Now some 64 hours into the 2014 NFL Free Agent Season and the chaos has certainly lived up to the hype. From blockbuster releases, to record-setting signings, followed by failed physicals, and even the lost art of trading, there’s no question that nearly all NFL teams still see free agency as the integral method for building their roster. We’ll cut into the mess and break down the biggest (or most impressive) contract at each position thus far.
Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
McCown signed a 2 year $10 million deal with the Bucs after a note-worthy 2013 season in Chicago filling in for the oft-injured Jay Cutler. Like most Tampa Bay contracts, his deal contains no up-front bonuses, rather base salaries of $4.75M and $5.25M respectively. He can earn $1M more per year based on his games started, and another $3M if he takes the Bucs to the playoffs. McCown’s $5M per year average salary ranks 22nd among active quarterbacks.
Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers
Brown’s 3 year $10.5M deal with the Chargers is nearly $1.5M more per year than the rookie contract he just completed in Indianapolis. With both Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead entering contract years, this deal is built to make Brown the short-term future in San Diego. His $3.5M average salary ranks 18th among active running backs.
Eric Decker, New York Jets
Decker reels in $36.25M over 5 years with the Jets – 41% of which is fully guaranteed (all in the first two seasons). This is a win-win deal for both sides, as it upgrades the Jets immediately, pays Decker immediately, and gives both a chance to part ways after the 2015 season should the need be there. Decker’s $7.25M average salary ranks 16th among active wide receivers.
Garret Graham, Houston Texans
Once Houston parted ways with long-time TE Owen Daniels, the writing was on the wall for a new deal with Graham. The result was a 3 year $11.25M contract with $4.5M guaranteed, making him the 18th highest average paid tight end to date. This is a low-risk signing for Houston, who have plenty of more holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball.
Branden Albert, Miami Dolphins
The long-time Chief leveraged a 2013 franchise tender into the 3rd largest free agent contract of the season thus far, signing a 5 year $47 million deal in Miami. Albert earns $20 million guaranteed, all in the next two seasons, with another $6 million possible in 2016. He’ll be an immediate upgrade to the offensive line, and at 29 years old should maintain above average play through most of this deal. His $9.4M average salary ranks 7th among NFL tackles.
Demarcus Ware, Denver Broncos
The Dallas Cowboys biggest cap casualty quickly found a new home on a great Broncos team, in the amount of $30 million over 3 years. The deal includes $16.5 million in initial guarantees, and $6.5M more if he’s on the roster next March. It’s a huge pull for a proven pass rusher. His $10M average salary ranks 6th among active defensive ends.
Michael Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Albert, Johnson leveraged his franchise tender in Seattle into a blockbuster deal this offseason, signing a 5 year $43.75 million contract in Tampa Bay. In typical pay-as-you-go Buccaneers fashion, Johnson will earn $18 million in the next two seasons, $16M of which is fully guaranteed. his $8.75M average salary ranks 8th among defensive ends.
Karlos Dansby, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland made plenty of noise in the first 48 hours of free agency, all starting with a 4 year $24 million contract to the former Dolphin/Cardinal. Dansby receives $12 million in fully guaranteed salary and signing bonus – $10 million of which he earns in 2014. This is a strong deal for both parties.
Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos
18 months ago Talib was traded to the Patriots for a 4th round draft pick. He re-signed for 2013 on a 1 year, incentive loaded deal. Tuesday afternoon Talib agreed to a 6 year $57 million contract with the Denver Broncos, the largest contract of any cornerback in football currently. He garners $26 million in guarantees, $11.5 million of which comes in 2014. He’s now the 7th highest average paid cornerback in the NFL.
Jairus Byrd, New Orleans Saints
After months of exhausting (media-driven) drama with the Buffalo Bills in terms of franchise tenders, long-term deals, and trades – Byrd heads south to New Orleans to sign the richest contract for a safety in NFL history – 6 years $54 million. The $26.3 million guaranteed is also a record for safeties, eclipsing Dashon Goldson’s $22 million with the Buccaneers a few years back. The 27 year old Byrd earns $9 million per year, a figure many assured Byrd he was worth, making him the highest average paid safety in football.
Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills
Carpenter was a last minute signing with the Bills in 2013, penning a veteran minimum $715k deal on September 2nd. He went on to make 92% of his field goals, including 14 out of 17 from 40+ yards. The result, a 4 year $9.95 million deal to remain in Buffalo, $3.425 million of which is earned in 2014.
Donnie Jones, Philadelphia Eagles
Like Carpenter, Donnie Jones was a veteran minimum add-on to the Eagles in 2013, who turns around to sign a 3 year $5.5 million contract. The 33 year old will earn $2 million in 2014, then $1.75 million in 2015 and 2016. He stands as the 12th highest average paid punter in the NFL.