Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace is one of many impending free agents who are becoming overrated.
The 2013 NFL free agency period is approaching, and with it comes a variety of players set to hit the open market who are beginning to become overrated.
This happens every year for a variety of reasons. Some players are simply past their prime but are well-known names. Others have held out for big money in the past but then failed to produce on the way to this free agency period.
Players look for money and possibly a better situation in free agency. One other side of the coin, teams look for good value financially and a positive impact on the field. Not all NFL free agents are created equal.
In the following slideshow we will break down 10 players set to be free agents who are overrated, explain why and provide a better alternative. We will also define some honorable mentions for good measure.
Let's take a look.
The Chiefs Dwayne Bowe is another receiver not worth the money he is likely looking for on the market.
Dwayne Bowe, Wide Receiver
It is no secret that Bowe wants out of Kansas City, but there is a slight chance that may change with new head coach Andy Reid coming to town.
Either way, Bowe is nearing the dreaded age of 30 at 28 years old and is looking to cash in now on the market. He is a solid all-around receiver, but not worth the money for the years of productivity he will provide.
Rey Maualuga, Middle Linebacker
Maualuga is an easily-reconginzable name and face as the man in the middle of the Cincinnati Bengals defense over the years. It is a safe bet the Bengals will be willing to let him walk to the open market given how he has performed over the past few years.
Maualuga is horrific in coverage and at times takes bad angles against the run. He fails to shed blockers and is easily taken out of the play. ProFootballFocus ranked him as the worst inside linebacker in the NFL in 2012. He is a big name, but will not upgrade most defenses.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Running back
Bradshaw was released from the New York Giants after it was revealed he is facing foot surgery that could keep him out of action up until training camps begin.
At only 26 years old, Bradshaw is a talented back who could be a starter for a variety of teams if he can recover. The problem is his injury history. According to Rotoworld, it also sounds like he has an understanding with the Giants that if and when he is healthy, the team will bring him back.
Connor Barwin had a down year of epic proportions in 2012.
2012 Team: Houston Texans
Connor Barwin is thought of as one of the best pass-rushers available set to hit the open market once free agency rolls around thanks to his 11.5 sacks during his 2011 campaign.
Barwin then faded, posting just three sacks in 2012.
According to ProFootballFocus, Barwin was the third-worst at his position in the process. He was as ineffective as they come, so it is hard to imagine the Houston Texans will throw him the type of money he is looking for.
Barwin has a lot going for him considering he is just 26 years old, but he had a down year at the worst possible time. He may be able to start a bidding war and get the money he wants. Even then, he could end up being a disappointment.
Better Alternative: Paul Kruger
Ed Reed got his Super Bowl ring but is without a new contract in Baltimore.
2012 Team: Baltimore Ravens
There is still time for the Ravens and Ed Reed to come to a new deal, but given the seriousness of the cap situation Baltimore is in, it would likely be a very team-friendly deal.
According to SI's Peter King, it is common knowledge that Reed is done with the Ravens. He seems adamant on playing one more year despite being 34 years old and battling a variety of injuries.
There was a time when Reed was the best safety in the NFL, but now he is no more than a liability on the field. Any team that pursues him at this point, no matter the cost, is getting a player who can provide a spark every now and then, but in no way can he turn around an entire defensive unit.
Better Alternative: Jairus Byrd
Danny Amendola has an injury-riddled past that could prevent him from getting a big contract.
2012 Team: St. Louis Rams
Danny Amendola could have been the highest-pursued receiver in this free agency class had he been able to stay healthy over the course of his career. Instead, he has missed 20 of 32 games in the past two seasons alone.
When Amendola is on the field, he is one of the most productive receivers in the NFL. In 10 games last season he posted over 600 yards and three touchdowns while playing through nagging injuries.
According to ProFootballWeekly, the Rams are hesitant to give Amendola a long-term contract because of his injury history. He has been the only playmaker through the air in St. Louis for quite some time, so if the Rams are hesitant, the rest of the NFL should be as well.
Amendola is too risky of a signing for most teams thanks to his injury history. He has transformed into a big name over the years when on the field, but in reality he should not be given a long-term deal this offseason.
Better Alternative: Brian Hartline
Steven Jackson may decide to leave the Rams and take a chance on the open market.
2012 Team: St. Louis Rams
Steven Jackson is still officially a member of the St. Louis Rams, but that could change at any second. He has a player-option clause in his contract to forgo the final year of his deal (which could earn him $7 million) and enter free agency.
Bank on Jackson heading to the market in search of a massive deal now that he is nearing 30 years old.
Jackson has said in the past that he will retire if teams do not meet his "contract demands" (h/t Rotoworld). It is not clear what type of contract he is looking for, but it is safe to say he wants a long-term deal.
Jackson recorded less than 1,000 yards for just the second time in his career last season, the other being his rookie year in 2004. His playing time was stolen by rookies because they were more effective. He has little left in the tank, no matter what type of contract he is looking for should he reach the market.
Better Alternative: Mike Goodson
Dwight Freeney struggled in 2012 with the defense transitioning to a 3-4.
2012 Team: Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts' switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme did not do any favors to Dwight Freeney, who is now heading to the free-agent market with just five sacks and 24 tackles to his name.
With his hand in the dirt at the defensive end position, Freeney used to be one of the most feared defenders in the league. He can resume that role next season if the right team picks him up, but he will not produce in the same manner at 32 years old.
Freeney is another big name who is attempting to prolong his career, but be will have to do it with a different team after his failed attempt at playing outside linebacker. He will also be limited to a situational-basis, meaning he will not be that effective for most teams looking for a game-changer.
Better Alternative: Michael Johnson
Rashard Mendenhall will not be back with the Steelers in 2013.
2012 Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashard Mendenhall did everything he possibly could in 2012 to ensure he would not receive a big contract in free agency.
Mendenhall did not produce anything of note, was a healthy scratch from games as a result and was even suspended from the team for failing to show up for a game. It is all a shame for Mendenhall, who is a bruiser when his head is on straight and could be a franchise running back at just 25 years of age.
Instead, Mendenhall will likely be scooped up from the bargain bin by the end of free agency.
Better Alternative: Felix Jones
Brent Grimes tore his Achilles tendon in the crucial year leading up to his free agency trip.
2012 Team: Atlanta Falcons
Just a year ago, the Atlanta Falcons slapped cornerback Brent Grimes with the franchise tag after being unable to come to a long-term agreement. It was a great move considering Grimes was one of the elite players at his position.
Unfortunately for Grimes and the Falcons, he tore his Achilles tendon early in the year and missed the rest of the season.
Grimes now has to prove that he is fully recovered and ready to go before teams will even sniff in his direction. To make matters worse, he is going on 30 years old.
Grimes is not going to land the money he wants no matter how much he can prove he has made a full recovery. It is a risk some teams may feel is worth taking based on his past performance, but most players do not rebound from such a serious injury and ever come close to pre-injury production.
Better Alternative: Aqib Talib
Mike Wallace held out for big money last year and then had a dud of a season.
2012 Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Wallace is on his way out in Pittsburgh after a lengthy holdout before the start of the 2012 season that resulted in a down year and another receiver, Antonio Brown, cashing in on a new contract.
Wallace posted just over 800 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012, a far cry from his 2010 and 2011 numbers in which he posted over 1,000 yards and eight or more touchdowns.
Outside of a statistical drop, Wallace reportedly declined a five-year contract worth $50 million with the Steelers (h/t Post-Gazette). Wallace is a deep threat thanks to his speed, but not much else, so the reported offer was generous.
Wallace may land his major deal on the market, but whichever team gives it to him is going to be disappointed. He burned bridges on the way out of Pittsburgh and did not produce at an amazing rate in the process.
Better Alternative: Wes Welker
Jake Long wants top dollar, but has not played at a high level for years.
2012 Team: Miami Dolphins
Jake Long is looking at his last chance to cash in a major deal in the NFL at 27 years old. According to the Miami Herald, Long is looking for upwards of $10 million per year.
It is a number that seems outlandish, but in the NFL, it is a normal number for an elite left tackle. The problem? Long is only a shell of his former self and is not even close to being one of the top tackles in the NFL.
Long has battled mediocrity and injuries the past two seasons. At this point he may be a better fit at right tackle for his effectiveness in the running game. $10 million a year for a right tackle is simply out of the question.
A team that overpays for Long is going to be disappointed. He needs to lower his asking price; otherwise, the open market may do it for him.
Better Alternative: Ryan Clady
Greg Jennings has prepped his family for a move out of Green Bay by placing his house on the market.
2012 Team: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers and Greg Jennings are fully prepared for a future without each other. Jennings has shown interest in the Miami Dolphins after putting his house on the market (h/t Palm Beach Post).
Jennings is now approaching the age of 30 and figures to be one of the top receivers on the market. The problems hurting his value are twofold.
For one, Jennings has played with two elite quarterbacks over the course of his career. Take that away and his production could flounder. Second, his age and stature at just 5'11" leave much to be desired in a purported No. 1 receiver.
Jennings is looking for big money, and he may get just that by enticing a bidding war. Whether he is worth it without an elite quarterback tossing him passes is another question entirely.
Better Alternative: Donnie Avery