Analysis

2021 NFL free agency: Worst contracts given out so far

It doesn't feel sporting to throw a wet blanket on anyone's ability to get paid during a pandemic. Still, with the initial wave of free agency in the books, it's worth taking a look at deals that teams might regret. (Click above to check out deals that I think teams will be happy with.)

NOTE: Unless otherwise specified, contract details are sourced from numbers filed to the NFL Players Association and the NFL.

Joe Thuney signing with the Chiefs: This isn't about Thuney, who is clearly a quality guard. It's about value and need and, maybe, using free agency as an emotional rebound after a devastating Super Bowl loss. In a year of relatively low prices on the market, Thuney earned more guaranteed money ($50.9 million) than Trent Williams ($45.1 million) or any other free agent available. The history of guards changing places in free agency and proceeding to earn their money is spotty. While this is true at most positions, guards still rely on teammates and coaches so much that even a good one can get lost without the right support.

Part of my reasoning for listing Thuney here is that the Chiefs have done a laudable job coaching up and finding bargains at the position in the last five years. They paid for tackles, had big misses and some hits at guard and rode that to one of the best offenses in the league. When the tackles were injured this year, it all fell apart. But while the Chiefs' general approach to pay on the edges made sense, Thuney's signing this offseason only seemed to prevent the Chiefs from going the extra mile in their pursuit of Williams, who ended up sticking in San Francisco.

The Davises landing in New York: The wide receiver market was seemingly depressed for everyone but Corey Davis and Nelson Agholor. I'd rather have JuJu Smith-Schuster or Will Fuller than Davis, whose draft profile coming out of college likely helped the former first-rounder get far more guaranteed money ($27 million) than the others. (Even Agholor got "only" $16 million guaranteed.)

Davis was rock solid with the Titans in 2020, but he could still be taken out of games as a second or third option. He makes this list primarily because of his first three seasons, when he too rarely popped on tape.

Linebacker Jarrad Davis' one-year deal, worth $5.5 guaranteed, with the Jets was one of the most surprising signings of the offseason. The 2017 first-round pick clearly had a market, despite four lost years in Detroit. This is a great test of whether coach Robert Saleh can turn around any player's career.

Nelson Agholor to the Patriots: Desperation appears to have driven Agholor's price up. Again, I'd rather have Fuller or Smith-Schuster, who have both performed at a higher level for longer.

Leonard Floyd returning to the Rams: The Rams bought low on Floyd last season, and it worked out great. They doubled down this year on a four-year, $64 million contract, more than half of which is guaranteed. Floyd essentially got top-of-the-market money despite assembling an uneven career before landing next to Aaron Donald in defensive coordinator Brandon Staley's scheme.

Floyd wound up getting more guaranteed money ($32.5 million) than Carl Lawson ($30 million), Romeo Okwara ($25 million), Matt Judon ($32 million) and Yannick Ngakoue ($26 million). Staley's departure from the Rams for the Chargers' head coaching job is part of my issue here. Floyd may look different in a different scheme, and the Rams need Floyd to repeat his 2020 campaign to be worthy of this big of a raise.

Cameron Erving to the Panthers: Erving, a journeyman, getting $8 million guaranteed from the Panthers was one of those contracts that looked bad on Day 1 of free agency and looks even worse after a week.

The Jaguars' mid-level deals: Players near the top of the market mostly secured their usual money, but there wasn't a robust middle class of veteran contracts this offseason -- unless you happened to sign with the Jaguars. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (three years, $23.4 million), wide receiver Marvin Jones (two years, $12.5 million) and safety Rayshawn Jenkins (four years, $35 million) all went for surprisingly high prices. If there was one team that appeared ready to overspend this offseason, it was the Jaguars.

A.J. Green to the Cardinals: Watching Green's decline in Cincinnati was a downer. One of the most fluid athletes I've ever seen, Green hasn't looked like his best self since 2017. That trend could always reverse in the desert, but paying $6 million for that hope for a 33-year-old was a surprise.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

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