2015 contract extension grades
On Monday, Packers defensive end Mike Daniels inked an extension with Green Bay, avoiding free agency at the end of the season. How does the deal compare to other extensions this season? Let’s take a look.
Mike Daniels, DE, Green Bay Packers (91.9 season grade)
Contract details: Four years, $42 million, $12 million guaranteed
Breakdown: Considering some of the contracts handed out to interior defensive lineman who can rush the passer this offseason, Daniels’ deal looks like an absolute bargain for the Packers. Daniels is currently our second overall 3-4 defensive end behind only J.J. Watt. He’s fourth amongst defensive interiors after the big three of Watt, Aaron Donald, and Geno Atkins. Daniels holds the third-best pass rush productivity rating at his position, with five sacks, six hits, and 33 hurries this season, culminating in a +19.6 grade. He’s far from a one-trick pony, however; Daniels sits atop our run defense grades (+22.6), where he’s tied with J.J. Watt. Considering Daniels’ 600 snaps are about 200 short of his competitors, that’s some production.
Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills (87.7)
Contract details: Seven years, $103.2 million, $60 million guaranteed
Breakdown: Compared to Daniels’ contract, Dareus’ deal looks like a stretch. He’s a good player, absolutely, but $60 million guaranteed for an interior defensive lineman who’s predominantly stout against the run? Despite the 10 sacks in 2014, Dareus only recorded a further three hits and 19 hurries, giving him a pass rush grade of just +5.3 (19th amongst defensive tackles). The sacks haven’t come this year, though (just two), and Dareus’ additional three hits and 20 hurries give him an only slightly better than average +0.4 grade rushing the passer. While he remains one of the best interior run defenders (+44.1 grade over the past two years), the Bills probably expected more when he signed on the dotted line on the eve of the season. Dareus is, after all, only our ninth-graded defensive tackle.
Grade: C –
Justin Bethel, CB, Arizona Cardinals, (76.3)
Contract details: Three years, $15 million, $9 million guaranteed
Breakdown: Bethel is only a bit-part player for the Cardinals’ outstanding secondary, but he adds depth to a strong unit. After not seeing much action on defense his first three years in the league, Bethel is making the most of his opportunity in 2015. In 330 snaps this year, he has a +3.9 grade with a +4.7 grade in coverage. Overall, he’s allowed just 19-of-43 targets to be caught for 217 yards, two TDs, one pick, and five pass deflections. That’s a QB rating allowed of just 65.7. The money seems a little rich for a backup, especially the guaranteed dollar, but depth in the secondary is crucial in today’s NFL.
Grade: B –
Marshal Yanda, RG, Baltimore Ravens (92.6)
Contract details: Four years, $32 million, $17.8 million guaranteed
Breakdown: Few Ravens are playing as well as they did a season ago, but Marshal Yanda is an exception. After blowing away the competition to snag the title of top-graded guard in 2014, Yanda looks set to repeat that feat again in 2015. He holds both the third-highest grade in pass protection, to go with the third-highest pass block efficiency ranking. Yanda’s in the top three in terms of run blocking, also. He’s not graded outside the top 10 overall in the past five years, and age (31) seems to have only improved Yanda’s game. With all these superlatives, he didn’t come cheap, however.
Grade: B +
Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers (99.9)
Contract details: Five years, $62 million, $34 million guaranteed
Breakdown: Few linebackers get such big contracts, but Kuechly is something of a special case. He’s on course to record the best graded season ever by an inside linebacker, and is well in contention for Defensive Player of the Year. Unsatisfied with the highest grade amongst inside linebackers in 2014, Kuechly topped what he accomplished last year in just eight games. He hasn’t graded negatively since Week 7 of 2014, has the best tackling efficiency, second-best run stop percentage, and is allowing a QB rating of just 39.1. Kuechly is setting a new benchmark of excellence at his position, and looks well worth the money invested in him.
Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns (76.8)
Contract details: Four years, $13.5 million, $5.5 million guaranteed
Breakdown: A lack of playmakers in Cleveland has given Gary Barnidge an opportunity he’s seized. After a few quiet years in Carolina, he’s found a home with the Browns and is playing his best football. Only Greg Olsen and Gronk have amassed more yardage than Barnidge at tight end (901), and he has an impressive eight touchdowns. Overall, his +11.6 receiving grade is fourth. Barnidge is a seriously deficient blocker (-10.2 combined pass protection and run blocking grade), but that can be forgiven considering the relative bargain he’s proven and the threat he provides down the field.
Grade: B +
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (66.3)
Contract details: Five years, $101.5 million, $65 million guaranteed
Breakdown: The Giants committed to Eli Manning for the foreseeable future by signing him to a big-money extension. The decision has come under increased scrutiny, as Manning’s inconsistent season has continued. No one will forget one of the greatest postseason streaks in NFL history, but 2015 is what matters now, and he’s not playing well enough. He’s our 24th overall QB at the moment. Manning’s inconsistency stretches back to last year, where he too often followed up good games with poor ones. He’s only 15th in accuracy percentage in 2015, despite playing in a fairly conservative offense and has one of the worst grades under pressure. Finding quarterbacks is difficult, but the Giants front office certainly didn’t expect a regression when they gave Manning his pay day. He did play exceptionally well on Monday Night Football, his highest graded game of the season by a large margin.
Grade: C –
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders (80.7)
Contract details: Five years, $34 million, $19 million guaranteed
Breakdown: Signing Crabtree was a risk for the Raiders, considering his disappointing 2014 campaign. He finished as our 97th overall receiver that year, in part due to the 10 drops which left him 47th of 50 qualifiers in drop rate. Although negative plays remain an issue (Crabtree has seven drops this year), Crabtree’s also made more plays with 14 broken tackles (seventh) and seven touchdowns (10th). Although he’s had a somewhat concerning drop in form the past month (-5.5 grade), his impressive start to the season should not be forgotten. He’s currently our 28th overall wide receiver, and a good compliment to Amari Cooper. The contract he received looks about right for a dependable No. 2.