As the New York Jets enter the 2013 NFL free-agency derby, all eyes will be on John Idzik. Inquiring minds will want to know how he will preserve the best of the 2012 team, while shoring up its weaknesses, despite a salary cap situation that is still tight.
Jets' fans may lament that this season's big free-agent names will probably not don green and white in 2013. However, that may be a blessing in disguise. There's no better way to reinforce this by recalling free-agent signings that went bust.
However, free-agent busts aren't limited to the big-money signings. In fact, the most important factor in labeling a player a bust isn't money. It's expectations.
Often, expectations and money are closely knit. Think of, for example, the highly paid first-round draft picks whose careers went south quickly. However, expectations accompany every signing.
- We hope the top-tier player who signed a long-term, multimillion-dollar contract becomes the force for which we paid.
- We hope that the aging pro who signed for the veterans' minimum still has enough in the tank to rekindle his All-Pro or Hall of Fame form.
- We hope the young pro who showed promise in his early years fulfills that promise wearing our team's colors.
- We hope the fringe player with a niche to fill does his job.
Any signing that does not meet its goal can be a bust, regardless of contract length or money spent.
The slides to come include players both well-known, and relatively speaking, obscure. However, they all represent cases of unmet expectations, from Hall of Famers and Pro Bowlers whose best days had passed to players handed leadership mantles who failed to lead.
Let's meet them.