Millionaire athletes who get overpaid OR the Free Agent market

Posted: March 13, 2014 in Football, New entries

Jairus Byrd to New Orleans

The belle of the free agent ball is Jairus Byrd. The top-shelf free safety was dissatisfied with his situation in Buffalo. Analysts predicted Byrd would land in Cleveland a team with money to spend and primed to turn the corner in 2014 (also where his former defensive coordinator is now the head coach), or Philadelphia, where his former college coach runs the show and could use some help after cutting starting safety Patrick Chung from the team. New Orleans’ defense, after putting on a record setting-ly poor performance in 2012, played surprisingly well in 2013 allowing only 19 points per game, 4th in the NFL. The addition of Jairus Byrd to an already high-performing defense may be what the Saints need to recapture the NFC South from a stubborn Ron Rivera-led Panthers team.

Denver’s free agency buffet

Denver’s made the news by spending (potentially) $110 million through three big name free agents. The former Bucs and Pats corner Aqib Talib signed a $57 million contract for six years with Denver. T.J. Ward, the former Cleveland hitman signed up for four more years on the gridiron for $23 million, and Cowboys legend DeMarcus Ware signed a three year, $30 million contract for Denver as well.

On the outside it looks like Denver’s defense just loaded up on some playmakers. The arrival of Aqib Talib coincides with the departure of former Denver DB Dominique Rodgers Cromartie. DRC was easily Denver’s most talented defensive back in 2013, and was signed for the same reason Talib was signed this offseason – to win a championship. Talib replaces Cromartie. He’s still only one man.

The arrival of DeMarcus Ware also happens as another Denver defender leaves the team. Longtime Charger linebacker Shaun Phillips who led the Broncos in sacks (10) last season is no longer on the team. If DeMarcus Ware is lucky, he can pull out double digit sacks at thirty one years old. Again Ware doesn’t add on to the pass-rush, he replaces a departed veteran who overperformed at 32 years old.

T.J. Ward is a true upgrade over Duke Ihenacho at Strong safety. Ward will help against the run and short passing game.

The signing of these players is great for the media, but it still wouldn’t have given Denver an ice cube’s chance in hell last year of even coming close to Seattle. What it does is keep Denver competitive coming into the NFL draft.

Darrelle Revis to New England

Tampa cut Revis this offseason after they realized they’d actually have to pay him $16 million a year and failed to find a trade partner at that price. Revis chose to play for a contender and accepted a role with Belichick’s Patriots at $12 million for a one year contract. Revis makes the Patriots’ defense solid in the backfield again. Devin McCourty’s play at safety’s been borderline inspiring and a true shutdown corner like Revis means the Patriots can contend with the heavyweights of the NFL assuming their offense can continue to score. New England, like Denver are in win-now mode, but instead of signing three players to 3,4, and 6 year contracts, they sign one player to a one year contract. New England will have to solidify their defensive line, receiving corps, and interior offensive line. But those are manageable feats to pull off in the draft and maybe some small-name free agent signings.

San Francisco’s questionable trades

San Francisco sent a sixth round pick to Jacksonville for their unwanted used passer Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert looked promising coming out of Missouri but never materialized into starting talent in Jacksonville. The 49ers supposedly liked Gabbert out of College but ultimately saw him go to Jacksonville. If anyone can turn Gabbert’s career around, it will be QB guru Jim Harbaugh who turned former bust Alex Smith into the QB now leading the Chiefs’ offense. Still, even with a sixth round pick, San Francisco may have been able to draft a passer like Keith Wenning from Ball State Or Jeff Mathews from Cornell instead. The enigmatic Harbaugh clearly sees something in Gabbert that others don’t.

San Francisco also sent an undisclosed draft pick to Miami for embattled tackle Jonathan Martin. Martin’s a promising young talent Harbaugh coached at Stanford. He can likely provide meaningful depth at the tackle position. I can only assume San Francisco didn’t give up any higher than a third round selection for Martin, as again, there are a number of very solid options in the draft at the tackle position.

Other

The one thing that (I feel) GM’s need to remember and is sometimes easy to forget is that players are not as good as they are paid. Albert Haynesworth never lived up to his gargantuan contract from Washington even though he’d been a productive DT for Tennessee in years past. Traditionally successful teams generally don’t splurge in free agency (Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Indianapolis). Signing quality depth at bargain pricing or that one key player who puts your team over the top are the best uses of free agent signing.

Oakland watched their clydesdale left tackle Jared Veldheer sign with Arizona and attempted to sign lesser-lineman Rodger Saffold to a major long term contract. Saffold failed the physical and Oakland voided the contract to see Saffold resign with St. Louis as a guard. It’s still possible Oakland could land tackle Anthony Collins from Cincinnati if Tampa doesn’t do so first. Otherwise Oakland may end up having to spend a high draft pick on a premium tackle to prevent the offense from caving in.

Eric Decker entered wide receiver purgatory the moment he signed with the New York Jets. Just ask Santonio Holmes.

Josh McCown may be the starting QB for Tampa Bay next season after signing with Tampa today. If Glennon wants the starting job he’ll have to beat out McCown for it.

The most underrated free agent signing so far might be Golden Tate’s signing with Detroit. Detroit’s only ever been Calvin Johnson and other mere mortals catching the ball from Stafford. If sure-handed Golden Tate can show why he’s worthy of a number-two spot on a pass-heavy team, Detroit’s offense could seriously flourish with Fauria at Tight End and Reggie Bush at running back.

Toby Gerhart will apparently be given a serious chance to earn a starting spot in Jacksonville after signing with the team.

Some big names remaining in free agency to watch include: Jermichael Finley, Hakeem Nicks, James Jones, Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Michael Vick, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Jason Hatcher, Henry Melton, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

There is still lots of time left in free agency for teams to sign major players or make complete fools of themselves.

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