Due to salary-cap concerns, NFL teams have to be careful about which players they sign. For that reason, smart organizations must avoid guys that will hurt the team more than help it.
Football free agents often struggle more than those in other sports because players need to fit into a certain system. While some talented players are good enough to play anywhere, it is important for teams not to assume big-name stars will be effective on new teams.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins
If you are going to pay for a 27-year-old running back in free agency, you want an established veteran who has proven that he can handle the workload of a full-time back.
Unfortunately, Reggie Bush is not that type of player.
After a big season in 2011, the former Heisman winner regressed back to his inconsistent ways in 2012. He had some big games, but he was tentative at times and struggled overall.
In 16 games, Bush only had over 20 carries on two occasions. In fact, he only has seven such games in his seven-year career.
He also loses value at the goal line, where he only totaled six of Miami's 15 rushing touchdowns this season.
The running back will want to go to a place where he can be an every-down running back, but he is better served as a reserve who comes in as a change of pace. A team that signs him and utilizes him incorrectly will regret the decision.
Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants
A few years ago, Osi Umenyiora was one of the most feared pass-rushers in the NFL, finishing with double-digit sacks in three different seasons.
Even in 2011, he was able to total an impressive nine sacks in only nine games.
However, he has certainly lost a step this season. The veteran defensive end only had six sacks, even though teams spent most of their time focusing on blocking teammate Jason Pierre-Paul.
This offseason, an organization will want to spend money, expecting to get the two-time Pro Bowl player, but it will end up getting a aging former star who is past his prime. Instead, teams should look toward lesser-known players like Michael Johnson or Cliff Avril.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
After holding out during the offseason, Mike Wallace did not do much to warrant a better contract.
The receiver had eight fewer catches than last year, but his receiving yards dropped from 1,193 in 2011 to only 836 this season. More importantly, he was unable to utilize his biggest skill as a deep threat throughout the year. His 13.1 yards per catch is the lowest of his career, and he had only had nine receptions of over 20 yards, which ranked fourth on his team.
An injury to Ben Roethlisberger hurt his numbers, but Wallace is expecting to be paid like one of the top receivers in the game. If that is the case, he should be able to carry an offense, even if the quarterback is having a bad day.
Instead, the receiver struggled throughout the season and proved that he is not a top receiver. It is important not to pay him like he is.
Through four games, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had three interceptions, and the Philadelphia Eagles were 3-1. After that point, the Eagles only won one of the final 12 games, and the cornerback did not force a single turnover.
Not only did Rodgers-Cromartie not make impact plays, he was barely able to stay with receivers, as the entire defense completely fell apart. Only one defense in the NFL allowed a better passer rating to opposing quarterbacks than the Eagles.
The young cornerback has great size and athleticism, but coaches are still waiting for him to truly realize his potential.
Until he reaches that point, he is not worth signing on the open market for what will likely be a large salary.