2019 Contract Year Players (Fantasy Football)
There’s a common perception out in the world of football contracts, and whether it’s true or not, it’s something we should know about. I’m talking about players who are entering contract years and whether it makes a difference in their performance. Does the situation have them play with an edge?
While I don’t want to question their work ethic in non-contract years, I will say this – I do believe that everyone has that extra gear they go to during crunch time. I mean, do you think that Kobe Bryant didn’t bring a little extra effort in the games he had to guard Michael Jordan? Or that Darrelle Revis played the exact same way when covering Derrick Mason compared to Calvin Johnson? No, they brought their absolute best. When the auditor shows up to your job, are you focusing more to stay within compliance? You don’t have to tell your boss (we know). While it won’t change much with some players, we do know one thing… it definitely won’t hurt.
One underrated thing about contract year players is the fact that they may be in new offenses next year. This is huge for those playing in keeper/dynasty leagues, as it may do for them what it did for Robert Woods when he went from the Bills to the Rams. Here are the players who are slated to be free agents at the end of the 2019 season.
Jameis Winston (TB)
The Bucs are playing roulette with Winston, ensuring he grows under new head coach Bruce Arians. If he does, they’re going to pay him a lot of money on a small sample size, but this is the situation they’re obviously hoping for.
Marcus Mariota (TEN)
Who would’ve thought Mariota and Winston would be hitting free agency at the end of their rookie deals? It’s possible that one or both will be extended in-season, but it’s looking grim for Mariota, who will now compete with Ryan Tannehill for the starting job.
Dak Prescott (DAL)
He’s likely going to be off this list come the end of the season, as the Cowboys are in contract extension talks with him. He’s now thrown 67 touchdowns to just 25 interceptions and that rate only got better once they added Amari Cooper. Prescott is likely going to get top-five money with the way contracts have escalated.
LeSean McCoy (BUF)
He’ll be 32 years old by the start of the 2020 season, so there’s no guarantee he plays for another team. There’s always the chance the Bills release him after signing T.J. Yeldon and Frank Gore, then drafting Devin Singletary.
Lamar Miller (HOU)
Was he miscast in a workhorse role? Maybe. The miles have added up on Miller, who will be 29 years old when he hits free agency. He currently has nearly 1,600 touches on his frame, which will hurt him in free agency. Once he’s done with the Texans, Miller will be nothing more than a timeshare running back, if he gets a job at all due to the talent flooding in at the position.
Melvin Gordon (LAC)
He’s been saying he wants to be paid like a top running back, as his current rookie contract has him outside the top-20 in average salary. He’ll get paid by someone and the expectation is that it’ll be Los Angeles who extends his contract.
Derrick Henry (TEN)
The Titans have said they want to build their offense around Henry, though the additions of A.J. Brown and Adam Humphries say otherwise. In a new offense, Henry can make himself a lot of money next offseason if he highlights an ability to catch the ball more than he has over his first three seasons (just 39 total receptions).
Kenyan Drake (MIA)
He’s an interesting case, as he’s been severely underused considering what we know he’s capable of. If he does leave Miami, his situation can only get better, and he’s mighty attractive with just 286 carries on his frame to this point. If there’s a team who doesn’t want to use draft capital on a running back, Drake can be a target at just 26 years old next year.
Jordan Howard (PHI)
After being traded for a sixth-round pick, then falling down the depth chart when the Eagles drafted Miles Sanders in the second-round, Howard might not be sticking around very long. He’s a two-down back in an evolving league that requires pass-catching to be valued. He’ll likely be elsewhere in 2020.
Michael Thomas (NO)
Let’s be clear – Thomas isn’t going anywhere. Did you know he’s slated to make under $2 million this year? He could decide to holdout and it would make all the sense in the world knowing he’s about to be a free agent in 2020. The Saints will work out a long-term extension before this becomes an issue.
A.J. Green (CIN)
An aging superstar about to hit free agency? Green deserves one more contract, so it may be up to him on where that is. The Bengals would be foolish not to extend him, but it’s a new regime and it’s possible they’re in rebuild mode. Green’s value surely wouldn’t go down, as he’d go from Andy Dalton to just about anyone else.
Amari Cooper (DAL)
The Cowboys didn’t trade a first-round pick to lose Cooper after 2019, so expect a contract extension very soon. There are reports of a stalemate, but Cooper has all the leverage in this situation. It’s likely that he finishes his career in Dallas.
Tyreek Hill (KC)
This one is interesting, as Hill is surrounded by controversy and it could affect contract negotiations. He’s been playing on a four-year, $2.6 million contract, so he’s going to want a new deal, but it’s likely the Chiefs wait and see how everything plays out off the field first.
Tyler Boyd (CIN)
Not only is A.J. Green slated to hit free agency, but Boyd will, too. He’s likely more of a rebuilding piece as he’ll be just 25 years old at the start of the 2020 season, so the Bengals are likely going to try and lock him up prior to free agency.
Devin Funchess (IND)
He signed a one-year deal with the Colts and if he shows up in a big way, they could choose to extend him in-season. While many have talked about Parris Campbell, it’s Funchess who’s running with the first-team offense and has reportedly looked great in red zone drills. Ideally, he’d stay there in Indianapolis.
Robby Anderson (NYJ)
After what was a dominant finish to the 2018 season, Anderson will look to build on it in his contract year. The Jets have very little depth at wide receiver, so it’s possible they extend him. He’s been somewhat underused while in New York, so maybe hitting free agency wouldn’t be such a bad thing?
Josh Gordon (NE)
Throughout all this drama with Gordon, most forget how young he was when it all began. He’ll be 29 at the start of next season, so as a wide receiver, he should still have plenty left in the tank, though being in and out of football surely doesn’t help.
Hunter Henry (LAC)
Coming off his ACL tear, you have to wonder how the Chargers will handle his contract situation. Even prior to his ACL, he was in a part-time role behind Antonio Gates, so it’s possible they take the wait-and-see approach. It’s likely he stays put, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he hits free agency.
Austin Hooper (ATL)
Some will say Hooper is a big part of the Falcons offense after his 660-yard, four-touchdown season, but I think it’s more that he happens to be in a great situation. With Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu drawing tons of attention all over the field, Hooper may be looked at as a replaceable tight end.
Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle (IND)
The Colts got Ebron on a cheap deal when the Lions released him, but how will they treat him when he wants big money in free agency? He’ll be just 27 years old and they also have Doyle on an expiring contract as well. They’ll likely want to keep one around for some familiarity with Andrew Luck and it’s likely Ebron.
Tyler Eifert (CIN)
For the third straight year, Eifert will hit free agency. With his injuries, it’s unlikely he’ll ever land a multi-year deal, as he’s played just 43 of a possible 96 games in his career, including just 39 of his last 80. When on the field, he’s a force to be reckoned with, but the injuries have likely taken their toll.