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2011 NFL Free Agency: 10 Free Agents with the Highest Bust Potential

John RozumCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2011

2011 NFL Free Agency: 10 Free Agents with the Highest Bust Potential

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    As the 2010 NFL comes to a close, most teams (not located in Pittsburgh or Green Bay) are doing at least one of two things:

    1. Scouting for the 2011 NFL Draft, or

    2. Scanning through free agency.

    The latter is just as important as the draft because a team can pickup a decent player (looking for a second chance) at a low salary.

    But, just like the draft there are also "busts."

    So here are 10 players your team should steer clear of.

1. Alex Smith

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Since being the No. 1 overall draft pick by the 49ers back in 2005, Alex Smith has significantly underachieved.

    Not to mention he has only started one full season while completely missing the entire 2008 season.

    And its not like San Francisco does not have offensive weapons; RB Frank Gore, TE Vernon Davis, and WR Michael Crabtree all have great potential in addition to their youth.

    Although I will admit, it's never going to be easy playing QB in San Fran when the legend of Joe "Cool" Montana and Steve Young are the basis for comparison.

    But nonetheless, Smith has had his chances and has not delivered.

2. Kellen Clemens

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Just look at the picture. Doesn't his face say it all?

    Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft, Clemens thus far has been a career backup.

    First to Chad Pennington, Brett Favre and now Mark Sanchez.

    He was in a training camp competition with Sanchez before the 2009 season, but lost it.

    And with only five TDs to his 11 picks, its no wonder why Kellen has been overlooked as an NFL QB.

3. Ronnie Brown

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Its not so much that Ronnie has underachieved as much as his injuries.

    His first two seasons were rather productive in rushing for almost 2,000 yards and nine TDs.

    Then after a knee injury set him back to only playing in seven games in 2007, he did bounce back in 2008 with the help of fellow RB Ricky Williams and the re-birth of the wildcat offense.

    Followed by a lackluster performance in 2009, Brown bounced back again by starting all 16 games this season.

    But this kind of inconsistency mixed with injuries is what can cost you your job; Because your team will most likely become frustrated in you.

    Not to mention he is fighting Ricky Williams for the starting role every year and for being the No. 2 overall pick back in 2005, Brown has not lived up to expectations.

    Side Note: I say re-birth of the wildcat because if you watch NFL Films and happened to see film from before the 1950s, you would see the wildcat offense played back then.

4. Laurence Maroney

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    A first round draft pick back in 2006 by the New England Patriots, Maroney has yet to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season.

    And I know that's tough in New England when Tom Brady throws frozen ropes 90 percent of the time.

    On September 14th, 2010 Maroney was then traded to Denver for a fourth round pick.

    And although he started three games while playing in four, he only totaled 74 rushing yards on 36 carries for a 2.1 yard average.

    Then to make matters worse Laurence was arrested on January 18th, 2011 for weapons charges.

    It seems to be a snowball effect and he needs to get his life straightened out before someone gives him a second chance.

5. Javon Walker

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    For a guy that has been bumped around as much as Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, Javon is definitely the odd one out in this group.

    A first round draft pick back in 2002 by the Green Bay Packers, Walker slowly became a featured WR for the cheese.

    His breakout season was in 2004 when he started 12 of 16 games and amassed almost 1,400 yards with 89 catches and 12 TDs.

    An ACL injury set him back in 2005 and was then traded to Denver.

    His first full season as a starter, Walker totaled over 1,000 yards receiving with 69 catches and eight TDs.

    But this would be the final stand for Javon Walker.

    Since 2007, off the field behavior and injuries certainly have cost him; And if he is to get another chance, Walker has a lot of red-tape to go through.

6. Mark Clayton

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    A first round draft pick of he Baltimore Ravens back in 2005, Clayton started 10 games as a rookie.

    To date however, his best season came in 2006 when he started 12 games, amassed 939 receiving yards with 67 catches and five TDs (all single season personal bests).

    Since, Clayton has been slowly becoming less productive, and was then traded to St. Louis in September of 2010.

    But was then placed on IR due to a season ending knee injury in October.

    With QB Sam Bradford at the helm in St. Louis, there is hope for Clayton if the Rams wish to re-sign him.

    But based on recent productivity and his current injury, "bust" is the more realistic free agent tag-line.

7. Fabian Washington

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    Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

    Drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft, Washington started 11 games as a rookie and then 14 his second season where he picked off four passes.

    However, since then Fabian has only picked off two passes the last three seasons while only starting eight games in 2010.

    Not to mention this season was his career low in tackles (29) and only had eight pass breakups.

    Other than Ed Reed (who had eight picks in 10 games) the Ravens secondary is their weakest link, but that is when players have to step up.

    And when you're part of a pass defense that allows 224 passing yards per game (ranking them 21st in the league), there are flaws; Fabian Washington just happens to be one of them.

8. Sammy Morris

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Ahhh where do I begin?

    1. He's going to be 34 years old next season

    2. Career high of only 727 yards in 2008, and

    3. Has not started more than eight games in a season.

    Now my follow up question is; Do the Patriots even need him?

    With Danny Woodhead, Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis, and Fred Taylor why do the Pats need him?

    They don't, and unless someones is in the need of a running backs coach, I don't see Morris signing anywhere. 

9. Brandon McDonald

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Played fairly consistent his first two years in Cleveland, but then has gone downhill since.

    With the Browns in 2009, McDonald only picked off one pass in 10 game starts while appearing in all 16.

    Then in 2010, was cut by the Browns and claimed off waivers by Arizona in September of 2010 (waived a month later), and then claimed by Detroit for the remainder of the 2010 season.

    Only started two games for the Lions with one pass deflect and 16 tackles.

    And if you're the Lions, you can't ask for much more when the guy was cut and waived in the same season.

    However, if the Lions don't re-sign him, McDonald may be out of a job for next season.

10. Marcus Spears

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Selected 20th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2005 NFL draft, Spears showed promise in his first five years by starting 71 of 80 games.

    Marcus was on pace to start 15 games this season, but was placed on injured reserve after the 45-7 Week 9 thwomping the Cowboys took from the Packers.

    Ironically this was the same week head coach Wade Phillips was fired, and the Cowboys began to pull off some wins.

    Without Spears, Dallas finished off the season 5-3; And based on his career lack of tackles (118) and sacks (8) for a starting defensive end (in addition to his current injury) the Cowboys may not need him in 2011.

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