The best contracts from the first week of free agency

About one week into free agency, here’s a look at four contracts that look on paper to be steals.

Tennessee Titans sign WR Rishard Matthews to a three-year, $15 million contract with $5 million guaranteed

In limited action, Matthews caught more than 70 percent of the passes thrown his way and averaged a solid 60.2 yards per game in a breakout fourth season with Miami. And yet he signed with Tennessee for a salary that pales in comparison to those handed out to lesser receivers like Mohamed Sanu and Travis Benjamin. How in the world do guys like Lamar Miller, Chase Daniel, Chris Ivory and Jeremy Lane get bigger paydays than Matthews?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DE Robert Ayers to a three-year, $19.5 million contract with $10.5 million guaranteed

The former first-round pick may have been overlooked early in the process because he’s on the wrong side of 30, but his résumé might have been as strong as any other pass-rusher on the open market. The man looks to have plenty of tread on his tires and is coming off a breakout nine-sack season, and yet Daniel and Lane got more money. Compare Ayers’ stats to those of Olivier Vernon and tell me how in the world Vernon is getting three or four times as much money.

Oakland Raiders sign OLB Bruce Irvin to a four-year, $37 million contract with $19 million guaranteed

Irvin might have actually been the best pure pass-rusher on the market, despite the fact he was hardly a pass-rusher at all in Seattle. He’s versatile enough to contribute against the run and in coverage and he should only get better at the age of 28. It’s amazing he cost less than half of what Vernon and Malik Jackson got. In a year or two, this’ll look like robbery.

Oakland Raiders sign CB Sean Smith to a four-year, $38 million contract with $20 million guaranteed

The 28-year-old isn’t a big playmaker, which might explain why he didn’t get as much love as the more hawkish and slightly younger Janoris Jenkins. Still, he’s one of the most consistent cover men in football, which is practically invaluable. And he’s still in his prime. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still getting paid handsomely. But it’s still ridiculous that about a dozen corners (including Jenkins, Byron Maxwell, Brandon Carr and Sam Shields) are getting bigger checks than Smith.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.