The NFL’s All-Bad-Contracts Team

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Every NFL team has a bad contract or two lying around. It’s the nature of the beast when you’re working with 53-man rosters in a league that has an incredibly high attrition rate. Hell, roster building is hard to do in other sports, too; the Warriors and Giants recently won titles with the dismal contracts of David Lee and Tim Lincecum on their respective books, and that was with far smaller rosters in sports where future performance is more consistent and easier to project.

This stuff is very difficult, which is why merely looking back and picking out bad contracts with the benefit of hindsight is shooting fish in a barrel. Contracts that seem logical and financially prudent on the day they’re signed can quickly go bad for totally unforeseeable reasons. It took one quarter in 2008 to turn Tom Brady from the most valuable asset in football to, for that season, a sunk cost. It happens.

The value in looking back instead comes from trying to examine what was going through a general manager’s mind at the time of a signing to understand what he missed. Usually, these mistakes fall into one of several categories; it’s not that a general manager is stupid or that a player isn’t trying, but instead that teams that are trying to win either trick themselves into ignoring a likely problem or desperately overpay for a level of security that isn’t there.

When I’ve compiled All-Bad-Contracts Teams in the past (beginning in 2013 and then again last year), I’ve mentioned that there are five archetypes that frequently pop up as oft-ignored concerns. One is almost extinct at this point. The overwhelming contracts for players taken in the first round of the draft under the old CBA are basically gone, since the vast majority of 2010 first-round picks who benefited from the previous rookie scale signed new deals this offseason. At this point, we’re down to four players left on those old deals, and none of them (Sam Bradford, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, and Russell Okung) appear on this list.

The other four contract problems? They’re alive and well. Let’s run through them for a refresher:

• The Marginal Talent: With the NFL salary cap rising by more than $20 million between 2013 and 2015, teams have had more money to spend than they’ve known what to do with. Well, that’s not true, because they’ve known exactly what to do with it: They’ve spent it on moderately impressive free agents. Every year, a handful of players who were available for nothing as recently as the previous offseason sign with new teams for serious money. Most of the time, they’re about as good as the guys who were freely available.

• Paying for the Outlier: It’s almost always foolish to pay for a guy who grossly outstripped his previous level of play for one season, especially if there’s something about his performance that’s likely unsustainable. Did an oft-injured player stay healthy? Did a competent-or-worse player piece together an impressive number of touchdowns or interceptions? What a guy did in 2014 is valuable, but it doesn’t erase what he did over the previous three seasons.

• System Guy Out of System: Football is a more scheme-intensive sport than any other major professional endeavor, and the way a player performs on one team is hardly proof that he’ll continue to perform that way on a new team with a different style of play. Once in a while, that can turn out to be a positive, like how the Chargers nabbed Brandon Flowers out of a press scheme in Kansas City and got a far better player by leaving him off the line of scrimmage. More often, teams see a star in one scheme and get disappointed by what he does in another.

• Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?: Sometimes, the toughest mistake can be with a player you’ve already known for years. Great NFL teams are built around drafting, developing, and retaining talent, so it’s only natural for organizations to want to lock up the players they’ve molded into talented contributors before they hit free agency. Like everything, there’s a price at which even the players you know are no longer worth holding on to. Great organizations manage that line well and trust that they can develop another player at a fraction of the cost; naive organizations desperately cling to the players they know and end up disappointed when they fail to live up to their price tag.

Two more things before we get started. First, don’t mistake a bad contract for a bad player. There are plenty of talented players on this list, guys who would be assets for their teams at the right salary. Even a player who hasn’t lived up to his contract deserves the money he’s getting for putting his body on the line week in and week out. The “right salary” here is in context with the other players at his position.

The other thing: Once you get on this list, it’s awful hard to get off it. Looking back through last year’s list, I count 10 players who were either cut or retired and three who had to restructure their deals. Only nine of the 22 players from a year ago are still on the same contract, and of those nine, only one — Everson Griffen — would probably be considered a good contract by most observers a year later.

Let’s start with the most difficult position to fill, quarterback, where the Browns were stuck between a rock and a hard place and handed out a deal that will probably eventually cost everyone involved their jobs:


Quarterback: Josh McCown, Browns
Contract Flaws: Paying for the Outlier, The Marginal Talent

McCown, the subject of a bidding war between the Bills and Browns this offseason, was a replacement-level backup for years before producing a stunning 224-pass sample with the Bears in 2013. That run was driven by a totally unsustainable interception rate of 0.4 percent, 10 times below his previous career average of 4.0 percent. The Buccaneers bit on the premise that McCown’s 2013 was more meaningful than his first 1,113 attempts and found that he was still Josh McCown; despite possessing Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans at wide receiver, McCown threw interceptions on 4.3 percent of his throws and saw his QBR fall from a league-high 85.1 in 2013 to 32.8 last year, a figure that only topped that of Jags rookie Blake Bortles.

OK, so lesson learned, he’s still the same Josh McCown. But then why are the Browns convinced that last year was really the fluke? After McCown was paid about the veteran’s minimum for years and then struggled mightily last year, Cleveland outbid Buffalo for the right to give McCown another chance. The Browns guaranteed $6.25 million to McCown over the next two seasons to serve as their veteran stopgap ahead of Johnny Manziel, which doesn’t seem to fit any logical plan.

The Browns aren’t one competent quarterback away from competing, and even if they were, McCown is 36 and has delivered one competent half-season of play during a 13-year career. If you think Manziel has a prayer, don’t pay meaningful guaranteed money to put somebody in his way. And if you don’t, at least try to find somebody with even a modicum of upside. Brian Hoyer wasn’t the answer, but there was at least some logic in using Hoyer, who had some tools and hadn’t been given much of a chance to prove anything about his professional future. We know what Josh McCown is by now.

(Side note: Where’s Jay Cutler? While it’s amazing just how far Cutler’s stock has fallen in one year, it’s also true that this was a deal the Bears really couldn’t get out of doing. At the end of 2013, Cutler was a 30-year-old starting quarterback about to hit unrestricted free agency after a season in which he was above-average in just about every facet of performance. Cutler had also been just below league average during his five seasons in Chicago, and given how bad his offensive line was for his first three seasons in town, it was fair to project him to be about a league-average starter in 2014. You can fault the Bears for not signing him earlier or for structuring the deal in a way that basically guaranteed he would stay on the roster through 2016, but teams don’t give away league-average quarterbacks for nothing.)

San Diego Chargers v Buffalo BillsTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Running Back: Donald Brown, Chargers
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

I’ve written about the Brown deal before, but I still don’t understand it. The Chargers were under serious cap constraints1 during the 2014 offseason and still spent $10.5 million over three years on Brown, who had shown signs of life during the end of his run in Indianapolis, but didn’t have the sort of contrasting skill set that would seem to justify him getting a regular role in the San Diego lineup ahead of Ryan Mathews or Danny Woodhead. Getting a bruising back or an ace pass-blocker would have made sense, but Brown is neither of those things.

He seemed like very expensive injury insurance, and in a way, the Chargers were right to bring him in, given that Mathews and Woodhead both missed chunks of 2014 with injuries. The problem was that Brown wasn’t any good. He averaged a woeful 2.6 yards per carry, lost time to undrafted free agent Branden Oliver, and blew a block on special teams that led to a broken collarbone for Mike Scifres. With San Diego using a first-round pick on Melvin Gordon and Woodhead back from his fractured ankle, Brown will be a third-choice back at best in 2015.

Running Back: DeMarco Murray, Eagles
Contract Flaw: Paying for the Outlier

I wrote all about why the Murray deal was paying for an unrepeatable 2014 back in March. In a year, it will be clear whether Murray was establishing a new level of performance (and health) or whether Chip Kelly bought high on a talented-if-brittle running back.

Wide Receiver: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Contract Flaw: Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?

That’s really not fair. The Cardinals should have been in love with Fitzgerald, because he was an incredible receiver for a long time. The problem is that former Cardinals general manager Rod Graves gave Fitzgerald a mammoth eight-year contract extension that any receiver would have struggled to justify, with a cap hit of $20.5 million in 2012. It didn’t help that Fitzgerald’s numbers took a dramatic downturn that year, as a combination of poor quarterbacks and slowing wheels has kept Fitzgerald under 60 yards per game during each of the past three seasons.

New general manager Steve Keim was forced to restructure Fitzgerald’s deal last season to clear out cap space, and with an untenable $23.6 million hit looming for his deal in 2015, the Cardinals ripped up Fitzgerald’s deal again to keep him on the roster. That new contract is hardly a bargain: Fitzgerald’s cap numbers ($10.9 million in 2015 and $15.9 million in 2016) will leave him among the league’s four highest-paid receivers over the next two years. The punishment for the deal really arrives in 2017, though. Fitzgerald’s deal automatically voids after the 2016 season, and the Cardinals will be left with a $9.7 million dead-money charge on their cap for a player who won’t be on their roster.2 In terms of cap hit, Ndamukong Suh will actually cost more to not play for Detroit ($9.7 million) this season than he will to play for Miami ($6.1 million). That is likely to be the case with Fitzgerald in 2017.

Wide Receiver: Riley Cooper, Eagles
Contract Flaws: … all four?

Cooper might actually fit all four of the criteria for a bad contract, which would be a rare sweep. The Eagles gave him a five-year, $22.5 million deal last offseason on the strength of what was honestly a pretty underwhelming season; 47 catches for 835 yards and eight scores as a full-time starter in a high-powered attack like Philadelphia’s just isn’t that impressive. Even worse, he really had only three big games that season, and the biggest (139 yards, three touchdowns) came against the lowly Raiders. And this is all without considering his infamous moment of off-field racism. He responded by catching 55 passes for 577 yards as a full-time starter last year, and with the Eagles having shifted their spending on offense toward running backs, Cooper will be stuck in a meaningful role again in 2015.

Tight End: Jared Cook, Rams
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

Please don’t think I saw the flaws in all of these deals when they were first signed; the Cook contract is one I would have endorsed at the time, and it just hasn’t worked out. It’s not hard to see what the Rams saw in the freakishly athletic Cook, who had exhibited flashes of brilliance in Tennessee. The Titans focused too heavily on his flaws and tried to turn Cook into an inline tight end, and so naturally it seemed clear that the Rams were going to try to take Cook and his 4.49 speed and use him as a downfield burner.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Cook, who has the 6-foot-5 frame to be a red zone terror, scored twice in his first game with the Rams and has just six touchdowns in his ensuing 31 contests. He’s averaged just more than 40 yards per game in St. Louis, which is actually a decline from his final two seasons in Tennessee, and by the end of 2015, the Rams will have given him more than $20 million.

Oakland Raiders v New York GiantsAl Bello/Getty Images

Tackle: William Beatty, Giants
Contract Flaw: Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?

The Giants needed a left tackle. They had taken Will Beatty in the second round of the 2009 draft in the hopes that he would eventually become a left tackle. Beatty suffered from foot problems before eventually winning the job over the decaying David Diehl in 2011, at which point he struggled before suffering a detached retina and then an offseason back injury while weightlifting. After a competent 2012, the Giants had seen enough: With no other options, they gave Beatty a five-year, $37.5 million deal. And since then, things haven’t looked great. Beatty was one of the worst left tackles in the league in 2013, giving up 11 sacks. His numbers were better in 2014, but that was part of a schematic switch to quicker, shorter passes, in part because the Giants had such little faith in their offensive line. And now, Beatty is out with another weightlifting injury, this time a torn pectoral muscle that should cost him most of 2015. The Giants still need a left tackle; the only difference now is that they’re paying Beatty like he is one.

Tackle: Jermey Parnell, Jaguars
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

It’s not easy to be Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell, who surely has to pay above market value to attract quality young free agents to Jacksonville’s lengthy rebuilding project. And you can understand the logic in trying to build a quality offensive line that’s designed to keep struggling young franchise quarterback Blake Bortles upright.

In Parnell, though, the Jaguars are paying a massive premium for an undrafted free agent who was Dallas’s swing tackle the past three seasons. Parnell, who suited up for just 20.9 percent of Dallas’s offensive snaps over that time frame and has just seven career starts, will have the largest cap hit of any right tackle this season at a whopping $8 million. To be fair, the deal is structured with the largest cap hits first, so the Jaguars can basically be out of the deal after two years with no dead money after paying $14.5 million. It’s still a ton of money to pay for a guy who couldn’t beat out Doug Free for regular snaps during Free’s disappointing 2012-13 run.

Guard: Andy Levitre, Titans
Contract Flaw: System Guy Out of System

One of the league’s best zone-blocking guards during his time in Buffalo, Levitre got a six-year, $46.8 million deal before the 2013 season as part of Tennessee’s concerted effort to improve the interior of its offensive line. Whether it was the shift to a more traditional blocking scheme or a nagging knee injury that popped up shortly after his signing, Levitre has been a massive disappointment in Tennessee. While he missed just one offensive snap in 2014, Levitre appeared to be on the verge of a benching for most of the campaign, struggling in all facets of the game. He’ll be the highest-paid guard in football this season, but only if the Titans don’t cut him before September.

Guard: Donald Thomas, Colts
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

In a similar vein to Parnell’s deal with the Jaguars, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson desperately wanted to protect star quarterback Andrew Luck and spent heavily on offensive linemen during the 2013 offseason. Fair logic, but Grigson’s targets were questionable then and don’t look great in hindsight. The Colts cut right tackle Gosder Cherilus last week after signing him to a five-year, $35 million deal in 2013 that seemed to swamp his likely market. Thomas had simultaneously shown flashes of impressive play while bouncing around the league, but after an impressive season as a utility lineman in New England, the Colts gave him a four-year, $14 million deal to stretch out into a starting role. Thomas, who suffered a Lisfranc fracture and a torn pectoral muscle during his time in Miami, promptly missed 30 of the next 32 games with injuries.

Center: Alex Mack, Browns
Contract Flaw: Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?

Mack is a great center, but when he wanted to leave as a restricted free agent, the Jaguars signed him to an onerous offer sheet that seemed impossible for the Browns to match. Impossibly weighted in Mack’s favor, the contract terms included a no-trade clause, $18 million in guaranteed base salaries over 2014 and 2015, and a player option to void the final three years of the deal after the end of 2015. Mack’s agent discouraged the Browns from matching … and they did it anyway.

A year later, that looks like a mistake. Mack was excellent before fracturing his fibula last season, and if he isn’t the same player this year, he can decline his opt-out and collect another $8 million guaranteed in 2016. If he does play well, Mack will opt out and there’s nothing the Browns can do to keep him. All of this because the Browns tried to save $1.6 million by slapping Mack with the transition tag as opposed to the franchise tag in 2014. And while they drafted Florida State lineman Cameron Erving in the first round this April to serve as Mack’s long-term replacement at center, Erving represents the opportunity cost of being unable to use that pick on a much-needed wide receiver.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina PanthersScott Cunningham/Getty Images


Defensive End: Tyson Jackson, Falcons
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

We’re playing something resembling a 3-4 on the All-Bad-Contracts Team, so we’ll start with one of the more notably disappointing 3-4 ends in recent memory. Jackson simply hasn’t developed since being selected with the third pick of the 2009 draft by Scott Pioli in Kansas City, as he’s eventually topped out as a marginal rotation player who doesn’t offer enough as a run-defender or as an interior pass-rusher to justify getting regular snaps. Kansas City’s new regime under John Dorsey eventually restructured Jackson’s mammoth rookie deal before letting him leave in free agency after 2013.

Jackson followed Pioli to Atlanta, which was desperate for run-stoppers and transitioning to more 3-4 looks in its base defense. It was a logical fit given Atlanta’s needs, but the five-year, $25 million deal Jackson received just wasn’t justified by his previous level of play. It hasn’t looked much better since. Atlanta had the league’s worst defense and second-worst run defense last year, and Jackson rarely played in the team’s sub-packages, meaning he lined up for less than 47.9 percent of Atlanta’s defensive snaps, a figure that fell as the season went along. He knocked down the opposing quarterback just twice in 512 snaps. And as the Falcons transition back to a 4-3 under new head coach Dan Quinn, Jackson’s role in the new scheme seems unclear.

Defensive End: Jason Hatcher, Washington
Contract Flaws: Paying for the Outlier, System Guy Out of System

The flip side of Jackson is somebody like Hatcher, an unheralded third-rounder who was a competent 3-4 rotation end before breaking out as a one-gap pass-rusher under Rod Marinelli when Dallas transitioned to the 4-3 in 2013. Hatcher’s 11-sack campaign nearly matched his previous career total of 16, gathered over seven seasons. Washington gave the 31-year-old Hatcher a four-year, $27.5 million deal, but in the process, it moved him back to the 3-4 and took him away from Marinelli, one of the game’s best defensive line coaches. The result? A relatively anonymous 5.5-sack campaign.

Defensive Tackle: Jared Odrick, Jaguars
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

A more defensible free-agent signing than Parnell, Odrick was a passable-to-competent interior lineman on a Dolphins team whose defense absolutely collapsed during the second half of 2014; they were second in pass defense and fifth in run defense during the first half of the year according to DVOA, but fell to 31st and 28th, respectively, during a disastrous final half. The Dolphins recognized interior run defense as one of their biggest concerns and swapped out Odrick for the mammoth deal of Ndamukong Suh. The Jags settled for Odrick, who didn’t get Suh’s deal, but likely got more than anyone could have expected. His five-year, $42.5 million deal guarantees him $22.5 million over the next three years and leaves him with Jacksonville’s second-largest cap hit in 2015. He’ll have to take a huge leap forward on the field to live up to that figure, and given how Jacksonville’s had success finding interior linemen on the cheap with Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks, it’s a curious way to use a lot of money.

Outside Linebacker: Jared Allen, Bears
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

This one is tough. Allen was a very productive pass-rusher through the very end of his tenure in Minnesota; even in 2013, he was fourth in the league in quarterback knockdowns and tied for seventh in sacks. And the Bears really needed a pass-rusher last offseason after getting rid of Julius Peppers. You can understand the fit, and it was pretty clear that Allen wasn’t desperate to play in 2014 unless he got a significant amount of money to play for a competitive team. (Sorry, Raiders.)

What he got was a deal that was heavily backloaded into 2015. Bears general manager Phil Emery was able to sneak Allen on to the roster with a $3 million base salary in 2014, but to ensure that Allen would return to the team, Emery guaranteed him an $11.5 million roster bonus and a $1 million base salary in 2015. Despite Allen falling off to just 5.5 sacks and going missing at times as a run-defender last season, the Bears are now on the hook for $12.5 million this season, making Allen — transitioning to a new position at 33 — the highest-paid outside linebacker in football.

Outside Linebacker: Jonathan Casillas, Giants
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Talent

Seemingly bidding against themselves, the Giants gave a three-year, $8 million deal with $3 million guaranteed to Casillas, a replacement-level reserve outside linebacker who Big Blue hopes will serve as a useful special-teams player. You shouldn’t need to spend anything above the minimum in free agency for special-teams players. If Casillas gets any playing time on defense, it will come at the expense of J.T. Thomas, another replacement-level talent, signed away from the Jaguars on a slightly larger deal. The Giants struck out wildly shopping in this section of the market in 2014 and went right back to the well in 2015.

Inside Linebacker: Donald Butler, Chargers
Contract Flaw: Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?

Desperate to exhibit some semblance of player development across a barren defense, the Chargers were happy to lock up one of the few competent draft picks from the final days of the A.J. Smith era to a gaudy extension last offseason. Butler, a promising inside linebacker who had missed nine of his first 64 professional games with various injuries, was signed to a seven-year, $51.8 million deal weeks before he would have hit unrestricted free agency.

The early returns on the deal? Well, they aren’t pretty. Butler was a liability before suffering a season-ending dislocated elbow in December, and the Chargers picked Denzel Perryman in the second round of this year’s draft as insurance for Butler and Manti Te’o. The good news is that the Chargers have an out, as they can void the final four years of Butler’s deal by declining a $12 million option bonus after the 2016 Super Bowl. The bad news is that they’re locked in for two more years at $5.5 million and then $9.3 million on a player who could very well be the third-best inside linebacker on his own team. When players like Butler and Corey Liuget are getting big deals, you can understand why Eric Weddle is so frustrated.

New York Jets v Atlanta FalconsKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Inside Linebacker: David Harris, Jets
Contract Flaw: Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?

Run-thumping inside linebackers are notably cheap these days, which is why Harris’s deal seems so out of whack. While the similarly skilled Brandon Spikes floundered in the free-agent market,3 the Jets kept Harris out of the shop window by giving him a three-year, $21.5 million deal with a staggering $15 million in guarantees over the next two seasons. Harris has just less than 70 percent of his money guaranteed, while the next closest veteran inside linebacker making more than $5 million per year, Karlos Dansby, is at an even 50 percent. Given how great the Jets defensive line is, this just isn’t a place where they needed to spend money.

Cornerback: Byron Maxwell, Eagles
Contract Flaw: System Guy Out of System

In another big Philadelphia deal I wrote about at length in March, the Eagles gave Maxwell a six-year, $63 million deal after 17 starts, during which he was flanked by one of the best secondaries in league history and coached up by Pete Carroll. You can’t fault the Eagles for wanting to start anybody else after the Bradley Fletcher fiasco last season, but this is an enormous bet that should raise all kinds of red flags.

Cornerback: Cortez Allen, Steelers
Contract Flaw: Ever Fallen in Love With a Player You Shouldn’t Have?

The Steelers have historically been among the league’s best self-evaluators of talent, letting veterans leave at exactly the right moment while replacing them with young players who outperform expectations. They’ve lost their touch on defense over the past few seasons, and that’s been notably clear in the secondary. They extended Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor in recent years and received disappointing results, and while Mike Mitchell was a buy-high mistake in a rare Pittsburgh foray into free agency, Allen seemed like the Pittsburgh decision that made the most sense. Allen’s four-year, $24.6 million extension from last September seemed very defensible (and even more so in light of the Maxwell-esque deals for corners in free agency), but it almost immediately became a disaster. Allen was burnt badly during the beginning of the season and benched in October before suffering a season-ending thumb injury. He’s yet to complete a 16-game season, and unless he drastically improves under new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, Allen’s contract looks to be a major mistake.

Safety: Nate Allen, Raiders
Contract Flaw: The Marginal Player

As is the case in Jacksonville, Oakland often needs to overpay to try to lure veteran talent to its never-ending rebuilding project in the East Bay. Too often, that’s meant players on the wrong side of 30 in need of one last paycheck, like Justin Tuck and Donald Penn. The moves got younger this year with Rodney Hudson and Allen, and while Hudson was a very good center last year for the Chiefs, Allen’s most notable moment was getting burnt for a game-winning touchdown against the Cardinals. The Eagles were reportedly interested in trading for a safety last year to replace Allen, but after they let him leave in free agency, the Raiders gave Allen nearly $12 million guaranteed. He’ll have the seventh-largest cap hit of any safety in 2015.

Safety: Dashon Goldson, Washington
Contract Flaws: System Guy Out of System, The Marginal Player

Let’s finish up with a combination award for Washington and Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is responsible for the system side of things, having signed Goldson away from San Francisco, where Vic Fangio did a far better job of controlling his aggression and putting Goldson in smaller spaces where he wasn’t responsible for freelancing. Goldson was a mess in 2013 and then even worse in 2014, when he was a horrific fit for Lovie Smith’s preferred two-deep scheme. Tampa Bay was right to consider Goldson’s five-year, $41 million deal a sunk cost and move on this offseason.

The Buccaneers could have gotten out of Goldson’s deal and saved $5 million by releasing him. Instead, Washington came in with a curious offer, offering to swap a sixth-rounder with Tampa Bay for a seventh-rounder and Goldson if the Bucs agreed to pay $4 million of the safety’s 2015 salary. Goldson upped his guarantee from $3 million to $4 million while restructuring his deal to include a roster bonus if he makes the team.

I understand it from Tampa Bay’s side, and I’m sure Goldson wanted to keep his old deal. But why would Washington do this? If it wanted Goldson (a curious decision in itself), it could have waited for Tampa Bay to cut him, because the chances of another team trading for the embattled safety were slim. If Goldson continues to play poorly, Washington gave up some small draft considerations while losing the opportunity to find a younger, cheaper talent at safety. And even if he plays well, Washington still really doesn’t win, because the final two years of Goldson’s deal are for cap hits of $8 million and $7.3 million, which would be a generous interpretation of market value for age-31 and age-32 seasons. As much good as Scot McCloughan has done in his first offseason as Washington’s general manager, it’s hard to see any upside in acquiring one of the league’s worst players from 2014.

Filed Under: 2015 NFL Preview, Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns, Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers, DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles, Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, Riley Cooper, Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams, William Beatty, New York Giants, Jeremy Parnell, Jacksonville Jaguars, Andy Levitre, Tennessee Titans, Donald Thomas, Indianapolis Colts, Alex Mack, Tyson Jackson, Atlanta Falcons, Jared Odrick, Jason Hatcher, Jared Allen, Chicago Bears, Jonathan Casillas, Donald Butler, David Harris, New York Jets, Byron Maxwell, Cortez Allen, Pittsburgh Steelers, Nate Allen, Oakland Raiders, Dashon Goldson, NFL

Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ billbarnwell