Now that most of the top NFL free agents have been signed and the 2011 season is just around the corner, it's time to look at which signings were the most outstanding—in both a good and bad sense.
Many teams seemingly overpaid for certain players, while others somehow managed to work out incredible deals.
Based on player market value, team need and contract details, here are the three best and three worst free agent deals that have been signed so far in the 2011 NFL offseason.
Sources: WalterFootball.com, ESPN.com
Contract: Five years, $30 Million
Ray Edwards has been a force for the stout Minnesota Vikings defense over the past few years. Edwards followed up a 51-tackle, eight-and-a-half-sack performance in 2009 with 37 tackles and eight sacks in 2010.
Many believe Edwards greatly benefits from playing opposite Jared Allen, who is regarded as possibly the top 4-3 defensive end in the NFL.
But I believe Edwards gets by on his own skill more than those people think, and even if they are right, he'll still be playing opposite another great defensive end, John Abraham, with the Falcons.
Getting the Vikings standout for $30 million over five years is remarkable.
Contract: Five years, $20 Million
Ray McDonald is a versatile 6'3", 290 pounder who can play defensive tackle in the 4-3 or defensive end in the 3-4. But McDonald has totaled just 57 tackles and five sacks over five seasons.
McDonald had just 19 tackles in 16 games and failed to record a single sack in 2010, yet the 49ers saw fit to give him $20 million over five years.
My question is, why? Sure, McDonald had a freak pick-six in 2010, but was that touchdown worth $20 million? Exaggeration, I know, but you get my point.
Maybe San Francisco sees enormous potential in McDonald, but the fact is, his impact over the past five years does not justify earning that kind of money.
Contract: Five years, $29 Million
Willie Colon is one of the better tackles in the NFL, and re-signing him was possibly the top priority for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But getting him for $29 million over five years is amazing.
Colon was injured for all of 2010, but he is only 28 years old and is easily Pittsburgh's top lineman. If they hadn't re-signed him, both the running game and passing game would have suffered.
What's more impressive is that they were able to do so without breaking the bank.
Contract: Seven years, $53 Million
Don't get me wrong, Davin Joseph is a decent guard. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers grossly overpaid for the former first-rounder.
Joseph has been a staple for the Buccaneers' offensive line, starting 67 of 68 games in his five year career. But after having documented struggles in 2010, it doesn't make sense for Tampa Bay to give him so much money.
Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com isn't sure if there's a guard in the NFL who deserves this much money and jokes, "The Buccaneers must have been really concerned that Joseph was going to take less money to play elsewhere."
Tampa Bay could have spent their money much more wisely in this situation.
Contract: One year, $3.25 Million
Stephen Tulloch racked up 160 tackles in 2010, establishing himself as one of the best rising middle linebackers in the NFL. Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com had this to say about the signing:
"Wow. How in seven hells did the Lions land Stephen Tulloch for just a one-year, $3.25 million deal?"
I am of the same opinion. It was widely believed that Tulloch would receive a huge contract this offseason after racking up 281 tackles over the last two seasons, but somehow, the Lions signed him for almost nothing.
The only thing I don't like about this signing is the fact that it's only a one year deal. Had Detroit locked him up as their surefire starter for the next three or four years (in which case they could've offered somewhere between $10-20 million), they wouldn't have to worry about re-signing him just a year later.
But on the bright side, if Tulloch doesn't perform well enough, the Lions can simply let him hit the open market. And with Tulloch's struggles in coverage, that's a possibility.
Overall, this might be the best signing of the offseason.
Contract: Five years, $43 Million ($21 Million guaranteed)
Before I say anything, let's be clear: DeAngelo Williams is one of the best running backs in the NFL.
With that being said, the Carolina Panthers should never have re-signed him, especially not for $43 million and $21 million guaranteed over five years.
First of all, Williams got injured in 2010 and has been injured a couple of other seasons. He isn't the most durable guy in the world.
Second, he has had only two standout seasons and has not shown sustained success.
Third and most importantly, the Panthers simply don't need him. Carolina has two very capable running backs in Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson, and the pair could have given the Panthers one of the best duos in the league.
Throw in rookie quarterback Cam Newton, who rushed for an astonishing 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns in one year at Auburn, and the Panthers already would have had a dynamic rushing attack without Williams.
Carolina has so many needs that they would've been better off not shelling out the dough for their star running back and utilizing that money elsewhere.