NFL Free Agency 2013: Ranking the Riskiest Options on the Market
High-risk, high-reward. Boom-or-bust prospect. Feast-or-famine.
Whatever your term of choice is here, there is no shortage players set to hit free agency who will be probably either be a stud or dud with their team. Owners and general managers who acquire them, assuming these players will pan out are taking a calculated risk.
Of course, the gamble can certainly pay off with anyone on this list. With the realistic possibility of the player contributing significantly comes the equally high risk the acquisition will be a total flop.
Every year teams, at some point, throws big money at superstars that may or may not pan out.
Here is a preview of five of the riskiest free agents.
All stats gathered from ESPN.com.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Running Back
Ahmad Bradshaw is coming off one of his best seasons and finished with 1,015 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games.
The main issue with Bradshaw is that he is coming off a surgery in which a screw in his foot was replaced with a bigger one.
As a running back, it is very difficult to come back from a leg injury unless you're Adrian Peterson.
But that’s not the only strike working against Bradshaw.
Bradshaw has always been part of a multi-running back system. He’s only rushed for 1,000-plus yards twice and has never scored more than nine touchdowns in a season.
Bradshaw has the ability to be a decent complementary back, but teams must be aware of that. They shouldn’t be expecting him to come back from injury and immediately return to form with 20-plus carries on a weekly basis.
Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver
After Mike Wallace and Wes Welker, Danny Amendola may be the most sought after free-agent wide receiver in the league.
However, at 5’11” with average speed, he isn’t really a big threat to opposing defenses.
Yes, he has been effective the past three season, but that was in the role of a WR2 or WR3.
Not including 2011, in which he only played one game, he has yet to gain over 1,000 yards or grab more than three touchdowns.
Of course, it could be some growing pains, as he’s played only three full seasons but, at 27 years old, he’s not getting any younger.
A team should offer him a contract based on production rather than potential.
Dwight Freeney, Linebacker
Dwight Freeney has been a constant on the defensive line for the Indianapolis Colts, and is one of the most feared pass rushers in the league.
He has amassed 107.5 sacks in his career and has forced 44 fumbles.
There are some risks involved with Freeney, though.
He’s 32 years old, and was bothered throughout the 2012 campaign with an ankle injury, and with bigger guys a foot or leg injury can be a lot more serious.
Add in the fact that he’s on the wrong side of 30, you may have teams not even consider him.
LaRon Landry, Safety
LaRon Landry is one of the most intriguing free agents because he had a comeback season last year after tearing his Achilles tendon in 2011, but made the Pro Bowl this year and really anchored the New York Jets defense.
There are two major concerns teams will think about before signing Landry, though. The first is his health. Can he continue at this level of play or was 2012 just a fluke?
The second is his aggressive style of play. Landry may be overly aggressive. Sometimes his excess of what would be considered a positive trait in moderation adversely affects the teams.
Going pedal to the metal every snap he is out there puts pressure on the joints and tendons, especially in the legs. Landry missed 16 games in his final three seasons with the Redskins and it's hard to imagine that will be the last time injuries will keep Landry off the field.
Osi Umenyiora, Defensive End
Probably the biggest risk in the pool of free agents is defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora.
In his nine years in the NFL, Umenyiora has recorded three 10-plus sack season and forced 32 fumbles. He’s a quick, physical presence on the front line of the defense. He’s also a veteran defender with two Super Bowl rings.
That said, you may be wondering why he is atop this list.
The best pithy answer would be inconsistency, mostly due to health concerns. He’s torn his lateral meniscus earlier in his career and needed arthroscopic knee surgery in 2011.
The injury-prone Umenyiora is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward free agent, especially in this year’s free agency.