Every team in professional sports loves to pay for someone who plays at an all-star level for a minimal amount of money, so today we will tackle some of the best individual contracts in sports in terms of value.
A few disclaimers here -- All of these players are on playoff-caliber teams. Nobody cares about good value on a contract if the team is still lousy. Also, no 1-year deals. Plenty of teams can get lucky on those. It's what they do once those expire that separates bad front offices from good ones.
NFL: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks; 4 years - $2.9 million
|Photo by: Getty Images|
NBA: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs; 3 years - $5.4 million
The "Big 3" gets most of the press in San Antonio (as well they should), but Leonard has done a lot to help the Spurs reach the NBA Finals. This season, he averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and shot 49% from the field and 37% from behind the arc. Leonard's most impressive attribute may be his defense, which has improved greatly since entering the league out of San Diego State. On most nights he is assigned the other team's best shooting guard or small forward, and so far in the Finals he has done an admirable job guarding the best player on the planet, LeBron James. As Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker continue to age, Leonard will become the piece that the Spurs build around for their future.
MLB: Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies; 2 years - $11 million
Fowler patrols the outfield for the Rockies, who are surprisingly keeping pace in the National League West. He had a breakout season in 2012, hitting .300 with 135 hits and 11 triples. This year, Fowler already has 10 home runs (his career high is 13), while hitting .304 with 11 stolen bases. He was selected in the 14th round by the Rockies in the 2004 draft, and by '09 had developed to the point where he became Colorado's everyday center fielder. Fowler's 2-year contract is up in 2014, and at the rate he's going, he'll be getting a big pay raise sooner rather than later.
NHL: David Krejci, Boston Bruins; 3 years - $15.7 million
There might be cheaper deals in the NHL, but I don't think any team is getting more bang for their buck than what the Bruins are getting out of Krejci. From 2008-2012, he averaged 62 points and a plus-minus rating of +15, while holding down one of the top 2 center spots for Boston. He was solid this season, finishing with 10 goals and 23 points, but has really turned it on in the postseason, putting his name in the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy with 9 goals, 12 assists, and a +14 rating. If the Bruins are to overcome the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup, Krejci will have to be a huge part of it.