Edwards vs. Johnson: Tale of money

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
7:37
AM ET
BUFORD, Ga. -- Last week, the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers engaged in the first big game of the NFC South season. They battled over free-agent defensive end Charles Johnson.

In the end, Johnson decided to stay with the Panthers. The Falcons ended up with Ray Edwards, which isn’t a bad consolation prize. But did the Panthers really win?

I’ll let you argue that out in the comments section below. But, before you do, let’s review the two players. Johnson’s only 24, but he’s also had only one really good NFL season. That was last season, when he posted 11.5 sacks. Edwards had a pretty steady run in Minnesota, but never did accumulate more than 8.5 sacks and he was playing opposite Jared Allen.

Before you give your argument, there’s one other thing you should consider. That’s money, which many believe is what the NFL really is all about.

I’ve got full contract figures on the deals Johnson and Edwards agreed to and there is a very substantial difference. Johnson’s six-year deal could be worth up to $76 million and it also included a $30 million signing bonus. That means expectations will be high and Johnson better put up double-digit sacks on a yearly basis to justify a contract that averages almost $12.7 million a season.

We don’t know exactly what the Falcons were offering Johnson. But they ended up paying a lot less for Edwards. His five-year deal is worth $27.5 million. That’s an average of $5.5 million per season. Edwards’ signing bonus was $4 million.

For comparison sake, let’s also take a look at the deal Jason Babin took with the Philadelphia Eagles. Babin already is in his 30s and was considered by many to be the third-best defensive end on the market after Johnson and Edwards.

But Babin actually got a slightly bigger contract than Edwards. Babin’s five-year deal is worth $27.725 million, an average of $5.545 million per year.

Go ahead and argue it out over whether the Falcons or Panthers got the better deal. But don’t forget to at least weigh how money plays into this one.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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