One of my favorite sites to check in on periodically is Over The Cap, where you can get every teams roster and player contract information. I recently came across an article where they broke down every teams best and worst contracts for the coming season. The caveat is that players on a rookie contract are left out of the discussion as they should be. We aren't talking best draft pick here, but best veteran contract. Here's what they had.
Best Contract - Michael Roos
Michael Roos has been a stalwart left tackle for the Titans since being drafted in 2005. He's only missed one game in the last five years and constantly ranks as one of the highest at his position. The Titans restructured his deal in 2008 and the deal runs through 2014. They point out that without an escalating salary in his final years, the Titans actually locked up Roos for the prime of his career at an average about $2M under the going rate for his position/production.
Worst Contract - Chris Johnson
The 2011 decision to extend Chris Johnson to the tune of $13.5M makes him the highest paid player on the team, at a position that is apparently being devalued by the rest of the league. OTC says that Adrian Peterson should be the only RB that even sniffs double digits. They also point out his decline in production and say "with the money spent at the position so low a team could get similar performance for a fraction of the cost...".
It's hard to argue with either of these players as a whole, but I'm not as down on the Chris Johnson as they seem to be. The Titans were coming off of a 10 loss season with a patchwork offensive line and question marks at almost every skill position. This has been called a make-or-break year for the coaching staff and Jake Locker as well. Getting rid of your best offensive player and creating another need on a struggling team would not be a good step forward this off season. Yes, he's overpaid. But sometimes you just need to do that.
I also think that any of the players that top the Titans dead money list for this year would have gotten recognition as well. Steve Hutchinson gave the Titans one decent year before retiring and hitting the Titans for $3M in dead money this year. Depending on his play this year, Michael Griffin could knock Chris Johnson out of the way easily as he is counting $6.3M against the cap this year.
Delanie Walker could be a candidate for best contract going forward, but we'll have to see. If he's able to provide the production and versatility the Titans hope, then his $3M cap number will be a steal. If not, the Titans will be on the hook for $4M in 2014 whether he plays for the team or not, which could throw him in the other category.