The Monday Night Football game between the Broncos and the Texans was further evidence that Brock Osweiler isn’t worth the contract that the Texans gave him.
Granted, John Elway was prepared to pay a fair amount of money for Osweiler, too, though initial reports were that he wanted to keep his average salary per year around $12M, but made his final offer at $45M over three years. On one hand, it’s a bit misleading to say Elway was wise not to pursue Osweiler because he did make an effort to re-sign him. On the other hand, Elway was smart enough not to declare “the sky’s the limit” when it came to retaining him.
What the Osweiler contract really demonstrates is the importance of teams to exercise restraint when they offer contracts to free agents. Even if you consider that the Texans only have to commit to Osweiler for two years at $37M, that’s still too much to pay for a player of his talents.
Had the Texans structured a deal similar to how the Buffalo Bills structured the deal for Tyrod Taylor, the Texans would be in a better situation. Taylor received $9.5M in fully guaranteed money under the extension he signed earlier this year, but the Bills can get out of the contract after this season by declining the $15.5M option with just a $2.85M dead money charge. If the Bills exercise the option, they commit an additional $27.5M in salary over the next two seasons. That would make $37M in fully guaranteed money, similar to what Osweiler got, except that’s spread out over three years, or an average salary of $12.3M per year, compared to $18.5M average per year for Osweiler.
It’s true that Taylor didn’t sign his extension until several months after Osweiler signed his contract, but the Bills were smarter in terms of how much they committed to Taylor based on just a few starts. And if you were to ask most football analysts, they’d tell you that Taylor is a better QB than Osweiler.
It’s why Osweiler’s contract ranks among the worst deals handed out to players this past offseason. He’s not the only one who got overpaid for his services, though. Here’s a look at four other players who are nowhere near worth the money handed out to them in the recent deals they got. Three are like Osweiler: Players that teams chased after in free agency and overpaid. The fourth is a player extended by his current team. But all are examples of why you should be careful when handing out money to players and paying more money to them than they are really worth.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jacksonville: The Jaguars committed $10M over two seasons to Ivory, which is all right for a starting running back. However, Ivory has now fallen behind T.J. Yeldon on the depth chart and there’s no way for the Jaguars to get out of the deal after this season. It was probably the most puzzling of the running back contracts handed out (although I suppose you could argue the same for Doug Martin, although he’s injured and will likely be the No. 1 back again when he returns). At least the Jaguars can safely cut Ivory when he turns 30 in two years’ time, but this one isn’t working out so well.
Tavon Austin, WR, Los Angeles: Austin doesn’t even resemble a good No. 2 receiver and yet he’s getting $17M in fully guaranteed money through 2017, thanks to an extension his current team gave him. Though the Rams can get out of the deal after the 2017 season without a dead money charge, they have still committed money to Austin that suggests he’s one of the better No. 2 wideouts, and he has 36 catches for 299 yards. Teammates Brian Quick and Kenny Britt are both outproducing him, as is Travis Benjamin, who the San Diego Chargers signed to a much more reasonable deal when they expected Benjamin to start alongside Keenan Allen.
Malik Jackson, DT, Jacksonville: Another old friend who you couldn’t blame for taking a significant payday, only for the team who signed him to find out that, while Jackson is good, he’s not a premier pass rusher in his own regard. Time has told us that Jackson is more of a second-tier pass rusher and run defender than the guy you can build a defense around. Jackson will collect $31.5M in full guarantees when all is said and done and has registered just one sack and 12 tackles. At least the Jaguars can take comfort in Dante Fowler Jr. making progress and in 2016 third-round pick Yannick Ngakoue leading the Jags with four sacks. Jackson, though, is being paid to be a difference maker and hasn’t lived up to that.
Olivier Vernon, DE, New York Giants: Here we have another defensive player who is being paid like he is a premier pass rusher and, so far, hasn’t lived up to those expectations. To be fair, the Giants have their sacks spread out somewhat evenly among eight players. But consider that the Broncos got Derek Wolfe extended for $12M in fully guaranteed money and he has 4.5 sacks, while the Giants handed out a whopping $40M in full guarantees to Vernon, who has just one sack. For that money, he should be playing like a healthy J.J. Watt, but he’s nowhere near that level.