NFL Free Agents Most Likely to Be Massively Overpaid
The end of the NFL season ushers in the offeseason quickly. Indeed, the scouting combine is just two weeks away, and free agency is just over a month away.
Plenty of big names will make a free agent splash—some with their own teams, no doubt—but which ones will make unnecessarily big splashes?
Here are 10 free agents sure to get overpaid for a variety of reasons.
Pass rushers are a premium and that could very well land Cliff Avril a big contract.
He is perceived to be the best defensive end on the market, but that could mean trouble for his suitors. The Detroit lineman was one of the worst-rated ends in the league last season according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), largely thanks to a terrible showing against the run.
His 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons are going to look attractive to many teams though, and some sack-needy team will spend a pretty penny to get that.
Contract Prediction: 4 years, $40 million
Baltimore's Golden Boy has more leverage than an elephant on a see saw after a stunning playoff run that ended with a Super Bowl MVP.
Joe Flacco can now squeeze every dollar out of the Ravens, assuming they do not slap him with the franchise tag instead. He is reportedly seeking more money than Drew Brees, which would make him the richest man in football.
That might be a tad much for someone known for streaky inconsistency. It could very well pay off, but the Ravens would be handicapping themselves with such a huge contract.
Contract Prediction: Franchise Tag ($14 million)
Greg Jennings has had a fine career in Green Bay, ammasing 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns during his seven-year career. He was a key part of the Packers' championship run of 2010, and he has been a valuable asset to their offense.
He is, however, going to be 30 years old this coming fall. His quarterbacks have been two of the league's best at the time, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Jennings is also 5'11" and 195 pounds, not exactly a prototypical No. 1.
Jennings is a great route-runner, and he runs well after the catch. The question is whether he is worth No. 1 money. There are a few teams who might think so.
Contract Prediction: 4 years, $28 million
It is amazing what a good playoff run can do for a player.
Paul Kruger had a fine season, but it was his playoff accomplishments that have him on the tongues of those around the water cooler these days.
Kruger amassed 4.5 sacks in the playoffs, including two big sacks in the Super Bowl. But does that warrant a payday?
He isn't very good against the run and average-at-best in pass coverage when he is asked to cover. He may have gotten two sacks in the Super Bowl, but the Ravens only had him out there for 22 plays because they felt Courtney Upshaw was a much better matchup.
Contract Prediction: 3 years, $25 million
Jared Cook has a lot of talent and plenty of potential. If only he could cash it all in, at least on a consistent basis.
The big tight end represents a seam threat that teams will covet in free agency, but he has not done much for the Titans in that role.
No matter where they lined him up, Cook fell flat more often than not in Tennessee. He may not have had Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady at quarterback, but Matt Hasselbeck had some good years there without much from Cook.
Contract Prediction: 3 years, $20 million
Injuries have taken a toll on the man who once was the best offensive tackle in the league.
Jake Long has torn his biceps, triceps and injured his knee over the past couple of seasons, which has seemingly dragged him down as a lineman. He wasn't his dominant self in 2012, allowing four sacks and 21 total quarterback pressures this year. His biggest downfall has been in the run game; perhaps the zone blocking scheme doesn't suit him.
Long is still a quality tackle despite having an off-year and that will land him a huge contract. He is seeking $10 million annually, which is certainly attainable from some poor team with a terrible left tackle. (See: Arizona Cardinals.)
Contract Prediction: 5 years, $45 million
The Jets just cut Bart Scott, though being in cap hell was a big reason. Just a few years ago the inside linebacker was a huge part of New York's run to the AFC Championship two years in a row.
Does he still have that in him?
Scott will be 33 this summer and his best days are behind him. But he is a relatively big name from a good defense, so he will draw plenty of interest.
Contract Prediction: 2 years, $15 million
Having a good pass-rush is key in today's NFL, but just how good can Michael Johnson be?
Johnson pressured the quarterback plenty, which should be enough to get teams bidding early. But he doesn't come without risk.
The big defensive end doubled his career sack total with 11.5 last season, conveniently in a contract year. While the whole "contract year" business is largely a myth, the fact he only tallied 11.5 sacks during his previous three seasons is a bit of a red flag.
A big payday is coming for Johnson, but it might be a big mistake.
Contract Prediction: 4 years, $35 million
Wes Welker has been one of the league's most productive receivers since joining Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2007.
The 5'9" receiver is turning 32 this May. Like Greg Jennings, his success really hit when he teamed up with Brady, though he was on the rise before the Dolphins decided to trade him to a divisional rival.
He may come too rich for New England's blood this summer, and his productivity will be hard for teams to ignore.
Contract Prediction: 3 years, $25 million
Punters are people too, and having a good one is an underrated commodity in the NFL. But is it worth paying a steep price to get one?
Bryan Anger was taken with a third-round pick in the 2012 draft and he performed quite well for the Jaguars. But they won two games, and it is perfectly reasonable to say they should have utilized that pick on a more impactful position.
Enter Pat McAfee, the best punter available in free agency. He had a strong case for the Pro Bowl, averaging 47.9 yards per kick.
Contract Prediction: 4 years, $12 million