As training camp approaches, teams have gotten their first looks at the free agents they signed in the offseason. Now management gets to see how they will fit into the team’s system and if they will be able to contribute as much as previously thought. More often than not, big name free agent signings do not pan out the way they were planned.
This year, several teams have spent big money in attempt to enhance their team’s chances at winning a Super Bowl. Inevitably, several of those moves will turn out to have been mistakes. Here are the five offseason signings that general managers are sure to regret come January.
Before Peyton Manning showed up to play for the Denver Broncos, Moreno was a bust. He was a former first-round pick who could not find his way on the field. If not for Willis McGahee injuring his knee, it is likely Moreno would have never gotten on the field.
When he was given another chance, he shined bright enough to get the Miami Dolphins to give him a new deal. The problem is he came into minicamp overweight, and now according to NFL.com he may need knee surgery. Surgery will only delay him from getting into playing shape.
The Dolphins are already regretting this deal and unless surgery can be avoided, it is likely that Moreno may only spend one season in Miami.
Dansby is not on the list due to lack of talent. He will be a solid addition to the Cleveland Browns roster. The problem for him is it will be difficult to live up to his contract. Dansby signed a four-year, $24 million deal. With the numbers being spent on quarterbacks it doesn’t seem like much but for a linebacker that’s 32-years-old, that’s steep. With that kind of salary he will be expected to get the team to the playoffs. As well as he played last season, the Arizona Cardinals missed the playoffs and the outcome may be the same this time as well.
The Browns offense is in flux. Is Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel the guy to lead the team? Can Ben Tate be a No.1 running back? How will the team replace the production of Josh Gordon? All those offensive questions means the defense has to do that much more work. Dansby has faced this type of pressure before when he signed with the Miami Dolphins. He played well but the team could not find success.
3. Eric Decker
The history of the NFL is littered with secondary receivers who another team paid top dollar for and the receiver never panned out. Some guys flourish in certain situations and systems and are not meant to be No.1 on another team. Yancey Thigpen, Antwaan Randle-El, David Givens, Deion Branch, Andre Rison, and Alvin Harper are just a few of the guys who some team thought could potentially become a No.1 receiver.
Decker looks to be the newest name on the list. He is a solid player but when all a defense has to game plan for is him, things will become a lot harder for him. The New York Jets offense has been one of the more predictable in recent memory which will only make Decker’s job more difficult. Add to that the fact that Geno Smith is the most likely to be throwing him the ball, and that means it is likely he will not put up No.1 receiver numbers.
Peppers’ resume may lend itself to a Hall of Fame argument (he has numbers similar to Simeon Rice who gets no consideration), but he is clearly approaching the end of the line. Last season, he could not get off blocks the way he used to and was unable to take over games the way he could in the past.
Now the Green Bay Packers are going to ask him to play 3-4 linebacker for the first time in his career. Defensive players can go downhill quickly. Ed Reed two seasons ago was a major reason the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. Last season, he couldn’t stay on a roster, and this year no one wants him. James Harrison, two seasons ago was a dominant player and now cannot find a team. It appears Peppers may not be far behind them.
5. Jairus Byrd
Byrd will be battling two things, his contract and precedent. He signed for six years and $56 million with $28 guaranteed. The New Orleans Saints are expecting him to be the best safety in the league. He is a ball hawk, but best safety in the league, that remains to be seen.
Precedent for what will be expected will be difficult to match. In 2009 the Saints signed Darren Sharper. Sharper went on to have nine interceptions, with three returned for touchdowns, and 376 interception return yards. That is an offensive weapon on defense. Byrd by contrast has never has more than one interception return touchdown in a season and has never had more than 120 interception return yards.
Rob Ryan asks a lot of his players, and Byrd has never played in a system so complex. It will give him opportunities, the question is can he capitalize enough on them.
Photo Coutesy: Tyler Dunne