Over the Cap is a site that provides NFL contract and cap space analysis, and they have come up with the best and worst contracts going into the Atlanta Falcons 2014 season. The good contract will usually have a player outperforming players with comparable contracts while limiting the cap hit and guaranteed money in a contract to allow the team the most flexibility.
This is a pretty informative article, providing some unbiased comparison with other teams, with the site's Jason Fitzgerald explaining that Atlanta has "few, if any outlandish contracts". While some haven't been great, Atlanta has not been in cap hell since Thomas Dimitroff came to Atlanta. The Falcons are surprisingly light on free agent busts, and as described in the article, may have had a few unwise signings to keep things running smoothly on a competitive team.
And now, the results.
The best contract is one of Atlanta's best and longest-term players, Roddy White.
Despite an injury plagued 2013 season which saw Roddy White post very pedestrian numbers, there is no doubt that White has been a tremendous bargain for the Atlanta Falcons since signing a $42.72 million contract extension back in 2009. Since then White has produced four 1,000 yard seasons, three of which have been at least 1,296 yards. He has been instrumental in the development of QB Matt Ryan and never caused any contractual headaches despite being one of the most underpaid receivers in the NFL.
White did briefly hold out but has since outplayed his contract, constantly ending up as one of the best performing wide receivers since signing his big extension.
The worst, not that you had to guess so much as grumble his name through clenched teeth, is Sam Baker.
While the team has few, if any, outlandish contracts the structures that they are using requires the players to maintain a strong level of play over a few year period to justify the charges. Like I said last season, I don’t think Sam Baker is a bad player, the contract is just a bit of a reach on a player that should never have been considered a core player.
The contract looks worse now because Baker missed 12 games in 2013 and it reminded people of some injuries he has suffered throughout his career. It’s not that bad of a contract but its one in which the team could have gotten better protection and/or more cap flexibility.
Baker was a head scratcher when he was signed, because for years he struggled with both injury and effectiveness. Will Svitek did a fine job at the left tackle spot when Baker went out in the 2011 season. Baker returned to Flowery Branch after the season expecting to get cut, only to be handed the starting left tackle spot, putting together a decent and healthy season, and oddly rewarded with a long-term contract in 2013.
Even tossing out the fake money, the Baker contract was a bad one. He was not paid as an elite tackle, but he was paid like a guy who played a full season more than twice in his first five seasons. If Baker can stay healthy, which is unlikely, the contract can look a bit better.
Do you agree with Over the Cap's opinion on the best and worst contracts?