NFL general managers walk a fine line in free agency between aggressively going after the talent they want and using some restraint to not overpay in signing them. Was that line crossed when Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger were all signed on the first day of free agency?
When the NFL officially opened up free agency on March 12, Wallace was the early favorite to earn the top free-agent salary.
So who are the free agents that have signed so far in 2013 that will have a hard time living up to the expectations due to teams spending more money than players are worth?
One year ago, defensive end Mario Williams became the second defensive free agent in NFL history to receive a $100 million contract. It's safe to say that he hasn't lived up to what the Buffalo Bills paid for him yet. Williams followed in the footsteps of Albert Haynesworth, so hopefully his results are better.
Of course, some fans will argue whatever amount a team agrees to pay defines what the player is worth. There is a ring of truth to that. If you review how many NFL veterans have been released in the 2013 offseason, you begin to realize that a number of prior free-agent contracts were out of whack or doomed to fail.
Some free agents are interested in playing for a contender, some want to stay closer to home, while others only care about teams willing to "show me the money." They want to secure the biggest paycheck they can find, regardless of location or organization in question. Then there are those that are comfortable exactly where they are now, and give a home-team discount.
In this presentation, we will select 15 contracts signed after free agency began on March 12 where the team had to overpay to acquire the player. The contract may be designed to be salary-cap friendly in 2013, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily a good deal for the team in the long run.
All contract information used in the presentation was sourced from Spotrac.com. All player ranking data and grades from 2012 are courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).