NFL Free Agents 2014: The Most Overrated Players Available
The 2014 NFL free-agency class isn't a star-studded group, but plenty of big names will hit the open market.
Greg Hardy, Jimmy Graham and Brian Orakpo are all established stars who likely have major paydays in their future.
However, which impending free agents are overrated?
Let's take a look.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick is everyone's favorite fun-to-watch stopgap veteran quarterback, but he's ultimately too volatile.
In 2013, many believed he would resurrect his career in Chip Kelly's offense system that ideally suited him.
Through four games, he wasn't bad. Vick completed 55 percent of his passes at nearly 11 yards per attempt with seven total touchdowns and two interceptions.
But, as usual, a hamstring injury sent him to the sidelines, and second-year quarterback Nick Foles proved to be much more competent than the former No. 1 overall pick.
At this stage, Vick certainly won't command a large contract, and frankly, it'd be surprising if his next deal was longer than one year.
However, in somewhat of a depressed quarterback market, Vick could be viewed by a few teams who miss out on their franchise signal-caller in the draft as the ideal stand-in.
The only issue is that the soon-to-be 34-year-old is always hurt. He's appeared in all 16 games just one—yes, one—time in his 11-year NFL career.
So, basically, the organization wanting him to play the stopgap role will probably be forced to turn to the backup in 2014 at some point, which isn't ideal.
At this point, Vick deserves a very minimal contract with little to no guaranteed money.
Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos
Eric Decker's an interesting case.
He's a 6'3'', 215-pound, soon-to-be 27-year-old veteran who's fresh off an 87-catch, 1,288-yard, 12-touchdown regular season with the Denver Broncos.
Then again, he was occasionally the third option in Peyton Manning's attack, which just so happened to be the most prolific offense in NFL history.
Decker made eight catches for 111 yards in three playoff games, including a one-catch, six-yard dud in the Super Bowl thrashing.
Demaryius Thomas actually had a higher drop rate than Decker per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), but Decker's final four games with 12 catches for 138 yards and one touchdown wasn't exactly the best way for the former Minnesota Golden Gopher to head into free agency.
Decker's a fine receiver; however, he came up incredibly small in Denver's final three loses of the 2013 campaign, which has created some questions about him being a "No. 1 receiver."
He deserves a nice, rather lucrative contract.
But should a team break the bank on Decker?
To a certain degree, he was a product of a tremendous environment with the Broncos and is more of a possession wideout than a true game-breaker.
Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings
Most NFL teams probably know what they're getting with Jared Allen in 2014, but his previous accolades and name might make him more of a prized free agent than he really is.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old was, arguably, the league's premier pass-rusher from 2007 to 2011, a time in which he registered 77.5 sacks.
Allen clearly set the bar remarkably high given the fact that his 11-sack season in 2013 was seen, by many, as a disappointment.
Out of 54 4-3 defensive ends who played at least 25 percent of their respective teams' snaps last year, Allen ranked 34th according to PFF.
Though his 65 total pressures—sacks, hits, hurries—were the ninth-most among players at his position, Allen needed the most pass-rushing snaps—649—to get there.
Right now, he's likely entering the twilight of his career.
Sure, Allen could hover near double-digit sacks in 2014 and maybe 2015, but a team shouldn't invest an abundance of money and time into the borderline Hall of Fame candidate.
Daryl Smith, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Daryl Smith made for a fantastic comeback story in 2013 with the Baltimore Ravens.
Once an emerging star with the Jacksonville Jaguars, injuries derailed his NFL career, and a groin issue led to his release after a 2012 campaign spent on IR.
Savvy general manager Ozzie Newsome signed Smith to a one-year "prove it" deal, and Smith initially played extremely well for the reigning Super Bowl champions.
He ended the regular season as PFF's No. 16 inside linebacker out of 55 qualifying candidates at that position.
Smith will turn 32 in April. Should another team ink him to a multi-year deal? If anything, he should be brought in on another low-risk contract that doesn't extend too far into the future.
Malcolm Jenkins, S, New Orleans Saints
Could Malcolm Jenkins' first-round draft status make him an overrated free agent?
The former Ohio State star finished 65th out of 86 qualifying safeties in PFF's 2013 positional rankings after a disastrous 2012 in which he finished dead last.
Sure, playing with an elderly Roman Harper hasn't helped Jenkins' development, but rookie Kenny Vaccaro finished 27th in PFF's safety rankings this past season.
Although Jenkins has the size (6'0'', 205) and speed (ran a 4.54 at the 2009 combine), he simply has struggled to acclimate to the professional game.
There's no reason he should receive a big contract on the open market if the New Orleans Saints decide not to re-sign him.
Jordan Gross, OT, Carolina Panthers
Jordan Gross is one of the NFL's soundest left tackles.
In 2013, PFF graded him as the No. 3 overall offensive tackle—that's quite the accomplishment. He started all 16 games, stood out as a pass-blocker and was far from a liability blocking for the run.
However, the Carolina Panthers great will be 34 in July.
That should be cause for concern or, at least, a reason not to sign the former Utah Ute to an expensive, long-term deal.
Offensive tackles can play at a high level into their mid-30s, but with the rookie wage scale in place, NFL teams would be smart to a take a more cost-effective route and simply select an offensive tackle in the 2014 draft.
Like many others in this list, Gross deserves to get a decent contract. It's just that a long-term deal with a lot of guaranteed dollars wouldn't be the best way for a team to allocate money.
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