Top 10 Worst NFL Contracts

Updated on May 20, 2019

These teams paid these guys big bucks in thinking they were going to lead them to championships, but all they seemed to do was disappoint. Today, I rank the top 10 worst contracts in NFL history.

10. Kirk Cousins

He was signed to get Minnesota over the hump and into the Super Bowl, but he hasn't been able to play up to his billing.

A fourth round pick in 2012 by Washington, Kirk Cousins was initially brought in to be the backup to first round pick Robert Griffin III. After occasionally starting and appearing in a few other games, he became the fulltime starter in the 2015 preseason after Griffin was injured. During his time with the Redskins, he set numerous franchise records including most career 300 yard passing games, most 4,000 yard passing seasons, and most passes without an interception. After being franchise tagged for two years and not being able to reach a long term deal, he decided to leave via free agency.

In 2018, Cousins signed with the Minnesota Vikings on a three year deal, worth a fully guaranteed $84 million. Minnesota saw him as an upgrade over Case Keenum who helped the team to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game. While statistically he was solid for the most part, his first season in purple was a disappointment. He set career highs in touchdown passes and completion percentage, but he struggled to sustain the offense as the year went on and Minnesota limped to an 8-7-1 record and missed the playoffs. Cousins is a solid quarterback, but he doesn't appear to have all the tools needed to be a consistent franchise quarterback. And seeing how he has a no trade clause in his contract, the Vikings are stuck with him for the next two years at a price of nearly $28 million per year.

9. Nnamdi Asomugha

It is still a mystery to me why he didn't work in Philadelphia.

A first round pick in 2003 out of California by the Oakland Raiders, Nnamdi Asomugha moved from free safety to cornerback coming into the NFL. After playing sparingly in his first two seasons, he became the starter in 2005. In 2006, he tied for second in the league with eight interceptions to go along with 50 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a touchdown. Over the next four seasons, only 112 passes were thrown in his direction and only allowed 41 completions. In his eight seasons in the Silver and Black, he was a three time Pro Bowler, four time All-Pro, and was named to the All-Decade team of the 2000's.

In 2011, Asomugah signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a five- year, $60 million contract with $25 million guaranteed. The Eagles spent big money on multiple free agent signings that season and Philadelphia had their eyes on a Super Bowl run. Asomugah in two seasons managed just 95 tackles, 17 passes defended, four interceptions, and allowed a 92.4 opposing passer rating. This is one of the more surprising free agent failures to me. For some reason his career took a dive and he wasn't the same shutdown corner he was in Oakland. The Eagles proceeded to go 8-8 in 2011 and then 4-12 the next year which forced the firing of head coach Andy Reid and house cleaning of high priced players. Asomugah spent half of the next season with San Francisco before retiring as a Raider in 2013.

8. Javon Walker

He had Pro Bowl potential, but was constantly plagued by injuries.

A first round pick by Green Bay in 2002, Javon Walker was a serviceable target in his first two seasons before having a breakout tear in 2004. That season he finished with 89 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. The following hear he tore his ACL and was lost for the season. In 2006, Walker was traded to Denver for a second round pick and had a productive first season as a Bronco with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. The following year he played in just eight games due to injury and Denver released him after they were unable to trade him.

In 2008, Walker signed with Oakland on a six year deal worth $55 million with $16 million guaranteed. Three weeks after signing the contract, he was beaten and robbed of $100,000 in possessions and suffered a concussion in the attack. He played in just eight games that season with just 15 catches and one touchdown before landing on injured reserve with an ankle injury.. In 2009 he played in just three games with no stats and was released after the season. Everyone knew that the signing wasn't going to end well. Walker had dealt with multiple knee injuries within the last three seasons and he certainly wasn't going to achieve the level of play he had in his lone Pro Bowl year. In those days, the last team to know anything was the Raiders and this is just another case of the team's ineptitude post Supper Bowl XXXVII.

7. Jay Cutler

If you have ever read any my hubs before, you know how I feel about this one.

A first round pick in 2006 by Denver, Jay Cutler became the starter late into his rookie year. In 2008, he had his best statistical season throwing for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns, but the Broncos lost their final three games to finish 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Cutler was traded to Chicago in 2009 for Kyle Orton. The following year, he helped Chicago reach the NFC Championship.

Prior to the 2014 season, Cutler signed a contract extension with Chicago through 2020 worth $126 million with $56 million guaranteed. In the first year after signing the deal, he led the league in interceptions and the Bears never won more than six games over the next three years and Cutler was released in 2017 after the team bought out his contract. The decision to resign for that long was a head scratcher for many reasons. He only made the playoffs once in his time in Chicago and led the league in interceptions twice. His off putting personality and inconsistency has made him the Jeff George of the 21st century and know amount of arm talent is worth setting back a franchise that much.

6. Matt Flynn

He got a big contract, then lost his job to a rookie.

A seventh round pick in 2008 out of LSU by the Green Bay Packers, Matt Flynn spent much of his time as Aaron Rodgers' backup, beating out second round pick Brian Brohm. He made his first career start in place of an injured Rodgers in 2010, throwing three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss to New England. Later that season, he would be the backup as the Packers won XLV. In the final game of the 2011 season, he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in the 45-41 victory, both of which set single game Packers records.

In 2012, Flynn signed with the Seattle Seahawks on a three-year deal worth $20.5 million with $9 million guaranteed. Seattle expected him to be the starter having learned under Rodgers. However, he would lose the starting role to third round rookie Russell Wilson. He threw just nine passes in his only season with the Seahawks before being traded to Oakland in 2013. That averages out to a $1 million per pass. Flynn would spend the next three seasons between six different teams before retiring in 2016 while Russell Wilson would help Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII victory and has become one of the premier quarterbacks of today.

5. Michael Vick

He created a new breed of quarterback, but lost it due to his secret obsession.

The first overall pick in 2001 by Atlanta, Michael Vick changed the way a quarterback was seen in the NFL. Never before had a quarterback had the speed and elusiveness to be the fastest player on the field. In 2006, he became the first quarterback in history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

In December of 2004, Vick signed a 10 year, $137 million extension with $37 million guaranteed. That's when things started going down hill. On the field, the Falcons went 15-16 in the following two seasons with him as the starter while completing under 54% of his passes for 43 total touchdowns and 26 interceptions. Off the field between 2004 and 2007, he had multiple incidents of drug possession. In 2006, he was fined by the NFL for flipping of fans after a game. Then there's the dog fighting. In 2007 Vick was implicated in an illegal interstate dogfighting ring that had operated for five years. A federal judge noted that he had promoted, funded, and facilitated a dog fighting ring on his property, and had engaged in hanging and drowning dogs who did not perform well. He would go on to be sentenced to 23 months in prison and three years probation following his release. He also received a two year ban from the NFL.

Vick was able to have a career resurgence in Philadelphia, but the money Atlanta invested in him set the team back until they acquired Matt Ryan.

4. Percy Harvin

He had a big play in the Super Bowl, but he proved to be more trouble than he was worth.

A first round pick by Minnesota in 2009, Percy Harvin immediately showed his value on offense and in the return game. In his first season, he caught 60 passes for six touchdowns while also returning two kickoffs for scores. He continued to show explosive value for the Vikings but also missed several games with numerous injuries.

In 2013, Harvin was traded Seattle for a first and seventh round pick. Immediately after the acquisition, the Seahawks signed him to a new six year, $67 million contract with $25.5 million guaranteed. During training camp, he suffered a slight labrum tear which required surgery and was placed on the physically unable to perform list. He didn't appear for the Seahawks until midseason, but experienced inflammation from the surgery and was unable to play. After not playing in the NFC Championship game due to a concussion, Harvin returned the opening kickoff of the second half of Super Bowl XLVIII 87 yards for a touchdown, helping the Seahawks win their first ever Super Bowl. The following year, things started to go south. Harvin allegedly had locker room altercations with teammates during his tenure with Seattle and it was also discovered that there were games where he sat himself down, refusing to go back on the field. The Seahawks traded him to the Jets after five games for a conditional 2015 draft pick.

3. Michael Johnson

Tampa fell in love with his physicality, but he was in reality an overpriced mistake.

A third round pick by Cincinnati in 2009, Michael Johnson was seen as a steal as many saw him as a first round talent. After moving to outside linebacker and being named the fulltime starter in 2012, he had a breakout year with 52 tackles, 11.5 sacks, one interception, and a forced fumble.

In 2014, Johnson signed with Tampa Bay on a five year deal worth $43.9 million with $25 million guaranteed. the year was a disaster for many reasons as he dealt with multiple injuries while registering just 20 solo tackles and four sacks in 14 games while the Buccaneers finished with a league worst 2-14 record. Tampa Bay released him exactly one year after signing his contract. The moved saved $2 million in cap space but the team still took a $7 million loss due to his guaranteed money. Johnson spent the next four years back in Cincinnati and is currently a free agent. The fact that the Bus were willing to fork over so much money for a defensive end who never made a Pro Bowl and only had one season in five years where he had more than 10 sacks, it just goes to show how desperate some teams can be for an edge rusher. At a price tag of $1 million a game, the contract has to be mentioned among the worst ever.

2. Jon Gruden

He went from being out of the league for nearly a decade, to being the highest paid coach in the league.

After spending eight years as an assistant coach for three teams, Jon Gruden was hired as the head coach of the Raiders in 1998. Under Gruden, the Raiders posted consecutive 8-8 seasons between 1998 and 1999 and got out of the AFC West basement. After uniting with journeyman quarterback Rich Gannon, Gruden led the Raiders to the top of the AFC West and they made the playoffs the next two seasons. In 2002, Gruden was traded to Tampa for two first round picks, two second round picks, and $8 million cash. In his first year with the Bucs, he transformed the offense into a competent unit to match the stellar defense. Tampa Bay went 12-4 in 2002 and won their first Super Bowl against his former Oakland team. However over the next six seasons, he failed to recapture the success of 2002 and was fired by Tampa after 2008. In 2009, he was hired by ESPN as a color analyst for Monday Night Football.

In 2018, Gruden returned to coaching and was rehired by Oakland while signing a 10 year contract worth $100 million. In his first year back with the Silver and Black, he made several questionable decisions by signing older veterans, drafting a Kolton Miller in the first round, and trading away All-Pros Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Oakland would finish 4-12 in 2018 while Mack and Cooper helped their new teams reach the playoffs. The hiring was a head scratcher for many reasons including his long departure from the game and his high price considering the Raiders are one of the league's poorest franchises. Gruden has said that if he can't get the job done, he'll give the money back, but the contradictory philosophy he showed last season shows he is making it up as he's going on.

1. Albert Haynesworth

Of all of the bad free agency signings in the Dan Snyder era, he is at the top of the list.

A first round pick in 2002 out of Tennessee by the Tennessee Titans, Albert Haynesworth established himself as a dominant defensive tackle with anger issues. He was fines numerous times most notable stomping on Cowboys center Andre Gurode's head in 2006. He was a two time pro bowler and All-Pro during his final years in Tennessee.

In 2009, Haynesworth signed with the Washington Redskins on a then record seven- year, $100 million contract with $41 million guaranteed. From the beginning of his time with the Redskins, Haynesworth presented problems for the coaching staff. He refused to participate in off-season workouts, and arrived at camp out of shape and unable to pass a basic fitness test. He also made it clear that he did not like or want to play nose tackle in the team's 3-4 defensive scheme, having played in a 4-3 scheme in Tennessee. By December of 2010, he would spend the rest of the season on the restricted list. There had been multiple conflicts throughout the 2010 preseason with Haynesworth and the coaching staff. After a dispute over his absence at a practice in which Haynesworth claimed to be ill, the team suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team. In two seasons in Washington, he recorded only 6.5 sacks. He spent his final season in New England and Tampa Bay.

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      • Gurpinder Vir Singh Rai profile image

        Gupi 

        4 months ago

        Thanks for sharing. Very interesting.

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