NFL's Top-10 Cases of Buyer's Remorse

Alex MarvezCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2008

Sorry, there will be no bailouts.

Just because the U.S. financial markets are ailing doesn't mean the NFL will be giving any salary-cap relief to franchises that made bad offseason personnel investments. Those squads must hope the struggling players that were acquired or re-signed can rebound—provided those veterans are even still on the roster.

Here's a look at 10 players who have given their teams a case of buyer's remorse one month into the regular season.

1. Oakland wide receiver Javon Walker

A massive free-agent contract—six years, $55 million, with $16 million guaranteed—is the only thing that has gone right for Walker in 2008. Walker became so depressed after being beaten and robbed during a Las Vegas vacation that he considered returning his signing bonus and retiring.

Walker was then limited in the preseason by a hamstring injury. So far, Walker has a paltry four catches for 52 yards with no touchdowns. Whoever is Oakland's head coach by an Oct. 12 game at New Orleans should try getting Walker more involved in the offense.

2. Pittsburgh tackle Max Starks

The usually prudent Steelers displayed some rare fiscal irresponsibility by naming Starks a transition player instead of using a franchise tag to keep Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca in the fold for at least 2008. Signed to a one-year, $6.9 million tender, Starks isn't even a starter on one of the NFL's shakiest offensive lines.

He is used only as a third tackle in goal-line or short-yardage situations. Starks also doesn't have the flexibility to play other positions along the line, as the unheralded Darnell Stapleton replaced injured right guard Kendall Simmons (torn Achilles' tendon) during Monday night's 23-20 overtime victory over Baltimore.

3. Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson

Even with Brady Quinn in the wings, Cleveland's decision to re-sign Anderson to a three-year, $24 million contract ($14 million guaranteed) made sense. Coming off a Pro Bowl campaign, Anderson was considered the better option to lead a Browns team geared toward a 2008 Super Bowl run.

The Browns also believed Anderson would fetch an impressive trade bounty in 2009 or 2010 when Quinn was ready to take the reins. Anderson, though, entered last Sunday's victory over Cincinnati on the verge of being benched because of his poor play.

Anderson's trade value also has plummeted. Cleveland is hoping Anderson improves following the return of wide receiver Donte' Stallworth, another major offseason expenditure (seven years, $35 million) who has yet to play this year because of a quadriceps injury.

4. Miami Dolphins wide receiver Ernest Wilford

Even Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has called Wilford a "disappointment" during a recent interview with South Florida reporters. Miami inked Wilford to a four-year, $13 million free-agent deal that included $6 million guaranteed. This came after he notched a team-high 45 catches for Jacksonville in 2007.

That's 44 more receptions than what Wilford has made for Miami through three games. He isn't among the top three players on what is arguably the NFL's worst wide receiver corps.

5. Carolina cornerback Ricardo Colclough

There's never a good time for a drunk-driving arrest. But Colclough sealed his fate with the Panthers by getting charged after Carolina's final preseason game. The Panthers were so intent on stressing player accountability—see coach John Fox's previous two-game suspension of wide receiver Steve Smith—that Colclough was released, despite the financial ramifications.

The Panthers have to swallow a $1.5 million cap hit for the signing bonus given Colclough as part of a two-year, $4 million contract he signed in March. Colclough hasn't signed with a new team.

6. Miami quarterback Josh McCown

The free-agent contract McCown received—two years, $6.25 million, with $2.5 million guaranteed—was in line with what other low-end starters and top-tier backups earn at his position. McCown, though, couldn't cement himself as either in Miami, despite facing modest competition from second-year quarterback John Beck and rookie Chad Henne.

Shortly after signing Chad Pennington, the Dolphins ate the $2.5 million cap hit and traded McCown to Carolina for a 2009 seventh-round draft pick.

7. San Francisco quarterback Shaun Hill

What a shock—another personnel evaluation mistake in San Francisco. Sure, Hill was surprisingly effective in late 2007. But before signing him to a three-year, $6 million contract ($2 million guaranteed), the 49ers should have known Hill's limited arm strength would make him a poor fit in new offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system.

Hill was a third-stringer before backup Alex Smith's season-ending shoulder injury. He could ultimately revert to that role again behind Jamie Martin, a Martz disciple who was recently signed to take Smith's roster spot.

8. Tampa Bay defensive back Eugene Wilson

In April, Bucs secondary coach Raheem Morris told the St. Petersburg Times that Wilson was looking "like a stud" shortly after being signed to a one-year, $1.8 million contract ($500,000 guaranteed). Five months later, Wilson was put out to pasture and released.

Wilson has since signed with Houston but was declared inactive for the Texans' first three games. The versatile Wilson had started 55 games the previous five seasons with New England before suffering a rash of injuries.

9. Jacksonville wide receiver Jerry Porter

The Jaguars are hoping the hamstring surgery Porter underwent during the preseason proves successful. Otherwise, the franchise may have squandered a small fortune (six years, $30.4 million with $10 million guaranteed). Signed to improve Jacksonville's anemic deep-passing game, Porter had one catch for six yards last Sunday in his Jaguars debut. Jacksonville needs Porter to play a larger role as he gets healthier.

10. Cleveland defensive end Corey Williams

Acquired for a second-round pick in a trade with Green Bay, Williams has yet to make an impact on one of the NFL's most lackluster front sevens. Williams, who injured a shoulder during the preseason, should improve as he becomes healthier and more comfortable playing in a 3-4 scheme.

Williams, though, has a ways to go before proving worthy of the six-year, $39 million contract ($16.3M guaranteed) he received this offseason.

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