NFL Free Agency 2012: 3 Players Who Were Horribly Overpaid

Amelia AhlgrenContributor IIIAugust 16, 2012

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 17:  Wide receiver Laurent Robinson #81 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after a touchdown catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 17, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Every year, some NFL free agents sign sizable contracts that have us scratching our heads.

The 2012 offseason offered a ripe class of free agents, but it wasn't just the big-name free agents who cashed in.

Here's a look at three players who signed gracious contracts during free agency.


Laurent Robinson, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars

Wide receiver Laurent Robinson wasted no time cashing in on his big 2011 season—the only one of his five-year NFL career.

Robinson's best performance prior to last season came in 2007, his rookie year, when he amassed 437 receiving yards.

Somehow Robinson, after one stellar season with the Cowboys, was able to leverage his season-high 858 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns recorded last year to ink a five-year deal worth $32.5 million.

From that contract, $13.8 million is guaranteed, and he is receiving most of that money up front. 

Robinson raked in a cool $8 million as a signing bonus and $2.1 million in a first-year roster bonus. He is also guaranteed his $1 million base salary for the 2012 season.

In other words, even if Robinson gets cut next season, he will still walk away from this season with $11.1 million in his pocket.

To put that in perspective, Wes Welker (1,569 yards and nine touchdowns last season) will be paid $9.5 million all in this year after signing his franchise tender.

Worse for Robinson, Blaine Gabbert will now be the guy throwing to him.

When the 2012 season concludes, the Jags are going to find they paid through the nose per yard Robinson receives.


Mark Anderson, Defensive End, Buffalo Bills

Mark Anderson signed a four-year, $19.5 million deal with the Bills during free agency, and although it's an exciting storyline for Buffalo's suddenly menacing defense, $5 million a year for a situational player is a bit steep.

Anderson played just 47 percent of snaps for the New England Patriots and was used mostly against the pass.

Bills head coach Chan Gailey explained (via the Boston Globe) that the team paid him to be an every-down guy.

You don’t pay that kind of money to specialty players. You pay that kind of money to a guy that you think can be out there 50, 60 plays. In our mind, it wasn’t situational.

But the depth at defensive end in the Bills training camp is staggering. Anderson is still competing with Chris Kelsay for the starting role at right end.

Even if Anderson starts (which does look likely), he will split snaps with Kelsay, making him the exact kind of "specialty" player that Gailey mentioned above.

Further, Anderson will struggle to duplicate his pass-rush stats from last season

Anderson notched a whopping 10 sacks in the regular season with the Pats and 2.5 in the postseason.

But the Pats had one of the best offenses in the league, meaning they were often up on the scoreboard, and their opponents were attempting more passes.

Anderson racked up eight of his 10 sacks when the Patriots were ahead, and four of those when New England led by nine to 16 points, so his stats are pumped up a bit from big plays during garbage time.

Anderson will undoubtedly contribute to what will be a superior Bills pass rush. But Buffalo dished out a bit too much for him.


Mario Williams, Defensive End, Buffalo Bills

I'm not trying to hate on the Bills here—they will have a formidable and frightening defensive line this season.

But the team poised to challenge New England's crown in the AFC East overpaid for this free-agent powerhouse, signing Mario Williams to a six-year, $96 million deal—$50 million of which is guaranteed.

The contract made Williams the highest-paid defensive player ever, and the elite defensive end certainly deserves big money.

But I find it hard to justify paying this much to a player whose last two seasons were muddled by injury, including a season-ending pectoral tear last year.