due for a major pay raise for the foreseeable future.
If Osweiler doesn’t perform up to the expectations that come with this type of contract (as we expect), the Texans will struggle to be anything more than an average football team.
3. Jairus Byrd, S, New Orleans Saints
Total contract value: Six years, $54 million
2016 salary cap hit: $10.9 million
New Orleans spent big money on Jairus Byrd during free agency in 2014, and the former Oregon Duck has yet to have the type of impact the Saints hoped for when they gave him a six-year, $54 million contract. In fact, the 29-year-old safety has only made 16 starts and recorded just one interception in his two seasons with the Saints. Byrd is reportedly healthy and looking good heading into the 2016 season, but he will have to play at a Pro Bowl level for us not to consider his current contract a bad deal.
4. Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Total contract value: Six years, $114 million
2016 salary cap hit: $15,890,753
If the 49ers were getting the 2012 and 2013 versions of Colin Kaepernick, this would be a good deal. When they are getting a below-average quarterback who has shoulder issues that have prevented him from throwing at all during training camp practices, this is a terrible deal.
The Niners are on the hook for all of Kaepernick’s 2016 salary ($11.9 million), and it would be unrealistic for them to release the 28-year-old signal caller given that they would incur a $19,297,260 dead money salary cap hit for doing so. On a positive note, the 49ers can get out of this awful deal following the 2016 season and only take on a dead money hit of $4,931,507 if they release Kaepernick prior to April 1, 2017.
5. Eric Fisher, OT, Kansas City Chiefs
Total contract value: Four years, $48 million
2016 salary cap hit: $7,060,613
The Chiefs used the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and up to this point, the former Central Michigan offensive tackle has been a bit of a disappointment. With that being said, the Chiefs must firmly believe that Eric Fisher’s best days are ahead of him, as his shortcomings weren’t enough to keep the Chiefs from signing the 25-year-old to a four-year, $48 million contract extension this offseason.
6. Byron Maxwell, CB, Miami Dolphins
Total contract value: Six years, $63 million
2016 salary cap hit: $8.5 million
The Philadelphia Eagles are partly to blame for this ugly contract, as they chose to shell out big money for Byron Maxwell during the 2015 offseason. Somehow the Eagles were fortunate enough to find a suitor — the Dolphins – that was willing to take this contract off of their hands this offseason. What the Dolphins, who have salary cap issues to deal with, now have is a player who graded out as the 41st best cornerback in the league last year according to Pro Football Focus; one who they cannot realistically release for another two seasons.
7. Lawrence Timmons, LB, Miami Dolphins
Total contract value: Two years, $12 million
2017 salary cap hit: $3,775,000
At this point in his career, Lawrence Timmons’ play simply does not justify this type of contract. He is an outstanding leader, and his presence can undoubtedly be felt in the locker room. But in the end, we just can’t figure out why the Dolphins chose to guarantee $11 million to a situational player.
8. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Miami Dolphins
Total contract value: Six years, $114.375 million
2016 salary cap hit: $12.6 million
Simply put, Ndamukong Suh will have to consistently play at an All-Pro level over the next five seasons to even come close to justifying the contract the Dolphins signed him to during the 2015 offseason. This deal is the type that will need restructuring multiple times (it has already been reworked once) to ensure that the Dolphins have enough salary cap space to build a competitive team around their high-priced defensive tackle.
9. Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Total contract value: Two years, $36 million
2016 salary cap hit: $12.5 million
This contract is a complete head-scratcher. Not only has Sam Bradford had issues staying healthy, but he has also been incredibly average during his entire NFL career. While we understand the Vikings needing to keep Bradford in the mix until they can get a solid answer on the future of Teddy Bridgewater, we cannot comprehend the thought price they paid the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner. Now they are stuck with his contract.
10. Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns
Total contract value: Five years, $67.5 million
2016 salary cap hit: $13.4 million
At one point in time, it looked liked Joe Haden was well on his way to becoming one of the premier cornerbacks in the National Football League. Instead, his play has steadily declined (partially due to injuries) since the 2013 season. Coincidentally, Haden landed his current contract during the next offseason. If his current downward trend continues, this contract is only going to look worse and worse, which is the last thing the Browns organization needs as they embark on a major rebuilding project.
11. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets
Total Contract Value: Five years, $70,121,060
2016 salary cap hit: $17 million
The Jets paid a premium for Darrelle Revis when they signed him as a free agent last offseason, and to be blunt, they didn’t get a good return on their investment. At 31 years old, Revis just isn’t the same player he was early in his career, but the Jets are stuck paying him as if he was. Expect this deal to be restructured next offseason.