NFL Free Agents Who Will Overvalue Themselves
Some NFL free agents inevitably think they are worth more money than reality would suggest.
It happens every offseason. A player hits the open market and expects teams to break their respective piggy banks for the chance to add his talents to the roster.
So, which players are prime candidates to overvalue themselves this offseason?
We have already heard of reported huge contract hopes from Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers and Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins. Yet they are not alone in overvaluing themselves.
Let's find out who will be joining them, starting with one of Long's teammates.
Brandon Moore, OG
Brandon Moore is one of the best guards in all of football, but he is just that, a guard.
Rarely do teams pay out big contracts to interior linemen, especially ones as tight on cash as the New York Jets. Moore is 33 years old and the Jets will likely want to spend their big money elsewhere.
Prime contracts are usually given out to wide receivers, quarterbacks and left tackles, but not interior linemen. Players like Carl Nix and Steve Hutchinson are obvious exceptions, having landed huge deals in the past, but Moore would not be wise to use them as a benchmark.
While he is a top guard at the moment, his age suggests his declining years are fast approaching. Moore may be looking for a contract that just isn't practical.
Desmond Bryant, DT
Desmond Bryant did not help his free-agent cause when he recently got arrested for criminal mischief and posted one of the worst mugshots of all time.
What did help his cause was generating four sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 20 hurries last season, per Pro Football Focus.
Bryant is a consistently underrated defensive tackle that can occupy two blockers and clear rushing lanes for the defensive ends around him. But is he worth a huge free-agent deal?
Bryant is not on the level of teammate Richard Seymour or elite players like Geno Atkins or Kevin Williams. He may be one of the better free-agent options, but that will inflate a contract for a player that doesn't deserve a massive payday.
Dwayne Bowe, WR
It is still up in the air whether Dwayne Bowe will hit the free-agent market or not. Reports surfaced from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com that the new Kansas City Chiefs regime is trying to re-sign Bowe.
That is a smart move as Bowe is a talented wideout that stretches the field vertically and forces defenses to game-plan around him. But he is not Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall.
Bowe is still heavily lauded for his 2010 season in which he hauled in 15 touchdown receptions. If he could score so much that season with Matt Cassel at QB, why could he not post similar numbers in the next two seasons?
His yards have been consistent, but Bowe has struggled to find the end zone. This should not detract Kansas City from re-signing him, but it is worth noting that he does not deserve the type of massive deal that Johnson or Marshall does.
Reggie Bush, RB
Reggie Bush is dynamic, exciting and fun to watch, but is he still worth a huge contract?
Now 28 years old, the demand for aging running backs is always thin. Bush has at least proven himself a capable runner over the last two seasons with the Dolphins. He has rushed for 2,072 yards in that time and, most importantly, stayed healthy.
After floundering with the New Orleans Saints for five years, Bush became an every down back that ran between the tackles instead of only around them.
Still, Bush is a prime candidate for someone who will overvalue himself on the open market. He does not have many years left where he can be a No. 1 option, as that mythical wall running backs hit at 30 years old is quickly approaching.
He may think he has plenty of years worth of gas in the tank, but free-agent suitors will think otherwise.
Andy Levitre, OG
While Brandon Moore is a great offensive guard, it is fair to argue that Andy Levitre will be the best one to hit free agency this offseason.
Levitre is strong against both the pass and the run and would be an upgrade for nearly any offensive line in the league. Plus, unlike Moore, Levitre is still relatively young at 26 years old.
But again, he is an offensive guard.
Carl Nicks signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract last season and likely gave all guards hope for giant paydays once they joined the open market. That contract was inflated and has already been restructured, plus Levitre is not as good as Nicks.
He deserves to get paid, but not like he is a bookend offensive tackle.
Mike Wallace, WR
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been restructuring contracts left and right in an effort to fit nicely under the salary cap. What this means is that there is no money to spend on an expensive Mike Wallace as he approaches free agency.
It has been reported that Pittsburgh will not use the franchise tag on Wallace, so he will be free to feel out the market, where the Miami Dolphins are reportedly willing to break the bank to sign him, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Wallace has the type of speed that can scare any defense and would spread the field out nicely for young quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But let's keep in mind that Wallace does have 21 drops over the last four seasons.
He is an elite wide receiver, but is he worth a $60 million contract as Omar Kelly of The Sun-Sentinel has discussed?
Cliff Avril, DE
There are a bevy of free-agent pass-rushers set to hit the market this offseason, and Cliff Avril is likely going to be the biggest prize out there.
He has prototypical size at 6'3", 260 pounds and has a tremendous first step that allows him to get to the quarterback. His pure talent will ensure he gets paid, but Avril is also a guy that has never quite had that breakout season.
His 39.5 career sacks are impressive, but a player with his skill set could do more. Maybe it is because he is a more natural fit as 3-4 rush linebacker that he has not yet had a truly great season, but this current 4-3 defensive end has much more to prove to become elite.
Avril will want top dollar on the open market. He just has to prove he is worthy of such a contract.
Steven Jackson, RB
Steven Jackson is reportedly set to opt out of his contract with the St. Louis Rams and test the waters of free agency. What he finds there may not excite him too much.
Jackson will be 30 years old by the time next season rolls around and has more tread on his tires than most running backs his age. He has 2,395 career rushes to his credit and has been in the league for nine seasons.
He still played at a high level last season, as Jackson rushed for 1,042 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry, but at some point his body has to start betraying him.
Jackson knows he is still one of the best RBs in the game and yet to think he will get a massive contract on the open market is foolish. Teams do not pay big deals to 30-year-old running backs.
Greg Jennings, WR
Greg Jennings is one of the best wide receivers on the open market, but is he really worth $14 million per season?
That is the number he is reportedly asking for, per Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com:
Lot of opinions here about what top receiver UFAs may command. Heard Greg Jennings wants $14M/year. Tough to see that happening.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 22, 2013
A contract like that would make him the third-highest paid player in the league, but after missing eight games last season there are serious questions about his durability.
Jennings had just 36 catches for 366 yards and four touchdowns last season. His prior history dictates that he will get paid, but $14 million a year?
Jake Long, OT
Jake Long did not play his best football the last two seasons while hampered by injury, but he is still a great left tackle that can make a difference for a franchise.
The question is whether or not he will ever return to the elite level of NFL tackles. Long's answer to that question appears clear, as he is reportedly looking for upwards of $10 million a year, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
If this were two years ago, Long would likely get his big deal without even a blink from the Dolphins organization. Instead, Long enters free agency after his worst season in Miami. The franchise tag would cost $16 million so that is out of the question.
Long is overvaluing himself at the moment, but a return to top form could make the 28-year-old worth every penny down the road.