10 Most Washed-Up NFL Free Agents Signed This Year

Marci NobleAnalyst IAugust 21, 2011

10 Most Washed-Up NFL Free Agents Signed This Year

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    The free-agent signing period this short offseason was a fevered frenzy of signing after signing after cut after release after renegotiation after re-signing. 

    Some teams made season-changing moves for better or for worse, and others just scraped the barrel, coming out of the fray with anyone, no matter their worth or ability to contribute.

    Some of those free-agent signings were real head-scratchers, eliciting more idle speculation from pundits and blind faith from fans than actual conversation about tangible upside.

Derek Anderson

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    We all remember Anderson’s emotional breakdown during a postgame interview last season in Arizona before he lost the starting job to BYU’s Max Hall. 

    And, his comments to Cleveland’s fan base after he was cut from the Browns in 2009. 

    And, the fact that he’s never been able to hold a starting job though he’s been given ample opportunity to earn one. 

    Now he’s playing third-string for the lowly Panthers while a rookie and a sophomore quarterback compete for the starting job ahead of him.  He’s hit rock bottom and has resigned himself to it

    Anderson sees himself as a leader and a mentor to both Clausen and Newton (indeed, being a veteran QB babysitter seems to be the “in” thing this year) as he helps the two learn the playbook from the bench.

Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison

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    These two veterans were brought to Detroit to replace just one injured rookie—Mikel Leshoure.  Leshoure was expected to add life to the Lions’ dismal run game and neither Bell nor Harrison (nor the combination of the two) seem equipped to fill his young shoes.

    Jim Schwartz is continually claiming that lack of time in the system along with reduced conditioning for the pair are the culprits responsible for their lame-duck preseason rather than the two’s talents (or lack thereof). 

    He’d better be right.  Bell averaged just one yard per carry in the Lions’ preseason opener and only four Friday night in Cleveland.  Harrison only fared better by a fraction of a yard.

Bruce Gradkowski

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    Career journeyman Bruce Gradkowski has now signed with the Cincinnati Bengals to provide the team with a quarterback who has been in the league for a few years.  Gradkowski has been just that: in the league. 

    There’s is virtually nothing in his stat line to suggest he can serve as a viable replacement to Carson Palmer, a stopgap while rookie Andy Dalton learns the ropes or a mentor to the young QB. 

    His preseason performance thus far has been equally un-noteworthy.

    Gradkowski is listed, currently, as the No. 2 quarterback behind Dalton and unless he achieves something remarkable in preseason play or Dalton crashes and burns in a big way, he is likely to remain there until the end of his two-year contract.

Ricky Williams

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    Ricky Williams’ on-again off-again relationship with Miami ended, apparently for good, with him signing with Baltimore for the 2011 season. 

    Baltimore seems to hope the 34-year-old Williams retains the abilities to rush for over 1,100 yards, just like he did two years ago.  It’s far more likely, though that he’ll end his career as a rarely used third-down back behind star RB Ray Rice.

Derrick Mason

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    After experiencing a drop in stats last season and being released by Baltimore in the opening days of free agency, WR Derrick Mason has signed with the New York Jets with the expectation of having 90-100 receptions this season. 

    Already, the 37-year-old has been sidelined with a knee injury sustained in Friday’s practice, indicating the reason for his release in the first place. 

    He’ll likely be held out of Sunday’s preseason matchup, and this will likely be the beginning of a trend for the Super Bowl-hungry team.

Alex Smith

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    Quarterback Alex Smith has never quite come into his own as an NFL passer.  His rookie season was hampered by injuries, and every achievement of his career is overshadowed by some downfall. 

    The rotating door of offensive coordinators he’s worked with in San Francisco and annual quarterback controversies certainly haven’t helped his chances for success.

    San Francisco, though, re-signed Smith anyway and named him the starter for the 2011 season while rookie Colin Kaepernick sits on standby. 

    Going with former No. 1 overall pick Smith—who will forever live in the shadow of draft classmate Aaron Rodgers—seemed lazy on the part of the 49ers when there were so many veteran quarterbacks on the market this offseason. 

    History suggests Smith will have a few good games before choking, forcing the reins to be passed to Kaepernick midseason.

    This is likely Smith’s chance to prove he is a starting-caliber quarterback.

Kelly Jennings

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    Kelly Jennings has never been a fan favorite in Seattle (or anywhere else for that matter).  The one-year contract Carroll granted him will likely be his last with the team. 

    After that, he’ll likely journey from low-ranked team to low-ranked team riding on his experience as a long-time starter in Seattle but contributing little to each team he lands with.

    Even with the Seahawks, Jennings’ veteran status is losing its relevance as he finds himself competing for what has long been his starting spot.

Deon Grant

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    Giants safety Deon Grant may still be able to contribute in nickel and dime packages but, he was deemed expendable to the Giants as they began in this short offseason to rebuild their once-legendary defense.

    Grant was only re-signed to add depth after rookie CB Prince Amukamara and second-stringer Bruce Johnson were injured.  It helped Grant’s cause that another rookie, Tyler Sash, struggled mightily in the Giants’ preseason opener.

    It is expected that Grant will ground the defense in the locker room in addition to expanding the Giants’ defensive package options, but,Coughlin’s prolonged hesitation is the writing on the wall for Grant.

Rex Grossman

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    Rex Grossman’s career is simply defined as inconsistent, and his preseason performances so far this year as he competes for the starting job in Washington have revealed nothing new. 

    John Beck was named the starter prior to, well, the end of the lockout, actually, and proved Friday night he deserves to be.  If Grossman can’t pull it together long enough to usurp Beck, he’ll officially be washed out of pro football relevance.

Sean Locklear

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    After starting 51 of his last 54 games in Seattle, Locklear has traveled to Washington to serve as a backup on the Redskins’ uninspiring offensive line.  It’s a clear step down, especially for a player who is just 30 years old. 

    There is no evidence, though, that Locklear wasn’t in the Seahawks’ starting lineup simply for lack of a better option.  The veteran leadership for which he was supposedly brought to Washington didn’t keep Seattle’s offensive line from steadily deteriorating during the course of his career there. 

    He was one of the many coach Pete Carroll didn’t feel was worth the contract he had originally signed and took a reduction last year to end his tenure with the team.