In today's National Football League it takes more than winning in the draft each season to put a Super Bowl team on the field. In addition to a strong nucleus of players, a successful general manager has to win at free agency too.
A successful free-agent class doesn't just mean adding more of the right players than wrong, it also means a team can't let talent leave when there is still gas left in the tank, unless it's fiscally wrong to keep the guy around.
For every move like the Denver Broncos adding Peyton Manning there are a handful of moves like the Miami Dolphins adding Chad Ochocinco. Ask San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers how much he missed not having wide receiver Vincent Jackson around in 2012.
It's extremely difficult to always be on the winning end of a free-agent transaction. The better general managers win more often than they lose. The GM's that lose frequently, well they don't stick around very long.
Here are free-agent moves made this offseason that are sure to backfire. Let's hope they don't get any GMs in hot water.
It sounds crazy that Amendola would be a move that could backfire in New England. But considering he’s replacing arguably the best receiver in Patriots history, the production Amendola will be trying to replace will be hard to live up to.
In four NFL seasons, Amendola has only played a full 16-game schedule once. Last year, two separate injuries limited him to 11 games. He was still able to put up decent numbers in those outings, totaling 666 yards and three touchdowns.
But much like signing Brandon Lloyd a season ago didn’t work out, this has the potential to fail as well. Amendola isn’t Welker, despite the similar skill sets in the slot. Welker is a reliable, go-to target with exceptional hands and quickness.
Amendola isn’t proven despite the flashes he’s shown early in his career. It remains unlikely that he will fill the void left with Welker moving on to Denver.
The Miami Dolphins spent a lot of money this offseason to bolster a lackluster defense that couldn’t get off the field in 2012.
One of those pieces was former Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Philip Wheeler. The Dolphins gave Wheeler a five-year, $26 million deal after Wheeler had a career season, totaling 78 tackles and three forced fumbles.
But here’s the problem: Wheeler is going from one bad defense where he was consistently on the field a lot to one where he’ll be asked to fix the problem. Just because a player puts up good numbers it doesn’t mean he’s an ideal fit.
Wheeler still has plenty of flaws in his game. He just had more time and opportunities on a bad defense to add to his stats in his lone season in Oakland. Miami may not be getting its money’s worth with this acquisition.
Could it be that outside linebacker Antwan Barnes peaked a year too early?
During the 2011 season with the San Diego Chargers, Barnes had a career year, wreaking havoc in opposing backfields with 11 sacks.
Fast forward to the 2012 campaign, and Barnes only recorded three sacks in 11 games played, and primarily came in as a rotational player. Now the New York Jets will hope to recapture the magic he possessed two years prior.
Barnes, a player trending downward, is joining an organization trending downward. If the Jets are looking at Barnes to help aid a unit that finished 26th in rush defense, then they may be misguided at best. Sure, the Jets signed Barnes cheap at $4 million for three years. But that money might have been used best at targeting a top-tier pass-rusher in the draft.
Just because Kevin Kolb signed a five-year, $65 million contract in Philadelphia, the league has believed he would become the kind of quarterback he was expected to be coming out of college.
After being unseated in Philadelphia by Michael Vick and allowing both John Skelton and Ryan Lindley to play over him in Arizona, why is it certain that being in Buffalo is the kind of start Kolb needs to finally live up to expectations?
Kolb agreed to a two-year, $13 million deal with the Bills, though the team has yet to confirm the decision. And even with Kolb on the roster, who’s to say Buffalo doesn’t draft a quarterback, such as West Virginia’s Geno Smith, in the first round at pick No. 8.
Kolb hasn’t lived up to expectations because he’s simply a backup at best in the NFL. Why Buffalo would want to give him an average of $6.5 million per year is beyond itself. The Bills won’t receive the production needed to match the value they’re paying him at.
In an effort to bolster their front line, the Baltimore Ravens added former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears. But they also added Chris Canty and Elvis Dumervil, while re-signing Arthur Jones.
What does Spears bring to the table as a five-technique lineman that the others don’t? The Ravens may want to keep a rotation going in order to keep bodies fresh, but Spears hasn’t been a reliable body in recent years.
He’s only started 18 games in the last three years and only totaled seven tackles of his own in 2012. The Ravens are investing $2.75 million over two years, which makes the decision to bring him in head-scratching at best.
It remains to be seen what exactly the plan will be with Spears. There appears to be too many bodies at one spot and Spears is sticking out as the one who doesn’t appear to provide much of anything for the team.
The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed cornerback Terence Newman after realizing there weren’t any other options they could bring in at cornerback. That should completely blow your mind seeing that the class of free-agent cornerbacks was strong this season.
Newman was frequently targeted by opposing teams with Leon Hall on the opposite side of the field as him. If Cincinnati thought it was doing its defense a service by bringing back Newman, it was not thinking clearly.
Newman was targeted 92 times and gave up 52 receptions and three touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. He also had trouble bringing receivers down when the completion was made in front of him. Newman allowed 229 yards after the catch in 2012.
Newman is entering his 11th season and isn’t getting any younger. If Newman continues to put up seasons like 2012, where he only managed two picks and 10 pass deflections, then the Bengals will continue to have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL.
William Gay spent the first five years of his NFL career in Pittsburgh before spending the 2012 season in Arizona. And with the Cardinals, he was part of a stellar defensive unit that didn’t become that way due to his play on the field.
With Patrick Peterson opposite of him, Gay was a frequent target of opposing quarterbacks. And in 15 starts, Gay only tallied two interceptions and six pass deflections. Those aren’t exactly numbers for coaches to fawn over.
If the Steelers think Gay’s addition will help bolster their secondary, then they’ll be unpleasantly surprised when he provides little help to a unit that already was the best in the NFL. Gay doesn’t add much of anything and will ultimately take a roster spot away from another position of need.
Arizona might have had the seventh-best pass defense in the NFL. But a lot of success for a secondary is how the front seven gets after a quarterback. Arizona did that plenty, making it easy on the secondary.
It’s not that Gay isn’t a decent enough cornerback at this stage of his career. It’s that the Steelers don’t have a pressing need for him. Bringing him back makes little sense.
One of the biggest individual winners in free agency was Paul Kruger, who upgraded his compensation from the Baltimore Ravens to Cleveland with a five-year, $40.5 million with $20 million of it guaranteed.
But what exactly are the Browns getting with Kruger? Cleveland is in need of an every-down pass-rusher on the edge now that it’s moving to a 3-4 defense. But Kruger was more of a rotational player in Baltimore, starting just six of the 15 regular-season games he was available in.
Kruger isn’t stout against the run either. He did rack up 9.5 sacks with Baltimore, but most of them came once Terrell Suggs returned from his Achilles injury. Prior to that, Kruger was eaten alive by left tackles when filling in for Suggs at the rush end spot.
Does Cleveland really think that will all of a sudden change? Most of Kruger’s sacks came while rushing at the right tackle any way. And when the quarterback can see the rush coming, he can better prepare himself to get out of the way.
The Browns overpaid for Kruger’s services and the Ravens apparently didn’t make much of a concerted effort to keep him around. Chalk it up to a case of Baltimore knowing Kruger’s value better than Cleveland.
Ed Reed will go down in NFL history as the best safety to ever play the game.
But it’s a shame Reed is now entering the part of his career where he still thinks he’s at the level he once was. Reed reportedly wanted a deal close to $6-7 million per year but had to settle for a three-year, $15 million deal with the Houston Texans.
It appears Houston feels Ed Reed’s name still lives up to what he was, too. The Texans’ front office clearly didn’t watch the tape that showed Reed’s inability to tackle due to a nerve impingement in his neck. According to Pro Football Focus, Reed missed 16 tackles in the 2012 season alone. Reed’s also been known to guess on many plays as opposed to sticking to his assignment.
Yet his legacy allowed Baltimore fans to cut him slack even though there’s been a clear deterioration in his game over the last two years. In Baltimore, Reed understood the defense there and had chemistry with his teammates.
In Houston, Reed will have to learn a new scheme and develop a different comfort level those on the field with him. Don’t look for this to be a perfect match despite what Reed and the organization want you to believe.
Throughout his career, safety LaRon Landry has been beat up and on the sideline due to injury. After a season with the New York Jets that saw him play in all 16 regular-season games, an injury-riddled season in 2013 is bound to happen.
It may not seem fair to predict a player’s poor performance due to injury, but history typically repeats itself. But that doesn’t even mention the absurd four-year, $24 million Indianapolis is paying for Landry as a box safety.
Sure, Landry can hit hard, but will he really take the Colts' defense to the next level? He’s a one-trick pony in the secondary, as he’s usually looking to lay his signature kill shot on an opponent.
Even if Landry stays on the field all season, he likely won't live up to his hefty price tag. It won't even be close.
Tennessee Titans fans that are getting excited that Bernard Pollard is coming to town should temper their expectations.
Yes, Pollard is one of the more violent players in the game who has built a reputation of knocking out New England Patriots players. But he has his detractors.
He’s also a reckless player on the field that’s prone to 15-yard penalties due to his attitude toward the NFL moving away from helmet-to-helmet hits. Pollard is your typical box safety that can hit, play the run but not cover the pass well.
Tennessee finished 26th against the pass and got not help in this department by bringing Pollard on board. It wasn’t like he was an unrestricted free agent. The Ravens released him after winning a Super Bowl with the 28-year-old as their starting strong safety.
That says all you need to know about the kind of player Tennessee is getting in Pollard. His hits are eye-popping and highlight worthy. But for every one of those, there’s a play where he’s trailing a receiver for a big gain.
What is it with the Jacksonville Jaguars bringing in below-average receivers and trying to put them into the rotation?
It’s only occasionally worked—with Mike Thomas a couple of years ago and with Cecil Shorts in 2012. Other than that, what good are some of these guys, such as Laurent Robinson for example?
Jordan Shipley fits into that category as he’ll likely compete for the slot receiver spot on offense.
As a rookie in 2010, Shipley had 600 yards and three touchdowns. He hasn’t done much since. He finished the 2012 season with Jacksonville and only accounted for 244 yards and a touchdown in six games.
And with Jacksonville bringing him back, it’s clear the organization is OK with a mediocre receiving unit. For an organization looking to get out of the losing column, it sure has made a lot of moves to keep it there.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was supposed to be all-world in what was supposed to be one of the better secondaries in the NFL over the past two years.
Turns out, Rodgers-Cromartie proved he’s your run of the mill corner.
With teams targeting him more often in the Eagles’ secondary, Rodgers-Cromartie only managed three interceptions in 2012. Granted, he’ll be with a better run defense in Denver, what’s to say his pass defense improves in one offseason? It’s not like he’s getting any younger.
At $5 million for one year, do the Broncos really feel Rodgers-Cromartie has a chance to become Denver’s No. 1 cornerback? If so, they better hope it pans out. His time in Philadelphia was lackluster at best and filled with disappointment.
There goes San Diego again, overpaying for average talent.
The Chargers worked hard to get cornerback Derek Cox on their roster with a four-year, $20 million deal. But is Cox really worth that kind of money? Not likely given he wasn’t that much of a standout on a bad Jacksonville Jaguars defense.
In addition, Cox has been injury prone during his time in Jacksonville. And a report from the Florida Times-Union, citing a league source, stated the Jaguars weren’t interested in paying the kind of money San Diego ultimately offered.
Cox doesn’t have the reputation of a lockdown corner, so giving him over $10 million in guaranteed money doesn’t make much sense. The Chargers could’ve done better in a cornerback market where decent talent wasn’t expensive.
For most of Nick Roach’s career he was an outside linebacker. Then Brian Urlacher got hurt and Roach was forced to move inside. And yes, he played OK considering he had to learn to play inside seemingly on the fly.
But did that alone warrant a four-year, $13 million contract? Of course not. Especially considering that Roach only tallied 1.5 sacks in a season that saw him compile a career-high 51 total tackles.
Roach will be replacing Rolando McClain in Oakland’s defense. Essentially, the Raiders replaced a disappointing linebacker with an unproven one. Seems par for the course for that particular organization.
The Kansas City Chiefs were in need of a cornerback as that position was one of the weaker units on an otherwise average defense. What they did was sign former Atlanta Falcons corner Dunta Robinson to a three-year, $13.8 million deal and announce he will be in the running to be Kansas City’s starting cornerback.
Considering Robinson played his way out of Atlanta after the Falcons signed him to a lucrative deal in 2009, it shouldn’t be expected that Robinson does big things with the Chiefs. He struggles in zone coverage since his strength is in press man coverage. And even there his skills have deteriorated.
By the time Atlanta released Robinson, he was the third-best corner on the roster—at best—and playing in the nickel package (though that changed when Brent Grimes tore his Achilles.)
Robinson has a lot of work to do if he’s going to regain the dominance he asserted as a shutdown corner early in his career with Houston.
As of now, those days seem long gone.
Salary cap restrictions forced the Washington Redskins to target right tackle Jeremy Trueblood this offseason, despute him being benched due to poor play during the 2012 season.
Redskins fans have been scratching their heads over this move, considering the organization needs a strong offensive line to run the ball with Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.
Trueblood was a former second-round draft pick but hasn’t lived up to expectations throughout his NFL career. It looks to be more of the same in Washington, though it remains to be seen if he makes the 53-man roster after training camp.
If Trueblood ultimately wins the starting right tackle job then Washington will likely need to avoid running right. And then that could cause teams to overload the other side and slow down what was a dominant running attack a season ago.
Brandon Myers had a career year in the receiving game, totaling 806 receiving yards and four touchdowns. However, by the end of the year, Myers was Carson Palmer’s primary target due to the lack of reliable talent to work the middle of the field.
Remember, Al Davis stockpiled downfield, speedy talent at receiver for years. He didn’t have any possession targets. Myers became that guy for the Oakland Raiders, which was behind a lot in 2012 and had to pass in bunches.
With the Giants, Myers is a downgrade from Martellus Bennett. Myers is a poor blocker when that’s his assignment, making him purely a one-dimensional player on the field. When he’s out there, defenses won’t have to worry about the Giants running his way.
Myers should expect to see less passes thrown his way and won’t make much of a difference for the Giants. Losing Bennett will cost more than the organization is telling itself.
It’s not a true free-agent signing, but let’s be honest here: signing Tony Romo to more guaranteed money ($55 million) than the recent Joe Flacco contract is both insane and laughable.
Romo, who was already under contract, was given a new $119.5 million deal, even though he only has one playoff win on his resume. Romo can put up yards and touchdowns in bunches, evidenced by the four 4,000-plus yardage seasons he’s put up.
But Romo also has a tendency to make some of the most mind-boggling mistakes on the field, costing his team games they are capable of winning. It’s not Romo’s fault he got such a lucrative offseason deal. It’s Jerry Jones and the organization’s delusional thinking that they have something more than they actually have.
Until Romo takes the Cowboys to a Super Bowl, this deal will be one of the worst in NFL history. And is there anything on Romo’s resume that suggests the Cowboys will be playing for a championship anytime soon?
Didn’t think so.
Two years ago, Cary Williams surprised Baltimore Ravens fans by shooting up the depth chart to earn a starting spot in training camp. A lot of that can be attributed to his bond with former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who’s now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
Williams had a great 2011 season in his first year as a starter, despite not recording an interception. Go figure that he would pick off four passes in 2012 but look more vulnerable throughout the season.
The problem with Williams’ game is that if he doesn’t press a receiver at the line, they’ll most likely get behind him. And Williams doesn’t have the kind of blazing speed to play catch-up with some of the NFL’s faster receivers.
Williams plays with a lot of passion which rubs off on his teammates. But will Philadelphia receive the kind of value they want with paying him $17 million over three years?
The Green Bay Packers have been awfully quiet on the free-agent front this offseason.
For financial reasons, the Packers had to release Charles Woodson, who’s still looking for a team. But they’ve since replaced one of the all-time greats that can still play at a high level with someone that hasn’t played an NFL snap yet.
Means played college ball at Houston but has been playing in Canada since. He has generated some buzz after reportedly running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash recently.
But it’s hard to believe the Packers will get anything out of Means. Then again, stranger things have happened.
There’s a belief in the NFL that you need a proven veteran to be your backup quarterback. The belief stems from the chance that if a starter is injured then the backup can come in and get the job done without missing a beat.
So Matt Cassel is the guy the Minnesota Vikings trust with this role? Did the Vikings' front office watch him play a season ago?
Cassel was so atrocious that fans cheered when he sustained a concussion. While that also sheds light on the kind of class Kansas City fans are working with, it is indicative of the poor season Cassel had.
Cassel finished the 2013 season with six touchdowns and 12 interceptions. And this is who will be one play away from entering a game for the Vikings. Good thing Adrian Peterson is there to hand the ball off to behind whoever’s under center.
Signing linebacker D.J. Williams has disaster written all over it for the Chicago Bears. He’ll be the one to replace Brian Urlacher, who Denver released earlier this offseason.
Williams missed six games in 2012 due to violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy as well as a DUI arrest. If he carries that baggage over to Chicago, he’ll be eaten alive by the fanbase and media.
Williams is also 30 years old and nowhere near the player he once was. It seems to be a bit of a reach for the Bears to target someone like Williams to fill a need void at middle linebacker.
With Denver in 2012, Williams had a career low 14 total tackles. Yes, 14. And he’s supposed to replace Urlacher?
What, are the Detroit Lions suddenly going to dedicate a large part of their offensive game plan to running the football?
Yes, Reggie Bush is a threat out of the backfield and could possibly be used as a slot receiver at times. But not many other targets have been able to stand out in Detroit’s offense other than Calvin Johnson, the best receiver in the NFL.
Detroit already has Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell on the roster at running back, and likes to rotate them both. So now they’re going to add Bush to the mix? Seems to be a lot of bodies at running back and not enough carries for each one.
Bush has only recorded one 1,000-yard season and that was two seasons ago in Miami. With throwing the ball being Detroit’s top concern, giving Bush a four-year, $16 million deal seems to be a bit of a stretch.
When you make a decision to replace one pass-rusher with another, you need to make sure what you’re getting is an upgrade at the position.
Is Osi Umenyiora really an upgrade over John Abraham? In 2012, Abraham recorded 10 sacks and 32 tackles. Umenyiora? Six sacks and 28 tackles. Abraham has been a consistent pass-rusher despite the lack of publicity he receives at national level.
Umenyiora has two Super Bowl rings on his hand but has been in a slight decline of late. He’s coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, yet the Atlanta Falcons decided to sign him over keeping Abraham on the roster.
On name recognition, it seems like an upgrade. But once you examine the production, it’s clear there isn’t much of a change. Is it possible that finances were the only dictating factor here?
The move is setting itself up for disappointment.
The Carolina Panthers re-signed Munnerlyn this offseason, despite his inability to effectively cover receivers. He does offer some skill in the return game, but he has proven that he’s not a long-term answer in the Carolina secondary.
With the Panthers releasing longtime starter Chris Gamble, Munnerlyn appears to be one of the top two corners on the roster. In two of Munnerlyn’s four NFL seasons, he’s gone 16 regular-season games without an interception. To his credit, he did have two picks for touchdowns in 2012.
But what about Munnerlyn is exciting on defense? With him as one of the top two corners, NFC South quarterbacks Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman will be able to pick on this secondary six times in 2013.
Carolina made a mistake not seeking another corner on the market. Sure, it was a down offseason. But most of the available options would have been upgrades at a decent price.
Desperate for edge speed, the New Orleans Saints signed Victor Butler to compete for a starting outside linebacker spot with Junior Gallette. Butler may not win the spot and will still get $3 million over the next two seasons.
Butler has totaled 11 sacks in four seasons as a rotational player. New Orleans will look to use him in these pass rush situations. However, if a team gets in 3rd-and-short, it may be a good idea to run at him because he’s been a horrible run defender his entire career.
Sometimes speed can be deceptive in a wrong way, especially with a defensive player. While defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants to upgrade his defense’s speed, adding Butler to the mix won’t fix his defense’s problems at all.
With Arrelious Benn no longer in town, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought in receiver Steve Smith to replace him.
Benn was emerging into a solid No. 3 option for quarterback Josh Freeman before his departure. The Bucs will hope Smith can become that guy. What’s strange is Smith was once an up-and-coming receiver with the New York Giants early in his career. Smith recorded 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009.
He hasn’t reached the 200-yard mark in either of the past two seasons.
The Buccaneers will try to make this move work but it will prove futile. Smith benefited in New York’s system before parting ways with the Giants. With Doug Martin toting the ball and Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams being the primary options in the receiving game, the Smith acquisition will likely leave Buccaneers fans wanting more.
Letting Dashon Goldson go may come back to haunt the San Francisco 49ers as they try to make a return trip to the Super Bowl.
Goldson was one of the more reliable safeties emerging in the NFL and the Niners simply couldn’t pay him his value. As a replacement, the 49ers went out and got former St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl to fill the spot.
Though Dahl has been a starter, his name has rarely come up in the national conversation, and for good reason. He’s just not that good of a safety, relatively speaking. San Francisco fans are miffed at the move, especially since he’s making $5.25 million over three years.
Dahl isn’t much of a tackler and lacks the coverage skills needed to play free safety at a high level. The Niners aren’t stupid, though. Don’t be surprised if they make another move on a safety later on in the offseason.
Yes, the guy in the photo to the left has a round ball in his hands.
OK, so Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham were basketball players before becoming NFL stars. But why should we all assume Darren Fells, who was previously playing basketball overseas in Argentina, will follow in their footsteps?
Fells not only got a look from the Seattle Seahawks, he received a three-year contract worth $1.485 million. Obviously, it’s very cap friendly, but the fact the Seahawks gave him a three-year deal indicates they’re serious about him.
This move is likely to backfire since Fells has never seen the kind of competition he’ll face at this level. Instead of looking at diamonds in the rough in the draft, the Seahawks essentially handed someone a spot that hasn’t played the sport since high school.
Guard Chris Williams was once a first-round pick. Since his rookie year in 2008, he’s been labeled a bust and relegated to backup status.
He spent 2012 with the St. Louis Rams and didn’t play much. So why in the world would the Rams bother bringing him back with a deal worth up to $2.75 million?
Sure, the contract is incentive-laden, meaning his base salary will be closer to the veteran minimum. But still, why continue working with Williams? Sometimes it’s better to cut your ties when you can, especially when an organization like the Rams could benefit with better depth than what Williams will provide.
The Rams are actually building a pretty good offensive line right now. What Williams’ role would actually be is a bit of a mystery.
This isn’t necessarily directed at Mendenhall as it is Arizona’s inability to address its offensive line. Mendenhall is a capable back and proved as such prior to his disappointing 2012 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But there aren’t many running backs that are going to have success in Arizona behind an offensive line that got beat up week in and week out. Beanie Wells could never find any room to run through, and the passing game was never able to set up any runs.
Unless Bruce Arians can fix the talent level overnight, or if the Cardinals can draft some immediate impact players, Mendenhall will have plenty of problems running the ball.
Getting Carson Palmer should help some, though he wasn’t the answer to Oakland’s problems. And at his age, Palmer would actually need a better offensive line and running game to help him out.
Getting Mendenhall seems great in theory. But no running back can be successful without a solid offensive line.