2013 NFL Free Agents: Stars Teams Must Avoid in Offseason
The 2013 free agent class is stacked with stars—big-time names. Some of them are guys teams would be wise to stay away from, though.
Some of the stay-away guys are getting up there in years. Some of them are just overrated. A few are going to demand too much money.
A select few are stay-away for most teams, but would fit certain teams perfectly. And some are a combination of more than one.
Whatever the case may be, here are eight stars who most teams will want to stay away from.
DE Dwight Freeney
Dwight Freeney came out guns ablazin' to begin his NFL career. In his first four seasons in the league, he did not record fewer than 11 sacks in a season. He had a career high of 16 in his sophomore campaign in 2003 (sound anything like J.J. Watt?).
After two down years in 2006 and 2007 (in terms of sacks), the Syracuse product regained some of the burst that made him so great early in his career. From 2008 to 2010, he never recorded less than 10 sacks in a season.
But since 2011 he has been a different guy. And that hasn't been a good thing.
This season he had to deal with a position change to outside linebacker, and the fact that he's now 32 years old—he will turn 33 in February.
If there's a recent trend that sticks out in terms of pass rushers, it's simply this: It's a young man's game.
For that reason, it's buyer beware with Freeney.
DE Cliff Avril
Cliff Avril was picked late in the third round in 2008 out of Purdue. He has outperformed his draft slot (39.5 sacks in five seasons).
But watching Avril on film and using some statistical analysis, it is evident he is a one-trick pony. His play against the run is nothing to be wowed by, nor is it the type of play you want from a starting 4-3 defensive end.
Avril can be an effective player for someone. Ideally, he would be used as a rotational nickel pass rusher. But he's going to demand a salary commensurate with that of a starter.
The advice here is, stay away!
OT Jermon Bushrod
Jermon Bushrod is an over-hyped left tackle. He has ridden the coattails of Drew Brees' laser-quick release and Sean Payton's brilliant offensive system to a Pro Bowl—and most likely a significant contract this upcoming offseason.
In 2012, Bushrod allowed 4.5 sacks, according to the Washington Post. He was also guilty of six penalties on the year, which is about average for an offensive lineman. Five of those, though, were false starts.
That factor shows Bushrod struggles with concentration and discipline. That only one penalty was a holding call is encouraging, though it could easily be taken to mean that he doesn't care enough about his quarterback to at least keep a blindside rush end from obtaining a free shot.
Bushrod is a good athlete in space and an adequate run blocker.
But as a pass protector he is easily beaten by both power rushes and speed rushes alike.
In short, Bushrod will be overpaid this offseason.
WR Wes Welker
Caution: Wes Welker is a GREAT player.
Why throw him on this sort of list talking about players to avoid?
The reasons are not terribly complex. A player who will be 32 years old at the start of next season with some major knee injury history is not a player to gamble on.
Add to that his significant contract demands and it isn't pretty.
Sure, he's had 100-plus receptions in five of the last six seasons. Remember, though, the New England offense is almost tailor-made for him.
It's hard to imagine him leaving New England. And he shouldn't, for his sake and for theirs.
WR Danny Amendola
Similar to Wes Welker, it is imperative to warn against the overreaction of placing Danny Amendola on a list like this.
Amendola is a really nice wide receiver.
But like Welker, the offense is tailor-made for his talents, and he is pretty much Sam Bradford's only offensive weapon.
When healthy, Amendola has been a supremely effective wide receiver. His 8.8 yards per catch average, however, is nothing to ignore. It is a serious issue that teams would have to take look into.
Teams aren't searching for relatively unathletic receivers who average less than 10 yards per reception. Some of the numbers are deceptive, since Amendola is regularly targeted in quick screens.
But he was also the Rams' primary deep threat in 2012. His yards per catch average should be higher. His best bet would be to stay in St. Louis. The Rams would likely love to have him back, too.
S LaRon Landry
Unless you're competing for a "World's Strongest Man" competition, LaRon Landry is not a guy your team needs to add.
He earned a Pro Bowl nod this season due mainly to his play against the run, though he was better against the pass than he had ever been. A reunion in Buffalo with his Jets defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, would seem to make the most sense.
Pettine was able to get the most out of Landry. The problem may be that one of Buffalo's best positions is the safety spot with Jairus Byrd. He may want to come back to the Jets and see if an encore performance works in his favor.
Otherwise, it's hard to imagine too many suitors promising anything other than a chance to compete for a starting spot.
RB Peyton Hillis
Peyton Hillis made the cover of Madden '12 based on a 1,177-yard season in which he scored 11 touchdowns (in fairness, he also caught 61 passes for 477 yards and two touchdowns).
Believe it or not, that was Hillis' only 1,000-plus yard season of his career. In fact, it takes adding the total yards of all four of the other seasons in which he's played to equal his 2010 rushing total.
His lone season (presumably) in Kansas City was a complete and utter bust.
There may be hope for Hillis to go back to his college position of fullback. It would be his best career move, as he is a one-season wonder as a tailback.
LT Andre Smith
Andre Smith was drafted sixth overall in 2009 out of Alabama. Recall that Smith was considered overweight, lazy and a sure bust by many in the draft community at the time.
It took him some time to get on the field, after a much-ado-about-nothing contract holdout. It wasn't until 2010 that he even became a regular contributor. 2011, though, was the first time he became a full-time starter (though he missed two games).
In 2012, he seemed to take off and start to play some pretty good football for Cincinnati. The numbers show a significant decrease in penalties and penalty yardage from eight for 50 yards to three for 20 yards.
That's something to hang your hat on if you're Smith. He just hopes general managers don't bother looking at the sacks given up. That number was an atrocious 7.5 allowed for a loss of 39 yards.
Add to that the overall struggles of the Bengals' offense to run the football effectively, and there is great concern that Smith is the bust many had him projected to be coming out of college.