Every NFL Team's Worst Free-Agent Signing This Offseason
Now that we're a few weeks removed from the start of NFL free agency, we can reflect broadly on the good, the bad and the ugly.
We're here for the bad and the ugly, but it's complicated.
While we're highlighting every team's worst free-agent signing team to date, they come in various shapes and sizes. In some cases, we're looking at horrendous decisions that figure to backfire quickly. In others, we needed a magnifying glass to identify a blemish.
Based primarily on contract terms, fit and/or need, here's the free-agent signing each team will likely grow to regret.
Arizona Cardinals: DE Terrell Suggs
Terms: Two years, $10 million ($7 million guaranteed)
Why would a rebuilding team fresh off a 3-13 season give $7 million guaranteed to a declining 36-year-old pass-rusher?
It isn't as though the Arizona Cardinals aren't allowed to try to improve, but they should be spending money thinking about 2020 and beyond. Signing Terrell Suggs, who's a shell of the player he used to be, doesn't fit that mold.
The Cardinals instead should have spent their money on somebody on the rise like Shaquil Barrett. The 26-year-old signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few days after the Arizona inked Suggs.
The Cardinals also gave a lot of money to former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks (four years, $34 million), but at least the 26-year-old still has plenty of tread on his tires.
Atlanta Falcons: G Jamon Brown
Terms: Three years, $18.8 million ($12.8 million guaranteed)
The Atlanta Falcons had lackluster guards in 2018, and it's fair for general manager Thomas Dimitroff to be excited about the "two big dudes" he has coming in to play that position in 2019.
Still, a Falcons team that was low on salary-cap space and could use pass-rushing help overcommitted to Jamon Brown, who is now the league's 21st-highest-paid guard in terms of average annual salary even though both the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants have cast him aside in the last five months.
The 26-year-old has room to improve, but he's a liability in pass protection, he's lacked consistency throughout his career and he served a substance abuse-related suspension last season. The Falcons are paying the more established James Carpenter less on average, while they also owe veteran Brandon Fusco $4.8 million in 2019.
Dimitroff may not go to his grave regretting this move, but it was a reach for a team that was largely quiet in free agency.
Baltimore Ravens: RB Mark Ingram
Terms: Three years, $15 million ($6.5 million guaranteed)
The Baltimore Ravens took risks by handing lucrative contracts to two players who will turn 30 this year, but at least safety Earl Thomas is a superstar who plays a position that often has a long shelf life.
The same can't be said for running back Mark Ingram, whose yards-per-attempt average has declined in back-to-back seasons. Regardless, he's now due to make $5 million per season over the next three years.
It's unclear why teams continue to pay running backs beyond their prime. Just look at what draft afterthoughts such as Phillip Lindsay, Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, James Conner, Chris Carson and Aaron Jones have done over the last few years.
Meanwhile, Chris Ivory, Latavius Murray, Carlos Hyde and DeMarco Murray all failed to live up to expensive free-agent contracts in recent years. How many cautionary tales do the Ravens need?
Baltimore should have used the money it gave Ingram to retain one of its several notable free-agent departures on defense or add a reliable receiver for developing quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Buffalo Bills: TE Tyler Kroft
Terms: Three years, $18.8 million ($9.1 million guaranteed)
The Buffalo Bills have made some tremendous moves this offseason. Even their questionable one-year, $2 million deal with 35-year-old running back Frank Gore could make a lot more sense if they eventually part ways with LeSean McCoy.
It's also hard not to love the moves they made at receiver and along the offensive line to better support young quarterback Josh Allen, but they might have overpaid new tight end Tyler Kroft.
The 26-year-old did score seven touchdowns with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017, but that could be an anomaly. He has only one other touchdown across his other three NFL seasons, he averaged a meager 9.9 yards per catch with the Bengals and he's coming off a season that was derailed by a broken foot.
It would have been one thing to take a flier on Kroft, but the Bills made him the league's 14th-highest-paid tight end. They could have paid less for Jesse James or Dwayne Allen, and it might not have cost them much more to bring in Jared Cook following his Pro Bowl campaign with the Oakland Raiders.
Carolina Panthers: DE Bruce Irvin
Terms: One year, $4 million ($1.5 million guaranteed)
In addition to bringing back offensive tackle Daryl Williams on a team-friendly deal, the Carolina Panthers have signed only two outside free agents this month.
The worse of the two is Bruce Irvin's one-year, $4 million contract. The 31-year-old Irvin has begun to decline and is coming off an a relatively ineffective season in Atlanta and Oakland.
Carolina needed another body on the edge following Julius Peppers' retirement, so the signing makes sense for a team with limited salary-cap space. Still, new center Matt Paradis is a better addition because he's still on the rise and he should be able to replace retired center Ryan Kalil.
Paradis got a bigger contract than Williams ($29 million over three years), but that isn't bad considering the Bills gave Mitch Morse even more money.
Chicago Bears: CB Buster Skrine
Terms: Three years, $16.6 million ($8.5 million guaranteed)
This one mainly hurts because the Chicago Bears replaced free-agent departure Bryce Callahan, one of the NFL's best inside cover men, with a soon-to-be 30-year-old Buster Skrine.
Skrine routinely struggled in coverage with the New York Jets in 2018, and there's little reason to believe he'll bounce back in his ninth season. The 2011 fifth-round pick would ideally be a depth guy at this point, but he'll instead play a major role on a contending team as one of the highest-paid slot corners in the league.
Skrine might be more durable than Callahan and a lot of other alternatives, but that doesn't justify the trade-off.
The Bears likely will regret not ponying up for Callahan, who signed with the Denver Broncos for only $1.5 million per year more than what Skrine got.
Cincinnati Bengals: OT Bobby Hart
Terms: Three years, $16.2 million ($5.5 million guaranteed)
Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Bobby Hart has never ranked higher than 70th among qualified players at his position, according to Pro Football Focus. The 2015 seventh-round pick struggled throughout his three seasons with the New York Giants, and he was no better in Cincinnati in 2018.
But as free agency got underway, the Bengals inexplicably signed the 24-year-old to a contract that pays him $5.4 million per season over the next three years.
Hart should be nothing more than a reserve swing tackle, and it's absurd that he got more money than guys like James Carpenter and Josh Kline, both of whom have experienced at least some sustained success in the NFL.
The Bengals would have been better off drafting a tackle in the middle rounds.
Cleveland Browns: DT Sheldon Richardson
Terms: Three years, $37 million ($21 million guaranteed)
Put your pitchforks away, Cleveland Browns fans. Your team killed it this month.
The team's only significant signing is its worst one, as there's financial risk associated with giving defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson a three-year deal worth $12.3 million per year and $21 million guaranteed.
Richardson will make the Browns defense better and bring some much-needed experience to that young defensive front. But he seems older than his age (he turned 28 in November), in part because he's joining his fourth team in as many seasons.
That isn't a great sign, but it is encouraging that the 2013 No. 13 overall pick is coming off a strong season in which he started all 16 games for the Minnesota Vikings. Still, Richardson hasn't been able to live up to the hype he generated with a Pro Bowl sophomore campaign in 2014.
It's fair to wonder if this contract might become an albatross if he struggles this season and then carries a $13.7 million cap hit into 2020.
Dallas Cowboys: TE Jason Witten
Terms: One year, $4.3 million
Jason Witten will make at least $2 million in 2019. According to ESPN.com's Todd Archer, he could earn as much as $5 million if he hits incentives (most of which appear to be based on how many games he plays in).
That's a lot of cash for someone who turns 37 in May, didn't play football last year and experienced a noticeable decline in the few seasons that preceded his retirement in 2018. And according to Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, Witten will play no more than about 25 snaps per game.
His presence alone won't hurt a team that needed help at the tight end position last season, but he might not be worth a whole lot at this point. Dallas could have spent that money better elsewhere.
Like, for example, on emerging young safety Adrian Amos, who signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the Green Bay Packers that carries a cap hit of only $5.9 million in 2019.
Denver Broncos: TE Jeff Heuerman
Terms: Two years, $8 million ($2 million guaranteed)
What has Jeff Heuerman done to merit a $4 million average annual salary?
The 2015 third-round pick is an enticing young player at 6'5", 255 pounds, but he's caught only 49 passes in his NFL career. Even in a career year in 2018, he averaged an uninspiring 9.1 yards per reception.
That didn't stop Denver Broncos general manager John Elway from handing him a two-year, $8 million deal, even though the Broncos likely could have had Dwayne Allen for less, Tyler Eifert for about the same amount or Jesse James for slightly more.
By no means is this a franchise-crushing mistake, and considering the state of the tight end depth chart in Denver, anything helps. But a team that wisely signed Bryce Callahan, Kareem Jackson and Ja'Wuan James might have erred by bringing back Heuerman at that rate.
Detroit Lions: CB Justin Coleman
Terms: Four years, $36 million ($17.9 million guaranteed)
Justin Coleman might have a bright future, but the Detroit Lions went overboard by handing him a four-year contract worth $9 million per season.
That deal makes Coleman the highest-paid primary slot corner in NFL history and the 19th-highest-paid active corner in the league. However, he isn't as strong in coverage as fellow slot specialist Bryce Callahan, who got less money from the Broncos.
Coleman has made 13 starts in his NFL career. He has three interceptions and has never gone to a Pro Bowl. That makes this signing a tremendous projection from the Lions, who needed an upgrade in the slot but have plenty of cornerback talent with Darius Slay, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew and recent addition Rashaan Melvin on board.
Coleman should help, and he might even move outside one day and become a star. But for now, it seems as though the Lions would have been better off spending that money to address a weak interior offensive line.
Green Bay Packers: G Billy Turner
Terms: Four years, $28 million ($9 million guaranteed)
We haven't shied away from praising the Green Bay Packers for the work they've done on defense this month. But in the midst of an uncharacteristic spending spree, their decision to give veteran guard Billy Turner a four-year deal worth $7 million per season looks ill-advised.
Turner's guarantee is low, but the nature of the contract will likely keep him in Green Bay for at least two years (and probably three). That's far from ideal considering the 2014 third-round pick has been in a regular starter in only two of his five NFL seasons and has never experienced sustained success.
The 27-year-old is already making his fourth NFL stop, and it's unclear why the Packers felt the need to lock him up on a long-term deal. They would have been better off investing in steady veteran Rodger Saffold, who costs $4 million more per year than Turner but is coming off a Super Bowl season with the Los Angeles Rams.
Instead, Turner is now one of 20 NFL guards making at least $7 million per season. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst might grow to regret that.
Houston Texans: CB Bradley Roby
Terms: One year, $10 million ($9.5 million guaranteed)
The Houston Texans entered free agency in need of younger talent at cornerback, and they got that by giving Bradley Roby a one-year, $10 million deal.
However, Roby's contract is almost fully guaranteed, which makes it more financially restricting than the three-year, $25.5 million deal the Pittsburgh Steelers gave to Steven Nelson. Nelson's contract only has $7.5 million in guarantees, even though he is a younger and better player who is coming off a stronger season.
The inconsistent Roby posted a career-low PFF grade while allowing a passer rating of 117.3 in 2018, and he intercepted only one pass for the second straight year. By comparison, Nelson's PFF grade rose for the fourth consecutive year as he excelled in coverage and intercepted a career-high four passes.
The Texans would have been better off paying a Roby-level premium for Nelson, or even outbidding the Philadelphia Eagles for the younger, more talented Ronald Darby. He cost Philly only $6.5 million on a one-year deal, and Houston could have used that extra cash to address its abysmal offensive line.
Indianapolis Colts: WR Devin Funchess
Terms: One year, $10 million ($7 million guaranteed)
We already heaped praise on the Indianapolis Colts for the deals they gave defenders Justin Houston and Pierre Desir, and they didn't spend more than $3 million on any other free agent except wide receiver Devin Funchess.
While it's hard to blame a team in need of receiver help for giving a talented young wideout a one-year deal, Funchess' $10 million contract is still the worst of the Colts' free-agent bunch.
The 2015 second-round pick has yet to live up to expectations or perform consistently during his NFL career. He's always been a big-play threat, but he's caught only 52 percent of the passes thrown his way, and he still drops too many balls.
Meanwhile, the more established John Brown signed a three-year deal with the Bills with a lower average annual salary and a slightly higher guarantee. That's who Indy should have gone after.
Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Geoff Swaim
Terms: Two years, $6.6 million ($1.3 million guaranteed)
Needing help at tight end while low on salary-cap space, the Jacksonville Jaguars pinched pennies at that position, re-signing backup-at-best James O'Shaughnessy to a two-year, $2.2 million deal and bringing in Geoff Swaim on a two-year contract worth $3.3 million per season.
That sure looks like quantity over quality.
O'Shaughnessy is a replacement-level player on a good day, while Swaim averaged only 9.3 yards per reception and scored one touchdown in nine starts with the Cowboys in 2018. Both were late-round picks in 2015, and neither has done much to prove those who passed on them time and again to be wrong.
For a similar price, Jacksonville likely could have inked Tyler Eifert, who has first-round pedigree and a Pro Bowl nod on his resume.
When you're strapped for cash and are trying to make life as easy as possible on a new starting quarterback, it's critical to nail moves on the margin. The Jaguars fell short in that regard at tight end.
Kansas City Chiefs: S Tyrann Mathieu
Terms: Three years, $42 million ($26.8 million guaranteed)
With Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Dee Ford gone, the Kansas City Chiefs put the vast majority of their free-agent eggs into safety Tyrann Mathieu's basket. While the Honey Badger is a strong, versatile player with a stacked resume, the signing could backfire.
Mathieu's ability to cover receivers in the slot stands out, but the Chiefs already have a stellar slot cornerback in Kendall Fuller. He also hasn't been the same since he tore his ACL late in a standout 2015 season, as he hasn't gotten back to the Pro Bowl in the ensuing three seasons.
He's good but no longer great, and his injury history should be a concern. That didn't stop the Chiefs from giving him $14 million per year.
No other safety in NFL history has received a higher average annual salary. Kansas City could have saved money while taking less of a risk by instead signing Lamarcus Joyner or Adrian Amos, both of whom also excel in coverage.
Los Angeles Chargers: DT Brandon Mebane
Terms: Two years, $10.6 million ($5.3 million guaranteed)
This is a toss-up between the Los Angeles Chargers' two biggest free-agent signings, neither of which were particularly substantial moves for a deep and talented team that was tight on cash and was destined to remain quiet on the open market.
The Bolts gave defensive tackle Brandon Mebane a two-year, $10.6 million contract and linebacker Thomas Davis a two-year, $10.5 million deal. Giving Davis a two-year contract isn't ideal, but he's coming off yet another strong season with the Panthers and the Chargers could use his experience in the linebacking corps.
Meanwhile, Mebane's game has begun to erode. At 34, he isn't the same player he was in his prime with the Seattle Seahawks, which begs the question of why the Chargers paid him that much while letting the younger and more effective Darius Philon flee to Arizona on a cheaper deal.
Keeping Philon over Mebane should have been a no-brainer.
Los Angeles Rams: OLB Clay Matthews
Terms: Two years, $9.3 million ($5.5 million guaranteed)
Since we lauded two of the three signings the Los Angeles Rams made this month, the choice was easy here. The Rams hit home runs with both Eric Weddle and Blake Bortles, but the decision to give pass-rusher Clay Matthews a two-year deal worth $4.6 million per season wasn't as worthy of applause.
The Rams brought edge-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. back with a one-year, $12 million deal, and they get plenty of pass rush out of Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers up front. Why did a team with limited cap space need to sign a soon-to-be 33-year-old outside linebacker whose game appeared to fall off a cliff in 2018?
With more support in Los Angeles, Matthews could bounce back after a tough final season in Green Bay. But the Rams could have spent that money on someone young, hungry and on the rise like Shaquil Barrett, who is getting only $4 million on a prove-it deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Plus, this draft is loaded with high-quality front-seven defenders.
Miami Dolphins: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Terms: Two years, $11 million ($7 million guaranteed)
By all indications, the Miami Dolphins are tanking without explicitly saying so. Why else would they trade quarterback Ryan Tannehill for peanuts and let Ja'Wuan James, Cameron Wake, Danny Amendola, Josh Sitton, Ted Largent and Andre Branch walk in free agency?
The Dolphins should forget about 2019, use the season as a rosterwide rehearsal and position themselves to reload in the next two drafts. But it'll be harder for them to increase their draft capital if they accidentally win some games. And with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, that's a risk.
The 36-year-old longtime backup/sometimes starter isn't a superstar, and he's far from consistent. But Fitzgerald did average a league-high 9.6 yards per pass attempt last year while becoming the 14th quarterback in NFL history to post three qualified passer ratings of 140 or higher in a single season.
When Fitzpatrick gets hot, he's as dangerous as almost any quarterback in the league. The Dolphins would have been better off throwing Jake Rudock, Luke Falk, David Fales or Brock Osweiler to the wolves.
Minnesota Vikings: LB Anthony Barr
Terms: Five years, $67.5 million ($33 million guaranteed)
The Minnesota Vikings continue to overinvest in their defense at the expense of their offense.
No NFC team has as much money wrapped up in its defense as the Vikings, who have also spent four of their last six first-round picks on defenders. They're also still clinging to Everson Griffen's $14.5 million average annual salary even though he's beyond his prime, and they're paying Danielle Hunter, Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph, Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks eight-figure annual salaries as well.
Add Anthony Barr to that list.
With the Vikings now paying an off-ball linebacker with limited splash-play ability $13.5 million per year, they now have seven defensive players making $10-plus million on the payroll. No other NFL team has more than four defensive players making that kind of money.
Barr is a good player, but he isn't a game-changer and he doesn't play a premium position. It was time to let go and collect a nice compensatory pick, but Minnesota couldn't resist.
That's a shame, because the Vikings have limited funds and their offensive line remains in shambles.
New England Patriots: CB Jason McCourty
Terms: Two years, $10 million ($5.5 million guaranteed)
The New England Patriots always spend their money wisely. But Jason McCourty's new two-year, $10 million deal might not pay off for New England.
McCourty is a solid veteran coming off what might have been the best season of his 10-year career, but he'll turn 32 in mid-August. He was never a star, but he could soon start to fade anyway, and New England is already paying Stephon Gilmore $13 million annually.
More importantly, J.C. Jackson has emerged as as another quality option outside, and young speed demon Jonathan Jones already might be a better candidate to cover the slot.
Don't be surprised if McCourty's role decreases in 2019, or if he becomes a cap casualty next offseason.
New Orleans Saints: DT Malcom Brown
Terms: Three years, $15 million ($7.5 million guaranteed)
Running back Latavius Murray somehow landed another lucrative free-agent contract despite being a 29-year-old who plays a position with a short shelf life and struggled the last two seasons in Minnesota. However, his four-year, $14.4 million contract only has $7.2 million in guarantees, which isn't outrageous.
Instead, let's call out the three-year, $15 million deal New Orleans gave to defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who failed to live up to expectations as a 2015 first-round pick in New England.
The 25-year-old Brown is a big run-stuffer with upside, and the Saints needed another body up front as Sheldon Rankins recovers from a torn Achilles. But Mario Edwards, who the Oakland Raiders selected three spots after Brown in 2015, looked relatively impressive in a backup role with the New York Giants last year.
Edwards could be better than Brown at this point, and the Saints inked him for less than half the money the day after they signed Brown. That makes the Brown contract look like a mistake, especially since the draft is loaded with stellar defensive linemen.
New York Giants: WR Golden Tate
Terms: Four years, $37.5 million ($23 million guaranteed)
When you trade away players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon and allow a taggable player like Landon Collins to walk, you're rebuilding.
The New York Giants are clearly thinking more about the 2020s and less about 2019, which makes their decision to give Golden Tate $9.4 million per year and $22.95 million guaranteed ludicrous.
Tate is entering his 10th NFL season, and his production declined during his age-30 campaign in Detroit and Philadelphia. He's hardly a deep threat at this point, and it isn't as though the one-time Pro Bowler was ever a real game-changer.
Quarterback Eli Manning needs players to throw to, and Tate will likely be his top target in a transition season. But his presence doesn't make sense if the Giants are in tank mode (as they should be), and they'll have to pay $5 million to get out of his contract in two years.
The Giants should have saved their money and gambled on a younger receiver with more upside. Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett and Breshad Perriman would have made a lot more sense.
New York Jets: RB Le'Veon Bell
Terms: Four years, $52.5 million ($27 million guaranteed)
Had any of the Saints, Patriots, Rams, Chargers, Jaguars, Colts, Packers, Lions, Broncos, Cowboys, Browns, Bears, Panthers, Bills or Falcons given inconsistent slot receiver Jamison Crowder a three-year, $28.5 million deal, that would have been their worst free-agent signing of 2019.
Had any of those teams plus the Dolphins, Chiefs, Texans, Bengals or Cardinals signed off-ball linebacker C.J. Mosley to a five-year, $85 million deal, that would have been their worst of 2019.
For the New York Jets, Le'Veon Bell's four-year, $52.5 million deal trumps both of those.
Bell is a running back, and running backs hardly matter in this pass-heavy era. They're too easy to find in the middle rounds of the draft, and their shelf lives are too short.
Bell has four 250-plus-touch seasons under his belt, which suggests he's likely seen his best days. His yards-per-attempt average plummeted from 4.9 in 2016 to 4.0 in 2017, and he sat out the entire 2018 campaign while embroiled in a contract dispute. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers averaged more points per game and yards per play without Bell in 2018 than they did with him in 2017.
So, why would anybody pay this guy an eight-figure annual salary?
Oakland Raiders: OT Trent Brown
Terms: Four years, $66 million ($36.3 million guaranteed)
It isn't uncommon for a player to land a big-money deal after one good season, but the Oakland Raiders took it to a whole new level when they made Trent Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
Brown was a penalty machine and a pass-blocking turnstile with the San Francisco 49ers, and he wasn't much better during his lone season with the Patriots. San Francisco dumped him for next to nothing, and he only landed a starting job with the Pats because rookie Isaiah Wynn suffered a torn Achilles in August.
In New England, Brown benefited greatly from being coached by the legendary Dante Scarnecchia while blocking for a quarterback who gets rid of the ball at the speed of light. That won't be the case in Oakland.
PFF's Michael Renner called Brown "an incredibly large man who will alternate whiffs with dominant blocks," while noting his 33 pressures allowed ranked 33rd among 49 qualified players at his position. Yet the Raiders are paying him more than twice what they would have owed the steadier and more accomplished Donald Penn in 2019.
None of it makes sense.
Philadelphia Eagles: DT Malik Jackson
Terms: Three years, $30 million ($17 million guaranteed)
The quiet, cap-strapped Philadelphia Eagles took it easy on the open market, and they did get younger up front on defense by swapping out the 33-year-old Michael Bennett for the 29-year-old Malik Jackson.
But they're paying Jackson far more money—Bennett's 2019 cap hit would have been only $7.2 million—and Bennett might be the better player.
Bennett is coming off a nine-sack season in which he was tied for third among qualified edge-rushers with 78 quarterback pressures, according to PFF. Meanwhile, Jackson was frequently penalized during an ugly season in which his role in the Jacksonville defense decreased and his numbers plummeted across the board. He posted a career-low PFF grade of 64.4.
It feels as though the Eagles bought stock in a downward trajectory.
Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Mark Barron
Terms: Two years, $12 million ($5.8 million guaranteed)
Kudos to the Pittsburgh Steelers for resisting whatever tempted the Vikings, Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (more on them in a moment) to give eight-figure annual salaries to stay-at-home linebackers. The Steelers had a need at that position after safety/dime linebacker Morgan Burnett struggled in his lone season there, but they kept costs down by bringing in veteran Mark Barron.
But considering that Barron likely won't start at either safety (where Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds appear to be locked in) or linebacker (where Vince Williams and Jon Bostic are slated to hold things down inside), a $6 million average annual salary is steep for someone who was often a liability during the 2018 season.
The 29-year-old's play with the Rams last season suggests he's declining fast, which could make this a Malik Jackson-like signing for a team that is short on cap space and has more glaring weak spots to address elsewhere on the depth chart.
Unless he bounces back, the Steelers might wind up cutting him for $5.3 million in cap savings next offseason.
San Francisco 49ers: LB Kwon Alexander
Terms: Four years, $54 million ($25.5 million guaranteed)
Take what we said about Anthony Barr and add exclamation marks.
It's unclear why teams suddenly decided to start paying non-playmaking linebackers huge money this offseason, but at least Barr and C.J. Mosley are healthy and have been elected to a combined eight Pro Bowls.
Kwon Alexander isn't in the same echelon of those two, yet he's making nearly as much money with a $13.5 million average annual salary—a mark that trumps potential Hall of Famers Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner. To boot, the 24-year-old is recovering from a torn ACL and has missed 18 games in four seasons because of either injury or suspension.
"The bad has outweighed the good for Alexander up to this point," PFF's Ben Linsey wrote earlier this month. And it's hard to argue against that considering his track record as well as his struggles in coverage and his inconsistent tackling.
A one-year prove-it deal would have been appropriate given Alexander's circumstances. Instead, the 49ers inexplicably made him one of the richest linebackers in league history.
Seattle Seahawks: G Mike Iupati
Terms: One year, $2.8 million ($2.3 million guaranteed)
One day, the Seattle Seahawks will find a reliable guard. But the team has been swinging at—and missing—guards in both free agency and the draft for more than a half-decade.
This offseason, they had enough money to invest in a well-established veteran guard. Instead, they gave contracts worth a combined $5.8 million per year to retreads D.J. Fluker and Mike Iupati.
Iupati used to be a strong player, but he's missed all but 11 games over the last two years in Arizona, and he struggled during that limited action. Meanwhile, Fluker is coming off a penalty-plagued season and shouldn't be considered anything more than a depth guy at this point in his career.
Iupati gets the nod here because he's getting more guaranteed money and he's several years older, but the Seahawks should have stayed away from both and paid up for Rodger Saffold instead.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Breshad Perriman
Terms: One year, $4 million ($4 million guaranteed)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't make a truly head-scratching signing this month, but $4 million does seem high for draft bust Breshad Perriman.
Even with DeSean Jackson back in Philadelphia and Adam Humphries now a member of the Tennessee Titans, it isn't as though the Bucs are hurting at wide receiver. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are a strong starting duo.
If anything, the Buccaneers needed a new slot safety valve to replace Humphries and help provide comfort underneath to quarterback Jameis Winston in a crucial season. Yet instead of bringing Humphries back or adding a veteran slot option like Cole Beasley, Randall Cobb or Danny Amendola, the Bucs hired someone who is supposed to make his money outside.
They also could have saved money and gone with Phillip Dorsett or Chris Conley, both of whom have potential and have thus far been more reliable than Perriman.
This deal won't make or break the Bucs' season, but there's a good chance the failed 2015 first-round pick lets down yet another team in 2019.
Tennessee Titans: DE Cameron Wake
Terms: Three years, $23 million ($10.8 million guaranteed)
Yes, we're nitpicking.
Kenny Vaccaro's deal is more than fair, Humphries and Saffold are superb additions and the Tennessee Titans didn't make any other significant signings besides the deal they gave edge-defender Cameron Wake.
Wake isn't a bad addition to a pass rush that has lacked teeth in recent years, but a three-year contract with an eight-figure guarantee for a 37-year-old is pushing it. His sack numbers have dropped in back-to-back seasons.
According to PFF, Wake "still ranked second among all edge defenders in pass-rushing productivity" in 2018, but a decline is inevitable. So it's less than ideal than Tennessee will have to pay $2.7 million to part ways with the 10-year veteran next offseason.
Still, we're looking at the slowest of several Bugattis.
Washington Redskins: S Landon Collins
Terms: Six years, $84 million ($44.5 million guaranteed)
It's easy to spot a classically bad Washington Redskins signing from several hundred miles away.
We'll never forget the moment a cap-strapped team riddled with holes in the front seven, at quarterback, at wide receiver and at cornerback went out and made a box safety with poor coverage skills the NFL's fifth-highest-paid defensive back.
While Landon Collins does address a weak spot in Washington, the strong safety position is not at a premium in the modern-day NFL. The 2015 second-round pick hasn't stood out since his breakout 2016 campaign, notching only two interceptions, two forced fumbles and zero sacks over the past two seasons.
For a lot less money, the Redskins could have had Lamarcus Joyner or Adrian Amos, both of whom excel in coverage and are trending upward.
Contract details courtesy of Spotrac.