Contract Lenses

Here are a look at some players entering contract years (1 year left on their current deals, correct at time of writing).

Quarterbacks:

I would assume that both of these Quarterbacks are not on the same team next season so not really too much to go in to here.

Tyrod Taylor is always criminally undervalued both as a player and as a teammate. Hard Knocks with the Cleveland Browns is showing us more than enough to give us an indicator of how good Tyrod is. He is a team player, he is an efficient Quarterback and he is also a really nice guy. Whilst that the latter isn’t always a guarantor for getting a starting job, it shows that despite all the crap he gets from Bills fans and the organisation, he doesn’t let it affect who he is as a person. On the field, I guess it’s just a matter of time until Baker Mayfield takes the starting job, I just hope Tyrod makes it a hard a decision as possible for the Browns organisation.

Teddy Bridgewater it seems is just constantly in the shop window this pre-season. At some point a trade will be made by a team where their QB has gone down injured or they need a good backup. The more he lights it up in the preseason, the mroe likely someone bites, but also the more likely the price goes up. It’ll be interesting to see where Teddy B ends up. He is a competent enough quarterback and some could argue he is in the top 32.

Running Backs:

As with every year, a few big names here and you’d have to think most will see a new team next season.

One that probably wont is David Johnson. He is the heart and soul of that offence and I feel that Arizona think the same. They’ll pay him huge money and likely be the most in the NFL. Todd Gurley getting a new contract resets the RB market and sets the standard for everyone else to work off of. David Johnson is of course coming off a season-long injury in 2017 but 2016’s performance of over 2000 scrimmage yards culminated in him being a #1 fantasy draft pick in 2017. whilst he probably doesn’t have the touchdown upside in 2018, he’ll still be a top 4 worthy pick in this year’s drafts.

LeVeon Bell is more than likely to see a new offence next season and I am absolutely fascinated to see how he handles a new team. The offensive line in Pittsburgh is all built to suit him and his run style, something that his new team may not be able to offer. 1 thing they will offer Leveon Bell though, is a bucket load of money. LeVeon wants to be paid to his talents – a RB and a WR. He wants somewhere in the region of $16m/$17m which to put in perspective, Gurley just got a 4 year $60m dollar deal, $45m guaranteed.

There will only be a few teams that are capable of squeezing Bell into their teams (Cleveland is one funnily enough, imagine that!) so his pool of teams to choose from will be fairly small. On early look, the Jets, Bills, Colts and Texans could all be suitors.

A couple of RBs from the NFC South will be making moves too next season; Atlanta RB Tevin Coleman will be the 2019 version of Jerick McKinnon. He has consistently backed up (or at least been the 2 in a 1-2 punch) Devonta Freeman in Atlanta over the apst couple of years and Atlanta probably wont be able to afford to keep both of these guys in 2019. Coleman can do it all in the backfield so will probably get a lot of interest and essentially paid like Jerick Mckinnon.

New Orleans Saints and former Heisman trophy winner RB Mark Ingram also will be finding a new team next season and it surprises me that he has managed to stay the course this far. New Orleans and Mark Ingram have always had a funny relationship. I always feel Sean Peyton has had it in for Ingram, almost like Mark Ingram kick his dog years ago and has never let it go. Ingram has always produced when it’s asked of him but you always find that he has been on a tightish leash. Suspended for the first 4 games this season, expect Ingram to then get run in to the ground before being shipped off somewhere.

The last 2 on the RB list are Jay Ajayi and CJ Anderson.

Jay Ajayi is an interesting one when you go past an initial thought. Ajayi has always had knee issues and the last few seasons, has not really impressed either Miami or Philadelphia. Whilst I expect Philly to go full charge on Ajayi this year after the release of Blount, the Jay Train could be derailed at short notice and could even be out of the league (highly doubt but you never know). That said Ajayi ran for 5.8yds per carry with the Eagles when acquired and should see another contract in Philly.

CJ Anderson could be the scapegoat for some dodgy offensive line play and the afterthought with Christian McCaffrey also there. Cameron Artis-Payne has always hung around like a smelly kid in the canteen but if CJ gets the chance he deserves, he should fare better than Jonathan Stewart did last season. The 27 year old is nearing the end of his stint in the NFL it seems so would need a good season to get a multi year contract etiher with the Panthers, or elsewhere.

Wide Receivers:

Odell Beckham Jr is the biggest name to head this bunch of receivers. He has played the good teammate since returning from injury in the offseason where others have held out. He missed the majority of last season with injury but there is no doubting his talents and looks like the OBJ of old in the preseason so far. There should be no doubt that he will remain a Giant and also likely he’ll be the highest paid WR when the ink dries on the contract. Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram are all on rookie deals so I would find it hard to fathom that OBJ doesn’t get a hella lot of zeros on his deal.

Randall Cobb has reportedly been shopped around by the Green Bay Packers, which doesn’t give me much belief that he will be there next year. Rumours were that both Nelson and Cobb would have made way this year, especially when they made moves in the draft to address the position. Whilst Cobb wont be the most expensive to keep on the roster, injury niggles and the fact he’ll be 29 next season means that Green Bay may look to move on from the slot receiver.

Another WR that is starting to lose the battle against father time is Chris Hogan.

In line for a stellar season this season with fellow zimmerframe pending applicant Julian Edelman out for 4 games, Brandin Cooks gone and also Dion Lewis departing, the former Buffalo Bill could spend more than this season with the Patriots, though the way they are cutting players at the moment, you’d have to wonder if he will. He may stay on another 1 year deal in 2019 and take a pay cut but it seems all signs point to this been Hogan’s defining year.

Talking of final years, Larry Fitzgerald is almost certainly going to retire from the game after this season so no need to expand here.

Couple of others to mention – Buffalo Bill wideout Kelvin Benjamin needs to pull his socks up and get some production going otherwise he’ll be looking for a new team and with his previous comments about his former Quarterback Cam Newton recently, not sure he’ll have many takers. Injury history, bad teammate and unreliable hands are not qualities you want in a no.1 wide receiver, but that’s what the Bills have and will probably re-sign.

His former teammate Devin Funchess could be squeezed out of Carolina next season with DJ looking to take over in Carolina. Funchess is a big guy and a good redzone threat but apart from that doesn’t really offer too much so it will be interesting to see if Carolina deem his services expendable. Greg Olsen though is nearing the end of his career so it’s likely he’ll return as he has good chemistry with Cam and stepped up last season when needed.

Tight Ends:

Only a couple to note here and they aren’t going to shake the market if and when their contracts are up.

Titans TE Delanie Walker could retire at the end of the season as he reaches the ripe old age of 35 after the season. A reliable old vet over the years in Tennessee, Walker wont pull a 2017 Antonio Gates and will hopefully get a good send off in that offence this year with a deep playoff run but could reward owners one more time in fantasy as a value at the dumpster fire of a position.

Whilst the myth of contract year players play harder and are more efficient in order to secure their jobs or entice new teams to take them on, don’t fall too much in to that when doing your drafts in the coming weeks. There is not much statistical proof that this is actually a thing. Trying to find anything to the contrary may lead to your eyes burning out and needing glasses…or contract lenses.