When a team bets on a free agent, it is essentially buying a stock. But the future production of any stock can be schizophrenic. Information changes at a moment's notice. Reality changes, too. These factors can radically alter the outcome of even the safest investment.
When it comes to free agency, you can win big or lose big, all in the blink of an eye. Some free agents just don't work out. Others crash and burn. Those who crash the hardest become busts of a legendary nature. It's a poor way to be immortalized, but it happens all the time.
These varying degrees of failure are based on a few key elements. Chief among them is the talent of the free agent. This is where expectation becomes a factor. Big skill breeds big hype. That bubble is often quick to pop.
Also, the yardstick of the free agent's prior success is a factor. The more they have to live up to, the more they might come up short.
There are a few other factors to consider, as well. Notably, the degree to which a free agent helps or hurts his new team and the degree to which the player stays healthy. It's all part of the gamble.
Having said that, here are the seven biggest free agency busts in Patriots history.