Last week saw two major contract extensions for offensive players, and this week there was even more action. Four contracts extensions are discussed in depth below and, as always, the rest of the moves are down below with some of the more significant ones highlighted in red.
Green Bay Packers re-sign WR Jordy Nelson
Set to become a free agent at the end of the season––like White––the 29-year old Nelson will now be with the Packers through the 2018 season. Worth $39 million over the four years, he will average $9.75 million per year which makes him the eighth highest-paid wide receiver in the league. There is $14.2 million guaranteed in the contract, much of which comes from a signing bonus of $11.5 million.
One of the most underrated wide receivers in the league, he isn't a top-tier receiver, but he is solidly in the second tier––which is what he is being paid as.
Drafted by Packers with the 36th overall pick in the 2008 draft, he has played his entire career in Green Bay. When this contract expires, he will be 34-years old by the time the next season comes around, so it is likely this is his last big payday.
Last season he caught 85 passes for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns on 126 targets, all while quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed seven games due to a broken collarbone. This was only Nelson's second 1,000-yard season, but now that he is the featured receiver in the Packers' offense, he should continue to put up similar numbers.
Pro Football Focus graded him as the second best wide receiver this past season. If it wasn't for Brandon Marshall's absurd run blocking grade, then Nelson would have been first. Nelson's receiving grade was the third best in the league.
It was recently reported that Nelson was looking for $10 million per year on a new contract. While he didn't hit this benchmark––only seven wide receivers earn $10 million or more per year––he came in just under at $9.75 million. Over the four years on the contract, he comes up only $1 million short of this benchmark so he didn't lose out much. It was obvious he wanted to stay in Green Bay throughout the process.
Some may say that he is a product of the Green Bay system which can makes receivers look better then they actually are, but Nelson is one of the better receivers in the league and has a rapport with Rodgers that allows him to produce well.
Overall this is a good move for both sides. Nelson gets his big payday after being severely underpaid and the Packers get to keep their number one receiver through the 2018 season.
Minnesota Vikings re-sign TE Kyle Rudolph
Staying in the NFC North, the Vikings signed their starting tight end to a five-year contract extension as he was set to hit free agency at the end of the season.
The 24-year old will receive $36.5 million over the five years of the contract, an average of $7.3 million per season. This makes him the fifth highest-paid tight end in the NFL. There is $19.4 million in guaranteed money and incentives can push the value of the contract all the way up to $40 million.
Drafted by the Vikings with the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, his rookie contract was set to expire and Minnesota wanted to keep one of their offensive building blocks.
Playing in only eight games last season, he caught 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Over a full season this equates to 60 catches for 626 yards and six touchdowns. In 2012, he posted similar numbers to that, catching 53 passes for 493 yards and nine touchdowns.
For the 2012 season––I'm not looking at 2013 as he missed half the season––Pro Football Focus graded him as the 12th best tight end in the league. He graded positively in receiving, pass blocking and run blocking, making him a complete tight end. In fact, his highest grade was in run blocking.
After the 2012 season he was named to the Pro Bowl team and his five catches for 122 yards and one touchdown was good enough to earn him MVP honors.
Having the ability to block and go out for passes makes him a threat to have on offense. Balanced tight ends can really help an offense as the same personnel groups can be used for a higher variety of plays than if a tight end is only good at catching passes or only good at run blocking. At 6-foot-6, 259 pounds, he has the requisite size to be a dominate tight end and he showed in 2012 that he can be a threat in the red zone by scoring nine touchdowns.
This offseason the Vikings hired Mike Zimmer to be their new head coach and he brought in Norv Turner to run the offense. Turner is known to be one of the best––if not the best––in the league for optimizing tight ends and getting great performances out of them.
Last year he turned Jordan Cameron into a Pro Bowl player with 80 catches and almost 1,000 yards despite having only 26 career catches beforehand. Before that, Turner turned Antonio Gates into the league's best tight end after not playing a single snap of football in college. Instead, he was a power forward in basketball.
While Rudolph hasn't put up top-five tight end numbers yet, Turner is the man who can turn Rudolph into a top-five tight end. By paying him as such, the Vikings are putting a lot of faith into Turner's ability.
I believe that Rudolph will develop into a better tight end and be a big contributor for the Vikings over the coming seasons, but I don't think he warrants top-five tight end money.
Arizona Cardinals re-sign CB Patrick Peterson
In the only contract extension that went to a defensive player this week, the Cardinals continued the trend of signing top-tier cornerbacks to long-term deals by giving Peterson a five-year extension.
With two-years left on his contract, a new contract wasn't needed per say, but he wanted a new deal and Arizona is keeping their best player happy with this new deal. The five-year extension is worth $70 million with $48 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $15.3 million.
This contract makes him the highest paid cornerback in the league in terms of overall money and gives him the most guaranteed money at the cornerback position.
One of the two years left on his contract comes from a fifth-year option that the Cardinals exercised awhile ago. With these two years left and five new years, he is under contract through the 2020 season.
Last season he made 42 tackles while intercepting three passes and breaking up 13 passes. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 14th best cornerback in the league. He spent the entire season shadowing opponent's best receivers and held his own.
Peterson is one of the top three cornerbacks in the league right now along with Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman. Once the specifics of the top three are debated, then it will be tough to get a consensus.
Of the three, Peterson has the most potential left as he is still only 24-years old. If he can cut down on some of his mistakes and become more consistent (he allowed seven touchdowns last season), then he has the talent to become the consensus number one cornerback in the league.
On top of being a great cornerback, he is also an electric returner and has spent some time at wide receiver to try and help spark the Cardinals' offense. He is one of the best athletes in the game, though this massive new contract may have Arizona limit some of his other chances to touch the ball.
Arizona didn't need to make this move due to the time remaining on his contract, but it makes sense to lockup Peterson for the long term as he probably is the best player on their roster and is still improving his game. He may not be the best cornerback in the NFL right now, but he already is in the top three and he is only going to get better.
Dallas Cowboys re-sign OT Tyron Smith
Wrapping up this week's Transaction Tracker, the Cowboys gave their 23-year old franchise left tackle an eight-year contract extension.
Already signed for two seasons before this new contract, he will be with Dallas through the 2023 season. The new eight years are worth $98 million with $40 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $10 million. The average of $12.25 million per year in new money makes him the highest-paid left tackle in the entire NFL. When all 10 years are put together he will be earning around $110 million.
Like Peterson, Smith had two years left on his contract because Dallas had exercised their fifth-year option on him awhile ago. Peterson and Smith are the first two players from the 2011 draft class to sign long-term contract extensions with their teams. One of the reasons that it had taken so long for these contracts is the fifth-year options that the teams have. The first round picks who had their options exercised now all have two years left on their deal meaning that their team isn't in a rush to enter contract negotiations and sign the player long term.
An eight-year extension may seem long, especially with two years remaining on Smith's old deal, but remember that is his still only 23-years old and will turn 24 in December. This means that he will be in his early 30s when the contract expires. So, this is likely the only major contract that he receives during his playing career, but it is one major contract.
Last season he was named a Second-Team All-Pro and made his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Pro Football Focus graded him as the seventh-best offensive tackle in the league, earning high grades in both run blocking and pass protection. After an average first half of the season, he came into his own during the second half, showing that he is one of the best tackles in the league.
With the improvements he has shown each season in the league, he is likely to keep improving his game and come in even higher in Pro Football Focus' ratings next season. He is one of the top young tackles in the league and now he is paid as the best left tackle in the game. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are obviously betting on him continuing his improvement.
While Smith is good, I don't think he is this good. He isn't the best offensive tackle in the league, and with the cap concerns that Dallas has had the last few seasons, they can't afford to be overpaying anybody right now. Keeping homegrown talent it great, but you can't overpay for it, especially with two years left on his contract.
Another negative effect from this deal is wide receiver Dez Bryant isn't happy that he wasn't the one to get a new deal meaning that a new deal for him is considered highly unlikely as he enters the final year of his contract. You would think the Cowboys would have made him the priority given that he had only one year left.
I like what Dallas did here keeping their young, franchise left tackle for years to come, but they overpaid and seem to have ended contract talks with Bryant by doing this. Neither of which are good things.
The Arizona Cardinals sign WR Reggie Dunn.
The Atlanta Falcons waive WR Darius Johnson.
The Atlanta Falcons sign WR Jabin Sambrano.
Atlanta Falcons DT Peria Jerry has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens sign S Will Hill.
The Baltimore Ravens sign CB Marrio Norman.
The Baltimore Ravens cut WR Gerrard Sheppard.
The Buffalo Bills sign CB Bobby Felder.
The Buffalo Bills release DT Colby Way.
The Buffalo Bills sign TE Dominique Jones.
The Buffalo Bills cut OL Mark Asper.
The Buffalo Bills sign RB Fred Jackson to a one-year contract extension.
The Carolina Panthers cut DT Shaq Rowell.
The Carolina Panthers cut CB DeQuan Menzie (who announced his retirement soon after).
The Carolina Panthers sign DT Micanor Regis.
The Carolina Panthers sign S Tom Nelson.
The Carolina Panthers sign RB Fozzy Whittaker.
The Carolina Panthers waive-injured RB Tyler Gaffney.
The Chicago Bears sign OL Dylan Gandy.
The Chicago Bears waive DE Jamil Merrell.
The Chicago Bears cut G James Dunbar.
The Chicago Bears sign WR Dale Moss.
The Chicago Bears waive WR Terrence Toliver.
The Chicago Bears sign OL Graham Pocic.
The Chicago Bears sign OT Dennis Roland.
The Chicago Bears waive OT Cody Booth.
The Cincinnati Bengals waive OT Curtis Feigt.
The Cleveland Browns waive OT Chris Faulk.
The Cleveland Browns sign WR Marlon Moore.
The Cleveland Browns sign OL Ryan Lee.
The Cleveland Browns sign S Jim Leonhard.
The Denver Broncos cut OT Aslam Sterling.
The Denver Broncos sign DL Cody Larsen.
The Denver Broncos sign DL Will Pericak.
The Detroit Lions sign P Drew Butler.
The Detroit Lions waive S Gabe Lynn.
The Detroit Lions waive-injured DE Kalonji Kashama.
The Detroit Lions claim WR Quintin Payton off waivers.
The Detroit Lions sign DE Kris Redding.
The Detroit Lions waive-injured WR Cody Wilson.
Free agent G Travelle Wharton has announced his retirement from the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers claim WR Gerrard Sheppard off waivers.
The Houston Texans sign LB Quentin Groves.
The Houston Texans sign LB Lawrence Sidbury.
The Houston Texans waive OT Anthony Dima.
The Houston Texans waive-injured WR Alan Bonner.
The Houston Texans waive-injured G Cody White.
The Houston Texans sign RB Tim Cornett.
The Houston Texans sign OT Mike Farrell.
The Houston Texans cut LB Ricky Sapp.
The Houston Texans sign RB Tim Cornett.
The Houston Texans sign OT Mike Farrell.
The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Davin Meggett.
The Indianapolis Colts waive OT Jack Breckner.
The Indianapolis Colts sign OT Matt Hall.
The Indianapolis Colts waive RB Chris Rainey.
The Indianapolis Colts waive WR Aaron Burks.
The Indianapolis Colts sign RB Phillip Tanner.
The Indianapolis Colts sign LB Jonathon Sharpe.
The Indianapolis Colts sign OT Eric Pike.
The Kansas City Chiefs waive G Rokevious Watkins.
The Kansas City Chiefs claim TE Adam Schiltz off waivers.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign CB Damond Smith.
The Kansas City Chiefs sign S Steve Gregory.
The Miami Dolphins sign OT Steven Baker.
The Miami Dolphins cut OL Michael Philipp.
The Miami Dolphins sign OT Tony Hills.
The Miami Dolphins waive WR Gerald Ford.
The Miami Dolphins sign TE Brett Brackett.
The Miami Dolphins sign QB Seth Lobato.
The Miami Dolphins sign DE D’Aundre Reed.
The Miami Dolphins cut QB Brock Jensen.
The Miami Dolphins cut LB Derrell Johnson.
The Miami Dolphins waive-injured G Davonte Wallace.
The Miami Dolphins sign TE Raymond Webber.
The Miami Dolphins cut TE Brett Brackett.
The Minnesota Vikings sign WR Ty Walker.
The Minnesota Vikings sign WR Andy Cruse.
The Minnesota Vikings waive OT Matt Hall.
The Minnesota Vikings waive WR Josh Cooper.
The New England Patriots cut TE Nate Byham.
The New England Patriots sign WR Brian Tyms.
The New England Patriots sign WR Cole Stanford.
The New England Patriots waive-injured WR Greg Orton.
The New England Patriots claim RB Tyler Gaffney off waivers.
The New England Patriots release LB Josh Hull.
The New York Giants claim OL Mark Asper off waivers.
The New York Giants waive-injured OT DeMarcus Love.
The Oakland Raiders sign S Jeremy Deering.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign RB Josh Harris.
The Pittsburgh Steelers waive-injured C David Snow.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sign K Shuan Suisham to a four-year contract extension.
The St. Louis Rams sign DE Kourtnei Brown.
The St. Louis Rams waive-injured WR Jamaine Sherman.
The San Francisco 49ers sign LS Kyle Nelson.
The San Francisco 49ers sign RB Alfonso Smith.
The San Francisco 49ers cut QB Kory Faulkner.
The San Francisco 49ers waive-injured OT Fou Fonoti.
The San Francisco 49ers claim OT Michael Phillipp off waivers.
The Seattle Seahawks sign LB Brandon Denmark.
The Seattle Seahawks sign S Steven Terrell.
The Seattle Seahawks waive DT Dewayne Cherrington.
The Seattle Seahawks sign CB Terrell Thomas.
The Seattle Seahawks sign OT Eric Winston.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Randall Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks waive CB Chandler Fenner.
The Seattle Seahawks waive G Bronson Irwin.
The Seattle Seahawks sign WR Ronald Johnson.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers release G Carl Nicks.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Anthony Gaitor.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DT Jibreel Black.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut RB Brendan Bigelow.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut WR Quintin Payton.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign CB Kip Edwards.
The Tennessee Titans sign G Kevin Danser.
The Tennessee Titans cut TE Adam Schiltz.
The Washington Redskins waive LB Brandon Jenkins.
The Washington Redskins sign DE Everette Brown.
The Washington Redskins waive-injured CB Courtney Bridget Jr.