The 9 NFL Free-Agent Signees Most Likely to Flop with New Teams
Top free-agent contracts really haven't played out extremely well for the teams giving up the big dough in recent seasons. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers about their signings over the last couple years.
By virtue of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie leaving this offseason, the Eagles have no one remaining from the core of their "Dream Team" signings.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers doled out over $140 million to Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Eric Wright last spring. The only player to make a decent impact on that list was Jackson, who still only caught about 49 percent of the passes thrown in his direction (via ESPN).
The huge deals we saw last week and into this week promise to be no different.
Was Dashon Goldson worth $41 million over five seasons? What about the ridiculous contract the New England Patriots gave the injury-riddled Danny Amendola?
Let's take a look at nine free-agent signees that are sure to flop with their new teams.
Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots
Danny Amendola has played 12 of a possible 32 games over the last two seasons and was able to turn that into $10 million guaranteed from the New England Patriots. In an interesting turn, these very same Patriots declined to offer Wes Welker the same type of contract.
For what it is worth, Welker has played in all 32 games and has caught 172 more passes during that span.
While New England did get a bit younger here, it took a huge risk on someone that has a track record for not staying healthy and failing to get into the end zone. Amendola has recorded a total of seven touchdowns on 196 receptions through his first four seasons. His one touchdown per 28 receptions ratio is about four times worst than his predecessor in New England.
I understand that quarterback play might have something to do with the aforementioned statistics, but it is alarming nonetheless.
With just $10 million guaranteed, there is one question I needed to ask when drawing a conclusion about Amendola. Will he produce like an Anquan Boldin ($6 million per) over the next two seasons? I honestly don't see it.
Connor Barwin, Linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles
Contract: six years, $36 million ($8 guaranteed)
This is a prime example of not looking at the entire reported salary of a contract, but the guaranteed money. Barwin received a ridiculous $36 million deal from the Philadelphia Eagles; money that he likely isn't going to see.
Still, $8 million guaranteed for someone that recorded three sacks this past season seems to be a bit of a reach. Especially considering that Barwin's breakout 2011 campaign came with both Mario Williams and Brian Cushing as teammates. As you already know, Williams bolted to the Buffalo Bills in free agency prior to 2012 and Cushing missed all but five games with injuries (via Pro Football Reference).
At his very best, Barwin is a complementary player on a good 3-4 defense. Philadelphia would have been in a much better situation if it decided to go in another direction in pursuit of an outside linebacker for its new 3-4.
Jermon Bushrod, Offensive Tackle, Chicago Bears
I fully understand that the Chicago Bears and general manager Phil Emery are looking to upgrade a weak offensive line, but Jermon Bushrod was nowhere near the answer here
Our very own Matt Miller had the following to say about the perception of success as it relates to the former New Orleans Saints tackle:
Jermon Bushrod's two Pro Bowls are because he played with Drew Brees. And because Pro Bowl voting is a joke. Nothing else.
In addition, Bushrod ranked 25th among left tackles in Bleacher Report's NFL 1,000.
That's not exactly what I would call an upgrade along the left side of the offensive line. Bushrod continued to struggle maintaining his gap against speed-rushers, and was one of the primary reasons Drew Brees saw a ton of pressure from that side of the line, compared to the right side.
Now take into account the fact that Jay Cutler's throwing motion is a bit less compact than Brees' and you have the makings for a couple more seasons of Cutler being hit and sacked at a high rate.
Jared Cook, Tight End, St. Louis Rams
Jared Cook hasn't tallied more than 800 yards or four touchdowns in any of his first four NFL seasons, but this didn't stop the St. Louis Rams from giving him a ridiculous $19 million guaranteed, which ranks him behind only Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis in that category among tight ends.
His average annual salary of $7.02 million also ranks ahead of the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski.
Yes, the Rams definitely did overpay for a talented but inconsistent young tight end.
Considering that Cook is averaging just three receptions per game over the last two seasons, I am not entirely sure Sam Bradford was provided the safety valve he needs between the hashes. In fact, some could easily draw the conclusion that St. Louis should have looked for more help on the outside.
After all, incumbent tight end Lance Kendricks, who is set to earn less than $1 million in base salary in 2013, matched Cook with four touchdowns while catching two fewer passes for a measly four fewer yards this past season.
While I expect Cook and Kendricks to be a solid tight-end duo for Bradford, it appears that defenses will be able to hone in at the tight end position with the loss of Danny Amendola, who averaged over two more receptions per game than Cook.
Dashon Goldson, Safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Let's not kid ourselves here. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers paid a hefty price to acquire a marginal cover guy to play the free safety position for them.
While Dashon Goldson is one of the better all-around safeties in the National Football League, he is much better suited to play strong safety. The two-time Pro Bowler is one of the hardest hitters in the league and acts as an enforcer in the back end of the defense.
That being said, Goldson seemed to benefit from one of the best front sevens in the entire league during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers.
He just isn't that good in coverage.
Our very own Matt Miller had the following to say about the talented playmaker in Bleacher Report's NFL 1,000 Series:
A Pro Bowl safety, Dashon Goldson has benefited from playing on a league-leading defense with an unbeatable pass rush. That’s not to say Goldson is bad; he’s not, but he is overrated.
Anyone who watched San Francisco's pass defense in the playoffs and Super Bowl had to come to the conclusion that its safety play was absolutely horrendous. This had a lot to do with the 49ers playing two natural strong safeties and utilizing one as a cover guy.
The same will hold true in Tampa Bay with Goldson joining Mark Barron.
Back to Matt Miller a second. Here is what he had to say about Barron in the very same article:
Mark Barron allowed too many completions and too many scores in comparison to the positive plays he made. Already a top-level run defender, working on coverage should be his priority over the offseason.
These are two great in-the-box safeties, who tend to struggle in coverage, with one asked to make up for lackluster cornerback play, and both coming with a relatively hefty price tag. For Goldson it is about $8 million guaranteed and for Barron it was the use of a top-10 pick in 2012.
Not exactly a recipe for success, my friends.
Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Nearly $18 million guaranteed is a lot to pay for a wide receiver that is about to turn 30 and hasn't put up a 1,000 yards in a season since 2010. In addition, an argument could be made that Greg Jennings rode Aaron Rodgers' coattails to success in Green Bay prior to a down 2011 season and injury-plagued 2012 campaign.
Do you expect Jennings to put up over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns in any of the next three seasons? That is the question you should be asking yourself if you were all for Minnesota going out there and acquiring Jennings.
It doesn't take a quarterback expert to come to the conclusion that Christian Ponder is nowhere near the quarterback that Rodgers is. In addition, Jennings will not have the ability to see single coverage in Minnesota like he did in Green Bay with all the weapons the Packers had during his tenure there.
As it is, Jennings' average salary of $9 million ranks him in the top 10 among NFL wide receivers. Do you see him performing like a top-of-the-line pass-catcher over the next three seasons? I don't.
I fully understand that Minnesota needed to replace Percy Harvin in the passing game, but doling out this type of money for a player who seems to be regressing was a bit foolhardy.
Ricky Jean-Francois, Defensive Line, Indianapolis Colts
Ricky Jean-Francois is a mighty fine rotational defensive lineman, but he definitely isn't worth $6.5 million guaranteed or an annual salary approaching $6 million.
The former seventh-round pick out of LSU has started just two games and recorded fewer than 50 tackles in four NFL seasons. While he is stout against the run, it is important to note that the Indianapolis Colts likely brought him in to start at defensive tackle in its 3-4 scheme.
This is a classic case of a role player on a championship-caliber team (San Francisco 49ers) being asked and paid to be an integral member of a team with Super Bowl aspirations moving forward.
I just don't envision a scenario where Jean-Francois lives up to the expectations of his contract in Indianapolis.
Erik Walden, Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
Contract: four years, $16 million ($4 guaranteed)
The last time we saw Erik Walden on the football field for the Green Bay Packers he was getting both ankles broken by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. While I am willing to give Walden a pass because of who did the ankle-breaking, he just isn't a standout performer as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Our very own Aaron Nagler was uncompromising in his take on the Walden signing:
So Sporting News' Executive of the Year just handed Erik Walden $16 million over 4 years. Got it.
I really am trying to find a reason to support Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on this one, but I'm having an incredibly hard time doing so.
After all, Walden has recorded just six sacks in 25 starts as a 3-4 outside linebacker for Green Bay over the last two seasons. Is he really worth $4 million a year, let alone that amount guaranteed?
Considering that Indianapolis runs the same defensive scheme and will be asking Walden to get to the quarterback, this makes even less sense.
Anthony Fasano, Tight End, Kansas City Chiefs
While I am all for the Kansas City Chiefs trying to get Alex Smith a couple of consistent targets in the passing game, this is a bit ridiculous.
Anthony Fasano received $4.5 million just to sign his new deal with Kansas City. He did so after compiling just 332 yards on 41 receptions this past season with the Miami Dolphins.
Let's try to put this into perspective for a second. Fasano is going to receive much more than Rob Gronkowski in 2013.
This despite the fact that Fasano has four fewer touchdown catches in 108 career games than Gronkowski had in his last 27 outings. The comparisons I can draw between production and money as they relate to Fasano and nearly every top-of-the-line tight end in the NFL are endless. I decided to use Gronkowski as a starting point.
Even if Fasano is able to put up career-best statistics in every major receiving category, he likely won't be worth the $4.5 million Kansas City will be paying him in 2013.
Vincent Frank is a NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. He was hired prior to the 2011 season and couldn't be happier working with a great group of individuals here. In addition, Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft and co-host of eDraft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET.
Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.