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Projecting Margus Hunt’s Next Contract

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Margus Hunt has been a key contributor for the Colts defense over the past two seasons. Hunt has been good against the run and has 5 sacks in 2018. The 31 year-old is up for a new contract following the season, so how much would his services cost when he hits free agency?

Current Contract

Hunt signed a 2 year, $4,100,000 contract in the 2017 offseason. A part of his contract was a $500k bonus he could earn in 2018.

His Play Under That Contract

Hunt had 1.5 sacks in 4 seasons with the Bengals. He’s had 6 with the Colts over the past two.

He’s been a key contributor on both sides of the ball and is considered to be an “Above Average” player according to Pro Football Focus.

As of Week 15, he’s played in 629 defensive snaps, which means he’s on the field for the Colts defense 67.3% of the time. He has also been on 125 special teams snaps, which is good for 32.6% of the time. His usage on defense is higher than any other defensive lineman, with the exception of Jabaal Sheard.

The Market / Similar Players

Since Margus Hunt is a 4-3 defensive end, we should compare him to other 4-3 defensive ends. Hunt is going to be entering his third contract and he will be 32 years-old entering next season. The following players were in similar positions as Hunt when they signed their most recent contract:

Long signed his contract at the same age as Hunt. Hayes signed his contract at 32 years old (33 when the season started) and Clayborn signed his at 29 years old (30 when the season started). All play Hunt’s position.

Chris Long

  • 2 year, $4,500,000 with $3,000,000 (66%) Guaranteed | $2,250,000 Average Per Year

Long’s best years were clearly behind him, whereas Hunt might be peaking right now, but Long was a productive high snap percentage player and his versatility as a pass rusher and run stopper make him a good comparison.

William Hayes

  • 1 year, $4,050,000 with $4,000,000 (99%) Guaranteed | Fully Guaranteed Contract

Hayes was playing at a high level in St Louis/Los Angeles and his first year in Miami was marred with some injuries. While Hayes definitely got more than he deserved, it shows that mid-tier 4-3 defensive ends like Hayes (and like Hunt) will make at least a few million per year. This definitely isn’t a perfect comparison, but it’s an important contract for agents to use when vouching for your mid-tier veteran pass rusher.

Adrian Clayborn

  • 2 year, $10,000,000 with $5,500,000 (55%) Guaranteed | $5,000,000 Average Per Year

Clayborn was coming off the best year of his career when he signed his contract (like Hunt) and while his best skill is as a pass rusher, he improved a lot as a run stopper in Atlanta, playing a high percentage of snaps. Clayborn’s contract is the best comparison of the three depicted. The only difference with this contract was that Clayborn signed it a couple years younger than Hunt, which makes a difference.

Average of the 3 Contracts

  • 2 Year, $7,500,000 with $5,250,000 (70%) Guaranteed | $3,750,000 Average Per Year

Contract Projection

I expect Margus Hunt to receive a 2 year deal with a decent portion guaranteed. If we take into account the average of the comparable players, the signing style of Chris Ballard and the increase in the salary cap, I expect Margus Hunt’s contract to look like this:

2 Years, $8,200,000 with $2,850,000 Guaranteed

  • 35% of the Contract is Guaranteed
  • $4,100,000 Average Per Year

This contract is very similar to what other players have been demanding in free agency. The 35% guaranteed number is consistent with what Ballard offers to his players; he tends to reduce the amount of money guaranteed and makes it up in bonuses and higher base salaries. This contract also takes into account the projected 7-8% increase in the salary cap.