Mario Williams, Calvin Johnson and Vincent Jackson, among other free agents must have been channeling the late, great Christopher Wallace when he once said, “Gimme the loot, gimme the loot,” because giving free agents the loot is exactly what some free spending NFL teams have done this offseason.
It did not matter if the player was coming off a season-ending injury whose team’s defense appeared to improve without him or the player was a wide receiver demanding a salary of a QB. Even if the player was a four-year veteran backup QB who had just 132 passing attempts throughout his career.
No matter the situation, free agents got paid, and paid handsomely.
Here’s a ranking of the biggest contracts given out thus far.
The Jacksonville Jaguars gave former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson a five-year deal worth $32.5 million. The deal includes $14 million guaranteed.
Not bad for the former, oft-injured wide receiver who was third on the depth chart behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin in Big D.
Robinson has been in the league since 2007, playing in 14 games in his rookie season. Since then, he has only had more than 30 receptions in three of his seasons.
Last season was his best, as he had a career-high 54 receptions for 858 yards. He was able to take advantage of being the third option, as opposing defenses would focus on Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
Robinson has proven that he can stretch the field as he averaged 15.9 yards per catch last season.
The Jaguars needed to take a chance on a receiver this offseason since it has been a position they have been very weak at for years. Mike Thomas was the team's leading receiver last season with 44 receptions.
Still, giving $14 million guaranteed to a receiver who has never even been the first option on an NFL team might be a little bit of a risk.
Haven’t we seen this scenario before? The one when a team gets real high on a QB after seeing him play for a brief period of time.
Well at least this signing isn’t as bad as last season’s when the Arizona Cardinals gave Kevin Kolb a five-year contract worth a maximum of $63.5 million with $21 million guaranteed.
Still, the Seattle Seahawks may have overpaid for most likely their next starting quarterback, Matt Flynn.
Flynn and the Seahawks agreed to a three-year, $26 million deal with $10 million guaranteed.
All this money seems a bit ridiculous for a backup quarterback who only started one game last season.
While he was phenomenal in the game against the Detroit Lions, as he completed 31 of 44 passes for 480 yards, six touchdowns and an interception, was the game enough of an evaluator to project him as a starting quarterback in the NFL?
The Seahawks had tried to the route of signing backup quarterbacks to make them starters before. But, it did not work out for them. Charlie Whitehurst is no starter and if Seattle had any faith in Tarvaris Jackson, they would not have signed Flynn.
If Flynn does not work out, the Seahawks should rethink their strategy of going after a QB on another team’s depth chart and start looking into getting a quarterback through the draft.
While Brandon Carr will provide the Dallas Cowboys with a major upgrade over Terence Newman in pass coverage, it came at a high cost. Fifty million dollars over five years to be exact.
At only 25 years old, Carr is already a good cover corner and will only get better with each season he plays, barring injury. Last season, he had a career low in tackles but had a career-high in interceptions with four.
He is very durable, as he never missed a game in his four-year career as of yet.
Still, $50 million is a lot for a corner is who is nowhere close to being a shutdown corner.
In 2010, Darrelle Revis signed a four-year deal for $46 million. Carr’s current deal is just a little too close to Revis’, who is the best cornerback in the league.
I feel like I went to sleep and woke up in a different reality. In this reality, former Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan is an elite player who just signed with the St. Louis Rams for five years, $51.25 million.
Yes, I know he's a pest and he gets under the opponents’ skin. And that he does a heckuva Pauly D from the Jersey Shore impression, as he showed us when he fought Andre Johnson during a game in 2010.
And I know he is one of those players that you absolutely hate to go against but would love to have on your team.
But do all his characteristics make him really worth $51 million over five years?
Finnegan is a good player but not a great one, and is replaceable. Just like Brandon Carr’s new contract, Finnegan's new deal is getting a little too close for comfort when comparing it with Darrelle Revis' contract.
It was probably for the best that Marques Colston signed a five-year deal worth $40 million to stay with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. The contract reportedly includes $19 million guaranteed.
Colston has been very productive in his six seasons in New Orleans. Only in 2008, when he only played in 11 games, has he failed to reach at least 70 receptions.
Colston remains one of Brees’ favorite targets in a pass-friendly offense. If Colston would have gone anywhere else, he may not have been as productive.
This will probably be Colston's last big contract, as he is 28 years old and is a bit injury prone. Compared to what the other free agent receivers are going to get, Colston’s deal was very reasonable.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Vincent Jackson a five-year deal worth $55.55 million, including $26 million guaranteed.
While Jackson is a prototypical wide receiver at 6’5’’ and 230 pounds, he's already 29 years old.
He has the size and the speed to be an elite receiver in the league but still has yet to show that he is one during his seven-year career.
Jackson's most productive season came in 2009, when he had 68 receptions for 1,167 yards.
He is a proven deep threat who has averaged 17.5 yards per catch throughout his career.
While the Bucs needed to make some kind of move during free agency, this one may not be a good move. New head coach Greg Schiano favors the rushing offense more than a passing offense and because of this, Jackson’s skill set may ultimately be underutilized.
For six years of services, Mario Williams will be getting $100 million for the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills overpaid. While Williams is a very good pass rusher, he's not very good at stopping the run. Plus, he's becoming injury prone. In the last two seasons, he only played in 18 games combined.
It is also interesting that the Houston Texans became the league's No. 1-ranked defense in Williams' absence.
Should this be a red flag or could it just have been a coincidence since defensive coordinator Wade Phillips made the switch from the 4-3 scheme to the 3-4?
In Buffalo, Williams will be able to return to the 4-3 scheme and become purely a pass rusher, a position he excelled at earlier in his career.
While that deal sounds just fine for a healthy Peyton Manning, it may be a little nuts for a Manning post multiple neck surgeries.
If the Broncos can make the contract very incentive-laden it could make sense, but if they don't, they're taking a huge gamble.
The gamble may be worth it as Manning can be a franchise changer. He will raise Eric Decker’s and Demaryius Thomas' level of play. He will also make their offensive line look much better with his quick decision-making.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a bunch of cap space this offseason and they were not afraid to spend it. After signing Vincent Jackson put $55.55 million deal, they went after the No. 1 free agent offensive lineman in free agency, Carl Nicks.
The Bucs were able to sign Nicks to a five-year, $47.5 million deal with $31 million guaranteed.
Nicks is arguably one of the best guards in the league and is only 26 years old. He will help out in the running game while also protecting Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman.
Since coming into the league as a rookie, Nicks was faced with the task of protecting Drew Brees while blocking for the New Orleans Saints running game. In this role, he proved to be better than expected.
If Nicks can remain the same player he is now or improves his game even more, he could be the best signing in this year's free agency.
Calvin Johnson was not a free agent this year, but he did re-sign with the Detroit Lions for an eight-year extension worth up to $132 million, with $60 million guaranteed. While he was expensive, he is a necessity for the team if they want to continue on the upward path that they are currently on.
Johnson is essential to young quarterback Matthew Stafford as he presents a mismatch even when he is double teamed due to his muscular 6’5’’ frame and his ridiculous leaping ability.
Johnson has been very productive throughout his career in the league. Last season, he had 96 receptions for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He is also only 26 years old and is already a two-time Pro Bowler.
Johnson is the face of the Detroit Lions and should be there for the rest of his career.