FanPost

Is Doug Free Overpaid?

Since the season ended unceremoniously to the New York Giants back on New Year's Day, it's been reasonably expected that once the front office and coaching staff begins to evaluate the depth chart for the 2012 season, Doug Free and Tyron Smith will switch positions. During the past month, I've read comments every now and then suggesting Jerry and Stephen Jones overpaid Doug Free last summer. Without knowing the salaries for the rest of the starting left tackles, this is more of an assumption. In actuality, his contract is both reasonable in dollar amount and in length. His contract placed him in the middle of the pack for starting left tackles in 2011.

After the jump, we'll have a look at the salaries, most of which came from rotoworld.

On July 29th 2011, Doug Free signed a four year contract worth $32 million. The deal had $17 million guaranteed, which included a $10.3 million signing bonus. 2012: $6 million, 2013: $7 million, 2014-2016: $8 million, 2017: Free Agent. Below are the available figures for the other starting left tackles in 2011.

Contracts for the NFC East's Starting Left Tackles in 2011

Jason Peter's Contract: 4/28/2009: Signed a six-year, $60.657 million contract. The deal contains $25 million guaranteed, including an $11 million signing bonus. 2011: $5.9 million, 2012: $7.9 million, 2013: $10.4 million, 2014: $8,352,340, 2015: Free Agent.

David Diehl's Contract: 5/6/2008: Signed a six-year, $31 million contract. The deal includes annual escalators of between $750,000 and $1.1 million depending on Diehl playing offensive tackle as opposed to guard. 2012: $3.825 million, 2013: $4.1 million, 2014: Free Agent.

Trent Williams' Contract: 7/30/2010: Signed a six-year, $60 million contract. The deal includes $36.75 million guaranteed. 2011: $7,852,000, 2012: $11 million, 2013: $5 million, 2014: $7.25 million, 2015: $10.25 million, 2016: Free Agent.

Analysis: After comparing Doug Free's contract to the other starting left tackles in the NFC East, it becomes clear that Doug Free's contract is a very reasonable one. For starters, it's a four year deal unlike the other three guys who each have year contracts. Additionally, Free's contract contains either the least or second least amount of guaranteed money, as it's unclear how much of David Diehls's contract was guaranteed. Although Doug Free's contract is the third richest in the NFC East, it's only worth $1million more than David Diehl's contract. Trent Williams, on his rookie deal, is the second highest paid LT in the NFC East behind Jason Peters.

Contracts for the NFC North's Starting Left Tackles

Derek Sherrod (1st Rd pick in 2011): 7/29/2011: Signed a four-year, $6.602 million contract. The deal contains $5.327 million guaranteed, including a $3,301,456 signing bonus and all of Sherrod's first three base salaries. 2011: $375,000, 2012: $675,091, 2013: $975,182, 2014: $1.275 million, 2015: Club Option, 2016: Free Agent.

Chad Clifton: 3/5/2010: Signed a three-year, $19.58 million contract. The deal contains $7.5 million guaranteed, including an initial roster bonus of $6,376,250. In order to max out the contract, Clifton must be on the Packers' 45-man game-day roster 16 times in each year. He can earn another $250,000 annually via workout bonuses. 2012: $5.25 million (+ $203,125 roster bonus), 2013: Free Agent.

Note: Sherrod was drafted to start at left tackle, but could only play 5 games in 2011, thus Chad Clifton had to start 10 games.

J'Marcus Webb: 5/16/2010: Signed a four-year, $1.851 million contract. The deal included a $60,600 signing bonus. A $1.308 million playing-time escalator is available in the final year. 2011: $405,000, 2012: $490,000, 2013: $575,000, 2014: Free Agent.

Charlie Johnson: 8/1/2011: Signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract. The deal included a $3 million signing bonus. 2012: $2.95 million, 2013: $2.95 million (+ $500,000 roster bonus), 2014: Free Agent.

Analysis: With the exception of the Packers, the starting left tackles in the NFC North, who by the way make substantially less money than the starters in the NFC East, are not very good at all. Pro Football Focus apparently rated J'Marcus Webb as the 67th best tackle in the league out of the 76 players. Jay Cutler probably thinks he should be rated as the worst. Charlie Johnson apparently played so well as a starter in 2011, that the Vikings are desperately looking for his replacement in this year's draft. I couldn't find the numbers for the Lions starting Left Tackle because the guy is a free agent currently. Doug Free would be the highest paid left tackle in this division, for both guaranteed money and total dollars.

Contracts for the NFC South's Starting Left Tackles

Jermon Bushrod: 7/29/2011: Signed a two-year, $9.8 million contract. The deal included a $3.5 million signing bonus. 2012: $3.25 million, 2013: Free Agent.

Sam Baker: 7/25/2008: Signed a five-year, $13.5 million contract. The deal contains $7.8 million guaranteed. 2012: $2,576,250, 2013: Free Agent.

Donald Penn: Signed a six-year, $41.7 million contract. The deal contains $18.8 million guaranteed, including a $2 million signing bonus and Penn's base salaries in years one through three. Another $5.5 million is available through first-year incentives, though they are "unlikely to be earned." Annual $400,000 workout bonuses and $600,000 weight-clause incentives are available in years two through six. 2011: $7.2 million, 2012: $5.1 million, 2013: $5 million, 2014: $6.4 million, 2015: $6.5 million, 2016: Free Agent.

Jordan Gross: 2/19/2009: Signed a six-year, $60 million contract. The deal included a $5 million signing bonus. 2012: $8.5 million, 2013: $8.7 million, 2014: $6.7 million, 2015: Free Agent.

Analysis: Both the Saints and the Falcons lack a premier left tackle. The Saints are going with a stop gap guy, while the Falcons whiffed on Baker, who lost his job mid season, and will probably get cut this off season. If Doug Free played in this division, I doubt he's considered overpaid, as he would be the third highest paid player, with probably the second or third most guaranteed money.

Contracts for the NFC West's Starting Left Tackles

Joe Staley: 6/4/2009: Signed a nine-year, $43.66 million contract. The deal includes $18 million guaranteed. Another $3 million is available through incentives. 2011: $1.15 million, 2012: $1.3 million, 2013: $1.6 million, 2014: $2.2 million, 2015: $4 million, 2016: $4.9 million, 2017: $5.75 million, 2018: Free Agent.

Russell Okung: 8/6/2010: Signed a six-year, $48.5 million contract. The deal includes $30 million guaranteed. Another $9.5 million is available through incentives. 2011: $2.9 million, 2012: $3.48 million, 2013: $4.06 million, 2014: $4.64 million, 2015: $5.22 million, 2016: Free Agent.

Levi Brown: Brown agreed to terms with the Cardinals on August 2, 2007, six days after the team reported to training camp. The six-year contract could be worth up to $62 million, just over $18 million of it guaranteed. 2012: $8.33 million (+ $9.675 million roster bonus), 2013: Free Agent.

Roger Saffold: 7/28/2010: Signed a four-year, $6.3 million contract. The deal contains $3.9 million guaranteed. Another $250,000 is available through "unlikely to be earned" incentives based on Pro Bowl berths and the 2010 Offensive ROY award. 2011: $405,000, 2012: $490,000, 2013: $575,000, 2014: Free Agent.

Analysis: When compared to the starting left tackles in the NFC West, Doug Free's contract is very reasonable, especially when you look at Levi Brown's contract. Apparently he was rated as the 4th worst left tackle in 2011. Roger Saffold, one of the best rookie linemen in 2010, was considered the 5th worst left tackle thru ten weeks of the 2011 season, that the Rams are now considering drafting his replacement, and switching him to RT. Free would be the third highest paid left tackle in this division, and the guaranteed portion of Free's contract would be the fourth highest total.

Contracts for the AFC East's Starting Left Tackles

Matt Light: 7/31/2011: Signed a two-year, $12 million contract. The deal contains $7 million guaranteed, including a $6 million signing bonus. 2011: $1 million, 2012: $3.4 million (+ $100,000 workout bonus), 2013: Free Agent.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson: 7/7/2010: Signed an eight-year, $73.6 million contract. The deal contains $34.8 million guaranteed, including a $1.6 million signing bonus, a first-year roster bonus of $3.1 million, and a second-year option bonus of $3.9 million. All but $5.3 million of the "guarantees," however, are guaranteed only for "skill" and not injury. 2012: $9.985 million, 2013: $7.25 million, 2014-2015: $5.95 million, 2016: $8.625 million, 2017: $11.275 million, 2018: Free Agent.

Jake Long: 4/22/2008: Signed a five-year, $57.75 million contract. The deal includes $30 million guaranteed. Year six voided based on rookie-year playing time (Long started all 16 games). 2011-2012: $11.2 million, 2013: Free Agent.

Chris Hairston (2011 4th Rd Pick): 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $2.456 million contract. The deal included a $415,900 signing bonus. 2012: $465,000, 2013: $555,000, 2014: $645,000, 2015: Free Agent.

Analysis: If Doug Free was in the AFC East, he'd be the third highest paid left tackle, and would have third most guaranteed money, at roughly half the amount of the top two players. Note, although he didn't start in 2011, the Bills are hoping that Hairston will be their starting left tackle in 2012, since their 2011 starter Demetrius Bell is a free agent.

Contracts for the AFC North's Starting Left Tackles

Willie Colon (Injured in 2011, will start in 2012): 7/28/2011: Signed a five-year, $29 million contract. The deal included a $6 million signing bonus. 2012: $4.5 million, 2013-2014: $5.5 million, 2015: $6 million, 2016: Free Agent.

Bryant McKinnie: 8/23/2011: Signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract. The deal included a $1 million signing bonus. 2012: $3.2 million (+ $500,000 roster bonus due 3/18), 2013: Free Agent.

Joe Thomas: 8/22/2011: Signed an eight-year, $92 million contract. The deal contains $44 million guaranteed.

Andrew Witworth: terms of his 5 year contract are undisclosed.

Analysis: Doug Free's contract would make him the 2nd highest in this division, however, his contract is only $3million more than Colon's. The guaranteed portion of Free's deal is the second most as well, which is more than half of the Guaranteed amount in Joe Thomas' contract. Note, Bryant McKinnie, at 33 years old, was picked up off the street before the season started, graded out as one of the worst left tackles in the league.

Contracts for the AFC South's Starting Left Tackles

Duane Brown: In July of 2008, he signed 5 year deal worth up to $11.5 million dollars, with $6.2 million guaranteed. In 2012, the final year of his rookie contract, he's scheduled to make around $2.1 million.

Michael Roos: 4/25/2008: Signed a six-year, $43 million contract. The deal contains $15 million guaranteed, including a $9 million signing bonus and a second-year roster bonus of $4 million. Another $1.5 million is available through escalators. 2012: $5.5 million, 2013: $6 million, 2014: $6.625 million (Voidable Year), 2015: Free Agent.

Eugene Monroe: 8/14/2009: Signed a five-year, $35.4 million contract. The deal contains $25 million guaranteed, including a onetime bonus of $5.98 million. 2012: $2,182,500, 2013: $2,622,500, 2014: Free Agent.

Anthony Castonzo (First Rd Pick in 2011): 8/2/1011: Signed a four-year, $8.0 million contract. The deal contains $6.535 million guaranteed, including a $4.31 million signing bonus. 2012: $738,686, 2013: $1,102,372, 2014: $1,466,058, 2015: Free Agent.

Analysis: Doug Free would be the third highest paid left tackle in the AFC South, the guaranteed portion of Free's deal is the second highest after Eugene Monroe.

Contracts for the AFC West's Starting Left Tackles

Ryan Clady: signed a 5 year $14.5 million dollar contract with roughly $11.5 million guaranteed. In 2012, the last year of his rookie deal, he's scheduled to make $3.5 million.

Marcus McNeill: 10/11/2010: Signed a six-year, $48.98 million contract. The deal contains $24.5 million guaranteed, including a $1.791 million signing bonus, McNeill's first-, second-, and third-year salaries, and $1.75 million of his 2013 salary. 2011: $10 million, 2012: $10.5 million, 2013: $7.75 million, 2014: $8.75 million, 2015: $9.75 million, 2016: Free Agent.

Joseph Barksdale (Rookie in 2011): 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $2.579 million contract. The deal included a $539,800 signing bonus. 2012: $465,000, 2013: $555,000, 2014: $645,000, 2015: Free Agent.

Branden Albert: 2012 is the final year of his 5 year rookie deal, and he's scheduled to make over $2.7 million.

Analysis: Doug Free's contract would be the second richest in the AFC West, and would contain the second most guaranteed money. The Chargers are scheduled to cut Marcus McNeill in March in order to save that $10.5 million cap hit.

Conclusion: Doug Free is not overpaid

If my math skills are correct, Doug Free was the 14th highest paid left tackle in 2011, which is the middle of the pack for left tackles. The only division where Free would've been the highest paid left tackle, is the NFC North. Free would be the second highest paid left tackle in the AFC West and AFC North. In the remaining divisions, he's the third highest paid left tackle. When you look at the guaranteed portion of his contract, he's got the second or third most amount depending on the division. Only in the NFC North does he make the most guaranteed money. Lastly, when you look at the length of these contracts, Free's four year deal was also reasonable in length.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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