2012 NFL Free Agents: Predicting Who Will Be the 5 Most Overpaid Players

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMarch 10, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: Predicting Who Will Be the 5 Most Overpaid Players

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    The floodgates of free agency will open in earnest on Tuesday, March 13, as players at all positions will shop their wares to NFL teams across the land before signing on the dotted line, usually with the highest bidder.

    As is the case every season, some players will be lucky to find work at all, while some will have innumerable suitors for their services, and a few contracts will likely leave both fans and the media scratching their heads as to the enormity of the new deals. But it will be this handful of players among the leading candidates to hit a jackpot that's size far outweighs that player's ability.

5. Brandon Carr, Cornerback

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    In a league where quarterbacks are throwing for 5,000 yards in a season with regularity and passing and receiving records are dropping like flies, cornerback has become a premium position, so it's no surprise that the services of Brandon Carr will be in heavy demand, especially given the weak free agent crop at his position this year.

    However, while the four-year veteran is a solid coverage player, he's not an elite option at his position nor has he ever recorded more than 75 tackles or four interceptions in a season, so the team that shells out the long-term deal for over $10 million a season that Carr will probably command on the open market will be taking a sizable risk.

4. Mario Manningham, Wide Receiver

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    New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham may have been one of the heroes of Super Bowl XLVI with his acrobatic catch on the Giants' game-winning drive, but the emergence of fellow wideout Victor Cruz has made the 25 year-old wideout expendable.

    A thin class of free agent receivers will probably drive up the asking price for Manningham, but the former Michigan standout has struggled with injuries and drops in his professional career and has as many 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the NFL as I do.

    However, that likely won't stop a team with cap space to burn and a need at the position like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have from paying a slot receiver like he's an elite one, much to the glee of Mannigham's agent and the dismay of that team's fans.

3. Mario Williams, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

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    First off, let me preface this by saying that in no way am I saying that Mario Williams is not an excellent football player capable of being a disruptive pass-rusher as both a defensive end in the 4-3 and an outside linebacker in the 3-4. "Super Mario" is likely the crown jewel of free agency on the defensive side of the ball.

    However, the demand for the former first overall pick's services will likely be though the roof, which will send his price tag to the same place, and seeing as the seventh-year pro has missed 14 games over the past two seasons and hasn't recorded double-digit sacks since 2008, making him the NFL's highest paid defensive player doesn't seem especially prudent.

2. John Abraham, Defensive End

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    Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham has enjoyed a stellar career in the National Football League, topping double-digit sacks six times and being named to four Pro Bowls over the course of his 12-year career.

    The 33-year-old defensive end is reportedly seeking upwards of $12 million a season, and given the need for pass-rushers in the NFL and the lack of options available to teams in free agency, it's very possible that he could at least clear $10 million a season. But the team willing to shell out that much dough for the venerable vet needs it's collective head checked.

1. Matt Flynn, Quarterback

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    Matt Cassel was a backup quarterback for the New England Patriots that parlayed one decent year filling in for an injured Tom Brady into a $63 million contract from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009.

    Kevin Kolb was a backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles that parlayed less than 10 career starts into a $63 million contract from the Arizona Cardinals in 2011.

    Both players have been significant disappointments in their new homes.

    Matt Flynn is a backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers that has shined in his whopping two career starts and will likely parlay that limited resume into a $50-plus million contract this offseason.

    Noticing a trend here?