Mario Williams and the 5 Worst Investments of the 2012 NFL Season
Williams isn't the only player causing his team buyer's remorse, though.
Teams that attempt to buy a Super Bowl rarely succeed. The best way to build an NFL franchise is by making sound draft choices, yet there are always teams willing to roll the dice in free agency.
Through the midway point of the 2012 NFL season, these players have proven to be the worst investments.
Brandon Carr: Cornerback, Dallas Cowboys
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Jerry Jones was eager to upgrade his porous secondary this season, so he signed Brandon Carr in free agency and drafted Morris Claiborne.
Claiborne has proven to be a worthy investment, but Carr and his five-year, $50 million contract have proven to be a massive disappointment.
Out of the 98 eligible cornerbacks, Carr ranks No. 81 in grades handed out by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He rates a negative score in every category for which they keep track, but he's been especially bad in coverage.
The Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin recently said this about Carr:
Carr is a good cornerback, not a great one. He was the second-best cornerback on the Chiefs before coming to the Cowboys in free agency. He was overhyped because he signed with America's Team—and his task has been compounded by the fact he is drawing the best receiver on the opposing team each week.
Gosselin isn't wrong, but Carr was paid like an elite cornerback and hasn't come close to producing like one. The rookie, Claiborne, has proven to be a better cover man than Carr.
Signing him to his massive contract is going to end up being another in a long line of bad personnel moves made by Jones.
Curtis Lofton: Middle Linebacker, New Orleans Saints
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The New Orleans Saints signed Curtis Lofton to a five-year, $27.5 million contract this offseason, partly due to the fact that the club expected Jonathan Vilma to face disciplinary action from the NFL.
That wasn't the only reason, though, as general manager Mickey Loomis explained in a team release, via ProFootballTalk.com:
Curtis is a versatile, hard-working player that has displayed a knack for being around the football, and more importantly, making plays on the ball...He has the ability to play all three linebacker positions and we feel that he’s just entering the prime of his career.
Unfortunately, Lofton has not lived up to expectations.
Midway through the season, the middle linebacker has been the leader of one of the worst defenses in the NFL—especially against the run, where the Saints give up over 160 yards per game. It's a team problem, but as the middle linebacker, it's Lofton's responsibility to be the tip of the spear.
Now that Vilma is back in the picture, Lofton isn't even listed as a starter (via Ourlads.com), though the team had hoped he could play any of the three positions. Thus far, he's been a major disappointment, though he may prove to be a good investment in another year or two.
Laurent Robinson: Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
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I'm not going to fault the Jacksonville Jaguars for attempting to give Blaine Gabbert help at wide receiver, but there's no doubt that Laurent Robinson was a massive waste of money (five years, $32.5 million, $13.8 million guaranteed).
So far this season, Robinson has been able to play in only four games. He suffered a concussion in Week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals (his third since training camp) and hasn't played since. In those four games Robinson had only caught nine passes for 134 yards and zero touchdowns.
It's clear at this point that the Jaguars made a poor investment, though it really isn't a surprise.
In his five-year career before this season, Robinson had only had one big year—his 2011 campaign with the Dallas Cowboys. Before that, his best production came in his rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons, when he caught just 37 passes for 437 yards and one touchdown.
Matt Flynn: Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
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Matt Flynn was the hottest quarterback on the market this past spring, and the Seattle Seahawks made him a good offer to come over to be their starting quarterback.
They ended up signing Flynn to a three-year, $19.5 million contract ($10 million guaranteed).
Of course, Pete Carroll wasn't going to just hand him the job, and we all know what happened next. Rookie Russell Wilson outshined his in-camp rival in the preseason, and Flynn is now a highly paid clipboard holder.
Some may argue that the Seahawks are lucky to have a decent backup quarterback, but good backup quarterbacks don't cost as much as Flynn.
Mario Williams: Defensive End, Buffalo Bills
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The Buffalo Bills gave Mario Williams the biggest contract in NFL history for a defender, a six-year, $96 million deal that pays him $50 million guaranteed. So far, it's safe to say Williams hasn't come close to living up to the expectations.
In seven games, Williams has only managed 13 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks. Thirty-one defenders have more sacks than Williams at this point in the season, and almost all of them are earning significantly less money than he is.
Worse still is this news, courtesy of BuffaloBills.com's Chris Brown:
Chan Gailey confirms Mario Williams has had a procedure done on his ailing wrist. To be ready to practice next week.—Chris Brown (@ChrisBrownBills) October 24, 2012
Williams needs to do some serious work in the second half of the season. If his lack of production continues, there's no doubt that he'll go down in NFL history as the worst free-agency pickup, by any team, of all time.