The 50 Worst Free Agent Signings in NFL History

Tony SantorsaSenior Writer IIMarch 14, 2012

The 50 Worst Free Agent Signings in NFL History

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    Over the course of NFL history, we have seen our fair share of bad decisions in the free agent market.

    We have seen teams go out into free agency and simply spend far too much money on one player and then watch that player fall flat on their face with their massive contract. 

    In that spirit, let's take a look at the 50 worst free agent signings in NFL history. 

Albert Haynesworth, Washington Redskins

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    What a complete waste of talent Albert Haynesworth is. He really is one of the biggest underachievers in NFL history.

    Following Haynesworth's monster 2008 season with the Tennessee Titans, he signed a massive seven-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins and was a huge disappointment. 

    Haynesworth was not pleased with his role in the team's defense and managed to play in just 20 games with Washington, recording just 6.5 sacks. 

Adalius Thomas, New England Patriots

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    Very rarely does Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots make mistakes, but they made a huge one with outside linebacker Adalius Thomas.

    Thomas was signed to a five-year deal worth $35 million following his All Pro season in 2006 and was never the pass-rusher the Patriots expected him to be.

    Thomas was cut the day following the 2010 NFL draft. 

Javon Walker, Oakland Raiders

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    The Oakland Raiders figured they were in a win-win situation when they signed Javon Walker to a six-year deal worth $55 million. 

    The Raiders were not only acquiring a much-needed tall wide receiver, but they were stealing him away from their divisional foes, the Denver Broncos. 

    So how did that work out? Walker caught 15 passes as a Raider for 196 yards and just one touchdown. 

Neil O'Donnell, New York Jets

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    I don't know how else we can put it, but Neil O'Donnell just isn't that great of a quarterback.

    O'Donnell signed a five-year deal worth $25 million with the New York Jets back in 1996 and only managed to play two seasons with the Jets.

    In those two seasons, O'Donnell posted a 8-12 record as a starter while completing just 56.9 percent of his passes. 

Ahman Green, Houston Texans

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    Signing Ahman Green to a four-year contract for $23 million was just a bad idea for the Houston Texans.

    Green played in just two seasons with the Texans, competing in only 14 games and scoring five rushing touchdowns. 

Antwaan Randle El, Washington Redskins

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    Antwaan Randle El may have been a play-making wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he wasn't anything close to that with the Washington Redskins.

    Randle El was signed to a seven-year deal for $31 million and didn't make any impact as a return man or wide receiver.

    Talk about some wasted money. 

Duane Starks, Arizona Cardinals

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    Duane Starks was a pretty successful player with the Baltimore Ravens, but once he signed with the Arizona Cardinals, he simply was always injured and a non-factor.

    Starks signed a five-year deal in 2002 worth $23 million and only lasted until 2005, as he was traded to the New England Patriots thereafter.

Larry Brown, Oakland Raiders

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    Larry Brown may have been a Super Bowl MVP but he never really earned his money with the Oakland Raiders, as they signed him to a five-year contract worth $12.5 million in 1996.

    Brown played just 12 games with Oakland and then was waived after two seasons with the team. 

Joe Johnson, Green Bay Packers

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    Joe Johnson may have been a two-time Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints, but once he stepped foot in Green Bay, his career went downhill.

    The Green Bay Packers offered Johnson a six-year deal worth $33 million, but he would only end up playing in two of those six seasons with the team.

    He would total just 11 games due to frequent injuries. 

Emmitt Smith, Arizona Cardinals

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    Did the Arizona Cardinals actually think that Emmitt Smith had anything left in the tank after his 12 incredible seasons with the Dallas Cowboys?

    The Cardinals offered the Hall of Fame running back a two-year deal worth $8 million, and Smith simply didn't produce.

    He played in 25 games with the Cardinals, averaging just 3.3 yards per-carry and scouring 11 touchdowns. 

Deion Sanders, Washington Redskins

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    Hey, what a surprise? The Washington Redskins are on the list again for overpaying for a "has-been."

    When the Redskins signed Deion Sanders to a seven-year deal worth $56 million, he was 33 years old and entering the twilight of his career.

    Sanders played just one season with Washington and simply looked old. 

Adam Archuleta, Washington Redskins

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    Why would anyone make Adam Archuleta the highest paid safety in the NFL? I mean, seriously. 

    Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins signed Archuleta to a monstrous $35 million deal over seven years back in 2006, and he managed to play in just 16 games as a Redskin, starting just seven of them. 

Andre Rison, Cleveland Browns

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    Andre Rison may have been one of the better wide receivers during his day, but he did not earn anything that the Cleveland Browns gave him back in 1995.

    Rison agreed to a five-year deal worth $17 million. 

    As the Browns left the city of Cleveland to become the Baltimore Ravens, they also decided to part ways with the struggling Rison. 

Desmond Howard, Oakland Raiders

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    This is just one of the many signings that I'm sure the Oakland Raiders would love to have back.

    Desmond Howard agreed to a four-year deal worth $6 million with the Oakland Raiders in 1997 and played just two of those four seasons before being released. 

    In those two seasons, Howard scored a total of just two touchdowns. 

Bert Emanuel, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Bert Emanuel was a pretty decent wide receiver with the Atlanta Falcons, but he never really was able to perform well with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Emanuel signed a four-year deal for $16.4 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1998 and simply was a non-factor. In two years with the Bucs, Emanuel caught 63 passes in 22 games and scored only three touchdowns. 

Jevon Kearse, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Jevon Kearse may be one of the better pass-rushers in NFL history, but he flopped dramatically with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2004 until 2007. 

    Kearse agreed to a massive eight-year contract worth $65 million with a signing bonus of $16 million, but he only managed to play in 45 games, recording 22 sacks. 

Sean Gilbert, Carolina Panthers

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    Was Sean Gilbert worth that monstrous seven-year contract for $46 million with the Carolina Panthers? I think not.

    Gilbert played in just five of those seven seasons with the Panthers, recording just 15.5 sacks while starting in 56 games. He would ultimately fail to make any real, legitimate impact. 

Alvin Harper, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    I think that it's safe to assume that Alvin Harper was just a product of the Dallas Cowboys offensive system.

    When Harper signed a four-year deal for a whopping $10.6 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he failed miserably. 

    From 1995-96 with the Bucs, Harper caught just 65 passes and scored only three touchdowns. 

Kerry Collins, Oakland Raiders

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    Kerry Collins may have had a few glory days with the New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans, but he was a huge mistake with the Oakland Raiders back in 2004.

    The Raiders signed Collins to a pretty hefty contract in '04, and ultimately he won just seven out of his 28 starts and threw 21 touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions. 

Dunta Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

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    Cornerback Dunta Robinson is nothing short of being a bonehead—he simply doesn't understand the new helmet-to-helmet rule.

    Robinson and the Atlanta Falcons agreed to a six-year deal worth $57 million, and he's been extremely inconsistent ever since signing this deal back in 2010. 

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    As of right now, I think that this is one of the worst contracts in NFL history.

    Why in the world would the Philadelphia Eagles give Michael Vick a six-year deal worth $100 million? Why? 

    I want to know.

    Vick is always hurt and I highly doubt that he'll play a full regular season for the remainder of his career, as he'll turn 32 this June. 

Chuck Smith, Carolina Panthers

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    Chuck Smith was a sack machine prior to hitting the free agent market in 2000. 

    The day that Smith agreed to a five-year deal for $21 million with the Carolina Panthers, his impressive career simply went down the tubes.

    Smith was often injured and never played past the 2000 season due to injuries. 

Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns

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    What was the point of signing Jake Delhomme? The Cleveland Browns overpaid for him, as they signed him to a two-year deal worth roughly $7 million back in 2010. 

    Delhomme was pitiful, posting a 2-2 record with the Browns. He threw just two touchdowns compared to five interceptions and looked like a man lost on the field. 

Derrick Dockery, Buffalo Bills

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    So who's Derrick Dockery? Does that name ring any bells?

    Well he lasted only two seasons with the Buffalo Bills, as he signed a seven-year deal for $49 million with an incredible signing bonus of $18 million—which made him one of the richest offensive guards in NFL history!

    Now that was a pretty terrible decision by Marv Levy back in 2007. 

Lawrence Phillips, San Francisco 49ers

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    Let me just say one thing about Lawrence Phillips: He's a piece of scum. 

    Phillips agreed to a pretty hefty contract with the San Francisco 49ers back in 1999 and completely fell flat on his face. 

    Despite being so talented and having major potential, Phillips never really got his act together and always found a way to get in trouble. 

Laveranues Coles, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Laveranues Coles may be one of the most productive wide receivers in recent memory, but his tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals is something that I'm sure he'd love to forget.

    The Bengals signed Coles to a four-year contract worth $28 million and lasted just one season with the team, catching 43 passes and scoring five touchdowns. 

Dale Carter, Denver Broncos

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    When Dale Carter became a free agent in 1999, the Denver Broncos decided to pay him a ton of money just to steal him away from the Kansas City Chiefs.

    With that being said, Carter signed a four-year contract worth $22 million and fell flat on his face with the Broncos. 

    In Carter's second-year with Denver, he violated the NFL substance abuse policy and was suspended the entire 2000 season, as it was his fourth offense—sounds like a real winner, right? 

Jeremiah Trotter, Washington Redskins

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    Yet another terrible decision by the Washington Redskins.

    The Redskins signed linebacker Jeremiah Trotter to a seven-year contract worth $36 million, and he simply did not perform well at all. 

    Trotter lasted just two seasons in Washington, recording 150 tackles and only 1.5 sacks. 

Edgerrin James, Arizona Cardinals

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    The Indianapolis Colts made the right call on this one when they let Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James walk when he was 27 years old.

    James signed a four-year contract worth $30 million with a whopping $11.5 million signing bonus.

    James played in three of those four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. 

Thomas Smith, Chicago Bears

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    The Chicago Bears needed to improve their defense heading into 2000, and they decided to do so by offering Thomas Smith a five-year deal worth $22.5 million.

    Smith was an absolute bust and simply could not help out Chicago's secondary whatsoever, and ultimately lasted just one season with the Bears. 

Mike Vanderjagt, Dallas Cowboys

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    Instead of calling Mike Vanderjagt his name, let's call him "Vander-CHOKE."

    The Dallas Cowboys found out why he was a choke artist back in 2006 when they signed him to a three-year deal worth $4.5 million with a $2.5 million signing bonus.

    In just one season with the Cowboys, "Vander-CHOKE" made just 13 of his 18 field goal attempts. 

Nate Odomes, Seattle Seahawks

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    Nate Odomes may have been an All Pro with the Buffalo Bills, but he was far from that with the Seattle Seahawks after he signed a four-year deal for $8.4 million with a signing bonus of $2.2 million. 

    Odomes injured his right knee prior to the start of the 1994 season and then blew out that same knee in rehab the following season.

    Odomes never played a single game for the Seahawks. 

Chester McGlockton, Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs gave up two first-round draft picks to sign Chester McGlockton back in 1998—and he was far from being worth it.

    McGlockton played in just three seasons for KC, racking up only seven sacks and failing to make any positive impact as a defensive linemen. 

Daryl Gardener, Denver Broncos

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    Why did the Denver Broncos offer Daryl Gardener a massive seven-year contract worth $34.8 million with a whopping signing bonus of $5 million?

    Gardener was a huge cancer in Denver's locker room and had little impact on the field. He lasted just five games of that seven-year deal. 

Jeff George, Washington Redskins

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    All I have to say is that Jeff George is one of the most pathetic quarterbacks in NFL history. 

    George was a bust with the Indianapolis Colts, and then the Washington Redskins decided to offer him a four-year deal worth $18 million in 2000. 

    George posted a 1-6 record as a starter with the Redskins in two seasons and recorded a dreadful 71.6 quarterback rating. 

Derek Anderson, Arizona Cardinals

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    Quarterback Derek Anderson was nothing short of a disappointment with the Arizona Cardinals back in 2010, when the team signed him to a two-year deal worth $7.25 million.

    Anderson was absolutely pitiful in 2010, playing in just 12 games and completing 51.7 percent of his passes and posting an embarrassing 65.9 quarterback rating. 

    Without any surprise, Anderson lasted just one season in the desert. 

David Boston, San Diego Chargers

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    David Boston is just yet another wide receiver who wasn't able to find his way with a massive contract.

    The San Diego Chargers signed Boston to a seven-year contract for $47 million, and he was only able to play in just one season with the Chargers. Boston snagged 70 passes for 880 yards and seven touchdowns in that single season. 

Jason David, New Orleans Saints

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    Take a look at the picture posted. Jason David is the man being beat by Chad Ochocinco.

    That's the story of David's life with the New Orleans Saints—getting burned.

    David signed a pretty significant contract back in 2007 after having major success with the Indianapolis Colts in their Super Bowl run, but he was not the same player with the Saints.

Jerry Porter, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Jerry Porter had a pretty solid career at wide receiver prior to signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008. 

    Porter agreed to a six-year deal worth $30 million with a whooping $10 million guaranteed. How'd that work out? 

    Well that was his last season in the NFL, as he caught just 11 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown—not great numbers.

Jeff Garcia, Cleveland Browns

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    What were the Cleveland Browns thinking when they signed Jeff Garcia? 

    Garcia agreed to a four-year deal worth $25 million—and then he promptly failed miserably.

    Garcia played in just one season with Cleveland, posting a weak 3-7 record, throwing nine interceptions and earning a 76.7 quarterback rating.

LeCharles Bentley, Cleveland Browns

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    LeCharles Bentley had a pretty solid career with the New Orleans Saints prior to becoming a free agent in 2006. 

    Bentley signed a six-year deal worth roughly $36 million, with $12.5 of that guaranteed. 

    So how did that go? Not too good. 

    Bentley was frequently injured and suffered multiple staph infections and never played a game in a Browns uniform. 

Edgerton Hartwell, Atlanta Falcons

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    Why did the Atlanta Falcons sign a special teams linebacker to a six-year deal worth $26.25 million back in 2004? Who knows, but it was a huge mistake. 

    Edgerton Hartwell played in just 13 games with the Falcons, recording 63 tackles in his injury-plagued time with the team.

    He was ultimately released in 2007. 

Dana Stubblefield, Washington Redskins

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    Dana Stubblefield is just yet another mistake by the Washington Redskins. 

    Stubblefield agreed to a six-year deal worth $36 million with the 'Skins back in 1998 and was able to play in just 38 games while recording a mere seven sacks. 

Scott Mitchell, Detroit Lions

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    I think that it's safe to say that Scott Mitchell was better off as Dan Marino's backup rather than a starting quarterback in the NFL.

    When Mitchell signed a massive three-year deal worth $11 million with the Detroit Lions, his career went downhill fast. 

    Mitchell posted a mediocre 79.2 quarterback rating with the Lions and never really panned out as a starting quarterback. 

Hugh Douglas, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Hugh Douglas was named All Pro twice prior to signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003.

    The Jags signed the defensive end to a five-year deal worth $27.11 million with a $5 million signing bonus.

    So how did that work out? Well Douglas recorded just three 3.5 sacks in his first season with the team and was then cut in 2004. 

Langston Walker, Buffalo Bills

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    What's with these huge signing bonuses?

    Langston Walker received a pretty hefty signing bonus of $10 million with the Buffalo Bills back in 2007 after agreeing to a five-year deal worth $25 million.

    Walker played left and right tackle for the Bills prior to being released at the start of the 2009 season. 

Elvis Grbac, Baltimore Ravens

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    How can I say this nicely? Well, Elvis Grbac sucks. 

    Grbac did not deserve any money from the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, as he was vastly overrated.

    Sure, Grbac may have been named to one Pro Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he lasted one season with the Ravens, posting a weak 71.1 quarterback rating. 

Yancey Thigpen, Tennessee Titans

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    In the 1998 offseason, Yancey Thigpen was signed to a five-year deal worth $21 million with the Tennessee Titans—and he was an absolute bust.

    Thigpen played in just three seasons with the Titans, catching 91 passes and scoring just nine touchdowns. 

Antonio Bryant, San Francisco 49ers

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    I'll say one thing: Antonio Bryant was one talented wide receiver who never really panned out into anything at the NFL level.

    Bryant signed a four-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers in 2006 that was worth $14 million; problem was, he never really got along with head coach Mike Nolan.

    In his first season with the 49ers, Bryant caught 13 passes for 40 yards and just three touchdowns—that was his final season as a 49er. 

Antonio Bryant, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Why in the world would the Cincinnati Bengals sign Antonio Bryant to a four-year deal worth $28 million and then decide to terminate his contract just months later?

    Well for starters, they signed Terrell Owens and felt like they didn't need Bryant much longer.

    So why did they offer him so much money?