I don’t really have much of an issue with the money here. Brown is getting 10.5 million over 3 years with 4 million over 1 year guaranteed. That compares pretty well with other contracts given to running backs this off-season, including Darren McFadden (1 year, 4 million), Joique Bell (3 years, 9.3 million), Maurice Jones-Drew (3 years, 7.5 million), Ben Tate (2 years, 7 million), Knowshon Moreno (1 year, 3 million), LeGarrette Blount (2 years, 3.85 million), and Rashad Jennings (4 years, 10 million) this off-season.
It’s a slight overpay. Donald Brown has never had more than 150 touches in a season since being drafted in the 1st round in 2009. He averages 4.3 yards per carry for his career and he’s a liability on passing downs as he doesn’t offer much as a pass catcher or pass protector. He had a strong contract year, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, catching 27 passes for 214 yards and scoring a total of 7 times. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 20th ranked running back and ranked 1st in elusive rating.
That being said, that was on only 102 carries and 379 total snaps and, given his history, it’s a major leap to suggest he could be a consistently successful lead back. 3.5 million dollars yearly doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but he’s the only running back to get that much money annually on a 3+ year deal this off-season. No running back got a bigger contract in terms of top maximum base salary. It’s a small overpay, but, again, the money isn’t really a big issue here.
The big issue is why the Chargers would sign him when they already have Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. I know Mathews is injury prone, but there are cheaper insurance policies. The Chargers entered this off-season with one of the worst defenses in the NFL and very little cap space. To spend a big chunk of that cap space adding an excess running back is just irresponsible. They couldn’t afford this kind of luxury. They would have been much better off signing someone like Andre Brown for much cheaper.