Albert Haynesworth and the 10 Biggest Offseason Pickup Busts of 2011
Every offseason in the NFL, teams sign free agents and make trades for players who they think will improve their team. Sometimes, however, those players do not make a season, they break one.
We call those players "busts," and in 2011 there are plenty of big-time busts for us to investigate.
The Albert Haynesworth experiment with the New England Patriots is over, as he was recently released from the team. He headlines a group of 10 guys who will serve as a reminder next season that signing or trading for a big name doesn't guarantee success.
If you ever wondered if there was a top 10 list for guys like Tarvaris Jackson or Kevin Kolb, you've come to the right place.
10. Zach Miller, TE, Seattle Seahawks
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Seattle Seahawks fans expected more out of Zach Miller.
Brought in as one of the best pass catching tight ends in the NFL, and only 25 years old, Miller was expected to continue his ascension as a Seahawk. As a member of the Oakland Raiders, Miller was able to be a consistent threat in the passing game despite playing with a number of different quarterbacks under a number of different coaches.
That consistency is probably what led to the Seahawks dropping $34 million on him over five years, including $17 million guaranteed.
Despite the presence of emerging tight end John Carlson, Miller was expected to contribute. Instead, Carlson went down with a season ending injury, and Miller has been relegated to blocking duty.
Even if Miller were released from his blocking shackles, I doubt much would change. After all, his quarterback is No. 5 on this list.
Miller's key 2011 stats
7 games, 11 catches, 99 yards, 0 touchdowns
9. Aubrayo Franklin, DT, New Orleans Saints
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This one is almost too easy. Aubrayo Franklin joined the New Orleans Saints this offseason for a measly one year, $4 million deal.
Because of the small amount of money spent on Franklin (relative to the fact that many considered him a top three nose tackle in the NFL), experts all around the country were calling the signing the "steal of the offseason." With Franklin anchoring the line last season, the San Francisco 49ers were sixth in the league in yards per rush against (3.5).
However, with New Orleans placing dead last in yards per rush against this season (5.3), it may be time to give an even greater credit to superb middle linebacker Patrick Willis. Even after Franklin's departure, Willis has continued to crush opposing running backs, with the 49ers placing an astonishing fourth in the NFL in yards per rush against (3.5, again).
To see how big of a disappointment Franklin has been thus far, let's take a look at what Rotoworld had to say about the big fella after he signed on with the Saints:
The rich get richer. Franklin's market was slow to develop for unknown reasons, but the 31-year-old adds a dominant early-down presence to a suddenly loaded New Orleans front seven. Pro Football Focus graded Franklin as the No. 2 run-stopping interior lineman in football last season, and he was the anchor for a 49ers defense that allowed the fewest yards per carry (3.46) in the NFC. We're red-flagging the Saints' defense for fantasy running back matchups.
Rotoworld wasn't the only one who got it wrong. Franklin was fourth on Peter King's top free agents of 2011 list.
Franklin's key 2011 stats
8. Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona Cardinals
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For Kevin Kolb, it my have just been a case of Arizona Cardinals fans expecting too much for such an unproven player.
Sure, Kolb had a few monster games in the 2009 and 2010 seasons as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. However, there was absolutely nothing to indicate that the kid from Victoria, Texas was ready to take over control of a starting job.
This was an experiment, one that cost the Cards a second-round draft pick as well as young cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. So far, the experiment has been a total failure.
Even with the long-awaited development of running back Beanie Wells into a legitimate starter (in seven games he has seven touchdowns, and averages 75 yards-per-contest), and the help of one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald, Kolb has been unable to deliver.
He is only 27, so there is obviously still time for this to "bust" designation to disappear. However, as of right now, the quarterback who was expected to be the savior in Arizona has been one inconsistent bust. The six year, $65 million contract (with $21 million guaranteed) the Cardinals gave him wasn't one of their brightest ideas.
Even though Patrick Peterson has been phenomenal as a return man, already having won them two or three games, Arizona must be kicking themselves for not taking a chance on any of the quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Kolb's key 2011 stats
8 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 7 fumbles (3 lost), 55.6 completion percentage, 1,706 passing yards
7. Kevin Boss, TE, Oakland Raiders
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Kevin Boss, who was seen as Zach Miller "Lite", seemed to be a perfect fit for the Oakland Raiders.
He was expected to replace Miller as the pass catching tight end in Oakland's offense, a role he played extremely consistently as a member of the New York Giants for the last three seasons.
It just wasn't meant to be.
Maybe it's the quarterback, Jason Campbell, maybe it's the coach, Hue Jackson, or maybe the Raiders paid too much for a guy who was never more than a fourth option in New York (shocker). Injuries definitely haven't helped this season, as Boss has only appeared in six games so far.
However, the injuries aren't what caused Boss to be benched this past Sunday for the immortal Brandon Myers.
That's right, the tight end who was given a four year, $16 million deal was benched on an offense that has a pretty serious lack of red-zone targets. Boss, who is 6'6", 255 pounds, needs to be on the field in the red zone.
Darren McFadden can only do so much (especially when he's injured).
If Boss doesn't turn his act around, this under-the-radar bust won't remain under-the-radar for much longer.
Boss's key 2011 stats
8 catches, 160 yards, 1 touchdown
6. Ronnie Brown, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
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This spot could be any of the Philadelphia Eagles' busts so far this season (we are all staring at you Vince "Dream Team" Young).
I guess if you are going to sign every single player in the free agency class, you are bound to have a few busts in there. Unfortunately for Ronnie Brown, he is clearly the biggest one.
Considering the Eagles' struggles in the red zone, and Brown's past ability to reach the end zone (23 touchdowns in his last three seasons), it is perplexing that Brown has not been a factor for Philadelphia near the pylons.
Brown was so bad this year that Philly tried to trade him to the Detroit Lions for Jerome Harrison. The trade fell through (luckily for Harrison), and there were rumors that the Eagles were so uninterested in having Brown on the roster that they were going to release him.
He wasn't released, and even stole a touchdown on his lone carry this past game, but he still remains a rarely used backup.
Brown's key 2011 stats
8 games, 15 rushes, 46 yards (3.1 average), 0 catches, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble
5. Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
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Tarvaris Jackson is a bust's bust. He's horrible. He could be the worst starting quarterback in the NFL (which is saying something considering there is some dude named Tim Tebow who's somehow a starter).
The problem with him on this list is that everyone knew he sucked.
Can you be a bust if everyone expects you to fail? I say yes, and here's why: he's had just enough decent games this year to keep Seattle Seahawks fans hopeful. Then, he crushes those hopes.
The worst part about it is that they've won enough games (two) to keep them out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Even though Seattle signed him to a measly two-year, $8 million deal, they must regret not holding on to Matt Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck has been terrific for the Tennessee Titans, throwing for 13 touchdowns, six interceptions, and completing 62.5 percent of his passes.
With Hasselbeck, maybe the Hawks' could have pulled out wins in close losses against the Atlanta Falcons (30-28) and the miserable Cleveland Browns (6-3). With Tarvaris, they are just a pitiful offense on a pitiful team, in a pitiful division.
They need a change at quarterback, and I'm not talking about Charlie Whitehurst. Sooner or later, you have to start from scratch. Seattle should start now.
Jackson's key 2011 stats
6 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 1,556 passing yards, 60.4 completion percentage, 3 fumbles (2 lost)
4. Chad Ochocinco, WR, New England Patriots
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Chad Ochocinco is only fourth on a list of busts in 2011?
Yeah, that's how bad the next three guys have been. No. 85 really couldn't have had any worse of a season thus far. Unless, of course, he was tweeting while driving and ended up running over Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Bill Belichick.
In all seriousness though, this is getting downright pathetic.
The former Cincinnati Bengals star hasn't caught any breaks this year (pun fully intended), dropping passes he normally catches, being penalized at impossibly bad times and most importantly, never being at the right place at the right time.
That last one is probably the one which has done him in.
In a New England Patriots offense that relies so heavily on timing patterns and trust between the quarterback and the receiver, Ocho's inability to learn the playbook is downright infuriating.
How is it possible that a six-time Pro Bowler can't learn a playbook? How is it possible that a three-time All-Pro can't work magic with one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game?
It didn't seem like an option when the Pats traded two draft picks for the wideout, and then signed him to a three-year, $11.5 million contract. All is not lost, though, and Belichick is giving him every chance to turn things around.
Don't hold your breath.
Ochocinco's key 2011 stats
9 catches, 136 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1.8 yards-after-catch average
3. Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (Was FA Signed by St. Louis Rams)
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Mike Sims-Walker may have had the strangest offseason and subsequent regular season of any other NFL player.
He started off as arguably the Jacksonville Jaguars' most important free agent. Next, he was told by the Jags' brass that they were moving on. Following a long offseason search, Walker settled down with the promising St. Louis Rams and quarterback Sam Bradford. After the Rams' awful start, which included a lot of drops from Walker, the receiver was released. Just a day later, he was picked up by, you guessed it, the Jags. Finally, after a horrible start to the season, Walker was placed on injured reserve with another knee injury (h/t to Rotoworld for the timeline).
Walker failed so miserably with the Rams that they shipped him out after just four games. In the meantime, the Jags were so desperate that they re-signed a player they let walk just months ago.
I guess that makes Walker a "double bust." He was a bust for St. Louis and Jacksonville. I thought that the No. 2 player on this list would hold the record for being a huge bust two seasons in a row, however Walker was a bust twice in one season.
Walker's key 2011 stats
6 games, 12 catches, 150 yards, 0 touchdowns
2. Albert Haynesworth, DT, New England Patriots
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Fat Albert Haynesworth was quite a disappointment this season.
He came to the New England Patriots with high expectations despite what was one of the worst two-year stretches in the history of the NFL in 2009 and 2010 with the Washington Redskins. For someone with a $100 million contract, Haynesworth was playing like he didn't owe the Skins' a damn thing.
He was lazy, unmotivated, overweight, and hated by every Redskin fan with a brain.
In New England, he seemed motivated, but he was still out of shape. His potential, however, is what blinded all the experts. People expected Big Al to miraculously transform back to his 2008 self. They expected him to team up with Vince Wilfork and wreak havoc on every offensive line they faced together.
Well, obviously, none of that happened.
He never even started, with unheralded defensive tackle Kyle Love stealing most of the snaps, and could never really build on the momentum he had after a terrific opening game against the Miami Dolphins.
Haynesworth wasn't all bad. He was a force against the run, and constantly demanded double-teams. The problem was that he didn't mesh well with the coaching staff (earth shattering revelation) and he had trouble staying healthy.
On Sunday's game against the New York Giants, Haynesworth played one second half snap before being benched. He ended up feuding with assistant coach Pepper Johnson on the sideline, and Patriots fans everywhere knew it was only a matter of time before dictator Bill Belichick released his wayward warrior.
Haynesworth's key 2011 stats
6 games, 3 tackles, 0 sacks
1. Donovan McNabb, QB, Minnesota Vikings
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How the mighty have fallen.
In 2010, McNabb went to the Washington Redskins to turn their franchise around. Instead, he made it worse. He completed 58 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (14). It was an awful year for a declining player on a terrible team.
Going to the Minnesota Vikings was supposed to change all of that. He was supposed to "re-brand" himself—he was Minnesota's bridge to the future. They guy who was going to team up with Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, and give the Vikes a real shot in the NFC North.
In his first game with the purple and gold, McNabb had one of the worst performances of his entire career. He completed seven of 15 passes for 39 yards.
It was the start of what was an inconsistent and pretty awful six-game stretch where McNabb and the Vikings offense were practically silent outside of an occasional big game from Peterson.
In the end, the player they traded two draft picks for and then signed to a one-year, $7.25 million contract, was benched to make room for rookie Christian Ponder.
Don't expect McNabb to be back in a starting role any time soon. A sad way to go out for one of the NFL's bigger stars of the last decade.
McNabb's key 2011 stats
4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1,026 yards, 60.3 completion percentage, 1 rushing touchdown