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10 Worst NFL Contracts

Ryan Phillips
Cleveland Browns Mandatory Minicamp
Cleveland Browns Mandatory Minicamp / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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NFL training camps have kicked off as we ramp up to the 2022 season. With that in mind it's worth taking a look at some of the worst contracts teams have handed out as we head into the new campaign. Here's our ranking of the 10 worst NFL contracts right now.

Worst NFL Contracts

10. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

There's no question DeAndre Hopkins is a talented receiver, but you have to be on the field to be worth your contract. He hasn't done that for the Cardinals lately. Hopkins missed seven games in 2021 due to hamstring and MCL injuries and hit career-lows in receptions (42) and receiving yards (572). Now he's set to miss the first six games of the 2022 season thanks to a suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. That's not a good look for a guy set to make $75 million over the next three years. If the Cardinals cut him after this season he'll count $22.6 million against the cap, so there isn't an easy out if his production falls off a cliff this year.

9. Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions

Jared Goff looked like the future of the Los Angeles Rams when he signed a four-year, $134 million deal back in 2019. He promptly fell apart, making it one of the worst contracts in NFL history. He was traded to the Lions in the Matthew Stafford deal and disappointed fans in the Motor City in Year 1. While he completed 67.2 percent of his passes, he only threw for 3,245 yards, with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His QBR of 39.5 ranked 24th in the NFL.

Goff carries a cap hit of $31.15 million this season and can't be cut because Detroit would absorb a $41.15 million in dead cap. The Lions can cut him after this season and only owe $10 million, so he'll almost certainly be gone. That's the only reason he's so low on this list.

8. Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants

When the Giants reeled in Kenny Golladay with a four-year, $72 million deal in 2021 it looked like an excellent fit. He was a high-volume receiver who could help elevate young quarterback Daniel Jones. Well, that didn't happen. Golladay caught 37 passes for 521 yards and no touchdowns in 2021 and now his contract is getting worse. He's owed $21.15 million in 2022 and $21.4 million in 2023. After that the Giants can cut him and take a $6.8 million cap hit. It's become clear Golladay's gaudy numbers in 2018 and 2019 were a product of playing with Matthew Stafford and he took advantage by grabbing the bag from the Giants.

7. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray signed a five-year, $230.5 million deal with the Cardinals in July and, frankly, it doesn't make much sense. Sure, Murray is wildly talented and, at times, looks like an MVP candidate. But the team also had to include a clause essentially forcing him to do four hours of film study every week. If you're committing that much money to a guy ($160 million of it is guaranteed) you shouldn't need to force him to work hard.

The new extension kicks in before the 2024 season and Cardinals can't get out of the contract until after the 2027 campaign, meaning they're basically all-in on Murray for $219.3 million over next six seasons. For a guy they have to force to pay attention in film session. This could go well or be a spectacular failure -- which is seemingly what we've said about everything related to the Cardinals for the past decade.

6. Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins has certainly put up numbers with the Vikings, but the 33-year-old always seems to come up short when it matters. He completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,221 yards, with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2021, but the Vikings went 8-9, following a 7-9 campaign in 2020. Wins aren't all on a quarterback but the good ones elevate their teams. Cousins has not.

Cousins is making $31.4 million in 2022, and is owed $36.25 million in 2023 before he'll hit free agency. For better or worse, the Vikings are married to him for a lot of money over the next two years.

5. Von Miller, Edge, Buffalo Bills

In one of the offseason's more stunning move, the Bills handed a 33-year-old Von Miller a six-year, $120 million deal with $51.4 million in guarantees. While Miller is a future Hall of Famer and will be a great presence in the locker room, he's not the guy he once was. He had 9.5 sacks in 2021 in time split between the Denver Broncos and Rams, missed the 2020 season with a dislocated peroneal tendon, and had eight sacks in 2019.

The Bills are locked in to owing Miller $45.1 million over the next three years, then will face a $7.4 million cap hit if they cut him. That's a lot for an aging edge rusher.

4. Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns

The Browns can't stay out of their own way and keep making contract mistakes (see below). They didn't give up much to acquire Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys (a fifth-round pick and a swap of sixth-rounders) but they did import his onerous contract. Cooper is owed $46.404 million over the next three years in the middle of a massive production decline.

The 28-year-old is a four-time Pro Bowler but it appears those days are behind him. In 2021, he looked decidedly worse. He caught 68 passes for 865 yards and eight touchdowns. He was surpassed as the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver by CeeDee Lamb and appeared a step slower than in the past. So naturally the Browns decided to bring him in and take on his massive contract. The Browns stay the Browns.

3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Back-to-back contracts handed out by Jerry Jones, who would have thought? Elliott was once one of the most feared offensive weapons in the NFL. Now the former All-Pro feels like a decent running back who is making way too much money. This season he's owed $30.1 million after just barely eclipsing 1,000 yards in 2021. The Cowboys can cut him after this season, but they'll still absorb a $11.86 million cap hit to do so. In the future, maybe signing a running back to a six-year, $90 million deal with $50.1 million in guarantees is something teams should avoid.

2. Jamal Adams, S, Seattle Seahawks

If we considered the trade the Seahawks made for Adams, this deal would make a serious run at No. 1, but we're just looking at the contract here. It's still terrible. Adams will be in the firs year of a four-year, $70.6 million extension in 2022. He's the second highest-paid safety in the NFL and he's pretty bad. He's owed $27.2 million over the next two seasons and if the Seahawks cut him after the 2023 campaign they'll take a $14.2 million cap hit. All that for a guy who Pro Football Focus gave a 60.1 grade to for 2021. It's also worth noting, he's missed 11 games in two seasons in Seattle. Just a terrible deal for a guy the Seahawks traded two first-round picks and a third-rounder for.

1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Cleveland Browns

This one really speaks for itself. The Browns traded a massive haul of draft picks to the Houston Texans to acquire Watson, then gave him an utterly insane contract. The 26-year-old got a five-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed. So, the guy who is facing a massive suspension thanks to dozens of reports of sexual misconduct and assault got that deal from the Browns.

Here's the worst part: Watson is only due $1.035 million in base salary for 2022, the rest is all signing bonus money. That means if he's suspended for all of the 2022 season, he'll lost that $1.035 million but still make his signing bonus of $44.965 million owed for this year. Yes, the Browns specifically structured the contract that way to protect the guy who could be facing a year-long suspension. That was nice of them. What an absolutely terrible organization.

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