The season is finally over, and many contracts are up. Some players see themselves jobless during this time, while other players seem themselves rich. After contracts expire, many players may leave their team to play for another team, while others may stay. Many factors play during this decision, as it may not be as easy as many fans believe. When signing with a new team, you’re taking a new paycheck, playing with all new guys, as well as transporting your family to a new city. It’s almost like moving, except it happens a lot more often than moving does.
Once free agency rolls around, teams throw their asking price around and players start to talk with teams. Many times, new signings work out. But other times, they do not. Switching teams doesn’t just automatically mean that you’re going to provide the same production that you have, you work with new teams and play in new schemes. Some players can’t deal with that transition, and end up having poor seasons.
Year after year, we watch the offseason and get excited to see where some of the best players head to. But sometimes, that may be the only exciting part of the transition. Players either fail to live up to expectations, or play for a team that is struggling. The NFL Free Agency is a fun game, yet not everyone wins.
20 Malik Johnson (DT) - Signed With Jacksonville Jaguars
Many times, when free agency comes around, it’s usually the weaker teams in the NFL that have more money to spend. In this case, the Jacksonville Jaguars had more to spend on defensive tackle from the Jaguars, Malik Johnson, than other teams. Jackson signed a six-year, $90 million contract with the Jaguars. The contract definitely pays Jackson well, but it sends him to a team who has been known for losing.
After winning the Super Bowl with the Broncos, a better decision would have been to choose a team with a winning culture. The Jaguars have the talent on defense, but they have been unable to put it together. The team has consecutive top-10 draft picks, but still can’t manage to become a dominant force in the AFC South. Jackson’s production did improve in 2016, but would have had more success in the future on a winning program.
19 Where He Should Have Went: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Florida is a great choice for the California boy, but there are other options in Florida that are better than playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Across the state on the west coast, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to build a playoff program. This would require a pay cut, but Jackson could play in beautiful Tampa, alongside Gerald McCoy. Jackson would have the opportunity to help play for one of the best up and coming teams in the game. This would give Jackson the opportunity to play for a Super Bowl once again.
This would even give Jackson more popularity in the league, which may lead to more endorsements and a bigger contract in the future. It’s understandable that at his prime he wants the money when he can get it, but Jackson could help form one of the best defensive lines in the league, which may have lasted longer than his current contract.
18 Mike Wallace (WR) - Signed With Miami Dolphins
South Beach is always an appealing location for sports players, but it just didn’t work out for Mike Wallace. The Dolphins and Wallace agreed to a five-year deal worth $60 million in 2013. Wallace played well one of two seasons with the Fins, before he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. After his one season with the Vikings, he was released and then signed by the Baltimore Ravens.
Part of his movements from team to team was the inability to play at a consistent level. But also, Wallace didn’t have the best quarterbacks like he did in Pittsburgh. He also didn’t play for a dynamic offense that spread the ball around like the Steelers would. And this led to him being let go from multiple teams. He still played well, but his future for each team didn’t last. Wallace played well with Roethlisberger, so he would be better fit with a team that can spread the field rather than a more conservative team.
17 Where He Should Have Went: New Orleans Saints
For years since Drew Brees was picked up by the New Orleans Saints, they have had one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. With a loaded offense, Wallace would have fit perfect in this offense. Mike Wallace fits much better with a team that can throw the ball around the field, as well as run effectively rather than a conservative team.
Brees gets to pair up with Wallace, which helps improve Wallace’s numbers and effectiveness. This situation is almost guaranteed to have worked out, which means Wallace would still have been with the Saints in 2017. If Mike Wallace did go to the Saints, he may be looking at another big paycheck in the future. Instead, his paycheck after this upcoming season won’t be as nice as that $60 million paycheck.
16 Eric Weddle (S) - Signed With Baltimore Ravens
In the past 10 years, Eric Weddle has been one of the best safeties we have seen. We saw that especially in 2011 when he had seven interceptions and 12 pass deflections. Weddle was the star of the Chargers defense, but left to sign with the Baltimore Ravens in 2016. The contract was good enough for Weddle, who signed a four-year deal worth $26 million. This contract may be a contract that other teams could have matched up with, or possibly even done better.
Weddle has the heart of a champion, which is why the Ravens didn’t make sense as the best location for him. In a season where Weddle had four interceptions and 13 passes deflected, the Ravens still missed the playoffs. As they are improving, they still look far away from a Super Bowl championship. Weddle is one of those guys that you want to win a championship, but seem so far from. He fits well in Baltimore, but another option that could help bring him a ring would be better fitting for the Pro Bowler.
15 Where He Should Have Went: Atlanta Falcons
If Weddle would have decided to sign with the Falcons, he would have already played his first Super Bowl by now. The Falcons have one of the most electrifying teams in the NFL on both sides of the ball. Before the 2016 season, one of the Falcons needs actually was a safety. In the 2016 NFL Draft, they drafted Keanu Neal. Neal was good, but Weddle would be a great addition to this defense.
Weddle would fit great as he would be a good fit into zone coverage. Weddle has a great instinct for the ball, which is why he would be a great fit for this team. A playmaker at all times, going up against top quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Drew Brees is what the Falcons need. The defense was good last season, but Weddle’s aggression would help create more turnovers for the Falcons.
14 Andre Johnson (WR) - Signed With Indianapolis Colts
One of the most legendary wide receivers in the past 15 years still has not ever reached the Super Bowl. Playing with the Texans, it isn’t expected that he would win a Super Bowl with the way the roster was. But, Andre Johnson decided to play for the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 on his journey to maybe make it to a Super Bowl. Even after the Colts made it to the AFC Championship Game in 2015, it still seemed that the Colts were a way away from making a Super Bowl appearance after they got blown out by the New England Patriots.
After that season, the Colts took a step back by going 8-8. Even though the Colts have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with Andrew Luck, the supporting cast is nowhere near good enough to make it to the Super Bowl. Johnson seems that he would love to end his career on top, but it seems that he keeps getting further away.
13 Where He Should Have Went: Pittsburgh Steelers
What better team to sign with then a team that has one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Ben Roethlisberger. With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown as major weapons for Roethlisberger, the pressure on Andre Johnson wouldn’t be as high. Johnson would be a great complement to Brown, giving Roethlisberger another option to throw to. Towards the end of his career, it seems that it’s most important to Johnson to win a Super Bowl. This team would give Johnson the best opportunity at winning a Super Bowl.
The Steelers so desperately need another wide receiver, which may be one of the few things this team is missing to be a serious contender for a championship. Johnson would make this Steelers offense even more effective than it already was, which may help this team get passed the New England Patriots.
12 Ndamukong Suh (DT) - Signed With Miami Dolphins
Once Ndamukong Suh’s time was over in Detroit, he knew he was going to get a big paycheck from some team. And that is exactly what happened. In 2015, Suh signed a monster deal of six years and $114 million. The paycheck plus the beautiful scenery of Miami made it a destination for Suh to continue his career. As Suh’s production stays consistent, he still stays on a mediocre team that has no signs of the playoffs. Suh may be getting paid, but it doesn’t seem that he will be getting any rings anytime soon.
Suh’s legacy will be based off of stepping on players and being a disruptive force. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that Suh will ever see a championship. He may never care to win a championship, but he would fit better on a championship team.
11 Where He Should Have Went: Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks have been defensive powerhouses for the past few years, and will continue to do so. Ndamukong Suh would be a perfect fit to become the star of the defensive line, helping add dominance to this defense. Suh would get all the reps to be a factor for the Seahawks. The problem is with so many stars, Suh wouldn’t get the money he’s looking for. The upside, is that Suh continues to get the popularity he has always had and a run for a championship year after year.
Defensive tackles aren’t the most popular guys in the NFL, but Suh has been an icon in the NFL. The only real way to complete his legacy would be with a Super Bowl ring. And while playing for the Dolphins, Suh is slowly becoming a lost piece of talent. He’s also not as disruptive as he was in Detroit, which may affect whatever contract he signs in the future.
10 Latavius Murray - Signed With Minnesota Vikings
The contract and destination Latavius Murray went to was an awful decision. A running back who rushed for over 1,000 yards a year ago, and ran for 12 touchdowns this season, could have seen a bigger paycheck than $15 million over the course of three years. To put into perspective, Ezekiel Elliot signed a $24.9 million contract for four years before even touching a football in the NFL. Murray did get unlucky by becoming a free agent in an offseason where free agents like Adrian Peterson and Eddie Lacy were also on the market.
Part of the reason why this was a poor decision was the after effects of signing with the Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings used their second-round draft pick to draft running back Dalvin Cook, which limits the amount of rushes that Murray will have. This also puts Murray in a competition with one of the most electrifying running backs in college football. This helps the Vikings, but it takes the ball away from Murray. Murray would have been better going with a one year deal to have a breakout season, earning a higher paycheck and becoming the number one running back on another team.
9 Where He Should Have Went: Denver Broncos
This would have made for a great story; an ex-Raider joins forces with the rival team to fight for the division. The Denver Broncos would have been a great location for Murray, who have struggled running the ball. This team is a year out from winning a Super Bowl, and has the potential to make it back there. Murray would most likely get most of the reps in Denver, and may even take a similar paycheck that he’s getting in Minnesota. The good thing about him getting most of the reps is that he gets to be the star. Sharing the ball, Murray may not provide the same production as he would on his own.
The Broncos are in need of a superstar on offense, and Murray has the potential to be their guy. Murray could land all sorts of endorsements in the area if he shined under the spotlight, and may have even had a chance to go win the Lombardi Trophy while he’s at it.
8 DeSean Jackson - Signed With Washington Redskins
DeSean Jackson is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL. Whenever fans think of the top receivers, names like Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. always pop up. But Jackson is always overlooked, even when he performs at some of the highest levels in the NFL as a wide receiver. Cousins and Jackson connected well, but with his potential, Jackson could get paid anywhere he goes. He has the ability to be a long ball threat as well as a threat on special teams.
With that being said, Jackson finding a landing spot would be easy. And if it’s easy, it would be beneficial to see him on a team that is on its way to winning championships. When Jackson came in, the Redskins were depending on RGIII to turn it around, but that obviously didn’t happen. With so many other dynamic quarterbacks and offense, Jackson could have been a star on another offense, being considered one of the best in the game.
7 Where He Should Have Went: Arizona Cardinals
This may be a bit of a reach, but it would be extremely fun to see. We see our sets of trios in the NFL, and the Cardinals have one of the best with Carson Palmer, David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald. Now, imagine the Cardinals adding DeSean Jackson and drafting Josh Brown. The Cardinals would become one of the most dominant offenses in the league. Now this would impact Jackson, because he gets to move out of the same competition he’s played in the NFC East during his career. He gets a great chance to make it deep into the playoffs with a well-balanced and talented team.
Palmer can throw it deep down the field just as good as anyone, which gives Jackson a chance to make some great plays. The ability to compete for a championship overpowers all other aspects. But it also gives Jackson a chance to relieve some pressure by playing with Fitzgerald on the other side. This match up would be a very dangerous combination, that even Seattle’s secondary may not be able to cover.
6 Josh Norman - Signed With Washington Redskins
We all saw the emotions on Josh Norman after he sat in awe when the Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Norman expressed his frustration, which continued during the offseason when Norman and the Panthers could not come across an agreement. Norman went and signed with the Redskins, becoming the highest paid cornerback in the NFL. It sounds all great and well, but he goes from a Super Bowl contender to a team who can’t truly stay devoted to their players.
The Skins let both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon walk, as well as have not been able to sign a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins. This means that whenever Norman becomes a free agent once again in the long future, chances are he’s just going to get kicked to the curb. Norman also gets pushed away from his opportunity at winning a Super Bowl ring.
5 Where He Should Have Went: Green Bay Packers
If winning means that much to Josh Norman, he may have considered other options. One option that would be extremely exciting to see, is Norman moving to Green Bay to play with Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has played incredible of late, but could use some help in the secondary to help them make it back to the Super Bowl. The Packers most likely wouldn’t be as great of spenders as the Redskins, but Norman would be in the same position year after year that he was with the Panthers.
Norman also wouldn’t have much competition against wide receivers in the NFC North, as it lacks a true superstar in the division. Norman would show more dominance than usual, and get to play for a championship. He may play in the middle of nowhere, but Norman would have a chance to be back on the big stage with confetti falling and this time, a smile on his face.
4 Adrian Peterson - Signed With New Orleans Saints
One of the best running backs to ever live, only has a few more years left to put it all on the table. It doesn’t seem that Adrian Peterson is playing for the money anymore, as his contract with the Saints is a two-year deal worth $7 million. It seems that Peterson wants to win more than anything, something he failed to do while with the Vikings. After a season off, Peterson looks to make a spectacular return to football. The Saints will be fun to watch with Peterson, but they struggle so badly on defense that we may never see Drew Brees back in the playoffs.
The offense is one of the best in the league, and Peterson will only continue to help make it even better. But at 32 years old, Peterson isn’t looking to just have fun anymore. He wants to finish his Hall of Fame career with a Super Bowl ring. With many teams in the NFL looking for a running back, other options to go play for a Super Bowl would be better.
3 Where He Should Have Went: Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders were also in the hunt for a running back this offseason. Oakland was a possible destination for Peterson, before he decided to go to New Orleans. Now the Raiders are on the rise to become one of the best teams in football. With one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and young supporting cast, this team is set up to succeed for years. They are so close to where they want to be, that the Raiders are already a Super Bowl contender to start the 2017 season.
The Raiders would give Peterson a dominant offensive line to run behind. But, they wouldn’t depend on Peterson as much as Minnesota did. Derek Carr will still throw the ball a lot during games, which helps alleviate the pressure from the aging running back. This would help Peterson stay healthy, and gives him the best chance on his journey to make it to Super Bowl 52.
2 DeMarco Murray - Signed With Philadelphia Eagles
One of the worst free agent signings in NFL history, is when the Philadelphia Eagles signed DeMarco Murray after his outstanding season with the Dallas Cowboys. Murray has a legendary season in 2014, finishing the season leading in yards with 1,845 yards, as well as finishing off with 13 touchdowns. Murray’s price for the Cowboys was too high, which is when the Eagles jumped in and signed Murray.
Expectations were high for the former leading rusher. Chip Kelly was coming in as well as Sam Bradford at quarterback, so this Eagles team was expected to become a NFL super team. However, this never happened. That season the Eagles finished off in second place at 7-9. For Murray, it was a huge downgrade. Kelly forcing Murray to run outside the tackles made him struggle, in a season that he finished with 702 rushing yards and six touchdowns. His inability to perform at a high level led to the Eagles trading him. His contract was then adjusted from a five-year deal worth $42 million, to a four-year deal worth $25 million.
1 Where He Should Have Went: Dallas Cowboys
Yes, that’s right. DeMarco Murray should have re-signed with the Cowboys. The Cowboys were in the process of building a legendary trio of Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant. Many compared the trio to the old trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin. Murray’s departure pretty much began the end of that trio, where now only Dez is still playing for the Cowboys. Murray decided to be selfish and take the money and go, little did he know that a year later he would be traded and have to renegotiate his contract. The contract the Dallas Cowboys offered him in 2015, was very similar to the contract he’s under now with the Titans.
Murray performed at one of the highest levels behind that Cowboys offensive line, and may be competing for a Super Bowl in the near future with the Boys. Murray also would have been able to expand his brand with excellent play, get many endorsements and make his way to become one of the legendary Cowboys trios. Murray decided to betray the Cowboys to make some more money.