NFL contracts are often a hot-button issue. People love to debate who is making too much, too little, who deserves more and who is overpaid. Some athletes outperform 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 is a look at the five worst contracts in the NFL.
Some are not going to like the inclusion of Jared Goff on this list, but at four years and $134 million, with $110 million guaranteed, he is the ninth-highest paid QB in the NFL (average annual salary). That’s a lot of coin for a guy who isn’t a top-10 quarterback. Sure, there is some value to Goff — he completes passes at a high percentage and will put up the yards — but there’s a reason he got shipped off to Detroit. Maybe the fresh start will serve Goff well. But if his inconsistency issues, lack of an internal clock and ability to make decision when things break down don’t improve, the acquisition will be a losing gamble for the Lions. Luckily for the Lions, they’ll have an “out” in 2022 if they desire to move on.
Whitney Mercilus was a first-round pick of the Texans during the 2012 NFL Draft and has never taken a single snap for another team. Mercilus still being with the same team is impressive. His four-year, $54 million deal with $28.5 million guaranteed on the other hand? That deal is not so impressive. While it’s admirable that Houston has opted to keep Mercilus around, he has hardly warranted being paid like a top-10 edge rusher. The 31-year-old has recorded just 11.5 sacks over 29 games since signing his massive deal. His career-high of 12.0 sacks (2015) seems like a distant memory. He also recorded a career-low PFF grade of 39.5 a season ago, which shows how far he has fallen. Mercilus agreed to restructure his contract in March and has a $7 million dead cap figure for next year.
After appearing to revitalize his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, the Bears were quick to sign Quinn last offseason to a five-year, $70 million deal including $30 million guaranteed. They also gave him a $30 million signing bonus, costing the team a total of $18.6 in cash assets the first year. What did they get for their hefty investment? 20 tackles and a career-low 2.0 sacks in 15 games. The 31-year-old Quinn, who also earned poor PFF grades, still has some time to turn things back around. But at least for now, it looks like a costly and potentially losing gamble by the Bears.
Collins is a solid box defender and good locker-room leader, but he’s not among the league’s best all-around talents at safety. That’s why the New York Giants were content with letting him go. Washington, of course, saw things differently and signed him to a six-year, $84 million contract with $12.5 million in guarantees back in 2019. Everyone knew at the time that contract would not age well. Two years later, here we are. Now, Collins is coming off a serious Achilles injury. In his absence last year, Washington’s secondary didn’t miss a beat. Looking ahead to 2022, Collins’ dead cap hit drops significantly. It’s possible (if not likely) that the WFT decide to part ways with the 27-year-old.
1. Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Investing in players with an injury history is always risky business. Investing in players with an injury history who have also played at very inconsistent levels is even riskier business. But that’s exactly what the Eagles did in 2019 when they signed Wentz to a four-year, $128 million deal with $108 million guaranteed. The Colts acquired Wentz despite his contract. Their immediate return? An injured Wentz.
The good news is that Wentz is set to play in Week 1. But that might just be the tip of the iceberg for him. He has appeared in more than 13 games just twice in his career, and his 2017 performance now looks like a fluke.