Best Bargains In The NFL

As countless (and crazed) shoppers prep for Black Friday in search of killer deals, we check out the best bargains on each NFL team.

32. San Francisco 49ers

Best Bargain: Eric Reid, S ($2,831,351/5 Years with 2017 option)

Reid is a default pick because the 49ers roster consists of a lot of unproven players. The 2013 first-round pick made the Pro Bowl as an alternate as a rookie but hasn’t played at that level since.

31. Chicago Bears

Best Bargain: Pernell McPhee, LB ($7.75 Million/5 Years)

Kyle Long would have been the choice but he signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension with $30 million in guarantees right before the start of the regular season. McPhee could make a case for being the best unrestricted free agent signing in 2015 as he was equally adept at playing the run and rushing the passer.

pernell-mcphee.jpg
Pernell McPhee is a great value for the production he gives the Bears. 

30. Washington Redskins

Best Bargain: Morgan Moses, OT ($793,144/4 Years)

2015 fifth-overall pick Brandon Scherff was drafted to play right tackle. It speaks volumes that Scherff is playing right guard because of Moses.

29. Indianapolis Colts

Best Bargain: Jack Mewhort, OG ($893,450/4 Years)

Mewhort was the bright spot of a shaky offensive line last season. He didn’t allow a sack in 2015. However, injuries have dampened his 2016 season this far.

28. Green Bay Packers

Best Bargain: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S ($2,084,625/4 Years)

David Bakhtiari’s recent extension making him one of the NFL’s highest-paid offensive linemen at $12 million per year eliminated him as an option. Dix, who displays excellent range at free safety, has been a fixture in the starting lineup since early in his rookie season. He doesn’t turn 24 until December.

27. Denver Broncos

Best Bargain: Chris Harris, CB ($8.5 Million/5 Year Extension)

The Broncos caught a huge break when Harris gave up a shot at free agency by taking a hometown discount on an extension late in the 2014 season. Harris may be the NFL’s most underrated cornerback because of his ability to play on the outside and in the slot at the highest level.

26. Tennessee Titans

Best Bargain: Taylor Lewan, OT ($2,871,251/4 Years)

There was speculation prior to the draft that Lewan could be moved to right tackle depending upon whether the Titans drafted a tackle with their first-round pick. Lewan has remained at left tackle even though Jack Conklin was taken with the eighth-overall pick. Expectations are high for Lewan. NFL.com named him to their preseason All-Pro team. ESPN’s John Clayton listed him as a dark horse All-Pro team candidate.

25. Kansas City Chiefs

Best Bargain: Dontari Poe, DT ($3,493,200/5 Years includes 2016 option)

Poe was hampered by back problems in 2015, which caused his playing time to drop below 70 percent for the first time in his career. 2016 is a pivotal year for the two-time Pro Bowler since he is in a contract year. In a worst-case scenario, Poe should be able to command a contract similar to Damon Harrison’s with the New York Giants, which averages $9.25 million per year.

24. Seattle Seahawks

Best Bargain: Michael Bennett, DE ($7.125 Million/4 Years)

Bennett hasn’t been happy with his contract for well over a year but hasn’t tried to force Seattle’s hand through a holdout. Defensive end Olivier Vernon signed a five-year, $85 million free agent contract with the Giants containing $52.5 million in guarantees. He is making $29 million this year, which is a little more than Bennett’s entire four-year contract. It is expected that Seattle will address his situation next offseason.

It’s no secret that Michael Bennett hasn’t been happy with his contract for quite a while now.

23. New Orleans Saints

Best Bargain: Brandin Cooks, WR ($2,095,863/4 Years)

Cooks had his first 1,000-receiving-yard season in 2015. He gets overshadowed by other wide receivers in the 2014 draft class.

22. Buffalo Bills

Best Bargain: Stephon Gilmore, CB ($4,663,230/5 Years with 2016 option)

Gilmore is off to a rough start this season. An agreement for an extension couldn’t be reached before the season started because Gilmore reportedly wanted Josh Norman money. The Washington Redskins made Norman the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback on an extremely front-loaded five-year, $75 million deal containing $50 million in guarantees after the Carolina Panthers rescinded his franchise tag shortly before the NFL Draft in late April.

21. Cleveland Browns

Best Bargain: Joel Bitonio, OG ($1,365,425/4 Years)

Bitonio earned All-Rookie honors in 2014 and was mentioned in the same breath as Zack Martin. An ankle injury last season kept Bitonio from building on his strong rookie campaign.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Best Bargain: Mike Evans, WR ($3,657,875/4 Years)

Evans caught 74 passes for 1,206 yards with three touchdowns in 2015. The season was considered somewhat disappointing because Evans led the NFL with 11 dropped passes. Demaryius Thomas, who signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Denver Broncos in 2015, has dropped 19 passes over the last two seasons.

19. Detroit Lions

Best Bargain: Ziggy Ansah, DE ($6,265,700/5 Years with 2017 option)

Ansah has become one of the NFL’s better pass rushers. He was third in the NFL with 14.5 sacks in 2015. An extension reportedly isn’t in the works for the fifth-overall pick in the 2013 draft right now, which seems to be fine with him. When the time comes, Vernon’s contract will likely be an important data point.

18. Philadelphia Eagles

Best Bargain: Bennie Logan, DT ($986,983/4 Years includes 2016 salary increase from rookie escalator)

Logan was stout against the run in Philadelphia’s 3-4 two gap scheme. He is expected to be a beneficiary of the switch to Jim Schwartz’s attacking 4-3 defense. Logan should be a signing priority for the Eagles after an offseason spending spree in which several key young players received extensions.

17. Atlanta Falcons

Best Bargain: Desmond Trufant, CB ($3,238,419/5 Years with 2016 option)

Trufant did a pretty good Richard Sherman imitation last season in the defense head coach Dan Quinn imported to Atlanta from his days as the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator. He earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2015. As one of the NFL’s better young cornerbacks, Janoris Jenkins’ free-agent deal with the New York Giants ($12.5 million per year/$28.8 million fully guaranteed) sets a salary floor for a long term extension with Trufant.

16. Arizona Cardinals

Best Bargain: Chandler Jones, OLB/DE ($3,194,500/5 Years with 2016 option)

Jones, who was fifth in the NFL in 2015 with 12.5 sacks, instantly became Arizona’s best edge rusher after being dealt by the New England Patriots in March for a 2016 second-round pick (61st overall) and guard Jonathan Cooper, the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 draft. He could be in a position to eclipse Vernon’s deal if he can capitalize on his fresh start in the desert given how valuable accomplished edge rushers in their mid-to-late 20s are.

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Chandler Jones should be in line for a big pay day this offseason.

15. Minnesota Vikings

Best Bargain: Anthony Barr, LB ($3,185,899/4 Years)

Barr is a complete outside linebacker. After a strong rookie year in 2014, he took his game to another level last season to rival Lavonte David as the NFC’s best 4-3 outside linebacker. David received a five-year, $50.25 million extension from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. Approximately $25.5 million is guaranteed and the deal could be worth as much as $54.75 million because of base salary escalators relating to Pro Bowl and All-NFL selections.

14. Cincinnati Bengals

Best Bargain: Tyler Eifert, TE ($2,607,600/5 Years with 2017 option)

Eifert became one of the NFL’s best red-zone threats in 2015. He led NFL tight ends with 13 touchdown receptions. Other comparable tight ends in the 2013 draft class (Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed) signed long-term extensions in the offseason averaging between $8.5 million and $9.35 million per year.

13. Baltimore Ravens

Best Bargain: Brandon Williams, DT ($917,750/4 Years includes 2016 salary increase from rookie escalator)

The run-stuffing interior defensive lineman stays on the field for his share of passing downs, unlike some nose tackles. The three-year extension averaging $11,083,333 per year that Michael Brockers signed with the Los Angeles Rams last week surely caught Williams’ attention.

12. San Diego Chargers

Best Bargain: Jason Verrett, CB ($1,972,251/4 Years)

Verrett has put himself in the shutdown cornerback discussion in a little over two seasons. His lack of prototypical size (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) won’t prevent him from being paid like an elite coverman, which is currently $14 million to $15 million per year with over $40 million in guarantees.

11. New York Jets

Best Bargain: Sheldon Richardson, DE ($3,624,600/5 Years with 2017 option)

Richardson will probably look at the five-year, $86 million contract with $53.5 million in overall guarantees that Mo Wilkerson signed in July as his salary floor since he has more upside than his defensive linemate. The 2013 Defensive Rookie of Year is arguably the better player, but his well-documented off-the-field baggage may affect him contractually. Richardson served a one-game suspension to start the season for a personal conduct policy violation in connection with high-speed racing and resisting arrest charges in Missouri last offseason. He was also suspended for the first four games in 2015 under the substance abuse policy because of repeated marijuana usage.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Bargain: Le’Veon Bell, RB ($1,030,150/4 Years)

Bell is the NFL’s best dual threat running back when healthy. His 2015 season ended in Week 8’s game against the Bengals with a torn MCL and PCL in his right knee. Completely healthy now, Bell won’t be making his debut this season until Week 4 against the Chiefs because of a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, which is his second drug suspension in as many years.

A decline at the top of the running market doesn’t help Bell, who is in a contract year. With Marshawn Lynch’s retirement, Adrian Peterson, whose $18 million 2017 option year might not be picked up by the Vikings, is the only running back with a deal averaging over $10 million per year. Bell may have a hard time reaching this threshold on his next contract.

Le'Veon Bell Steelers
Le’Veon Bell may be the best RB in the NFL.

9. Miami Dolphins

Best Bargain: Jarvis Landry, WR ($868,727/4 Years)

Nobody has caught more passes in their first two NFL seasons than Landry, who had 194 receptions. He is arguably the league’s best slot wide receiver but is only averaging 10 yards per catch during his brief career.

8. Dallas Cowboys

Best Bargain: Zack Martin, OG ($2,241,950/4 Years)

Martin earned All-Pro honors in first two NFL seasons. As arguably the NFL’s best guard, it’s only a matter time before he replaces Kelechi Osemele as the highest-paid player at the position. The Raiders reset the market by giving Osemele a five-year deal averaging $11.7 million per year in free agency this year.

7. Houston Texans

Best Bargain: DeAndre Hopkins, WR ($3,108,340/5 Years with 2017 option)

Hopkins arguably had the most impressive 2015 season of any wide receiver considering he played with a bunch of mediocre-at-best quarterbacks (Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Brandon Weeden and T.J. Yates) throwing to him. He caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards with 11 touchdowns. The Texans may regret not signing him to an extension after his third year, like 2011 and 2012 first-round picks

He could look to reset the wide receiver market next offseason instead of accepting the same type of deal Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Julio Jonesand Demaryius Thomas signed in 2015 averaging between $14 million and $15 million per year. With the exception of Green, the players received between $43.5 million and $47 million of guarantees in their contracts.

6. New England Patriots

Best Bargain: Jamie Collins, LB ($940,251/4 Years)

Versatility is Collins’ calling card. The 2015 All-Pro can cover bigger wide receivers, tight ends and running backs, is a force against the run and is capable of rushing the passer. Surprisingly, the Patriots haven’t extended Collins or fellow linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s contract, both unrestricted free agents after the season, since a 2017 franchise tag can be used on only one of them. It may be necessary for the Patriots to set the market for outside linebackers who aren’t considered pass rushers with Collins. Lavonte David is the current benchmark.

5. Oakland Raiders

Best Bargain: Khalil Mack, DE/OLB ($4,669,251/4 Years)

Mack, the fifth-overall pick in 2014, became the first player in NFL history to earn first team All-Pro honors at two different positions during the same season (defensive end and outside linebacker) in 2015. He was second in the NFL last season with 15 sacks while continuing to be the dominant run defender he was as a rookie in 2014. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Mack became the NFL’s first $20 million-per-year non-quarterback with at least $75 million in guarantees whether he signs a new deal in 2017 or 2018.

4. New York Giants

Best Bargain: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR ($2,601,550/4 Years)

Beckham’s 2,755 receiving yards are the most in NFL history during a player’s first two seasons. His 187 catches are second. He has also 25 touchdown receptions, which are tied for the fourth most. Beckham should become the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver when the Giants extend his contract, which will run through the 2018 season once his fifth-year option is picked up next year.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

Best Bargain: Allen Robinson, WR ($871,718/4 Years)

Robinson last season became the first Jaguars player to top 1,000 receiving yards (1,400) since Jimmy Smith in 2005. He set a single-season franchise record with 14 touchdown receptions. Expect Robinson to become one the NFL’s highest-paid wide receivers next offseason when he is heading into his contract year. The Jaguars made Allen Hurns one of the highest-paid No. 2 wide receivers in June with a four-year, $40.05 million extension (worth up to $44.05 million through salary escalators).

2. Carolina Panthers

Best Bargain: Kawann Short, DT ($1,157,584/4 Years)

Short is a prime candidate for a franchise tag in 2017 because general manager Dave Gettleman has a policy against negotiating extensions during the regular season. Gettleman was uncomfortable paying the going rate for pass-rushing interior defensive lineman, which is slightly over $17 million per year with upwards to $65 million in guarantees thanks to Cox and Wilkerson.

The defensive tackle franchise number is expected to drop slightly from $13.615 million to approximately $13.475 million if the salary cap increases to the $168 million neighborhood next year. That won’t prevent Short’s agent, Joel Segal, from driving an even harder bargain than he was before negotiations broke off provided Short’s 2016 season is comparable to 2015, when his 11 sacks tied him for the NFL lead among interior defensive linemen.

1. Los Angeles Rams

Best Bargain: Aaron Donald, DT ($2,534,125/4 Years)

Donald won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2014. He was a consensus first-team All-Pro in 2015. Donald took the top spot in Pro Football Focus’ top 101 players for the 2015 season. His 20 sacks over the last two seasons are most in the NFL for interior defensive lineman during this span.

The 13th pick in 2014’s draft should get a new contract in 2017 no later than the middle of September if the Rams adhere to the same timetable they did for first round picks Tavon Austin, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn. Donald has an excellent chance of surpassing Ndamukong Suh as the NFL’s highest-paid interior defensive lineman. Suh received a six-year, $114.375 million contract from the Miami Dolphins in 2015, which averages $19,062,500 per year and contained $59.955 million fully guaranteed.

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