I decided to write about the worst NFL Free Agent signings after reading an article by Mark Novak on the same subject. It was not an easy subject but Mike Vanderjagt for the Dallas Cowboys deserves to be mentioned as one of many examples of terrible free agent signings.
In my opinion, Vanderjagt made Tony Romo's time with Jessica Simpson pale in comparison. Mr. Vanderjagt signed with the Cowboys for three years to the tune of $4.5 million with a signing bonus of $2.5 million. What was the end result?
Vanderjagt had the highest conversion rate of all-time kickers at 87.5 within 100 attempts in Dallas, compared to his missing seven kicks during his time with the Indianapolis Colts.
He also started to bite the hand that fed him by complaining (in public to other players) about his duties during kickoff. While the problem was a groin injury, he should have not publicized his discontent.
The attempts by Vanderjagt to kick the ball had limited range, with his field goal attempts being two out of five in 35 or more yards. The final nail in the coffin of the NFL career of this wannabe was his 22-yard failure against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Parcells was coach of the Cowboys and tolerated him until the debacle against Tampa Bay. Parcells decided after Tampa Bay that Vanderjagt was expendable and replaced him with a good choice—Martin Gramatica.
Vanderjagt started to disappear from the NFL radar when neither Denver nor Kansas City wanted to sign him. He returned to the Canadian Football League, playing for the Toronto Argonauts, but that in itself was not a success.
If there is ever a history book about disastrous signings by the NFL, Mike Vanderjagt will be in first place.