Jared Goff

10 worst contracts in NFL history

Home » NFL » Five worst contracts in NFL history

Sometimes in their pursuit of star players, NFL teams make mistakes, resulting in some of the worst NFL contracts ever.

After all, big contracts in sports can be high risk but also high reward. Occasionally, they’ll pay off while other times a team gets stuck with one of the most overpaid NFL players. Naturally, that got us thinking about the worst NFL contracts ever.

Worst NFL contracts ever

Believe it or not, there is a lot of competition among the worst contracts in NFL history. There are plenty of examples of teams making bad financial decisions or players failing to live up to their promise.

We could have extended our list far beyond 10. However, we wanted to limit our list to the worst of the worst while counting down the 10 worst NFL contracts ever.

10. Michael Vick — 9 Years, $130 million

If Michael Vick hadn’t gotten into trouble with the law and spent time in prison, he might have actually come close to living up to this contract.


Unfortunately, we’ll never know what would have happened. Vick did show that he could still play even after two full seasons out of the league. The good news for the Falcons is they weren’t on the hook for that huge deal after Vick was arrested and went to prison.

9. Michael Johnson — 5 Years, $43.8 million

Most fans have probably forgotten about Michael Johnson by now. After all, he had a few decent seasons in Cincinnati but never made the Pro Bowl or anything when the Bucs gave him a five-year, $43.8 million deal in 2014.

He had an injury-plagued season in Tampa, collecting just four sacks, leading the Bucs to release him exactly one year after he signed. The Bucs took a $7 million cap hit but saved $2 million by terminating the contract in 2015. Johnson wisely returned to Cincinnati but didn’t make much of an impact during the rest of his career, which was over by 2018.

8. Deion Sanders — 7 Years, $56 million

Prime Time was more than a decade into his career when Washington threw a seven-year, $56 million contract at him. The move reeked of desperation with Washington desperate to pick up a player who was clearly past his best years and had just been released by a division rival.

Sanders only ended up playing one season in Washington before retiring, so even though the team didn’t have to pay all of that money, it was still a foolish contract to give out.


7. Sam Bradford — 6 Years, $78 million

At the time, this was the largest contract ever given to a rookie, as it included $50 million guaranteed. Unfortunately for the Rams, Sam Bradford was far from the best quarterback to ever be selected first overall.

His success in college at Oklahoma didn’t translate to the NFL with Bradford winning just 18 games for the Rams over four seasons. That includes a 1-9 record in 10 starts during his second season. To be fair, Bradford ended up having a couple of decent years, but he surely wasn’t worth $78 million.

6. Carson Wentz — 4 Years, $128 million

It’s still hard to believe that Carson Wentz was once the frontrunner for MVP in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury. It was that promise that helped him get a four-year, $128 million extension from the Eagles before the 2019 season.

However, that has ended up being one of the worst quarterback contracts ever. It was all downhill for Wentz from there, especially going 3-8-1 with the Eagles in 2020. That ended his time in Philadelphia, although moves to Indianapolis and Washington didn’t help Wentz either.

5. Jared Goff — 4 Years, $134 million

Jared Goff led a talented supporting cast to the Super Bowl during the 2018 season, leading the Rams to give him an extension worth $134 million over four years. The contract included $110 million in guaranteed money, which was a record at the time.

But instead of blossoming into a star, Goff regressed after that.

With the Rams, he was an expensive game manager on a good team. The Rams ended up using Goff in a trade to acquire Matthew Stafford and immediately won the Super Bowl with Stafford. Meanwhile, Goff was 3-10-1 as a starter in his first season with the lowly Lions, posting his worst numbers since his rookie season.

4. Percy Harvin — 6 Years, $67 million

Dating back to his college days at Florida, Percy Harvin always flashed incredible speed and a brilliant upside. He continued that in the NFL by winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and being a Pro Bowler as a rookie. But even after he was limited to just nine games in 2012, the Seahawks traded for him and immediately gave Harvin a six-year, $67 million deal that has turned into one of the worst contracts in NFL history.

To his credit, Harvin did return a kickoff for a touchdown in the Super Bowl, although the Seahawks would have easily won that game even without it. More importantly, Harvin played just six regular-season games for the Seahawks and was known for not getting along with his teammates before the Seahawks shipped him to the Jets for next to nothing.

3. Nick Foles — 4 Years, $88 million

Technically, Nick Foles was the reigning Super Bowl MVP when he signed this deal with the Jaguars. But he was also a quarterback who only excelled as a backup.

Even the best backup isn’t worth $88 million over four years. Fittingly, Foles was primarily a backup during the length of this contract, which he never came close to fulfilling. He started just 12 games over the four years after signing this deal, and only four of those came with Jacksonville, all losses for the Jags.

2. Jon Gruden — 10 Years, $100 million

Obviously, Jon Gruden is a coach and not a player, but this has to be considered one of the worst NFL contracts ever. The Raiders promised Gruden $100 million over 10 years to convince him to leave the broadcast booth and come back to coaching. Obviously, it’s hard to turn down that much money, but it should have been equally hard to leave a cushy job like being a former coach turned analyst.

In the end, both the Raiders and Gruden made a bad choice. In October 2021, the world learned that Gruden had sent some truly horrifying emails in which he made racist and homophobic remarks about NFL players. When those emails became public, Gruden resigned, so the Raiders didn’t have to pay him the entire $100 million after the two sides reached a settlement.

On the other hand, Gruden was just 22-31 in three-plus seasons before he resigned, never making the playoffs during his second stint with the Raiders, making both parties look foolish with this 10-year, $100 million contract.

1. Albert Haynesworth — 7 Years, $100 million

Even at the time, giving a seven-year, $100 million contract to an interior lineman was a bit of a gamble by Washington. The worst part is that it didn’t take Albert Haynesworth long to become one of the most overpaid NFL players in league history.

He didn’t even start to blossom until he was in the league for five or six years. Washington then jumped the gun a little by giving him a massive deal, not to mention a long deal for a player who was nearly 30. After getting that contract, Haynesworth stopped working hard. He showed up to camp out of shape and clashed with coaches.

After two terrible years in Washington, Haynesworth was traded away but never got his career back on track, making him arguably the worst free-agent signing ever.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *