Most Likely To Disappoint is my first article in a series of them based on the 2014 NFL Free Agency period happening as we speak.
Free agency in the NFL is the 2nd most important transactional period of the year. Teams pour out major moola to football players exiting the last year of their current contract. Whether or not these players are any good is a different argument. There is always risk in free agency, however. Will the player be a scheme fit? Will the player stay healthy? The most important question is, however: Will the player perform after earning their payday?
There have been numerous football players that make their money and check out, at least until their second payday, or sometimes forever. These players are what make NFL football teams weary to dish out the big bucks. Below I have listed the biggest FA busts and why it is some teams are afraid of those big contracts.
Albert Haynesworth: Anyone that’s watched football within the last 5 years remembers Big Al saying “Albert Haynesworth will not be remembered as a bust.“- Haynesworth, circa 2009.
HA. Very funny, Al. Haynesworth signed a 7 year, $100 million contract, with $41 million guaranteed. Hayneworth proceeded to play in 20 games over the span of two seasons, amassing a paltry 6.5 sacks and 53 tackles. He was cut after his second season with the Redskins, and a bizarre relationship with Mike Shanahan. The joke was on Washington, however, as Haynesworth was still paid every penny of that $41 million.
To put that into perspective: Haynesworth was paid $6,307,693 per sack, $773,585 per tackle, and $1,281,250 for every game he played-and didn’t play- during his time in Washington.
Haynesworth was essentially paid $41,000,000 for doing this:
Since Haynesworth, a few guys have received notable contracts.
A year after Haynesworth, defensive end Julius Peppers received a 6 year, $91.5 million contract with $42 million guaranteed. Peppers was just cut last week by Chicago. He’s now a Green Bay Packer. Not to say he was a bust in any way, he just earned a contract as a 30 year-old free agent and made far too much for a guy about to enter his decline phase.
Back in 2012, offensive guard Carl Nicks signed a 5 year, $47.5 million contract with $31 million guaranteed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has played in just nine games since signing that contract, meaning nine of a possible 32. For what it’s worth, Nicks is dealing with a MRSA infection that has put his career in jeopardy. It may be Tampa Bay’s fault.
Last offseason, the Miami Dolphins signed wide receiver Mike Wallace to a 5 year, $60 million with $30 million guaranteed. Wallace gave the Dolphins a career-worst 12.7 yards per catch (YPC) while also posting the lowest touchdown total of his career with just five.
After seeing these contracts, some teams still dish out major money to free agents that shouldn’t necessarily be paid that much for a number of reasons. Now, I’ll go over a few guys to look out for from this past week that could be major busts moving forward for their teams.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Is the Next Big Al?
DRC signed a 5 year, $39 million contract with $15 million guaranteed today with the New York Giants. That’s a hefty contract for a guy that’s been facing criticism about his effort and desire to play football since day one. He also recently contemplated retirement if Denver won the past Super Bowl. They didn’t.
Eric Decker Will Be Wallace?
Decker signed a 5 year, $36.25 million contract with the New York Jets containing $15 million guaranteed. This isn’t a situation like the DRC’s or Albert Haynesworth’s of the world. The problem with Decker living up to his contract will be the expectations and his quarterback. Decker goes to the NFL’s second worst passing offense and the 32nd ranked scoring offense in regards to the pass during 2013. Decker will struggle to hit 1,000 yards or 8+ touchdowns until the Jets figure out their quarterback situation.
Hatcher To Age Like Peppers?
Another guy whose tried hard his entire career for a massive payday finally got it; DE Jason Hatcher signed a 4 year, $27.5 million contract containing $10.5 million guaranteed. He’s a productive player but will be entering his age-32 season next year. A four year deal for a big name guy entering his decline phase? Yep, sounds like Danny boy is at it again. Luckily for the Redskins, the guaranteed money does not spread for the majority of his contract, meaning they can cut him after two seasons if he is showing signs of decline.
NFL football teams, despite some shaky past contracts, have dished out a fair share of money for free agents thus far this season. Only time will tell if these guys pan out as their respective teams hope.
Stay tuned for the next article: Hidden Gems, Great Grabs