Best Value on Every Team in 2020
NFL contracts tend to be some of the most complicated things to understand in the world. While fans across the country love to overanalyze deals, they tend to focus on the deals that seem like overpays. Today, I’ll be more focused on the opposite side of the spectrum – the deals that are the best values. Given the rookie wage scale and length of the contracts, the VAST majority of these players are still on their rookie deals, but there are three players on a later deal.
CB Tre’Davious White
Tre White has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL since the moment he stepped foot on an NFL field. For the past three seasons, he’s been the key player in a Bills secondary that has harassed opposing receivers on a weekly basis. White is still on his rookie deal, so the $3.2M he’s making this season is an absolute steal for Buffalo. Unfortunately for the Bills, White won’t be this affordable for much longer.
WR Preston Williams
The undrafted receiver out of Colorado State was in the midst of a strong rookie season before it ended prematurely with a torn ACL. Williams showed promise with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback and was a consistent contributor when on the field. Assuming Williams sees the same number of snaps and gets healthy before the season, we could see a breakout sophomore year for the young Dolphin.
New England Patriots
CB JC Jackson
While J.C. Jackson has not been a starter on a consistent basis, he sees significant snaps in this Patriots secondary. Jackson allowed a passer rating of just 35.6 this past season for an under-the-radar dominant sophomore year. As we enter year three of Jackson’s career, he is still yet to allow a receiving touchdown.
New York Jets
S Jamal Adams
For the time being, Jamal Adams is still a New York Jet. Adams is the best player on the team and one of the best defenders in the NFL right now. While the team has struggled to find victories, Mal has been one of the few consistent bright spots on the roster, finding his way to two Pro Bowls and a First-Team All-Pro nod in his first three seasons. A versatile piece on the defense, Adams is well worth every penny on his contract.
QB Lamar Jackson
This is the second-easiest inclusion on this list. Adding the reigning NFL MVP to this list following his incredible sophomore season was a no-brainer. LJ scored a touchdown on 9% of his pass attempts this past season. While that production will be difficult to top, there is no denying that he has paid dividends for the organization that went all-in on him.
RB Joe Mixon
While Mixon did not have a very productive season in 2019, his offensive line gave him very little help. Based on talent alone, having a player like Mixon on the roster for as little as he’s paid leaves the Bengals in a very good position at running back. Unfortunately with his contract expiring after this season, the Bengals could be put in a very rough spot.
RB Nick Chubb
The Browns have one of the strongest rosters in the NFL. Starting running back Nick Chubb is one of the most talented players on the team and he also happens to be one of the most inexpensive. For the time being, the Browns have a franchise running back on a rookie deal.
DB Minkah Fitzpatrick
While the cost of a first-round pick might have seemed hefty at the time, Fitzpatrick has done more than enough to make up for it. From the moment he stepped onto the field in black and yellow, he’s transformed the defense from an aggressive one into one both aggressive and actually productive. The Steelers are lucky to have Fitzpatrick in their secondary for two more years.
QB Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson has been a superstar from just about his first game in the NFL. The decision won’t be difficult for Houston when it comes time to extend Watson. The only question is how much it will cost them.
LB Darius Leonard
While there are plenty of great draft picks from Chris Ballard’s time as general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, Darius Leonard might be the best so far. Leonard stepped in and was a First-Team All-Pro during his rookie year with the Colts and is still under team control for at least two more seasons.
WR DJ Chark
DJ Chark had a quiet rookie season, but his sophomore year was filled with highlight reel plays. Chark improved significantly after his first year and could be in for another 1,000+ yard season with more stable quarterback play and another year of NFL coaching.
DL Jeffery Simmons
While it took Simmons some time to get onto the field following a pre-draft knee injury, he stepped in and was an immediate impact player for Tennessee. Simmons is expected to have a monster second year and he’ll be under Tennessee’s control for at least three more seasons.
RB Phillip Lindsay
Lindsay didn’t have a sophomore year like his rookie season, but he was still one of the better backs in the NFL. As both a rusher and receiver, Lindsay offers a level of consistency that is difficult to find at any level.
Kansas City Chiefs
QB Patrick Mahomes II
Do I need to explain this one? Best player in the NFL, still on a rookie deal. Enough said.
Las Vegas Raiders
DE Maxx Crosby
Coming out of nowhere (aka Eastern Michigan), Crosby had a monstrous rookie season as a fourth round pick. With 10 sacks, 16 TFLs, and 31 QB pressures, Crosby has a ton of upside as a pass-rusher and could see himself a consistent double-digit sack artist and future All-Pro.
Los Angeles Chargers
S Derwin James
Not many players are capable of making First-Team All-Pro during their rookie season, but Derwin James is one of the few that can. James came in as an immediate superstar in this Chargers secondary and was a key piece in the gameplan to eliminate the Baltimore Ravens from the 2018 NFL playoffs.
LB Leighton Vander Esch
Vander Esch had neck concerns coming out of college, but was still a first round pick by the Cowboys in 2018. LVE is under Dallas’ control for at least two more seasons, but he has already made a name for himself as one of the top young linebackers in the entire NFL. Assuming his neck can withstand the rigors of the NFL, Vander Esch should continue to be a force at the second level.
New York Giants
WR Darius Slayton
Darius Slayton was a fifth-round pick last season that came out of nowhere to put up 740 yards and eight touchdowns for the Giants. Slayton erupted against the Eagles and Jets for a combined 275 yards and four touchdowns. If he can become even more consistent, he’ll be one of the best values around for a mere $2.5M over the next three years.
CB Darius Slay
Darius Slay is one of the few players on this list that isn’t on a rookie deal. Slay is set to make $4.3M this season, but he has been a consistent performer as a boundary corner and one of the top man defenders in the NFL throughout his career. $4.3M for a legitimate #1 cornerback is an absolute steal for a team that desperately needs corner help.
WR Terry McLaurin
Scary Terry came into the season without much hype around him but quickly developed some buzz with a five-catch, 125-yard, one-TD performance in week one. From there on out, when he was healthy, McLaurin was almost a lock for 50+ yards and I would expect more of the same from him in his sophomore year.
S Eddie Jackson
In the first year of his second contract, Eddie Jackson is set to make just $3.7M for the Bears. Jackson is arguably the best safety in the NFL and is one year removed from a six-interception season with two defensive touchdowns. BoJack has been a force to be reckoned with in the NFL and I would expect more big things in the immediate future from him.
WR Kenny Golladay
Although his career didn’t get off to the hottest start in Detroit, NIU product Kenny Golladay has been a beast for the Lions in his second and third seasons. With a combined 135 catches, 2,253 yards, and 16 touchdowns over the past two years, Golly has exceeded expectations every step of the way and should earn big money following the upcoming contract year. For now though, enjoy the deal Detroit.
Green Bay Packers
CB Jaire Alexander
Following his second season, Jaire Alexander has established himself as one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL. Alexander has given the Packers a level of stability they haven’t had the cornerback position since Charles Woodson. Luckily for Green Bay, big money won’t kick in for Alexander for another two to three years.
RB Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook was finally healthy for the majority of the season this year and he responded by putting together an excellent season. With over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns, Cook proved that when he’s healthy, he can dominate. Now we just wait to see if he can stay healthy for the 2020 season – a contract year.
TE Hayden Hurst
While Hurst does not have the numbers that you would like from a first-round tight end, it’s important to recognize that he had been backing up Mark Andrews in Baltimore. With Austin Hooper gone in Atlanta, it’s now time for the newly acquired Hurst to become one of the focuses of the offense.
WR DJ Moore
Speaking of one of the focuses of the offense. Playing second fiddle to Christian McCaffrey is nothing to scoff at. Moore cracked 1,000 yards for the first time in his very short career in 2019 and he looks to build upon that year with a finally healthy and capable quarterback at the helm in Teddy Bridgewater.
New Orleans Saints
CB Marshon Lattimore
While there have been plenty of questions about the cornerbacks in New Orleans recently, Marshon Lattimore has been the one consistent piece. Lattimore is a premier talent in the secondary and gives the Saints a sense of stability to lock down one side of the field.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR Chris Godwin
After showing flashes of talent during his first two years in the NFL, Chris Godwin broke out in 2019. When I say broke out, I mean he BROKE OUT. Godwin erupted onto the scene and established the fact that Tampa Bay has possibly the best 1-2 punch at wide receiver in the NFL.
LB De’Vondre Campbell
Following three very productive seasons in Atlanta, Campbell left for greener pastures, or sandier pastures I guess? With a 2020 cap hit of just $2M, Campbell was a bargain free agency signing that should step in and immediately be one of the top defenders on the Cardinals roster.
Los Angeles Rams
WR Cooper Kupp
Heading into a contract year with the Rams, Cooper Kupp is looking to crack the 1,000 yard mark again. If he can stay healthy, that should be an easy task. Kupp stepped in almost right away for the Rams after being drafted in 2017 and was finally given a full year of health and playing time in 2019. Thus, we saw Kupp crack 1,000 yards and almost 100 catches. I would expect even more from the receiver this coming year.
San Francisco 49ers
TE George Kittle
Kittle is arguably the best tight end in all of football and he is making just over $2.2M this season. This is one of the biggest bargains in the NFL and arguably the best draft pick John Lynch may ever make.
WR DK Metcalf
I know, I know. “His 3-cone!” While I was not a huge fan of Metcalf’s prior to the 2019 NFL Draft (for reasons outside of his 3-cone drill), I was proven gladly mistaken. Metcalf is a monster built in a lab that teams would pay top dollar for. Fortunately for the Seahawks, Metcalf will only cost them $1M in 2020, $1.25M in 2021, and $1.46M in 2022. Point being, you can expect to see Metcalf’s name on this list for the next three years.