(Image credit: Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
In the NFL many teams pay top dollar in order to get the best free agents in order to play on their team. No matter how successful a team is there will be some terrible contracts that they have to deal with when managing their salary cap. In this article let's take a look at the worst contract in every team in the NFC conference. All of the Contract information was found on Spotrac.com
Chicago Bears - DE/EDGE Robert Quinn (5 years $70,000,000 - Expires 2025)
Oh boy, where to choose. The Bears have a ton of bad contracts on this team. The worst out of all of them is DE/EDGE rusher, Robert Quinn. He has for years had a notable decline excluding last season where Quinn was in a terrible division and faced easy opponents. I knew Quinn was going to get a big contract but the Bears completely overpaid for a player who is past his prime and is getting 30 million dollars guaranteed. I also think he was signed for way too long as well. If it was me I would have offered him a 2 maybe 3-year deal. Already his signing has not worked well as he failed to make an impact as a strong pass rusher and has not been the best tackler. I even did research that when healthy Quinn has only taken 40% of the total defensive snaps which is not a good sign especially when someone has as big of a contract as Robert Quinn.
Detroit Lions - OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai (5 years $45,000,000 - Expires 2025)
Oh Boy, where to begin with the Lions. They have a ton of bad contracts currently on this team as well as the Chicago Bears do. Out of all the contracts, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has the worst contract. He was brought in after solid seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles as mainly a backup. Did you know he only started 20/64 games for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Lions decided to overpay for Vaitai who has never had a full season as a starting o-lineman? It never hurts to improve the o-line but this move signing him to a large contract was very questionable and it has not worked out well. Not only due to injuries but he has not worked as a starting tackle. Hopefully, he will do better as a guard but this deal has completely backfired and is the worst contract currently on the Lions roster.
Green Bay Packers - LB Preston Smith (4 years $52,000,000 - Expires 2023)
I don't hate the contracts that have been given out by the Green Bay Packers. But If I had to choose the current worst contract currently on the team I would go with Preston Smith. Now Preston Smith has not been the worst player on the team but has been a bit disappointing. While watching film of him last season he was not the best in coverage but has the ability to be a pass rusher as he had 12 sacks his season. Smith had a mediocre season last season as he had 4 sacks, 38 tackles, and a fumble recovery. Not a good season and the amount of guaranteed money he is making doesn’t warrant the contract that he has gotten. Hopefully, he will rebound but once the Green Bay Packers enter full rebuild mode once Aaron Rodgers leaves I won't be surprised if the Packers decide to let Preston Smith go as his release would clear around 5.3 million dollars next season.
Minnesota Vikings - QB Kirk Cousins (2 years $66,000,000 - Expires 2023)
Before I get into why Cousins' contract is the worst contract on the team I have to say that he has not been terrible at all on this team. Cousins has mainly been mediocre and inconsistent. A big issue with this contract is that it is 100% fully guaranteed. First, you don't pay a player with a big contract fully guaranteed for a player that has largely been mediocre. Second Cousins Guaranteed Contract has heavily impacted their salary cap and to help improve the team as they couldn't afford Xavier Rhodes, Stefon Diggs, and Kyle Rudolph. Luckily they have hit on a few draft picks but their defense has heavily digressed due to how fully guaranteed Cousins' contract has been.
Honorable Mention - QB Nick Foles (3 years $24,000,000 Expires - 2023)
The Bears have a ton of bad contacts. I decided to put an honorable mention for them. I decided to go with Nick Foles as an honorable mention here. Especially with how big his contract currently is guaranteed in total being 21 million guaranteed and his position on the roster now. When you are a third-string quarterback and you are making that much money then that is a terrible contract to have on the salary cap. I never understood why the Bears traded for Nick Foles without receiving a 1st or 2nd round draft pick like the Browns did when acquiring Brock Osweiler's awful contract. Then again Ryan Pace is still the GM for the Chicago Bears for some reason
Dallas Cowboys - RB Ezekiel Elliott (6 years $90,000,00 - Expires 2027)
No question with this one in my opinion. Ezekiel Elliott absolutely has the worst contract in the NFL today. First off, that is way too much money to sign a running back for. He is guaranteed 50 Million dollars in this contract which is crazy and a complete overpayment. Not even a few years into his contract Elliott has already suffered massive regression. Tony Pollard has also been solid with the Cowboys and even this season Elliott has been lined up as a fullback when Pollard is on the field. I won’t be surprised if Elliott doesn't last the entire contract with the rate of regression he has had so far.
New York Giants - OL Nate Solder (4 years $62,000,000 - Expires 2023)
This signing has been a complete disaster for the New York Giants. Solder has not panned out well and has been terrible as their blindside blocker and let a ton of defenders sack Daniel Jones. Solder even opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Andrew Thomas has been a better option than Soldier has been so they moved him to right tackle and he has already struggled in his new position on a terrible Giants offensive line. He is more of a liability than a benefit for this offensive line. To make it worse in Nate Solder’s contract he is guaranteed a total of 34.8 Million Dollars and I project him to be a cap casualty as his release will clear 10 million dollars for the salary cap.
Philadelphia Eagles - TE Zach Ertz (5 years $42,500,000 - Expires 2022)
The Eagles have been in rebuild mode ever since last season when they chose to “tank” the final game of the season which led to the team acquiring a higher draft pick. This led to the team moving on from WR Desean Jackson, QB Carson Wentz, WR Alshon Jeffery, RB Corey Clement, OL Jason Peter, DE Vinny Curry, S Jalen Mills, and DT Malik Jackson. The one player that the Eagles couldn't move on from is TE Zach Ertz. Especially as the Eagles tried to trade Zach Ertz to a different team. This is a good decision as Dallas Goedert is younger and has a more attractive contract to want for salary reasons. Unfortunately for the Eagles but due to how massive his contract is they never got a good trade from any team. So Zach Ertz is still an Eagle due to his contract and he has struggled to stay healthy as he missed time due to a constant ankle injury. Hopefully, he can rebound from his injuries and perform well but for now, he is the worst contract currently on the Eagles salary cap.
Washington Football Team - S Landon Collins (6 years $84,000,000 - Expires 2025)
This one was not a hard choice to choose here. There is one contract that is easily the worst one here and that is Safety Landon Collins. Even looking back when the Washington Football Team signed Collins to an extension I thought that it was an overpayment but the talent was there and Collins had a ton of potential. It has not worked so far as each year Landon Collins will be making 12.5 million dollars per year and he is recently coming off a serious Torn Achilles injury and I wonder if Collins will be the same player that he was during his New York Giants years. What is interesting to bring up is that Kamren Curl did a solid job replacing Landon Collins while he was hurt and Curl is still on his rookie contract. Hopefully, Collins can rebound but with the Contract give by Washington he easily has the worst contract on the team.
Atlanta Falcons - QB Matt Ryan (5 years $150,000,000 - Expires 2024)
First off I want to say that this is not against Matt Ryan as he deserves a lot more dealing with the Falcons franchise. But my goodness his contract is absolutely terrible. When the Falcons were cleaning house and trying to blow it up they really couldn't as they had locked their top stars into gigantic contracts. It is obvious that Matt Ryan is not the long-term answer for the falcons and has looked cooked so far this season. That is not something an organization wants to hear from a player that is guaranteed 100 million dollars. He has three years left on his current contract and Ryan’s contract has not given the Falcons a ton of options salary-wise when bringing in free agents.
Carolina Panthers - OL Cameron Irving (2 years $10,000,000 - Expires 2023)
The Panthers don't have an extremely terrible contract on this team but the one contract that I was not a fan of in the latest offseason was Cameron Irving. He was absolutely terrible during his tenure with the Cleveland Browns and he was not the best during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. But the Panthers absolutely overpaid him and did you know he is guaranteed 8 million dollars with this contract. Which is way too much for a guy who has been extremely inconsistent throughout his football career. Now a lot of people will disagree with me and say Christian McCaffery’s contract is bad and they have many points but he is just too good when healthy to let go and his contract is not as bad as Elliot’s contract in Dallas.
New Orleans Saints - WR Michael Thomas (5 years $96,250,000 - Expires 2025)
If you were to tell me a few years ago that Michael Thomas would be one of the worst contracts on the New Orleans Saints I would have not believed you. Years ago news came out that Michael Thomas signed a 5-year contract for 96.25 million dollars where 60.5 million dollars is guaranteed. Ever since signing that contract, he has completely regressed. Last season he suffered through constant ankle issues that have made his durability a big concern. Especially today as he currently is on the PUP list and might not be able to play until halfway in the 2021 NFL Season. Another issue with Michael Thomas is that he is turning into a locker room cancer and it would not be surprising if he becomes more of a distraction than he gets traded for an Antonio Brown-style trade. But this contract is easily the worst contract currently on the Saints salary cap.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - TE Cameron Brate (6 years $40,800,000 - Expires 2024)
This was a tough decision on which player on the Buccaneers has the worst contract as this team won Super Bowl 55. I decided to go with Cameron Brate as the worst contract currently on the Buccaneers roster. Especially when you look at the depth in the Tight End position with Rob Gronkowski and OJ Howard I am still surprised Brate is still on this roster. I don’t hate Cameron Brate the player and he showed flashes but he is not the best blocker. He only really had one great season as he had over 600 yards and scored 8 touchdowns in 2016 but besides that one season, he has been extremely inconsistent. Overall excluding Brate’s contract the Buccaneers have done a really good job managing their salary cap and bringing back every starter during their Super Bowl 55 victory.
Arizona Cardinals - WR Deandre Hopkins (2 years $54,500,000 - Expires 2025)
The Arizona Cardinals should send yearly gifts to the Houston Texans for trading him to the team in exchange for a declining David Johnson, 2020 2nd round pick, and Swapping 4th round picks. They just got one of the top receivers for some peanuts and an expensively broken down car. But what I have an issue with was the extension that GM Steve Keim gave to Deandre Hopkins. I think it was a little too early for Arizona to lock him up as his original contract doesn't expire until the end of the 2023 season. But getting into the new deal he is going to exceed Julio Jones yearly salary and Hopkins is guaranteed 42.725 million dollars l. Now, this contract does not fully kick in until 2023 but there is a big level of risk with this deal and it will hurt them salary-wise when trying to strengthen this team.
Los Angeles Rams - TE Tyler Higbee (4 years $29,000,000 - Expires 2024)
I never understood why the Los Angeles Rams decided to re-sign Tyler Higbee to a big contract like this because he never really flashed to me. I don't even think he has had more than 5 touchdowns in one season. In fact, Tyler Higbee has been such a flop signing that the Los Angeles Rams even brought in Gerald Everett as Tyler Higbee has not performed as they originally thought. He has a total of 15.5 million dollars guaranteed and has a current cap hit of 5.8 million dollars per year. Overall now that Jared Goff’s contract is not a part of the payroll, the Rams have done a fine job managing their salary cap.
San Francisco 49ers - DE/EDGE Dee Ford (5 years $85,500,000 - Expires 2024)
A lot of people would now consider the Jimmy Garoppollo contract as the worst contract now that the 49ers drafted Trey Lance. I would have to disagree as the 49ers can easily release Jimmy G next season and he could guide the rookie QB during his rookie season. The real worst contract on this team is Dee Ford. The 49ers had no choice as they traded a second-round choice to the Kansas City Chiefs and had to re-sign him. Ever since being acquired, he has not worked out for the 49ers. He has played in 14 games where he had 18 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Not very good and I will add that he has only started two of those games. Not very good for a guy who is guaranteed 33.35 million dollars. Dee Ford has also been an injury bug dealing with constant back and hamstring injuries. Now he has had his contract restructured but it is not enough as he has not been worth the contract he has received.
Seattle Seahawks - RB Rashaad Penny (4 years $10,765,438 - Expires 2022)
This was another hard choice but If I had to choose the current worst contract on this team I would go with RB Rashaad Penny. If there were two words to describe Penny’s Football career it would be inconsistent and injuries. Penny has dealt with a ton of different injuries and when he is healthy he has had an inconsistent performance. In one game he would look great and in another, he looked like the worst running back on the team. Penny is currently still on his rookie deal where he is guaranteed around 9.7 million dollars. I doubt the Seahawks will re-sign him once his contract is up. Honestly, I am shocked Penny is still on the Seahawks roster. He has been completely terrible and an injury bug for the Seattle Seahawks and they wasted a first-round pick on a guy who never should have gone in the first round. Overall the Seahawks have done a solid job managing their salary cap but that could change depending on how this season plays out.