Every year a few free agents get big time money, and every year there are a group that do not live up to their contracts. Last year, I nominated Julius Peppers, Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, Karlos Dansby, and Jarius Byrd as those guys. I could argue I hit on all five.
Peppers was not close to what he used to be. The Green Bay Packers coaching staff cut back his amount of plays so they could get the most out of what little he has left. Eric Decker is not horrible. As a matter of fact, with Geno Smith as quarterback, he did pretty well. He had 962 yards receiving and five touchdowns. He only made the list because he is not a No. 1 receiver, and that remains true. Moreno was injured but wasn’t lighting the world on fire prior to injury. He had 148 rushing yards in three games before tearing his ACL. My only knock on Dansby is that for the money he was paid, one would hope he would push the team over the top into the playoffs. That did not happen, but he had another strong season personally. Byrd was paid game-changer money and he did not have the chance to show if he could be or not. He tore his lateral meniscus after struggling to return from offseason back surgery.
Let’s see if I can go five-for-five this season.
- Michael Crabtree
According to NFL.com, Crabtree has signed a new deal with the Oakland Raiders. There are a couple reasons why this marriage is likely to be an unhappy one. For starters, the Raiders are likely not going to contend for a playoff spot this season. They are in the process of rebuilding and that will probably bother a veteran like Crabtree who has become accustomed to playing into late January. Also, Crabtree is a me-first-type guy. It will be interesting to see how he blends in with the young locker room.
- Darren McFadden
McFadden is talented. Talent has never been his problem. His health has always failed him and I see no reason for that to change. The Dallas Cowboys do boast one of the best offensive lines in football but it is simply difficult to invision McFadden being close to the work horse that DeMarco Murray was last season. For the Cowboys’ sake, I hope they draft a young back in the draft for depth.
- Torrey Smith
Smith got Mike Wallace-type money. Mike Wallace wasn’t worth Mike Wallace-type money. Smith is not a great route runner. He is great at taking the top off defenses. His strong suit is not his quarterback’s best attribute. Colin Kaepernick has struggled to throw the deep ball consistently. Additionally the San Francisco 49ers do not have a running back to set up the play action passing game that helped Smith be so effective.
The 49ers needed Smith and his speed to add a dimension to their offense. I’m just afraid they overpaid to get him and will be disappointed with the results.
- Pernell McPhee
This has less to do with McPhee and more to do with history. There have been a few linebackers that have left the Baltimore Ravens for huge paydays and their production after the fact had not been great. Danelle Ellerbe just a couple seasons ago signed a big deal to join the Miami Dolphins and he hasn’t panned out. Adalius Thomas is another guy who had big years in Baltimore, and once he got his big deal he flamed out. Paul Kruger is changing that trend with the Cleveland Browns but he struggled his first year too.
McPhee has talent, but the defense he is joining with the Chicago Bears does not. He will need to be a standout-type player for the team to contend for a playoff spot.
- Ndamukong Suh
Suh is a stud. No one will argue that. The problem is he does not produce the stats worthy of a $100 million contract. A player like J.J. Watt goes out and gets 20 sacks, he bats down balls, and he causes timely turnovers. Suh is dominant, it just doesn’t show up in the stat line often. I’m not sure that the media or fans will be kind if the Dolphins miss the playoffs again and Suh doesn’t produce double-digit sacks. As good as he is, he does not make the Miami Dolphins the favorite in the division. His impact is so much bigger than numbers, but unfortunately for many pundits, that’s what his evaluation will come down to.