Oh yeah, absolutely. I see what you are saying and I totally agree. I too originally thought they would be, how you described, the "bonus missions" but they really were like contracts any of us could have made. But I just don't know, I still enjoyed them a lot.
There is just something about them. It's like how someone else mentioned here before. The idea was fantastic, but the execution, not so much. I did however really enjoy the story of them, that was very nicely done IMO.
But as I said way back, this was the first time IO has attempted something like this. Something new and fresh that I very much enjoyed. I really believe if they decide to do something like this again in future seasons, it will be a heck of a lot better. This was just like a 'rough draft' if you will. I'm sure if they attempt it again it would be a lot more interacting like the actual story missions, or at least I would hope so.