NFL Free Agency: 5 Players Teams Will Regret Overpaying
For the first time in NFL history, the league allowed legal tampering in 2013. Essentially, teams could talk to the agents of players on other teams. However, they could not visit with the player, sign the player or even agree to terms.
This new rule was likely instituted due to how widespread tampering is. Judging from this weekend's action, it would appear this rule allowed teams one last chance to negotiate with their own players by using the leverage they have in talks with players from other teams they could sign to replace their own.
We've heard rumors of what players are likely to be the highest paid once free agency begins on Tuesday. It wouldn't be a surprise if the second wave of free agency actually saw more action than tomorrow because teams don't have as much money to spend with only a limited increase in the salary cap for 2013.
Every year, there are players who sign record-breaking contracts that leave many around the league shaking their heads. This year will be no different.
Here is a look at five free agents that are sure to be overpaid and why teams may regret their decision a few years from now.
5. Danny Amendola
Danny Amendola is a good football player. He is entering free agency at just the right time with the evolution of the passing game and slot receivers becoming a focal point of every team's offense.
New England's Wes Welker, also a free agent, is the player that Amendola compares most favorably to and for good reason. Both are short, quick and explosive out of their cuts. Fortunately for Amendola, he is only 27 years old.
Amendola's main problem has been injuries. Since becoming a St. Louis Ram in 2009, Amendola has missed 22 of a possible 64 games. He missed all but one game in 2011 and missed five in 2012.
The Miami Dolphins signed Brian Hartline to a five-year, $30.77-million contract last week, a figure that likely priced Amendola out of St. Louis. The Rams love Amendola, but clearly do not believe he is a $6 million per-year type of player. Amendola, however, is a better player than Hartline.
There were reports on Monday that the Philadelphia Eagles were prepared to make Amendola an offer. The Eagles have well over $30-million in salary-cap space and that alone could drive Amendola's price even higher.
Don't be surprised if Amendola is awarded a contract north of $7 million per year by the end of this week. While the team that signs him will be getting a good player, it is taking a significant financial risk due to his health.
4. Paul Kruger
He is entering free agency at a perfect time, despite the fact that he only has six regular season starts in four seasons on his resume. Baltimore's Super Bowl season also likely raised Kruger's profile, as did his accompanying postseason performance, which included 4.5 sacks and one fumble forced.
His former defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano, desperately needs another pass-rusher in Indianapolis and they are flushed with cap space.
The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be Kruger's other primary suitor and if the teams enter a bidding war for him, he could easily reach that $12 million per year area.
Kruger will be a good starter for a team needing a 3-4 outside linebacker. He is solid in every phase of the game, but not outstanding in any one facet. Pass-rushers who make over $10 million annually are generally considered outstanding pass-rushers. Kruger is not, nor will ever be, an outstanding pass-rusher, but could be a perfect complementary rusher.
Does a team want to pay their second-best pass-rusher that much money?
Kruger's effort will never be questioned, but the team that signs him could regret it three years from now.
3. Sean Smith
Cover corners are perhaps the most in-demand position in all of the NFL. The 2013 free-agent market is ripe with several talented cornerbacks.
Sean Smith of the Miami Dolphins is a player who is going to get a paid a lot of money. At 6'3", 218 pounds, Smith has the size very few corners possess. The success of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner in Seattle last year has raised Smith's profile considerably in recent months.
Smith, though, is a prime candidate to get overpaid. In four years, Smith has only five interceptions and has often struggled against smaller receivers. Top corners are rarely as inconsistent as Smith has been in his four years in the league. For a player his size, Smith isn't the greatest tackler.
With teams struggling to cover receivers like Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones, teams will covet a cornerback with the size of Smith.
Remember, it only takes one team to fall in love with a player. In Smith's case, don't be surprised if multiple teams come calling.
Would you want to commit between $10-12 million to a player such as Smith? It's important to note, the Dolphins think enough of Smith that they're allowing him to walk. Miami has tons of salary cap space, too.
2. Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace is a candidate to be the highest-paid free agent in 2013.
Wallace, who will be 27 when the season opens, is perhaps the best deep-threat in the NFL. With a career average of 17.2 yards per catch, Wallace is the type of player teams covet because of his ability to stretch the field. He has 32 career touchdown receptions.
Wallace has been a durable player thus far in his four years in the NFL, too. He has missed only one game out of a possible 64.
Dwayne Bowe's new contract last week likely set up Wallace for an ever bigger payday than he originally expected.
The Miami Dolphins have been very outspoken about their desire to sign Wallace and make him a very rich man. Miami apparently feels Wallace would be a perfect complement to second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his outstanding arm.
Is Wallace worth between the $11-12 million he will undoubtedly receive from Miami or someone else? Not likely.
Wallace is a deep threat, a very good one, but he offers little outside of that. Other than the occasional bomb in which Wallace slips by the entire secondary, he doesn't get a lot of yards after the catch, with speed rarely used in the short passing game.
Is Wallace capable of running the entire route tree? He may be, but would you risk giving him that kind of money with the uncertainty surrounding his overall game?
Another problem with paying players whose game is based on speed is that their value greatly diminishes once that speed deteriorates.
1. Jared Cook
Jared Cook has all you look for in a tight end in terms of measurables. He is 6'5", 250 pounds with blazing speed, clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2009 scouting combine.
Cook, who the Tennessee Titans contemplated placing the franchise tag on, hits the free-agent market as one of the most intriguing players.
The tight end position has revolutionized many teams around the NFL in recent years as teams look for a mismatch.
Cook, however, has never had more than 49 catches in a season and had only 44 receptions in 2012. He has only eight career touchdown receptions, four of which came last season. A player with Cook's size and ability should be a prime red zone threat.
Sure, people could blame Tennessee's questionable quarterback play as a reason for Cook's inconsistency, but Cook should have been able to serve as a consistent safety valve for his struggling quarterbacks. He was unable to reliably serve as a secondary check-down option, with just two five-plus catch performances in 2012 and four-catch effort against the Texans, a game that saw him targeted 12 times.
There are reports out there that say Cook could command between $8-10 million annually. That is an absurdly high amount for a player with such little production and who appears averse to blocking.