2012 NFL Free Agency: Who Swung and Missed the Most This Offseason?
The 2012 NFL free-agency period has wound down, going from frenzy to doldrums in a matter of days. Some teams walked away huge winners this season, a la the Denver Broncos and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, for every winner there must be a huge loser.
Some teams find themselves in huge hole now, whether because of a lack of action on their part, an inability to close deals or some combination of the two. In some cases, it has gotten so bad that fans are actually protesting their own teams.
These teams didn't just fail to sign players they needed, they threw away valuable contributors under the pretense of "finances" or "football decisions." Not surprisingly, most of the teams on this list whiffed entirely on Peyton Manning.
Here are the biggest losers among NFL teams for the 2012 free-agency period.
5. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans did not have what I would call a promising offseason. They didn't exactly go out there and try to sign guys, so they didn't quite whiff the way some of their contemporaries did.
That being said, they woefully failed to even make a respectable attempt to keep Mario Williams around for another year, and let him walk to a rebuilding project on the Buffalo Bills. Granted he got the most valuable defensive contract of all time, but a better effort on their part would have been worth it to at least appease the fans.
Houston clearly needs help at wide receiver both at the No. 2 and the slot, but did they make any attempt to improve themselves? No. With a dearth of talent at the position in their organization, and a fairly deep free-agent class, such a move should have been a no-brainer.
To top it all off, they cut Eric Winston and basically gave DeMeco Ryans (the Texans' all-time leading tackler) to the Eagles.
It's one thing to stay stagnant in free agency, but quite another to actively try and make your team worse.
4. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals know what it's like to sign a veteran future Hall of Fame quarterback who still has some fight in him. Kurt Warner helped them to a Super Bowl appearance despite being in the twilight of his career.
They have warm weather, an indoor stadium and Larry Fitzgerald to help entice free agents to their team. Peyton Manning would have been a great fit.
Despite all of these factors, the Cardinals chose not to wait on Manning to make a choice because of Kevin Kolb's roster bonus deadline.
Sorry, when did Peyton Manning not become worth the cap hit of a decisively mediocre quarterback? It's not like Manning would entice other free agents to follow suit or anything.
Utter failure by the Cardinals' front office.
These birds clipped their own wings.
3. Cleveland Browns
The only things keeping the Cleveland Browns from the No. 2 spot here, is that they never really had a shot at Peyton Manning to begin with and they at least re-signed D'Qwell Jackson.
They understandably let Peyton Hillis walk after a tumultuous season, but failing to sign Mike Tolbert, Michael Bush and BenJarvus Green-Ellis was unacceptable.
Their major swing and miss was their botched attempt to move into the St. Louis Rams' draft spot for Robert Griffin III. Apparently the 22nd pick in Round 1 wasn't worth a franchise quarterback.
Well, now they can watch him flourish for the Washington Redskins while Colt McCoy spends another year on his back.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars not only whiffed on trying to land major offensive or defensive cogs, they completely overpaid for two free agents who had no business getting big contracts.
Giving Aaron Ross three years for $15 million, and Laurent Robinson five years for $30 million were both major mistakes, given that Ross allows 63 percent completions and Robinson has all the signs of a one-hit-wonder.
Worst of all, the Jaguars couldn't even land the hometown hero and legend, Tim Tebow. When the Jets came through with their slightly better offer, the Jags should have immediately upped the ante.
With 2012 already destined to be a terrible season, having Tebow to fill the stands would have made for a nice consolation prize.
1. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins' offseason hasn't just been bad, it's been awful. If I were a Dolphins fan....well let's just say I'm thankful not to be and leave it at that.
First, they whiffed on Peyton Manning. You had to figure their location, legacy, defense and Brandon Marshall were enough to put them in the running, but that ended up as no more than a disappointment.
Their response? Giving away Brandon Marshall for pennies on the dollar.
OK, there's always Matt Flynn right? After all, his former offensive coordinator is the new head coach, so there should be a good chance there. Nope.
Can't help but wonder if Flynn wasn't interested in having Davonne Bess be his No. 1 receiving option.
As if going 0-2 on quarterbacks and giving away a top-five wideout wasn't enough, they also were rejected by Jeff Fisher for the head coaching job back at the end of the season.
No wonder the fans gathered outside the team facility with picket signs.