The Myth Of Improving Through Free Agency

CREAM (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

I believe one Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs said it best, "Mo money, mo problems".

With the start of free agency mostly leaving the Browns on the sidelines, it left some posters wondering what the Browns were doing:

Super Mario

Buffalo just netted Mario Williams which brings me to a valid argument. If teams that lose frequently, play in cold, windy stadium, can still sign premier players in tough divisions THEN WHY IN THE WORLD CANT WE DO THE SAME!

I HATE THE STEELERS

by Greg Peters on Mar 15, 2012 12:51 PM EDT reply actions

I don't want Greg to think I am picking on him, there were about 4,000 other similar posts, I just found his first. People wanted the Browns to get silly and start spending dollars. After all, the Redskins were, why can't we?

So I wanted to do a little test. Looking back, how many of these silly contracts will be good ones? How many will end up being cap anchors in the future? In other words, is "Building through the Draft" the best way to do it, or are we missing out?

So, what did I do here? I went back, looked at the marquee contracts signed in each off-season and decided whether or not they were good deals. If I couldn't find the year-by-year breakdown of a contract (which is very hard) I just broke the contract down by yearly average. Now most of the time, this gave us an inflated contract estimation, but it was the best I had to work with. If you don't like it, I will politely ask you to stuff it.

So, once we break down the money, did the player give the team a decent return on their dollar? Were they cut before most people would have expected? Did the player lose his job? If you think I was incorrect in judging a contract, by all means, let me know.

I focused on players that changed teams. Very rarely do teams let impact players walk. That is why free agency is so dangerous. I only went with 2007, 2008 and 2009. The reasoning is that contracts for 2006 and earlier were hard to find and I put the cut off point for 2009 because anything later doesn't give us a good feel on whether or not a deal was good or not. Let's get started.

2007 NFL Free Agency:

Adalius Thomas: Patriots: 5 years, 35 Million (20 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? Hell no. Lasted three seasons in New England before he was cut. Didn't sign with another team, has been out of football since. Pats gave him 34 Million (estimated) for 14 sacks and 39 starts. Yikes.

BAD CONTRACT

Nate Clements: 49ers: 8 years, 80 Million (22 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? Not really. Suffered some injuries and he was really bad towards the end in San Fran. They paid him 62 million (est.) for four years and 10 interceptions. He was let go and replaced with Carlos Rodgers who was fantastic for them this season.

BAD CONTRACT

Ahman Green: Texans: 4 years, 23 Million (7 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? Hahaha! Seriously? Raise your hand if you even remember Green playing for the Texans. Two seasons, 14 games, 144 carries for 544 yards. Money well spent, after all it just cost them 19 Million (estimated) for that.

BAD CONTRACT

Donte Stallworth: Patriots: 6 years, 30 Million (3.5 Guaranteed) OPTION DECLINED AFTER '07

Worth it? Well it was a cheap, incentive-laden deal in which the Pats could get out of if they wanted. After a 46 catch, 697 yard season, the Pats decided that they would pass on his deal. He was a great 3rd option for the Pats who were kind of the greatest offense in quite sometime. I actually think this is a good deal.

GOOD CONTRACT

Michael Lewis: 49ers: 6 years, 29.6 Million (10 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? Well, he cost 17 million dollars (correct numbers) over his 3 1/2 seasons. He was a starter for the three seasons and didn't make many impact plays. Last season he was replaced by Reggie Smith and was released. He then signed on with the Rams. Still, 17 million dollars should give you a starter for longer than 3 seasons.

BAD CONTRACT

2007 Recap: 1 Good contract, 4 Bad contracts

2008 Free Agency

Donte Stallworth: Browns 7 years, 35 Million (10 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? In the history of awful contracts, this is in the top five. He finished his Cleveland career with 17 catches for 170 yards. Did I mention he killed a dude? Yeah, this contract is awful. Like Leslie Visser in HD terrible.

BAD CONTRACT

Drayton Florence: Jaguars: 6 years, 36 Million (12 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? Well, let's say that Donte Stallworth isn't alone in this group of horrendous deals. Florence lasted one season in Jacksonville, and he was benched halfway through that lone season. Finished with 0 interceptions and 32 tackles for 12 million dollars. Wow. Fun fact, John Clayton had the Browns and Jaguars as his top two winners in free agency. Seriously.

BAD CONTRACT

Asante Samuel: Eagles: 6 years, 57 Million (20 Guaranteed) STILL WITH TEAM

Worth it? Yes. I know Samuel gets a rap as a gambler, but he has been very good for the Eagles. He was rumored to be on the trade market last season, and I would have loved him in the Orange and Brown. That being said, he is still one of the better big play CB's in the NFL and has earned his money.

GOOD CONTRACT

Bernard Berrian: Vikings: 6 years, 42 Million (16 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? After posting over 900 yards in his first season in Minnesota every single season after has gotten worse, leading up to his 7 catch, 91 yard season in '11 before getting the boot from the Vikes. Oh, did I mention he was an asshole in the locker room? No? He was an asshole in the locker room. No idea why he didn't find a job after being cut last season.

BAD CONTRACT

Gibril Wilson: Raiders: 6 years, 39 Million (19.5 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? He lasted one season. Granted this is the Raiders, so this may actually be much longer than many expected, but still, one year. Hell no it wasn't worth it. Over 20 million for 2 picks and 1 forced fumble. Still not the worst contract the Raiders handed out that off-season (DeAngelo Hall).

BAD CONTRACT

Michael Turner: Falcons: 6 years, 34.5 Million (15 Guaranteed) STILL WITH TEAM

Worth it? Yes. Turner has been a BAMF since signing with the Atlanta Falcons. In the four seasons with Atlanta, he has racked up over 5,000 yards and 50 Touchdowns. Easily worth the money. Interesting side note, he turns 30 years old after this season, right when his contract is up. So the Falcons get extra credit for knowing when to get out.

GOOD CONTRACT

2008 Recap: 2 Good contracts, 4 Bad contracts

2009 Free Agency

Albert Haynesworth: Redskins: 7 years, 100 Million (41 Guaranteed) TRADED AFTER TWO YEARS

Worth it? Another possible top ten worst contract of all time. Lasted 20 games in Washington. Cost them over $50 million dollars. This makes the Garcon contract even more hilarious. Snyder is like watching a dog lick a light socket 3 times in a row. Someone should stop him but it's just too funny.

BAD CONTRACT

Bart Scott: Jets, 6 years, 48 Million (27 Million in first 3 years) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? Well, Scott gave the Jets two pretty solid seasons, but was outplayed during his time in New York by David Harris. Scott was taken off the field on passing downs and will best be remembered for his "CAN'T WAIT" scream. If that's the best you got for 27 million, that probably isn't very good.

BAD CONTRACT

Matt Cassel: Chiefs (Franchised) 6 years, 63 Million (28 Guaranteed) STILL WITH TEAM

Worth it? No. While at KC, he has completed 57% of his passes for 6.4 YPA, but he has protected the ball (53-32 ratio). Other than that, he has been injured and his performance has been up and down. He made the Pro Bowl in 2010, but I don't think that is worth the 40.5 million dollars over the first 3 years of his contract (correct numbers). Long rumored to be replaced, I don't think he is making anyone forget Steve DeBerg, let alone Joe Montana or Len Dawson.

BAD CONTRACT

Julius Peppers: Bears: 6 years, 91.5 Million (42 Guaranteed) STILL WITH TEAM

Worth it? Hells yes. Peppers was a beast and continues to be one for the Bears. He racked up 11 sacks this season and remains one of the best pass rushers in the league. He is 32 years old, so this deal could get ugly later, but right now, the Bears seem happy, for good reason.

GOOD CONTRACT

Dunta Robinson: Falcons: 6 years, 57 Million (22.5 Guaranteed) STILL WITH TEAM

Worth it? I went back and forth. I think Robinson is a good corner, but I don't think he is great. Do I pay a "good" corner almost ten million dollars a season? I don't think so. I imagine Robinson will be asked to re-do his deal in the next year or so, or he will be shown the door. Granted that is an assumption on my part, but then again, this is my game.

BAD CONTRACT

Karlos Dansby: Dolphins, 5 years, 43 Million (22 Guaranteed) STILL WITH TEAM

Worth it? Much like Robinson, this one was tough. Dansby has been solid, but unspectacular. He has made few impact plays, but has been a nice piece on a decent Dolphins defense. Does Dansby jump off the screen when you watched the Browns and Dolphins this season? (He shouldn't have, he made 2 tackles the whole game). Can't do it.

BAD CONTRACT

T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Seahawks: 5 years, 40 Million (15 Guaranteed) CUT BEFORE DEAL EXPIRED

Worth it? Finally, another easy one. No. He was okay in 2009, he racked up over 900 yards through the air, but found himself on the outs when Pete Carroll replaced Jim Mora Jr. He lasted one season in Seattle and was replaced by Mike Williams. Even though he was cut, he was still paid 7 Million by the Seahawks in 2010. Nothing like paying a dude to leave.

BAD CONTRACT

2009 Recap: 1 Good contract, 6 Bad contracts

So when you round up the deals, it looks like, at least according to me, 4 good contracts (Turner, Peppers, Samuels and Stallworth) and 14 bad deals (in which Stallworth finds himself as well).

So the next time you are looking at the contract of Pierre Garcon and Eric Wright, just remember: odds are in three years, we will look back and laugh at why any team would pay those kind of prices for bad players.

Relax, building through the draft may be time consuming and boring at times, but it is the proper way to build. Heckert and Holmgren have the right idea.

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