What Would a New Contract For DRC Look Like?

I’ve opined before on giving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a contract extension, going as far as to call it an offseason priority. With Nnamdi Asomugha aging and only unproven recent draftees behind him, locking up Rodgers-Cromartie would go a long way to preserve continuity in the defensive backfield. Obviously, whether you want to extend him also stems from your impression of him as a player. If you’ve been following along, you know that I think DRC’s stellar play on the outside at the end of 2011 after he languished in the slot for most of the year suggests big things could be in store for him. (And reports out of training camp are stellar so far.)

But unless Howie Roseman is discussing things behind the scenes during training camp, it doesn’t look like he agrees, with either Rodgers-Cromartie’s value or his skill. Let’s go deeper and see what the difference in money might be based on letting DRC play out this contract year. Here’s a table of recent top cornerback contracts given out for players in his age range. Financial details are on the right and on the field stats are on the left (Pro Bowl appearances, games started, yards per attempt, interceptions):

Looking at the finances first, you can see there are different measures for large contracts. The total millions is a nice overall number, although it tends to overstate the “real” value of the deal (with fake years at the end). The yearly figure and guarantee may give a more accurate accounting of the contract.

It’s interesting to look at how the deals were structured and how they turned out. DeAngelo Hall and Dunta Robinson got massive contracts that turned out to be bad for their teams—although you can see why the Redskins and Falcons, respectively, were willing to dish out that kind of dough. For example, Hall was young, even for this group, and already had two Pro Bowl appearances and 22 interceptions.

The following year, Antonio “Headcase” Cromartie received a smaller contract than his number stats warranted because of his off the field problems. Leon Hall got a slightly larger and slightly longer deal. Johnathan Joseph made out like a bandit, with nearly $10 million a year and $24 million guaranteed.

This offseason, Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan both just bested Joseph’s contract. Eric Wright has had an up-and-down career, most recently in Detroit, and he signed a more modest five-year free agent deal. Meanwhile, Lardarius Webb, who had a stellar 2011 season with the Ravens, got the largest total amount. That figure is inflated by an extra year though; as you can see the guarantee is less than some of his peers.

So, where does Rodgers-Cromartie fit in? At 26 years old, he has fewer games started than anyone other than Webb, although his other stats are better than average. He has a low yards per attempt figure and a high interception rate. Even with his atrocious play in the slot last season, 2011 was much more in line with his first two seasons in the league. DRC’s 2010 letdown that prompted him to be traded might have been an outlier.

The question becomes what Rodgers-Cromartie would command in today’s market. Given his perceived inconsistency, lack of physicality, and a deficit of experience compare to his peers, DRC probably wouldn’t be in line for a Carr or Cortland-sized contract. Wright’s deal this year and Hall’s in 2011 look like better comparables: perhaps 5 years, $40 million, $16 million guaranteed.

Let’s say though, that Rodgers-Cromartie plays out this season, putting up his career averages, and enters the market in 2012. At that point, with 60 games started, 7.2 yards per attempt against, and 16 or so interceptions, he could make the case that he’s better than Carr or Finnegan. DRC would probably received $25 million guaranteed and upwards of $10 million per year on the open market—a substantial upgrade from his current value.

By not re-signing his second cornerback now, Roseman risks the price going up next year. He may be making one of a few calculated bets, though. Perhaps he thinks DRC simply isn’t worth a long term contract. He’s betting that Rodger-Cromartie will show that he’s not worth top money. Or Howie’s looking at the other backups and assuming that someone like Curtis Marsh will be able to slide in a year from now. Or maybe Roseman is willing to use the franchise tag (at enormous one-year cost) as necessary to keep DRC on hand in 2013.

Looking at the state of the defensive backfield and the market for cornerbacks as it stands now, I would buy into DRC long term. The potential rewards, both financially and on the field, are great, and the downside to not paying him could be severe next offseason. Get it done.

Photo from Getty.

How Does LeSean McCoy’s Contract Stack Up?

Running Back Contracts

Exact McCoy details: 6-year, $45.615 million contract with $20.765 million guaranteed (first three years base salary plus $8.5 million signing bonus).

2012: $615,000
2013: $3.25 million
2014: $8 million
2015: $10.25 million
2016: $7.15 million
2017: $7.85 million

New Contracts for DeSean, LeSean Coming Soon?

LeSean McCoy

There’s renewed optimism for a DeSean Jackson contract extension, at least according to Jeff McLane.

"Sources close to Jackson" told the Inquirer reporter that negotiations with the team have picked up recently. Jackson also told reporters yesterday: "Without trying to say too much, I think things will work out good here. We’re after the bye week now, so there’s a lot more time for things to get done."

I already speculated on Jackson’s eventual contract here, and the only thing I’d change is probably revise down the total money from $60 million to closer to $50-$55 million over six seasons (given new information about Santonio Holmes’s contract). If the Eagles want to avoid a franchise tag-induced holdout next year, the time is now for an extension.

But even if that deal is coming down the pipe soon, another one looms on the horizon for LeSean McCoy. McCoy has proven this year that he’s capable of performing among the best running backs in the NFL and his contract is up after 2012. While the Eagles offense isn’t as dependent on McCoy as it once was on Brian Westbrook, they need to lock him up long term.

Here are some of the more recent contracts given out to top backs:

2011- Chris Johnson (25): 6 years, $55 million, $30 million guaranteed
2011- Adrian Peterson (26): 7 years, $96 million, $36 million guaranteed
2011- Frank Gore (28): 4 years, $26 million, $14 million guaranteed
2011- DeAngelo Williams (28): 5 years, $43 million, $21 million guaranteed
2010- Jamaal Charles (24): 6 years, $28 million, $10 million guaranteed
2009- Maurice Jones-Drew (24): 5 years, $31 million, $18 million guaranteed
2008- Steven Jackson (25): 6 years, $45 million, $21 million guaranteed
2008- Michael Turner (26): 6 years, $35 million, $15 million guaranteed

There are a lot of different situations represented here, but as with the wide receivers, we can at least determine a general ballpark for McCoy’s negotiations.

Let’s start at the top. Johnson and Peterson got otherworldly contracts that serve as nothing but the upper bound for McCoy’s talks. There’s no more chance of LeSean seeing $9 million per year or close to $30 million guaranteed than there is of DeSean sniffing Larry Fitzgerald’s $130 million deal. McCoy will probably have trouble even besting the per year contract value of Gore or Williams, since they have more years and more production to bank on.

The closest analogue to McCoy in production and age is probably Charles, whose $28 million deal looked like a bargain before he tore his ACL. If McCoy wants to wait this out and get closer to free agency, his play might continue to push his value northward. But, as Charles demonstrated this year, a running back’s career is always in danger. If LeSean can get a reasonable six year, $32 million contract with $14 million guaranteed, he should probably jump on it.

Photo from Getty.

Eagles Front Office Outsmarted Everyone Else

It’s not easy to explain the free agent binge the Eagles have embarked on over the last week. People have tried, of course, but I can’t help but find most of their explanations lacking.

Donovan McNabb’s resentful commentary, as told to Clark Judge, certainly isn’t right. He whined, “You’re seeing Andy taking that chance. It’s not just taking that chance on one guy. They’re taking a chance on a bunch of guys. And they’re spending money. That’s amazing.”

It’s not as easy as saying that Reid and company have changed up, become more aggressive, more willing to spend, or more risky overall. The Eagles front office has never hesitated to go after the best free agents, signing guys like Jevon Kearse, Jon Runyan, and Asante Samuel. While they’ve been prudent with their money, that’s never been a big restraint. And, considering all but the Nnamdi Asomugha deal can be opted out of after a year, they’ve certainly hedged against risk.

I look at the list of free agents additions at right and I don’t see a big shift in philosophy. Some of the guys are older, but they’re top players still in their prime, not fading former stars. And, to reiterate, they haven’t let themselves get too risky with the deals.

Plus, the veteran acquisitions hide the fact that the rest of the Eagles lineup is still very young. A month back I pointed out that the team was poised to have Michael Vick potentially be the oldest Eagle in 2011. That’s unlikely now, but the overall point remains. This team is still young — even after adding a few 30-year-old veterans — and the bounty of 2012 draft picks beckons.

So what has changed? It’s not a willingness to spend or accept risk. It wasn’t aggressiveness that won the free agency period for the Eagles. Nor was it some fateful passing text messages in the night.

It was brains.

Read Jonathan Tamari’s Inquirer story about the Eagles preparation for the end of the lockout and free agency and tell me that the front office’s “blueprint” didn’t run circles around the rest of the league.

Carolina, for example, jumped into free agency like a chicken with its head cut off, throwing huge signing bonuses at every player who threatened to leave. Washington signed so many washed up veteran wide receivers that one backed out of his commitment. The Jets and Cowboys spent days pursuing Asomugha and came up empty.

Meanwhile, during the same window, the Eagles front office signed all their draft picks, picked a bunch of undrafted rookies, traded Kevin Kolb at high market value to the only team who was really interested, signed two Pro Bowl defensive linemen, snatched up the single best free agent with a surprisingly low deal before anyone knew they were even bidding, and then plugged cheap, proven contributors into the remaining holes with cap room to spare.

It makes sense. During the Andy Reid era, the Eagles have always been best at pregame preparation rather than live adjustments. And what was the lockout, ultimately, but an extra long chance to do nothing but plan, prepare, and scheme for the first days back?

Essentially, the Eagles just ran the best first 15 scripted plays they’ve ever called. The outcome of the whole game remains far from decided, but they now have a tremendous head start.

Photo from Getty.

How the Eagles are Built for the Long Term

It’s easy to get caught up in the upcoming season. But this Eagles team isn’t built just for 2010, but for next half-decade. When you look at who is under contract with the Eagles three seasons from now in 2012, you get a good sense of how long-term the Eagles are thinking.