Every year an NFL team is termed "The Offseason winner" but that doesn't always equal wins. In fact, it almost never equals regular season wins. Deion Sanders, and Reggie White free agent signings that resulted in big rewards, but they're all time greats, not very many players can say that. In fact, even Deion Sanders didn't live up to his contract when he signed in Washington DC. But two of the 3 times he signed as a free agent in his prime he won a Super Bowl, that's rare. White, well he's arguably the best defensive player EVER. Let's take a look at some big time past Free Agent Signings that didn't work out.
Nate Odomes, Seattle Seahawks
Odomes went to four straight Super Bowls and made two Pro Bowl teams with the Buffalo Bills. He then cashed in on the new era of free agency by signing a big multi-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks. He never played a game for Seattle due to a knee injury, but collected two years’ worth of pay and a $2.2 million signing bonus. He never played a game, NEVER played a game for Seattle. For the franchise this is even worse than the Percy Harvin experiment, and that's low.
Jeff Garcia, and Jake Delhome, Cleveland Browns
Jeff Garcia was a 3 time Pro Bowler and then went to Cleveland to die. Only he didn't die, he just played terribly. He didn't work out for Cleveland, at all. He signed a 4 year 25 million deal (a lot of money for QB's 12 years ago) and was in Detroit a year later. His Detroit signing could make this list too, but we'll leave that alone. Luckily for Garcia he rebounded to play good football for the Eagles in relief of injured and fat Donovan McNabb, and he led the Bucs to the playoffs with Jon Gruden. Delhome? Well his career did die in Cleveland. Coming off a terrible year with the Panthers the Browns still thought Delhome had something and gave him a 7 million dollar contract. He would throw 12 interceptions in 5 starts going 2-3 and be a free agent the following summer. Note to the Browns, don't over pay free agent QB's anymore.
Javon Walker Oakland Raiders
Remember him? Drafted out of Florida State he looked great with Brett Favre. Catching deep balls and showing deep speed Al "Just Win Baby" Davis loved. The Raiders signed him to a six year 55 million dollar contract. WOW. While he didn't make all 55 of those millions he still made over 1 million per catch. 21 million for 15 catches in the silver and black. Luckily that Crabtree signing looks better for the Raiders, but this Walker one was a DISASTER.
It was the biggest contract ever given to a defensive player in NFL history and it was the worst. Haynesworth inked a 7-year, $100 million deal, bristled about being misused in a 3-4 defense, failed a few highly publicized “fitness tests” in training camp, and gave next to nothing in 20 games with Washington. He was gone by the end of the 2010 season, with just 6.5 sacks in his Dc Football career. To put it in perspective this signing makes all of the other Dan Snyder singings look not nearly as bad. This is probably the worse free agent signing in NFL history.
Now, lets take a look at some good singings. We already mentioned the Sanders and White singings so we will leave those out of it for now. But, those singings resulted in 3 Super Bowls in the 90's so they're easily the best. Especially Deion Sanders he decided the Super Bowl Winner back to back years. Here are some others.
Jerry Rice, Oakland Raiders
Maybe the Raiders thought the would get similar production from Walker as they did the G.O.A.T. That was dumb. Jerry Rice the best to ever lace up cleats and catch a pass released by the 49ers because they were in Cap Hell. What did Jerry do? He produced back to back 1,000 yard seasons and helped the team reach a AFC Championship and Super Bowl. He was an ageless wonder if the Raiders.
Michael Turner Atlanta Falcons
Turner "The Burner" was a back up to future hall of famer LaDanian Tomlinson in San Diego before signing with the Falcons. He finished second in rushing his first year in Atlanta and followed that up with two more 1,000 yard seasons. He also helped fantasy owners win titles, which can never go overlooked.
Preist Holmes KC Chiefs
Back up on the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl and covered up Ray Lewis committing murder he was an unheralded singing in KC before taking the field. Once he got the ball he didn't look back, literally because it seemed he was always running away from the defense. In 2001, Holmes became the first undrafted player in league history to become the leading rusher (1,555 yards). Holmes wasn't done. He led the league in rushing touchdowns the next two seasons. Holmes earned NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2002, and Holmes' 27 rushing touchdowns in 2003 set a record that has been broken, but still. He's a stud, and a great singing.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Franchise QB? Yes. Future Hall of Famer? Yes. Going to throw for another 5K yards this year? Yes. Brees is one of the best Free Agent signings ever. The Chargers let him go because they had Phillip Rivers in waiting. The Dolphins were afraid of a recent shoulder surgery, so the Saints took a chance on the kid from Houston, Texas. What did he do? He rewarded them with a Super Bowl and the most successful decade in franchise history. Very rarely do you get to make a Hall of Fame career from a free agent singing but the Saints did that with Brees.
So, as you can see there are some great free agent singings, as well as bad. The common theme for the great signings is there were low expectations attached to them which allowed them to sign somewhere and thrive. For every Drew Brees Singing there's an Elvis Grbac. (Not Mentioned.) So what do we make of this years free agent signings? Well too start, I think the over paid Pass Rushers; Oliver Vernon and Bruce Irvin won't live up to their contracts. Their price tags were jacked up by the market, they'll need to post 12+ sack seasons to begin to say they're worth their money. I don't see it happening. The Raiders also over paid Sean Smith. Is Smith going to shut down one side of the field? No. Will he be a solid starter? Yes, but the Raiders didn't pay him to be a solid starter, they paid him to be a shutdown corner. A gross over pay. The Raiders were off-season champions and that won't equal on-field success. Not yet anyway.
What to make of the Texans spending spree? You will laugh at them with your buddies when Osweiler throws an interception into the hands of Vonte Davis. He's like a member of a boy band that goes solo, but not Justin Timberlake, he's every other one who never found solo stardom. Being removed from his supporting cast in Denver will reveal him to be average, while he's making way more than average money. Now, the Texans got it right with Lamar Miller, that is a running back who will break out in the way of Preist Holmes. He was under used in Miami and that probably played into him leaving. Miller will make the good list, Osweiler the bad list.
The top NFL Free agent singings of the recent year will be; Travis Benjamin, and Eric Weddle. Benjamin goes from the Browns and QB rotation to the Chargers where he will play opposite Kennan Allen, and have Phillip Rivers throwing him the ball. Look for a 1,000 yard season out of him. Then we have Eric Weddle who might be 31, but he can still be a very productive player for the Ravens. He brings a veteran mentorship to the young secondary in Baltimore. He won't be in the class of the Woodsons, Rod and Charles, as far as a free agent safety singing goes, but this won't be a regrettable decision.
Remember Football fans, offseason print doesn't mean a trip to the Super Bowl. No team is ever one player away, even if they think they are. The best players rarely see free agency. We'll revisit a few times during the season. Thanks for reading.