Reviewing the NFL's Best, Worst Contracts so Far This Season

Alessandro Miglio@@AlexMiglioFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2013

Reviewing the NFL's Best, Worst Contracts so Far This Season

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Championships are rarely won in March. When was the last time an NFL team won free agency and followed that up with a Super Bowl appearance?

    Still, some signings certainly work out better than others. Sure, we can dissect every move after it happens, but the real test comes on the field.

    With over half of the 2013 season already gone, what have we learned about some of the contracts signed this offseason? Click through to find out.

     

    Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference and Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Best: Daryl Smith, LB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Contract: One year, $1.125 million

    Baltimore's defense was supposed to be toast without Ray Lewis. It has certainly not been dominant, but Daryl Smith has helped prevent a precipitous fall from the elite.

    Smith doesn't have the flash or the dance moves, but he is the seventh-rated inside linebacker over at Pro Football Focus (PFF). Lewis wound up 33rd in his final season.

Worst: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Contract: Six years, $120.6 million

    Joe Flacco's contract is rapidly becoming an albatross, though that's not entirely surprising given his history. General manager Ozzie Newsome was in a bind after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, as Flacco's torrid postseason left him with all of the leverage to force a big deal.

    Flacco has rewarded the skeptics more than the Ravens thus far with his mediocre play. He has already thrown three more interceptions than all of last season—including a few that have gone back for touchdowns—and led his team to a 4-6 record.

    The team's malaise is not entirely on Flacco to be sure, but he has not lived up to his massive contract.

Best: Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Contract: Four years, $16 million

    It wasn't terribly expensive to sign Reggie Bush, but Detroit may have been the perfect landing spot for the talented running back.

    After a slow start in New Orleans and a decent tenure in Miami, Bush has finally found his groove in Motown. He just needs to keep the record from skipping.

    Bush is already over 1,000 total yards, and he has added four touchdowns thus far. Bush has fallen off a bit in recent weeks, but he has become a valuable alternative to Calvin Johnson in that dangerous offense.

Worst: Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Contract: Three years, $12 million

    At the time, Steven Jackson's deal with the Falcons seemed like a great match.

    He was on the downswing of his career, and the Falcons were primed to make another postseason run, perhaps this time landing in the Super Bowl after years of frustration.

    Things fell apart in Atlanta rather quickly, however, and the Falcons are staring at a top-five pick in next year's draft.

    Jackson has not been able to get anything going this season. He suffered an injury early that kept him out far longer than initially expected, and he has looked well past ripe when he has managed to get on the field.

    In truth, Jackson's season was only a small part of Atlanta's decline, but the deal looks terrible in hindsight. It is even more egregious from that perspective when looking at Jacquizz Rodgers and everything he has been able to do in Jackson's stead.

Best: Elvis Dumervil, DL, Baltimore Ravens

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    Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    Contract: Five years, $26 million

    "Faxgate" turned out to be a pretty good deal for the Ravens.

    In case you need a refresher, Elvis Dumervil was set to take a pay cut with the Broncos this offseason. Unfortunately for Denver, he decided close to the deadline, and the Broncos failed to receive his signed paperwork via fax in time. 

    At any rate, Dumervil moved on rather quickly, becoming another great defensive move by the Ravens. He is currently ranked as the third-best 3-4 outside linebacker over at PFF.

    He has more than compensated for the loss of Paul Kruger, helping keep that defense from falling off a cliff.

Worst: Brandon Myers, TE, New York Giants

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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

    Contract: Four years, $14.25 million

    The poster boy for cashing in on one year of production would be Brandon Myers.

    New York's disappointing tight end had a great 2012 season thanks to some huge deficits offensively in Oakland. The Giants scooped him up in free agency, hoping he could replace the departed Martellus Bennett.

    That has not been the case thus far.

    Myers has caught just 26 passes for 297 yards and one touchdown. He hasn't been as bad as, say, Marcedes Lewis after he signed his big deal in 2011, but the Giants aren't getting much production out of the tight end position.

    The good thing for the Giants is that the final three years of his deal aren't guaranteed, so they can cut bait at any time after 2013.

Best: Brent Grimes, CB, Miami Dolphins

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Contract: One year, $5.5 million

    With all of the drama surrounding the Dolphins this season, it would be remiss not to mention the outstanding Brent Grimes signing.

    Miami traded away Vontae Davis last year, then let Sean Smith walk at market value this offseason. Grimes was picked up in free agency with the hope he would become one of the starters, but he was coming off an Achilles injury.

    The gamble has paid off in a big way for the Dolphins, who have gotten playmaking ability at the position like they haven't seen since Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison teamed up in the defensive backfield.

Worst: Dunta Robinson, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

    Contract: Three years, $13.8 million

    The Chiefs have an excellent defense, one that has buoyed the team to a 9-1 record and a share of the AFC West lead. Dunta Robinson has not been a part of that success.

    Well, not for the most part. The 31-year-old signed on to be the third cornerback behind Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith, but he was benched in favor of rookie Marcus Cooper.

    That is a lot of cheddar being spent on a cornerback who doesn't see the field much.

Best: Darrelle Revis, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Contract: Six years, $96 million

    It's tough to call Darrelle Revis' massive contract a good one under most conditions, but there are a couple of reasons it qualifies.

    First, the entirety of the contract is non-guaranteed. That means the Buccaneers can cut ties with Revis at any time without future repercussions.

    The thing is, Revis is working out just fine. Sure, he got off to a bit of a slow start in Tampa Bay because he had to play zone due to a still-recovering knee. He has gotten stronger as the season has gone along, allowing him to play more man coverage, which caters to his skills.

    Revis appears to have recovered from his devastating knee injury just fine. He has regained the top rating over at PFF, where he reigned supreme before he was knocked out of action last year.

Worst: Tyson Clabo, OT, Miami Dolphins

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Contract: One year, $3.5 million

    Usually a cheap one-year deal wouldn't qualify as one of the worst in the league, but Tyson Clabo's ineptitude on the right side of Miami's offensive line merits mention.

    Clabo has been a big part of the reason quarterback Ryan Tannehill has hit the ground so much, allowing a league-leading 10 sacks on the year and earning a well-deserved benching before the Jonathan Martin scandal forced him back into the lineup.

Best: Shaun Phillips, DE, Denver Broncos

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Contract: One year, $1 million with incentives

    The Broncos were in a pickle after "Faxgate," having lost an excellent defensive lineman in Elvis Dumervil. They replaced him with Shaun Phillips, who came over from the rival Chargers.

    He has filled Dumervil's shoes nicely.

    Per PFF, Phillips is the 10th-best 4-3 defensive end in the league. That is quite the turnaround from last year, when he was rated the second-worst 3-4 outside linebacker in the league. Maybe the change in scheme is what he needed.

Worst: Anthony Spencer, DE, Dallas Cowboys

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Contract: One year, $10.627 million (franchise tag)

    Normally a franchise tag isn't a terrible deal, even if that player doesn't pan out. 

    Considering where the market wound up going at defensive end—combined with the fact he was being asked to change positions in a new defensive scheme, and he was eventually put on injured reserve— Anthony Spencer's deal looks atrocious in hindsight.

    Cliff Avril signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Seahawks. Michael Bennett—one of PFF's favorites at the position last year—signed a one-year deal with Seattle as well, for less than half of Spencer's cost.

Best: Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Contract: Two years, $12 million

    From one future Hall of Fame quarterback to another. What a tough career for Wes Welker.

    Much was made of Welker spurning the Patriots after his former employer gave him a take-it-or-leave-it deal, but it seems like the veteran receiver has had the last laugh. 

    Welker is currently sitting at 61 receptions for 648 yards and nine touchdowns. Danny Amendola—Welker's $28.5 million replacement—has just 29 receptions for 341 yards and one touchdown, though he has played four fewer games due to injury.

    Denver's offense has been all but unstoppable this season, and the addition of Welker is a big reason why.

Worst: Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins

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    Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    Contract: Five years, $60 million

    Of course, the worst contract of the offseason must belong to Mike Wallace.

    General manager Jeff Ireland needed to make a splash in free agency. Miami's attendance has lagged in recent years thanks to a decade of mediocrity, and Ireland was pressed to do something with the mountain of cap space he had for this season.

    Mike Wallace was available, and Ireland swooped in with a wad of cash.

    There were questions about whether Wallace was really worth a $60 million contract well before the ink was dry on the paperwork. Wallace has never been a true No. 1 receiver, and his play had declined in his last years with Pittsburgh.

    He has proven his skeptics right thus far, amassing just 534 yards and one touchdown through 10 games. He also has nine dropped passes on the year, tied for second-most in the league.