7 Most Overrated NFL Free Agents of 2012

Vaughn JohnsonCorrespondent IIJune 6, 2012

7 Most Overrated NFL Free Agents of 2012

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    Not all free agents are worth the hype and fanfare. Some of them are not all they are cracked up to be.

    Despite the team and fan expectations of a newly acquired free agent, these seven guys will ultimately let them down.

    That does not mean that they are bad and unproductive players. And it does not mean that they are not worthy of an NFL roster spot. What this list is about are guys who are, in reality, not what they were thought to be by teams and fans.

    Some of these guys are expected to be sort of semi-saviors for a franchise, while others are supposed to be the final piece to the offensive or defensive puzzle. 

    At the end of the day, none of these guys will fit any of those bills.

Matt Flynn, QB, Seattle Seahawks

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    We start off with the most suspect of all of the big free-agent signings this offseason, new Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn.

    Flynn and the Seahawks agreed on a three-year deal worth $26 million, with $10 million guaranteed.

    How did Flynn earn such a nice contract? After playing well in one game. Yup, only one game.

    Now, Flynn played outstanding in that one game.

    For those who may have forgotten, Flynn started against the Detroit Lions in Week 17 of last season as the Packers rested usual starter Aaron Rodgers. Flynn's stats during said game was completing 31 of 44 passes for 480 yards and six touchdown passes.

    Flynn's yardage and touchdowns were both Packers records, which is saying something, as the Packers have almost 100 years of history to look back on.

    Not to take anything away from Flynn (I kind of am anyway), but it came against a defense that was ranked No. 23 in total defense and a pass defense that gave up 239 yards per game, only 22nd in the league. Not to mention, the rest of the offense was in there with him.

    All of this seems eerily similar to what Rob Johnson was to the Buffalo Bills and what Scott Mitchell was to the Detroit Lions during the 1990s.

    Both guys were backups who rarely saw playing time, had one good outing and got huge contracts from teams that desperately needed quarterbacks. Neither Johnson nor Mitchell lived up to the expectations of being the guy under center.

    History is not on the side of Mr. Flynn.

    Experience will still be an issue for him. He's played in 34 career games, but the vast majority were in garbage time. His big experience came in two games, with the one being the game against Detroit in 2011 and the other coming in 2010 when he nearly defeated the New England Patriots.

    He played well in both, but it's hard to give a ton of praise to a guy with essentially two games under his belt.

Mario Manningham, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    A lot of people will look at Mario Manningham's clutch catch during the Super Bowl and a couple of other clutch plays during the Giants' postseason run and overrate him.

    The fact is, Manningham was inconsistent and often injured in 2011 and has not been a top-notch receiver throughout his career. 

    Manningham signed a two-year, $7.3 million deal with the team he helped defeat in the NFC Championship Game in January, the San Francisco 49ers. 

    He left the New York Giants despite making one of the most clutch catches in Super Bowl history and helping the team to its fourth Super Bowl title.

    But Manningham's entire body of work during the 2011 season was not enough to warrant the Giants of shelling out money to keep him. 

    In 12 regular-season games, Manningham caught 39 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns. When healthy, Manningham has had productive seasons, but nothing to the likes that Victor Cruz had in 2011.

    Manningham's lack of production coupled with Cruz emerging as the best No. 2 receiver in football made him expendable. 

    Manningham has talent, but do not expect him to make any kind of splash in San Francisco, especially with the run-oriented offense that Jim Harbaugh likes to run.

    Even when the Niners do pass the ball, they have tight end Vernon Davis entering his prime and a seemingly motivated Randy Moss to throw the ball to. 

Brandon Jacobs, RB, San Francisco 49ers

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    The 49ers didn't just take one member of the Super Bowl champion Giants, they took two.

    The Niners picked up Jacobs after he was released by the Giants before the draft. 

    Jacobs saw his role diminish more and more as the seasons went on in New York, until he was shown the door. 

    The 49ers aren't necessarily the ones doing the overrating in this situation. It's Jacobs himself.

    The Niners picked Jacobs up purely for depth as they already have a nice one-two punch with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. 

    Jacobs talks a big game on the field, but only occasionally backs it up. Jacobs has rushed for more 1,000 yards twice in his career, but they took place in 2007 and 2008.

    Since those two seasons, his yardage has steadily declined. 

    Jacobs may serve a purpose, but ultimately will not live up to the size of his mouth.

    The move shouldn't hurt the 49ers one way or another. They are a very good team that does not have many holes and, quite frankly, does not need a guy like Jacobs.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins

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    Pierre Garcon is another guy with talent, but will not make any type of splash in Washington, or a splash big enough to warrant a five-year, $42.5 million contract with $20.5 million guaranteed.

    Garcon is a good receiver, but that contract says that he close to being a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. I don't think he is now, nor do I think he will ever be.

    I must give Garcon credit where it is due. He had his best season in 2011 with a horrible quarterback situation in Indianapolis and cashed in on it. 

    Garcon caught a career-high 70 passes for 947 yards and six touchdowns. I also must admit that his numbers have been steadily on the rise. With all of that said, he's had Peyton Manning delivering the ball for two of the last three seasons, and he's made a lot of nameless receivers look good during his last couple of years in Indy.

    Garcon will be going from the steady Manning to a rookie in Robert Griffin III. As talented as RGIII is, he is not Manning, at least not yet.

    Garcon also benefited from playing opposite Reggie Wayne, who still causes fits for defenses. In Washington, he will be teamed up with Santana Moss and Josh Morgan. They are talented receivers in their own right, but neither are to the level of Wayne.

    No. 2 receivers tend to get more balls thrown their way when there is a legit No. 1 on the other side being double-teamed every play. Garcon is a prime example of this. 

    T.J. Houshmandzadeh was pretty productive for the Bengals alongside Chad Ochocinco, but was not nearly as productive in Seattle or Oakland without Ochocinco.

    The same could happen to Garcon.

Brandon Carr, CB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Again, Brandon Carr is a good player. He has quietly been one of the better cornerbacks in football the last couple of seasons, but him signing with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason was a bit overrated.

    Carr signed a five-year, $50.1 million deal to be a bit of a savior to the Cowboys secondary, which was downright putrid at times last season.

    As good as Carr is, he will not completely change the complexion and production of the secondary for the Cowboys. There were more problems than just one corner spot. 

    There was the lack of tackling from the secondary as a whole. There was also the lack of knowledge of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme, which can be taken as complicated at first. It must have caused a lot of confusion on the field because the Cowboys secondary looked lost at times in 2011.

    All of that amounted to the Cowboys ranking 23rd against the pass and giving up the eighth-most passing plays of 20 yards or more with 57.

    Carr will improve the secondary, but it is not shored up just yet.

Laurent Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    New Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Laurent Robinson is yet another player on this list that has been miscast.

    The Jaguars signed Robinson to a five-year, $32.5 million contract with Jaguars this off season with hopes of shoring up an area in which they have been sorely lacking in for a long, long time.

    Robinson posted a very productive season in 2011: 54 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    In 2012 with the Jaguars, he will be asked to be a bit of a No. 1 option for the Jags' passing game. 

    He showed signs of being that type of player last season for the Dallas Cowboys, but did so with a better, more experienced quarterback in Tony Romo and by catching most teams by surprise.

    This coming season, he will have a less experienced and possibly shell-shocked quarterback in Blaine Gabbert, and defensive coordinators will have him fully scouted. 

    Robinson will learn things are a lot different when you're not catching people by surprise anymore.

Jarret Johnson, OLB, San Diego Chargers

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    The San Diego Chargers sought someone to help their defense improve from its ranking in 2011.

    In an effort to do so, they signed former Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson to a four-year, $19 million deal.

    Johnson instantly has some credibility coming from the Ravens defense, but that's where his credentials end. 

    Playing opposite such a dynamic player like Terrell Suggs should increase your stats, but Johnson's stayed the same. Despite playing in Baltimore since 2003, Johnson only posted 20 career sacks.

    His single-season high came in 2009 when he posted six. 

    Johnson will end up being in the long line of guys who made a name for themselves in Baltimore next to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, left and did not match their success elsewhere. Others include Ed Hartwell, Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Jamie Sharper and Duane Starks.