There has been no shortage of storylines, drama and spending during the first week of free agency. A direct result of this abundance in spending are some contracts that teams should already regret offering.
As fun as it might be to declare "winners" and "losers" of free agency, those titles should be handed out two or three years down the road. For example, in 2011 the Eagles were deemed the champions of free agency when they signed Nnamdi Asomugha and other "Dream Team" cast members. Yet, just two years later the acquisitions have been deemed disastrous.
Last year, when the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning and exiled Tim Tebow to the New York City Circus no one was certain whether the risk would pay off. We also had no idea the impact Jacoby Jones would have for the Baltimore Ravens at the time of his unpublicized signing. Projecting how a newly acquired player fits with his team isn’t a perfect science.
However, what can be evaluated with a degree of accuracy is whether or not a team signs a player to an appropriate contract. This can be done by observing the market for each position and the needs and resources of each team.
It’s why, despite giving Mike Wallace a gargantuan five-year, $60 million ($27 million guaranteed) contract, I can’t criticize Miami. They needed an offensive weapon to protect their investment in Ryan Tannehill and Wallace was the cream of the crop for that specific need.
He’s proven, and is just now entering his prime—unlike the second-best available receiver Greg Jennings—and the signing of Wallace is an apologetic gesture to Dolphins fans who are still salty that the team traded Brandon Marshall a season ago. Even if Wallace doesn’t live up to his $60 million expectations, at the time of the acquisition the Dolphins had to the make the move.
Similarly, I can’t criticize New England’s acquisition of Danny Amendola based on their need to get younger and the market for slot receivers. Amendola, when healthy, is a better player than Wes Welker was prior to arriving in Foxborough and the Patriots organization has proven their front office pedigree enough to justify the swap.
They also adhered to the market, as New England structured the contract to where they can escape if Amendola’s durability continues. If Amendola flourishes and posts Welker-esque production, the Patriots will be underpaying him. Outside of restricted free-agent Victor Cruz, whose acquisition would cost the Patriots their first-round pick, Amendola is the best non-Welker slot receiver available.
In Chicago, the Bears unloaded a sizeable five-year $35 million ($17 million guaranteed) contract to Pro Bowl tackle Jermon Bushrod, yet considering the market and the train wreck that has been Bears offensive line during the Jay Cutler era, it’s impossible to be critical of the move. Likewise, Gosder Cherilus (Indianapolis), Dashon Goldson (Tampa Bay), Sam Baker (Atlanta), Jake Long (St. Louis) and Desmond Bryant (Cleveland) all qualify as expensive contracts that are validated based on team need and market value.
On the flip side, a handful of the contracts signed during the first week of free agency avoided logic such as aforementioned acquisitions and instead flirt with lunacy. Some of these regrettable contracts were made out of desperation; some in panic; and others simply were the results of a team's misappropriation of a player’s market value.
It is these contracts that teams should regret now, regardless of how they cultivate in the future.