Best Bargains and The Worst Deals In the NFL

After a brief flirtation with the idea of acquiring Peyton Manning this past spring, the New York Jets made a “financial apology” to incumbent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.  This new deal was scoffed at by the media do to the fact that Sanchez was coming of his third consecutive mediocre season leading the Jets offense.

The move was clearly a deal made to placate Sanchez just in case he decided to whine over the teams pursuit of Peyton.  The Jets would illustrate just how enamored they were with Sanchez’s services by landing Tim Tebow soon after the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning.

Sanchez’s new contract also landed him near the top of CBSSports’ Jason La Canfora’s list of bad contracts.

Mark Sanchez, Jets, QB, $11.75M: … a tip of the cap to agent David Dunn and the Athlete’s First agency for managing to get a renegotiated deal for Sanchez coming off a woeful season with the team imploding and, now, with Tim Tebow nipping at his heels. Sanchez got $19.5M guaranteed as part of the deal and that pretty much locks him to the team through 2013 … after all of the 2011 turmoil. Lot of people did double takes when this deal was done and the Jets have the propensity to be one of the primary sideshows in the NFL this season, with quarterback drama at the center of it all.

One point of contention I have with his list of bad deals is his inclusion of Chicago Bears wide receiver, Brandon Marshall.  In his write up, La Canfora predictably spoke about Marshall’s past bad behavior as a reason for him not being worth his price tag.  In the same breath he’d also include reasons as to why this was a very smart trade for the Bears to make.

Brandon Marshall, Bears, WR, $9.5M: He obviously was a bust in Miami and has had domestic troubles and fought with teammates. This would seem to be his last, best shot to continue to earn big money in the NFL. The way the deal is structured, Chicago could get out of it in the future without much cap concern, and Marshall needs to make the most of his reunion with Jay Cutler.

Emphasis mine. Marshall caught 167 passes for 2,228 yards and 9 touchdowns in his two seasons in Miami.  That hardly qualifies a being a “bust”.  The big money in Marshall’s deal was already paid out by the Dolphins, meaning that the Bears can cut Marshall if he acts up without any negative impact on their salary cap.  Marshall’s inclusion in the “bad deals” section seems like just another opportunity to pile on the perceived “troubled” wide out.

Moving on to the top bargains in the league, the MVP of the 2011 season tops that list.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers, QB, $8.5M: In an era where guys like Sam Bradford make $13.5 million a season and Drew Brees is shooting for $20 million per, Rodgers will earn $8.5 million in 2012 (that’s Kevin Kolb money, people). And he’s set to earn less than $20 million total in the two remaining years on his deal beyond that, though, I have to believe the Packers will get serious about contract talks with Rodgers after this season.

And lastly, what if I told you that for just $540K, your team could have a receiver who caught 86 passes for over 1,500 yards and 9 touchdowns?  That’s what the New York Giants have in wide receiver, Victor Cruz.

Victor Cruz, Giants, WR, $540,000: I am hesitant to put this one on, because I don’t know anyone who expects him to play out his deal and not get better compensated by the time we get through the 2012 season. Cruz came out of nowhere, to not only make the team — he had flashed at times in the preseason — but become a true star for the Super Bowl champs. He blossomed into a legit No. 1 receiver and go-to guy for Eli Manning, and after losing Mario Manningham and with Hakeem Nicks injured, his value is tremendous right now.

Follow the link below to check out both lists in full.

CBSSports: The 11 best bargains, and the 11 worst contracts in the NFL

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