5. Malik Jackson, DT, Jacksonville: $15,500,000
A space-eating tackle, Jackson had modest stats in the first year of his massive contract – 6.5 sacks, five tackles for loss. He played well, but it didn’t come close to matching his compensation. Wrap your mind around this – Jackson makes more money than JJ Watt, the best defensive lineman in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked Jackson 12th among interior defenders last season, but that’s certain to go up now that he’s got Calais Campbell joining him.
4. Sean Smith, CB, Oakland: $9,500,000.
Signed a 4-year, $40 million deal in 2016 and proceeded to get roasted so badly in the season opener against New Orleans, he was benched in the 3rd quarter. Rarely do you hear someone admit, “I was getting killed” in the season opener after you just signed a lucrative contract. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was the 18th ranked cornerback last year, which feels generous given his bad season. He’s got the 13th highest cap hit among CBs next season.
This is probably the most puzzling contract in the NFL. Austin signed a 4-year, $42 million extension in 2016, though it’s unclear why. The Rams overdrafted him (8th) and have struggled to figure out how to use him. The year before he got the massive contract, Austin caught 52 passes for 473 yards and five TDs. He also rushed for four TDs. Maybe the offensive coordinator changes are the problem. Or the young QBs. Either way, the really bad news: 98 percent of the money the Rams are spending this year on wide receivers is going to Tavon Austin and Robert Woods. Gulp.
This speaks to the dire quarterback situation around the NFL. Glennon was a 3rd round pick in 2013, and played plenty as a rookie, throwing 19 TDs in 13 games, while absorbing 40 sacks. His coach, Greg Schiano, was fired. Enter coach Lovie Smith, who brought his guy, Josh McCown in from Chicago to be the QB. He was terrible, and Glennon replaced him, leading the team to a nice win in Pittsburgh. But by November 2014 Glennon was benched (only 57 percent completions), and McCown was back (maybe they were tanking?). After a 2-14 record, they landed Jameis Winston in the draft. Glennon threw just 11 passes in the last two years, and then the Bears gave him a 3-year, $43 million deal. Now he not only has to live up to the pressure of a huge contract, but also fend off the rookie the Bears traded up to draft.
Last year at this time, Osweiler had just accepted a massive contract offer from the Houston Texans and was poised to be the starter for a potential Super Bowl contender. Osweiler had gone 5-2 backing up Peyton Manning in 2015, with 10 TDs passes while completing 61 percent of his passes. There were a few red flags, but Osweiler got a 4-year, $72 million deal. He was benched last season, and after a truly horrendous playoff game (three interceptions), Houston traded him to Cleveland for virtually nothing. He may not even be on the roster by week one.