Most of this year’s best free agents were able to land multiyear deals that gave them a decent amount of security, with many of those contracts featuring guaranteed money beyond just the first year. A quick look at the top 10 players in our list of 2015’s top 50 free agents shows that nine of them signed for at least five years, while a 10th (Randall Cobb) got a lucrative four-year pact.
However, the 11th player on our list, Greg Hardy, landed just a one-year contract. The fact that Hardy was the top free agent to sign a one-year deal isn’t surprising — his domestic violence case created uncertainty about his stock, and dissuaded any teams from making him a big, long-term offer.
Hardy was far from the only player in our top 50 to sign for just one season, however. While there were at least a couple other players whose stock was affected by off-field question marks, many of these players were coming off injuries or had other issues that impacted their ability to negotiate a long-term deal. Terrance Knighton, for instance, looked like a top-20 free agent based on his 2014 performance, but concerns about his weight scared off many suitors, and he had to settle for a contract that was far from a top-20 valuation.
Some of these deals may backfire — Hardy, for instance, already looks like he may not have been a great investment, since he’s facing a 10-game suspension. But many of these players may turn into great single-season bargains for their respective clubs, who may have gotten discounts based on unfounded concerns. Whether these contracts turn out good or bad, they’ll expire in a year, so none of these teams will see their caps hampered for multiple seasons by these investments.
Here’s the full list of players on our list of top 50 free agents – along with a couple of honorable mentions – who signed one-year contracts this offseason:
- Greg Hardy, DE (Cowboys): $11.312MM base value, $3.218MM cap number ($9.25MM in per-game roster bonuses) *
- Percy Harvin, WR (Bills): $6MM base value, $4MM cap number (two voidable years)
- Nick Fairley, DT (Rams): $5MM base value, $4.75MM cap number *
- Terrance Knighton, DT (Washington): $4.45MM
- Sean Weatherspoon, LB (Cardinals): $3.85MM
- Henry Melton, DT (Buccaneers): $3.75MM *
- Michael Crabtree, WR (Raiders): $3.2MM *
- Rolando McClain, ILB (Cowboys): $3MM base value, $2.813MM cap number *
- Stefen Wisniewski, C (Jaguars): $2MM base value, $2.5MM cap number *
- B.J. Raji, DT (Packers): $1.75MM *
- Stevan Ridley, RB (Jets): $1.25MM base value, $1.031MM cap number
- Joe Barksdale, T (Chargers): $1.095MM *
- Mason Foster, ILB (Bears): Minimum salary benefit, $665K cap number
* Contract also includes incentives