Fans and pundits alike knew that free agency in an uncapped year had the potential to be a spending madhouse, and owners have yet to disappoint on that front.
In the first weekend of free agency, the NFL saw Leonard Weaver become the highest-paid fullback in NFL history, Julius Peppers snag a guaranteed $42m from the Bears, and Nate Burleson—yes, the Nate Burleson who averages 43 catches, 581 yards and a handful of touchdowns per full season—set the bar at receiver with his five-year, $25m deal.
So much for a market one NFL executive described as “the old, the injured and the unwanted,” eh?
But just because marginal players are getting exorbitant money doesn’t mean that it won’t work the other way around. There are still bargains out there, they just need to be properly identified and underpaid as such.
Before the start of free agency, I identified a list of the Top 5 Potential Free Agent Bargains.
Already, two of them are off the board. While one wasn’t so much of a bargain (Texans WR Kevin Walter re-upped in Houston to the tune of four years, $21.5m) the other was in theory.
Sure, the Bears gave Chester Taylor $12.5m over four years (or an average of $4.125m per), but $7m of that is guaranteed over the first year—meaning Chicago’s only on the hook for about $1.75m per over the final three.
It’s going to be feast or famine out there, but for what they can give vs. what they will make, these 10 players are quite possibly the biggest “bargains” a team can find at their respective positions.
NOTE: Much like my previous slideshow, this will only look at unrestricted free agents or outright releases. Even if a team gets a “bargain” on a restricted free agent, they’ll have to give up a draft pick to do it—which kind of negates the savings.