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Comparing contracts and production: Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins vs. Malcolm Butler

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This was an interesting exercise. It’s easy to see new Tennessee Titans cornerback Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins as a direct replacement for Malcolm Butler, who the team released before free agency began.

The thought prompted me to take a look at the contracts both players will play on during 2021, while also looking at last year’s in-depth statistics.

Let’s start with the contract details for Jenkins.

According to Over the Cap, Jenkins signed a two-year deal worth $15 million, with $7.5 million guaranteed. His 2021 cap hit will be just $4.7 million.

Jenkins is set to start on the outside for the Titans this season. He figures to be a big part of a new-look secondary that also includes Kevin Johnson, and will likely include a draft pick within the first three rounds as well.

Butler recently signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The details of his deal in Arizona are a bit shocking. Butler agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $6 million if he gets all his incentives. But the details reveal that this deal is heavy on those said incentives. The base value of the deal is just $3.25 million. His cap hit will be just a tad over $2 million this year, according to Over the Cap.

This contract is significantly different from the one Tennessee released him from. Butler was set to earn $14.2 million in 2021. The Titans saved $10.2 million by releasing him. The move left a dead money hit of $4 million.

When comparing the two contracts, it’s quite surprising to see how different they are. Both players are in there thirties and played good football in 2020.

But general managers don’t make mistakes this large. One look at the contract details reveals that Jenkins’ reputation around the league is in far better shape than Butler’s is. That’s the only explanation for why these contracts look so differently.

Let’s take a look at some PFF grades for both players in 2020.

Jenkins had a coverage grade of 66.0 compared to Butler’s 72.7. It’s interesting that Butler scored higher here, especially because he played almost 300 more snaps than Jackrabbit did, Jenkins played 805 snaps versus Butler’s 1087 in 2021.

Jenkins did score a significantly better grade as a run defender though, totaling a 72.9 grade compared to Butler’s 59.3.

What are your thoughts on the differences in numbers here? I found them to be worth writing about.