NFL Free Agency: The 5 Worst Signings of the 2011-12 Season
NFL free agents were able to pick their 2012-13 destinations a little less than one month ago. But that does not mean it’s too late to look back on the worst free-agent signings of 2011-12.
There are very few teams in the NFL that have succeeded in signing big-money free agents to build a winning franchise.
The Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, two of the best franchises in recent memory, instead rely on good draft picks and smart signings.
With the NFL lockout last offseason, teams were forced to put together a roster in just a few weeks.
While some free-agent signings made sense—like the Eagles signing of Jason Babin—there were plenty that left fans scratching their heads throughout the year.
Here are the five worst free-agent signings of the 2011-12 season.
5. Steve Breaston
Steve Breaston had the second most receptions and receiving yards in a season for his career in 2011-12.
But it still wasn’t enough to match the five-year, $22.55 million contract he signed in the offseason.
Breaston’s inability to score is a big reason for him being on this list.
The receptions and yardage are great, but Breaston has to find a way to get into the end zone, especially after signing such a large contract.
Breaston also had only five games in which he had over 50 receiving yards.
The Chiefs' quarterback situation may have played a large part in Breaston’s inconsistencies, but he must also take responsibility.
In comparison, Titus Young, the Detroit Lions' rookie wide receiver in 2011-12, had six games over 50 receiving yards and six touchdowns during the season.
Breaston is a very good player, but needs to match his contract in 2012-13.
4. Braylon Edwards
Braylon Edwards hoped that a move to the San Francisco 49ers would help turn around his recent struggles.
It didn’t help. The struggles just got worse.
Edwards signed a one-year, $1 million deal ($3.5 million after incentives) with the 49ers on August 5th.
The production from Edwards was never remotely close to the money he was paid.
Edwards tore his meniscus in a Week 2 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, underwent surgery, and was never able to get healthy afterwards.
The 49ers released Edwards before the season ended, leaving the former No. 3 overall pick’s future unknown.
Edwards only had three games in 2011 in which he caught at least three passes. Only twice did he have over 40 yards receiving in a game.
For the season, Edwards only had 15 catches for 181 yards and no touchdowns; nowhere close to the production that the 49ers were looking for when they signed him.
There is no indication of where, or even if, Edwards will be on a roster in 2012-13. Still, you can bet on him not signing a deal worth $3.5 million again.
3. Kevin Boss
The Oakland Raiders have had a history of poor personnel moves in recent years.
The signing of Kevin Boss to a four-year, $16 million contract can be added to that list.
Last offseason, Boss was coming off back-to-back years of more than 500 receiving yards and five touchdowns. The Raiders needed a tight end to boost their struggling passing game.
Boss missed the first two games of the 2011 season with a knee injury that he suffered in the preseason.
But, early on, it looked as though the young tight end didn't miss a beat.
In his first two weeks of action, Boss had six catches for 114 yards.
However, things quickly went south.
Boss only had four catches over the next five weeks and never was able to live up to the expectations of the contract he signed.
At the end of the season, Boss only had 28 catches for 368 yards and three touchdowns; the lowest totals in each category since his rookie season (2007).
Boss was released by the Raiders in March and has since signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
2. Ray Edwards
The Atlanta Falcons should be thankful.
Despite signing a five-year, $30 million contract last year, Ray Edwards was only paid $3 million in 2011-12.
It’s a good thing, because Edwards, one of the most prized defensive line free agents last offseason, had a very poor regular season.
The 3.5 sacks for Edwards marked the lowest total since his rookie season in 2006.
To make matters worse for Edwards, he only had 1.5 sacks in the final 11 games of the season—including the playoff loss to the New York Giants.
Edwards has never had double-digit sacks in a season, and the Falcons aren’t expecting that from his this year. However, they need him to be a reliable compliment to John Abraham.
Edwards’ salary is only going to go up this season. If his play doesn’t improve, he could find himself being a cap casualty down the road.
1. Sidney Rice
Say it ain't so, Sidney Rice!
There were plenty of concerns going into the Seattle Seahawks' 2011-12 season that Rice was an injury waiting to happen.
Rice only played in six games in 2010 because of hip surgery. He was able to show some promise in the nine games he played last season, but concussions put an end to his year in late November.
The concussions were the second significant injury Rice had in 2011.
Rice missed the first two games of the season with a shoulder injury he suffered during the preseason.
The promise Rice showed prior to the injuries included catching 32 passes for 484 yards and two touchdowns.
According to the Seattle Times (see hyperlink above), while Rice appeared in nine games, he left two games early due to concussion problems.
Despite the injury concerns, there are still plenty of reasons for the Seahawks and their fans to be excited.
Rice is a 25-year-old talent who was one of the best receivers in the NFL in 2009.
However, until Rice can stay healthy, the five-year, $41 million contract he signed with the Seahawks will look awful on paper.
And on the field.
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