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6 NFL Free Agent Signings Who Aren't Panning out so Far

Basil SpyridakosContributor IIIAugust 24, 2011

6 NFL Free Agent Signings Who Aren't Panning out so Far

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    The NFL free-agent frenzy was an unusual one thanks to the lockout and the abbreviated offseason.

    Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers stayed true to their word by mostly re-signing free agents already part of their respective organizations.

    Other teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears decided to bolster their roster's by spending money on available free agents testing the market.

    Signing a big time free agent doesn't always pan out, and sometimes gathering bodies is all an NFL team is really trying to accomplish, but there are those free agents teams have high expectations for. Players are expected to fill an immediate team need and become an instant impact.

    But what happens when those players barely perform during the preseason?

    Here are six former free agents that aren't panning out thus far with their new teams.

WR Steve Breaston

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    The Kansas City Chiefs were looking for a wide receiver to compliment Dwayne Bowe and give quarterback Matt Cassel another efficient target to throw too, but in a weak wide receiver free agent class the Chiefs settled for former Arizona Cardinal Steve Breaston.

    Breaston's numbers look excellent from afar, posting 77 catches for 1,006 yards and three touchdowns during the Cardinals 2008 season.

    Those stats can be misleading considering Breaston was typically the open slot receiver on the team.

    Opposing defenses focused their attention on Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin with a pass happy Kurt Warner slinging the ball to all three, allowing Breaston to receive as many passes as he did.

    In 2010, as the number two wide out, Breaston caught 47 passes for 718 yards. The difference? No Warner or Boldin to alleviate the pressure.

    During the 2011 NFL Preseason, Breaston has one catch for five yards. Not exactly lighting it up, but, to be fair, it is the preseason and he hasn't seen much action.

    Still, in order for Breaston to be successful he has to be on the field and gain continuity with his quarterback, and prove he doesn't need another marquee receiver to in order to be outstanding. 

RB Ronnie Brown

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    The Philadelphia Eagles were in desperate need at running back and needed a seasoned veteran to help share the load with starter LeSean McCoy.

    In comes Ronnie Brown, who spent the last six seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

    At first glance, Brown fits the Eagles' West Coast offense to the tee. Great pass-catcher out of the backfield. Picks the blitz up well. And can make defenses miss out in the open field.

    Here's the problem: the Eagles aren't a running team and don't utilize their running backs as well as most would think.

    Last season's top rushers were McCoy and quarterback Michael Vick, who, no matter what he says, will always try and make plays with his legs.

    The next runner in that bunch is Jerome Harrison who had 40 rushes for 239 yards and one touchdown.

    Potentially, that's Brown's wheelhouse, spelling a breather for McCoy and catching a few passes out of the backfield when Vick decides to scramble.

    Brown isn't the most durable back, finishing all 16 games only twice in his career, and that was with a sturdy backup in Ricky Williams spelling him plays when needed.

    So far during the 2011 NFL Preseason, Brown has 15 carries for 47 yards; a whopping 3.1 yards per carry, and one reception for seven yards.

    The real question is: Can Brown last an entire season? 

LB Barrett Ruud

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    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer middle linebacker Barrett Ruud has yet to set foot onto the football field as a Tennessee Titan this preseason.

    A lingering shoulder injury, as well as other minor scuffs, has kept Ruud from performing his duties and acclimating himself to a new defense.

    The Titan organization is asking Ruud to come in and take the reigns of a defense that ranked 26th in total defense and 29th in passing defense in 2010.

    While Ruud's strengths are his abilities to cover the flats and play a deep zone coverage – which should help tremendously against teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans – he's a liability in the running game.

    In the four years Ruud was the Buccaneers' starting middle linebacker, the rush defense never finished higher than 17th, and gradually declined each year after.

    Blame it on bad talent surrounding him, or a dysfunctional organization during his tenure, but Ruud struggled to make plays when they came his way.

    Ruud wasn't the main reason for Tampa Bay's shoddy defense, but he certainly didn't impact them either.

    If he wants to prove the naysayers wrong, Ruud has to be out on the field and help reconstruct a poor Titans defense.

    If not, the "soft" stigma will hang over his head until Ruud proves otherwise.   

TE Kevin Boss

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    There's really no reason not to like Oakland Raiders' tight end Kevin Boss, and there's no reason that he shouldn't be a success with his new team.

    He was productive during his years as a New York Giant, and Boss' teammates raved about his work ethic and attitude.

    Maybe it's because Oakland is the spot where a player's career allegedly goes to die, or maybe it's because there isn't a single wide receiver on the roster that strikes fear into opposing defenses.

    Boss may get plenty of opportunities to catch the ball, but he'll be quarterback Jason Campbell's primary target during the majority of the games, and, as well all know, a tight end is a quarterback's best friend.

    Unless the Raiders develop a wide receiver on their roster to quickly take the pressure off of him, Boss will struggle during passing situations.

    In two preseason games, Boss has two receptions for 20 yards, and that's in very limited action. Currently, Boss is doubtful for the upcoming game against the New Orleans Saints after injuring his knee during the game against the San Francisco 49ers this past Saturday.

    Boss is a tremendous run blocker and will be asked to pave holes for running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, but his pass catching abilities will be limited unless a wide receiver steps up and takes pressure off of him. 

CB Johnathan Joseph

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    The Houston Texans missed out on the highly sought after Nnamdi Asomugha, so instead they settled for cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

    While playing in Cincinnati, Joseph was the quintessential lock-down corner and thrived in Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis' pressure-filled defensive scheme.

    Injuries slowed Joseph down in 2010 despite three interceptions in twelve games.

    The Texans finished the 2010 season last in passing defense and are in desperate need for secondary help, especially with Peyton Manning slinging the ball all over them since their inception in 2002.

    Joseph may be asked to do too much and help contribute to a defense that has no direction. Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak has worked with three defensive coordinators in his six seasons as the Texans head coach, but that's not all Kubiak's fault and may have more to do with Texans' owner Bob McNair inserting himself in matters he should not meddle in.  

    Still, Joseph has yet to play a preseason game due to a groin injury and may be hampered until the start of the regular season. If left untreated or thrown hastily into action, groin injuries can linger the entire season.

    Being asked to be the savior of an atrocious secondary may be too much for Joseph to shoulder, and considering he hasn't played this preseason, and may not play, doesn't bode well for the Texans.  

QB Tarvaris Jackson

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    What does going 14 of 26 with one interception and a quarterback rating of 52.7 get you? The Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback position.

    Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll imploring the organization to recruit Tarvaris Jackson might have been one of the biggest free-agent mysteries during the offseason.

    Jackson wasn't exactly setting the NFL on fire while playing with the Minnesota Vikings, being benched in favor of Gus Frerotte and Brett Favre. His lifetime 76.6 QB Rating isn't bad by any means, but the stats look good due to mop-up duty in 2009.

    Back up quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is currently outplaying Jackson, and Whitehurst knows the system having started for Carroll at the end of the 2010 season in a crucial game against the St. Louis Rams, throwing for a touchdown in route to a victory propelling the Seahawks into the postseason.

    But Carroll sees something in Jackson and he feels the sixth year vet can lead the Seahawks back into the playoffs.

    Jackson has been less than stellar so far during the 2011 NFL Preseason, making poor choices and struggling to learn the Seahawks offense.

    Whitehurst may be thrust into starting duty sooner than expected, but in a weak NFC West a below-average Jackson may be enough to get the job done. 

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