By Steven Van Tassell (@SteveVT33)
There has been a lot of change over the past couple of days in both the NFL and, more importantly, Dynasty Owner. The new league year has started for both with new salaries taking effect for lots of players. The changes in Dynasty Owner aren’t as dramatic as in the NFL since a lot of the activity since Monday has been teams signing defensive players and offensive lineman to huge new contracts. The top 12 contracts signed since Monday in terms of Average Annual Value (AAV), which is what Dynasty Owner uses as the player’s salary, are defensive players or offensive linemen. Out of all of the new contracts signed in free agency so far, only five players on Dynasty Owner rosters have been for more than $10 million annually.
In addition to these signings over the past few days, there were plenty of new contracts and contract extensions signed prior to Monday. Patrick Mahomes’ $45 million annual salary contract was signed back in July, but he only counted $4.1 million against the Dynasty Owner salary cap last year. It was not until the 2021 Dynasty Owner league year started on Thursday, March 18th that his contract was updated. Several top RBs got new contracts in early September, while there were also a few contracts signed during the season. Still more top players (Dak Prescott and Aaron Jones) re-signed with their current team before the start of Free Agency on Monday.
That’s a lot to process. If you haven’t been following all of those signings, this article is for you.
All position ranking data listed are from the 2020 Dynasty Owner season. Updated 2021 salaries are currently posted on the Dynasty Owner website based on data from Spotrac (www.spotrac.com). All contract ranking data were accurate as of the morning of March 19th and taken from Spotrac using their Average Salaries Ranking page (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/), then sorted by position.
Catching a $10 Million Plus Contract
Tight ends and wide receivers have been catching some of the big money being tossed around by NFL owners this off-season. All five of the players who could be on your Dynasty Owner roster, have switched teams so far this off-season, and will make over $10 million next year are either WRs or TEs. Here are the players who caught a big contract:
- Jonnu Smith (TE – NE) – $12.5 million: Smith got the biggest contract so far by signing a 4-year, $50 million contract to move from Tennessee to New England. He was also one of the first players to sign with a new team. He’s also getting the largest salary increase as well since he only cost his Dynasty Owners $776,572 in salary in 2020.
- Hunter Henry (TE – NE) – $12.5 million: Henry also got a $12.5 million annual salary from the Patriots, but his contract is for three years versus four for Smith. Dynasty Owners were already accustomed to paying Henry a lot of money as his salary for the Chargers last year was $10.607 million, but they will still have to find an extra $1.9 million to keep him on their roster in 2021.
- Corey Davis (WR – NYJ) – $12.5 million: Davis signed a contract for the same amount and length as Henry but instead of playing in New England, he’ll be playing against the Patriots twice a year for the New York Jets. Davis’ salary almost doubled from $6.35 million to $12.5 million after he put up the best season of his career for Tennessee in 2020.
- Curtis Samuel (WR – WAS) – $11.5 million: Samuel reunites with his former coach in Carolina (Ron Rivera) by signing a three year, $34.5 million deal with the Washington Football Team. He is also reunited with his former college roommate Terry McLaurin in Washington. Samuel has increased his fantasy production in each of the past three seasons and his Dynasty Owners hope he can do it again next season with the Football Team.
- Nelson Agholor (WR – NE) – $11 million: Agholor got the shortest (2 years) and lowest paying ($22 million) contract of these five players. However, because his 2020 salary was only a little over $1 million ($1,047,500), his salary increase is the second highest of the five players mentioned here.
In contrast to the big contracts that have been given out to some of the top WRs and TEs, there has only been one $10 million or higher free agent RB signings so far this off-season (Aaron Jones with the Packers for $12 million per year). All of the big name RBs got paid last year, but their new salaries aren’t kicking in for Dynasty Owner purposes until 2021. So, Dynasty Owners with Christian McCaffrey (just over $16 million), Alvin Kamara ($15 million), Dalvin Cook ($12.6 million), Derrick Henry ($12.5 million) and Joe Mixon ($12 million) are trying to figure out how to fit those players on their rosters at their new salaries. In addition to those big name RBs who got paid, many other RBs will have new contracts in 2021:
- Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE) – $6 million: Hunt got his new 2-year, $12 million contract with Cleveland right before the start of the 2020 season. However, Dynasty Owners still got to keep him on their roster last year for only $3.259 million. He’ll cost them $2.741 million more in 2021, but he did finish as the #10 RB overall in Dynasty Owner in 2020, which is right in line with his current salary ranking among RBs at #11.
- Tarik Cohen (RB – CHI) – $5.75 million: Raise your hand if you forgot that Cohen got a 3-year, $17.25 million contract back last year in mid-September. That’s probably because in a late September game against the Falcons, he tore his ACL and was lost for the rest of the season. Cohen’s salary for 2021 is nearly $5 million more than his 2020 salary of $758,915.
- Kenyan Drake (RB – LV) – $5.5 million: This signing is puzzling to a lot of people. For his Dynasty Owners, it’s good news and bad news. The good news is that they are saving almost $3 million in salary from last year when he made $8.483 million. The bad news is that he’s no longer the starter in Arizona, but at best splitting time with Josh Jacobs in Las Vegas.
- David Johnson (RB – HOU) – $5 million: Johnson is another player who is seeing his salary decrease in 2021. In 2020, he was the second highest paid RB and cost his Dynasty Owners a whopping $13 million. Now, he’s only making $5 million and still remains the top RB in Houston.
The rest of the new RB contracts are $3 million or less for veterans who are most likely backups for their new teams and handcuff options for Dynasty Owners. These players include:
- Jamaal Williams (RB – DET) – $3 million: Williams moves from one NFC North team (Green Bay) to another one (Detroit). He’ll also go from backing up Aaron Jones to backing up D’Andre Swift in all likelihood. He made just $741,498 in salary in 2020 so his Dynasty Owners need to have an extra $2.26 million in salary cap room to afford his new contract.
- Devontae Booker (RB – NYG) – $2.75 million: Booker will likely be the backup to Saquon Barkley in the Giants’ backfield and earn $2.75 million a year doing it. That’s an increase from his $1.0475 million salary to back up Josh Jacobs in Las Vegas last year.
- Carlos Hyde (RB – JAX) – $2.25 million: It’s two reunions for Carlos Hyde in 2021. First, he’s back in Jacksonville, the team he played for in 2018 before departing for Houston in 2019 and then Seattle last season. He’s also going to be reunited with his former Head Coach at Ohio State, Urban Meyer, who takes over as the Head Coach in Jacksonville this year. His new $2.25 million salary is a slight pay cut from 2020 when he made $2.75 million.
- Marlon Mack (RB – IND) – $2 million: In a move that some are calling surprising (Colts news: Indianapolis makes surprise move with Marlon Mack (clutchpoints.com), Mack returns to Indianapolis on a one-year, $2 million contract for 2021 after tearing his Achilles in the first game of the 2020 season.
- Mike Boone (RB – DEN) – $1.925 million: Boone slots right now as the third RB in Denver, behind Melvin Gordon and Royce Freeman. That’s not a dramatic change from being the third RB in Minnesota last season, behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. The big change is that Dynasty Owners will have to spend a bit over $1.35 million more to keep on their roster.
- Malcolm Brown (RB – MIA) – $1.75 million: Brown moves across the country from Los Angeles to Miami for an extra $100,000 in salary as he was making $1.65 million for the Rams. He’s got the most potential of this group to start since he’s only behind Myles Gaskin right now. However, speculation is that the Dolphins are going to take a RB in the NFL draft, which would make Brown’s road to playing time for his Dynasty Owners even more difficult.
- Samaje Perine (RB – CIN) – $1.65 million: Don’t get confused by this signing as it’s Samaje Perine, not his younger brother La’Mical. It’s good to be the older Perine brother as Samaje will make an average of $1.65 million per year ($3.3 million over the next two years) to back up Joe Mixon in Cincinnati, while La’Mical is only making $1.01 million for the Jets.
The new QB salaries for 2021 that we know of right now fall into two basic categories: Young players making big money (Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson) and older players getting one year deals (Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cam Newton). While it is true that other QBs have signed deals, let’s not focus on QBs like Mitchell Trubisky, Jacoby Brissett or Tyrod Taylor right now.
The three young players who will now be making big money are:
- Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC) – $45 million: The ink has been dried on this signing since July, but it hasn’t been reality for Dynasty Owners until now. Mahomes’ 10-year, $450 million contract got renegotiated a few days ago and might get renegotiated several more times between now and 2030, but for Dynasty Owner purposes, he’s going to cost you $45 million in salary in 2021 and beyond. His Dynasty Owners might be strapped to fit him under their salary cap now, but if he keeps producing, that salary might be a bargain in 2031 when he will only be 36 years old.
- Dak Prescott (QB – DAL) – $40 million: It’s not as big of an increase in salary as Mahomes or Watson, but Dak Prescott will still cost his Dynasty Owners $9.856 million more than he did in 2020 after signing his 4-year, $160 million contract with the Cowboys. He’s also available in 21% of leagues if your Dynasty Owner team has $40 million in salary cap room in the new league year.
- Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU) – $39 million: Houston is his current team, but ? would have been a more appropriate team designation. Regardless of where he eventually lands, his new 4-year, $156 million contract signed way back in early September when Bill O’Brien was still running the show in Houston kicks in for Dynasty Owners this year.
In contrast, we have four older players who all signed one-year deals over the past few days:
- Taysom Hill (QB – NO) – $12.159 million: Dynasty Owners might not realize this, but Hill is already 30 years old and will be 31 when the 2021 NFL season starts. The contract was reported as being a 4-year, $140 million extension (https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1371210999445983234?s=20), but for Dynasty Owners, it’s just a simple one-year contract for $12.159 million. That’s up from $4.641 million last year, but better than the $16.3 million contract he was supposed to play under this year before the “extension”. It will be interesting to see where his ownership falls (it is currently at 77%) since he’s not guaranteed to be the starter in New Orleans since they resigned Jameis Winston as well ($5.5 million for one year).
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB – WAS) – $10 million: Did someone say veteran starter for $10 million a year? That’s what everyone’s favorite veteran bearded QB from Harvard got to come back for his 17th season with his ninth NFL team. Fortunately for him, his $10 million salary is back to the highest it’s been since 2016 (when he was making $12 million for the Jets). Unfortunately, for his Dynasty Owners, that’s a $4.5 million increase from 2020. His contract could be a bargain if he’s able to beat out Taylor Heinicke ($2.375 million annual salary for two years) and Kyle Allen ($850,000 salary for 2021) and be the starter in Washington.
- Andy Dalton (QB – CHI) – $10 million: The 33-year old QB was exactly who Bears fans were hoping the team would get this off-season and name as their starter. He’ll follow in a long line of quality recent QB signings by the Bears (Mike Glennon, Chase Daniel, Nick Foles). Don’t forget that they traded up to select Mitchell Trubisky in the 2017 NFL draft, leaving both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson on the board. According to Dalton, the Bears said he’s the starter (New QB Andy Dalton says Bears assured him he’s their starter for 2021 – Chicago Sun-Times), so Dynasty Owners might be interested in a veteran starter for only $10 million a year.
- Cam Newton (QB – NE) – $5.1 million: It’s nearly three times as much as Cam made in 2020 ($1.75 million) and a relative bargain if he can be the same player he was for Carolina from 2011 to 2018. It’s possible with all of the new weapons in New England is what Patriots fans are telling themselves. Of course, Patriots fans and Dynasty Owners thought the same thing last year when he signed with New England. Then, he promptly went out and only accounted for 21 TDs (8 passing, 12 rushing and 1 receiving) in 15 games to rank as the #20 QB in Dynasty Owner.
A few other QBs have signed one year deals with new teams as well, but in backup roles. Mitchell Trubisky ($2.5 million) isn’t supplanting Josh Allen as the Bills QB, and Jacoby Brissett ($5 million) is highly unlikely to take over for Tau Tagovailoa in Miami. Both also took pay cuts of several million dollars ($10 million for Brissett and $4.76 million for Trubisky). Mike Glennon also signed a new deal with the New York Giants for $1.35 million, presumably to back up Daniel Jones, but will be making $162,500 more than he did last year in Jacksonville. Hopefully, the 20% of Dynasty Owners with Glennon still on their rosters will be able to afford that increase when it takes effect.
Finally, this article wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about everybody’s favorite position – kicker. Even if you have one of these guys on your Dynasty Owner roster, you may not have noticed the news about his new contract with the millions of dollars being handed out to players at other positions. As a public service, here are some of the new kicker contracts taking effect for the 2021 Dynasty Owner season.
- Graham Gano (K – NYG) – $4.67 million: Since this contract was signed in mid-November when Dynasty Owners were still busy trying to win their League Championship, it might come as a surprise when you get that update about Gano. Yes indeed, he did sign a 3-year, $14 million extension with the Giants that kicks in for the 2021 season so don’t go accepting a trade offer that sneakily includes him unless you want his $4.67 million annual contract on your team for the next three seasons. Only Justin Tucker ($5 million) makes more now than Gano who was the #13 ranked kicker in Dynasty Owner last season.
- Ryan Succop (K – TB) – $4 million: The 34-year old Succop is living the good life. In 2009, he was Mr. Irrelevant as the last player chosen in the NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and signed a 3-year, $1.2 million contract ($400,000 annually). In 2021, he became the first Mr. Irrelevant to win a Super Bowl ring with Tampa Bay (ironically against Kansas City) and then signed a new 3-year, $12 million contract with the Buccaneers ($4 million annually). That’s a ten-fold increase in salary in a little over a decade.
- Matt Prater (K – ARI) – $3.25 million: Everyone with Prater on their Dynasty Owner roster should be celebrating the $550,000 in savings that they are getting for 2021 as Dynasty Owners paid Prater $3.8 million in salary for the 2020 season. Not only will Prater be cheaper, but he moves to a team with a better offense as he departs Detroit for Arizona.
- Cairo Santos (K – CHI) – $3 million: After solidifying the kicker position for the Bears, he was rewarded with a 3-year, $9 million contract. This contract could be a bit of a bargain as Santos was the #8 kicker in Dynasty Owner in 2020, but is currently just the 17th highest paid kicker for 2021.
- Dustin Hopkins (K – WAS) – $2.46 million: Hopkins re-signed with the Football Team earlier this week. Dynasty Owners with Hopkins may not have noticed the change since his salary only was reduced by $20,833 from last year ($2,483,333 in 2020 versus $2,462,500 for 2021).
- Nick Folk (K – NE) – $1.625 million: Folk gets an increase of $575,000 in salary from the $1.05 million he made in 2020 after a season in which he only missed five kicks (2 FGs and 3 PATs) to finish right in the middle of the pack as the #16 kicker in Dynasty Owner. This new deal for Folk may have been missed by Dynasty Owners in light of all of the other signings by the Patriots this week.
- Younghoe Koo (K – ATL) – $920,000: Koo was among the lowest paid kickers in Dynasty Owner in 2020 at $660,000. His Dynasty Owners ended up paying that for the #2 kicker and for 2021, they will only have to pay $260,000 more in salary. The Falcons were able to give him that low dollar salary because he has been in the NFL for less than three seasons and couldn’t sign with another team unless he was released.
Some Dynasty Owners who are really following things might be wondering why last year’s #1 kicker Jason Sanders isn’t listed here. It’s time to rejoice for everyone who owns Sanders in Dynasty Owner. His 5-year, $22 million extension ($4.4 million annually for Dynasty Owner purposes) doesn’t kick in until the 2022 Dynasty Owner season, so he’ll continue to only set your team back $637,800 this year.
Now that the 2021 NFL and Dynasty Owner league years have started, there are a lot of new contracts for Dynasty Owners to keep up with and even more are likely in the coming days as well. These new contracts are as large as $45 million per year for 10 years for Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes down to less than $1 million per year for Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo. Mahomes’ contract went up by almost $41 million and DeShaun Watson will be making over $35 million more this year, while others, like David Johnson and Kenyan Drake, took pay cuts. It’s a lot to process if you have a single Dynasty Owner team and harder if you have multiple teams like many people do. Hopefully this article will help all Dynasty Owners keep track.
How’s your Dynasty Owner team doing with all of the new contracts? Let everyone know how your salary cap is looking by reaching out to me on Twitter (@SteveVT33) or post what your updated 2021 salary cap figure is in the comment section of the video on YouTube.
The importance of these new contracts and to try and help all Dynasty Owners get ready for the 2021 season meant a hiatus from my usual Friday off-season articles and videos on getting you ready for your 2021 Dynasty Owner start-up league team. Those will be back again after the contract signings cool off and before those start-up drafts begin in May.
In addition to my articles and videos, keep an eye out for new articles and videos from the rest of our team of Dynasty Owners writers as well. On Mondays, Nate Christian (@NateNFL) will break down rookies in his Prospect Preview. Matt Morrison – The Jerk (@Dynastyjerk) is back for another year and will do a deep dive into individual team contracts on Wednesdays. Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFL) has his articles and videos on how to rebuild your Dynasty Owner roster on Thursdays. Read all of their articles, watch and like all of their videos on YouTube (and all of the other available formats, such as Spotify) and follow the four of us plus Dynasty Owner (@Dynasty_Owner) on Twitter.
Thanks to everyone for following, reading and watching! Good luck in the new league year!