The 2012 NFL offseason is here and the free agency period is coming quickly.
Every year, teams overpay for an overrated NFL superstar that seems to get a big pay day and immediately stops playing the game. Other times, a team pays high dollar for a top-quality player only to see him struggle in their system.
This happens to a lot of free agents. Guys will play very well in one system and then get plugged into another only to see themselves struggle.
Other teams will sign an older veteran and expect him to play the same way for their team only to watch his production dip and see him retire a year later.
Teams will even sign away players that have very limited experience in the league and expect him to be an All-Pro in his first year as a starter, but again, he struggles in a different system.
Most of the time, players are overrated for what they have done for their current teams and are unable to repeat the same production in a new city.
With that being said, let's take a look at Vincent Jackson and six other overrated free agents.
2011-2012 Stats: 60 receptions, 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns
Career Stats: 272 receptions, 4,754 yards and 37 touchdowns
Vincent Jackson of the San Diego Chargers is probably going to be the most highly-recruited wide receiver of this free agent class.
Jackson is a huge target, standing at 6'5" and 230 pounds, which makes many teams believe he is the answer to their passing game and red zone problems.
In his seven year career, Jackson has been a pretty productive player and fairly consistent target for quarterback Phillip Rivers.
However, when compared to other receivers in this free-agent class, Jackson immediately becomes an overrated player.
How can we justify placing Jackson ahead of receivers like Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston?
From a production standpoint, Jackson has not been nearly as good as either of these free agent receivers.
Jackson is also the oldest of these three players and has been in the league the longest. However, his numbers are lower than both Colston and Bowe's.
In five years, Bowe has 356 catches, 4,927 yards and 36 touchdowns. That is 84 more catches, 173 more yards and only one less touchdown than Jackson, and Bowe has played two years less than Jackson.
The separation in numbers is even more apparent between Colston and Jackson.
In six years, Colston has 449 receptions, 6,240 yards and 48 touchdowns. That means that with Jackson playing one more year than Colston, he still has 177 more catches, 1,486 more yards and 11 more touchdowns.
Jackson is a talented receiver and definitely could help many teams in the NFL. However, he is not the best receiver in this free-agent class, not by a long shot.
2011-2012 Stats: 67.3 completion percentage, 518 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions and 124.8 rating
Career Stats: 62.1 completion percentage, 1,015 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions and 92.8 rating
Matt Flynn is currently the backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers but will be the most sought-after free-agent quarterback this offseason.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is also a free agent, but there is no way the Saints will let him leave New Orleans, so he will not hit the market. This leaves Flynn as one of the only viable options at the quarterback position.
Flynn is a four-year player out of LSU and has played in 34 games over that span. He has shown flashes of greatness in his short career, but no one was sure of what he could really do as a starter until the last game of the 2011 NFL season.
In Week 17 of last season, Flynn completed 70.5 percent of his passes, threw for 480 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. He had a quarterback rating of 136.4 on that day.
This game showed many teams that Flynn can be a good option as a starting quarterback in the NFL; however, he may not be capable of putting up those types of numbers on a new team.
Flynn is a smart quarterback and makes good decisions, but he may be nothing more than a game manager on a new team.
Not every team in the NFL has the types of weapons that the Packers have.
If Flynn goes to a team like the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns or Miami Dolphins, then he will not have guys like Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Tom Crabtree, John Kuhn and Ryan Grant to throw the ball to.
Green Bay had a great player at nearly every offensive-skill position, but other teams in the NFL are not that deep and Flynn may struggle with not as many weapons to throw the ball to.
Flynn could land a big contract and suddenly find himself struggling to produce numbers and wins for his new team. I would hate to see Flynn end up in a situation similar to Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals.
2011-2012 Stats: 161 carries, 587 yards, 3.6 yards per carry, three touchdowns and one fumble
Career Stats: 512 carries, 2,161 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 20 touchdowns and nine fumbles
Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis is a very tricky situation.
If I was the general manager of any team, than I am likely not going to take a chance on Hillis anytime soon.
He had a great year in 2010, running for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, in his other three years, Hillis combines for 984 yards and nine touchdowns.
In 2011, Hillis had a couple injuries early in the year and disputed with the Browns for most of the season. This is not the type of player that you want to bring into an NFL locker room.
No matter what the true circumstances were, a player that does not put forth his best effort is not worth the trouble.
Besides the fact that Hillis may have locker room issues, he has not been a very productive running back in the league besides the 2010 season.
Other running backs such as Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte and Ray Rice would be much better options than Hillis.
2011-2012 Stats: 43 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered
Career Stats: 395 tackles, 83.5 sacks, 39 forced fumbles and 14 fumbles recovered
Robert Mathis is sure to be one of the most sought after defensive ends of this free-agent period, but whatever team signs him may be in for a disappointment.
Mathis has had the luxury of playing opposite of Dwight Freeney for his entire career.
In the past, when teams have played the Colts, Freeney was their top concern, not Mathis. Freeney was able to get a solid pass-rush on the right side of the defense and draw the attention of the offense for 10 years.
This made Mathis' job on the Colts' defense a lot easier.
His numbers are impressive, but he got a lot of help from Freeney. Mathis has had less than seven sacks only once in his nine-year career, and that was his rookie year.
For the past four seasons, Mathis has had at least 9.5 sacks. The numbers say that Mathis can play great football, but teams should be weary of paying Mathis a high-dollar contract.
He is also 31 years old and more than likely through the prime of his career. Mathis undoubtedly has some gas left in the tank, but he may start to decline soon, especially if Freeney is no longer on his team.
2011-2012 Stats: 52 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception & 10 pass deflections
Career Stats: 194 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, seven interceptions & 33 pass deflections
Tracy Porter is a four-year player out of Indiana and currently the Saints' No. 2 cornerback.
Porter is a player that can keep up with the opposing team's fastest receiver and typically never gets burned deep down the field. He can tackle well in the open field and is known for his big-play ability.
However, Porter has been very inconsistent and injury-prone throughout his short career.
Through four years in the league, Porter has yet to play an entire 16-game season. He missed the majority of his rookie year with an injury and has missed 10 combined games in the last three years.
Porter is best known for the game-winning interception he made against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. He also made a key interception against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFC Championship game.
Though Porter has made big plays before, he typically does not make as many in the regular season. He has only seven picks in four years, and four of those interceptions came in the 2009 season. He has only two interceptions in the last two years.
Porter has been a valuable player for the Saints and a pretty solid No. 2 corner, but if a team expects to sign Porter and make him their No. 1 cornerback, then they may be in for a surprise.
2011-2012 Stats: 55 receptions, 767 yards and eight touchdowns
Career Stats: 137 receptions, 1,818 yards and 15 touchdowns
Jermichael Finley is undoubtedly the best tight end in this free-agent class, but teams should be weary of what kind of player they are getting.
Finley is a borderline diva-type player and could cause locker room issues if things do not go his way. I believe that the only reason he kept quiet with the Green Bay Packers is because they kept winning.
Finley has also not been dominant during his time in the NFL. At 6'5" and 247 pounds, Finley has the size to be a destructive tight end, but he has yet to do so in his NFL career.
This past season was the first year that Finley was able to play an entire season. Before 2011, Finley had missed 16 games with injuries in only three years.
An injury-prone tight end may not be something a team wants to invest heavily in during a time when the tight end position is becoming so important.
Finley also had a problem with dropping the football in 2011, and that could pose problems for his future. The talent is here for this player, but he may not do as well in a new team, especially if they do not pass very often.
2011-2012 Stats: 75 catches, 960 yards and four touchdowns
Career Stats: 865 catches, 11,708 yards and 71 touchdowns
Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne has been one of the more productive pass catchers in recent memory and could very likely be in the Hall of Fame one day.
Despite not playing with Peyton Manning in 2011, Wayne still had solid numbers in Indianapolis. It is likely that Wayne will not be back with the Colts next year, and whatever team decides to pick him should be weary of a few things first.
Wayne is 33 years old and, while many receivers play well into their 30s, his production could drop off greatly and very quickly.
If a team picks up Wayne and does not have solid quarterback play, then he may not be a 1,000-yard caliber receiver. Wayne's prime has definitely come and gone, and he may not see another 1,000-yard year in his career.
A similar thing happened to receiver Torry Holt a few years ago.
Holt was a very productive receiver for the St. Louis Rams and caught for over 1,000 yards from 2000-2007. However, in 2008 his production dipped greatly and he only lasted one more year in the NFL after the '08 season.
We could see something similar happen to Wayne, and teams need to know that before they give him another big pay day.