When free agents are initially signed in the NFL, it's easy to get carried away with the hype train, and the excitement of the moment. Every year, there are so many players who will seemingly be the piece that gets their new team over the hump, only for it not to be the case. Conversely, there are players who make their team significantly better, even if it doesn't yield a championship in the end. The expectations of these new players can be different in August than they are in March, and it's always worth taking a second look at them.
This offseason was no exception to the NFL rule of a crazy free agency period. We saw high-profile signings, unpredictable trades, and all of the chaos that typically arrives with the general time of the year. It didn't disappoint, and there were some major shakeups along the way. Nearing in on the start of the season, let's re-evaluate some of the league's most noteworthy acquisitions from the 2017 offseason, and see whether they'll be worth the investment, or if they'll fizzle out quickly on their new team.
Ranked below are 8 players on new NFL teams for the 2017 season who will succeed, and 7 who will ultimately fail.
15 Adrian Peterson (Succeed)
Missing most of last season due to injury, AP will attempt to shake the claims that he's now over the hill. The Saints were willing to pay out for him, and even though they have the incumbent Mark Ingram on the roster along with rookie runner Alvin Kamara, you don't sign a player like Peterson to only use him in a marginal role.
Exactly how many carries he's going to get on a regular basis remains to be seen, but you can expect Peterson to get the kind of touches that make a difference in games. The Saints have a dynamic offense already, and teams will have to account for the passing attack just as much, if not more than the running game, which should open up running lanes for Peterson often.
14 Brock Osweiler (Fail)
It's beginning to look more and more like Osweiler's future with the Browns is going to be limited to backup duty for the majority of the time he's there. Hue Jackson seems to prefer the youth of DeShone Kizer at this point, and it's only a matter of time until the rookie gets the starting job in full. After Osweiler's horrific failure of a season in Houston last year, his stock is low, and his career outlook likely isn't going to improve, no matter which team he's on.
To be fair, it's really the Texans' fault that they gave him such a ridiculous contract, but it doesn't change the fact that Osweiler was an abject disappointment in 2016. It was one of the most ill-advised moves ever, and the Browns are going to have a short leash on him if he's able to get any starting time at all.
13 Pierre Garcon (Succeed)
The Niners may not be good this season, but there's reason for optimism with Kyle Shanahan assuming head coaching duties. As the offensive coordinator for the Falcons last season, he has a good chance to turn around the woeful San Francisco offense. A key signing this year to do so was the addition of Garcon, who played for Shanahan in Washington when he was the offensive coordinator there.
So he knows the system, and is pretty much the only reliable passing target on an offense that is in desperate need of an overhaul. This may not point to winning a lot of games this season, but it does mean that Garcon is probably going to put up good counting stats. Expect him to have one of his best statistical seasons this year, and be an important part of an improving offense.
12 Robert Woods (Fail)
Woods' contract was indicative of just how inflated the wide receiver market is in free agency. He was paid like he was going to be a significant contributor, and instead could end up being in the middle of the depth chart. With an already-struggling Jared Goff under center, it doesn't help the fact that Woods will be competing with Tavon Austin, Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins for targets this year. There's just not much room to stand out.
He'll probably finish the season with numbers akin to what he put up in Buffalo; solid, but never exceptional. For a player who was paid difference-making kind of money, it's probably going to be a letdown. Woods will have to prove that he's worthy of a high target share, with a good amount of talent around him.
11 Marshawn Lynch (Succeed)
It turns out that Lynch's initial retirement was only destined to last a single season. Essentially, he was on a rest on a gap year, and is now ready to wreak havoc out of the Raiders' backfield, running behind what could be the best offensive line in the game for the upcoming season. It's a safe bet to assume that "Beast Mode" will continue to dominate, as he now is playing with the best set of offensive personnel he's ever had during his time in the NFL.
While there always remains a chance that a 30-year-old running back could fall off in production, it's safe bet that Lynch will simply pick up where he left off in the 2015 season. Only now he'll have some of the best blocking in the league, and truly could have one of his best seasons in Oakland this year.
10 Martellus Bennett (Fail)
The Packers don't often make much noise in free agency, and it's usually worked for them. This year was an exception, however, as the team inked Bennett to a contract, and immediately project him to be their starting tight end. Aaron Rodgers hasn't had the luxury of throwing to a really good tight end on a regular basis, and Bennett is easily the most talented one he's ever had. Seems like a good situation, right?
The only problem is that Bennett is clearly nearing the end of his rope as far as his career is concerned. He won a Super Bowl last season in New England, and just how much longer is he going to play without coasting? How many targets will he get in competition with established receivers like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams? These are questions that need to be answered in Bennett's favor if he wants to live up to expectations in Green Bay. They aren't guarantees, that's for sure.
9 DeSean Jackson (Succeed)
Ostensibly completing the Buccaneers' plan for offensive dominance, D-Jax immediately gives them an elite deep threat who can take the top off of a defense with ease. This only assists Mike Evans and the receiving corps to make plays underneath, which should formulate one of the league's most dangerous offenses through the air. Even if Jackson doesn't have a career-year, his presence will be enough to make a difference.
It's not a coincidence that every team he's been on has the ability to excel in the passing game. The only concern with him right now is his increasing age, but he's shown nothing in the way of major regression with his speed, so until it happens, we can all safely assume that Jackson will continue to terrorize opposing secondaries with regularity.
8 Brandon Marshall (Fail)
The Giants picked up Marshall in free agency to solidify their receiving corps even further, and he'll be playing opposite Odell Beckham on the outside. Marshall is hovering around his mid-30s, and clearly isn't in his prime anymore. While he won't be asked to do too much, he's shown in recent years that he isn't above making mental errors, or resting on his laurels.
If Marshall continues on the same trajectory he was on last year with the Jets, then this signing won't pay any dividends. He may have been a top-tier receiver years ago, but it isn't safe to assume that he can just continue when he's well past the age of 30. Marshall will need to do a lot to prove that he's worthy of being a starter on a team with considerable at the receiver position.
7 Stephon Gilmore (Succeed)
Far and away the most coveted free agent cornerback from this year's class, Gilmore may just be the catalyst needed to make the Patriots' defense a complete juggernaut. He'll be pairing with Malcolm Butler in the secondary, and they stand a chance to be the best one-two punch at corner in the entire league for any one team. Gilmore has proven that he can be an elite player, and in New England's defense, he may just have the total breakout season to solidify that.
It may have cost a fortune, but it's going to be well worth it for New England. The Gilmore signing is one of the reasons that many predict them to be back yet again in the Super Bowl. The defense now has the potential to be consistently great all season long.
6 Kenny Britt (Fail)
Having his first 1,000-yard season in the league just last year, it's true that a lot of Britt's shortcomings are the result of bad coaching and bad personnel around him. He's gotten some unlucky breaks in his career, and hasn't be a complete disaster, despite the common narrative. Now going to Cleveland, however, there's reason to pump the brakes on him having another great receiving season.
The Browns don't have a steady quarterback (shocker), and there's little in the way of confirmed targets that defenses are going to have to zero-in on. Combine that with Britt's increasing age, and there's reason to suspect that he won't be worth the four-year contract that Cleveland dished out to him.
5 Terrelle Pryor (Succeed)
Washington may have only given Pryor a one-year deal, but coming off of only one productive season as a receiver, he'll need to bet on himself this year. And all things considered, he should be able to succeed. He'll have a quality quarterback throwing him the ball in Kirk Cousins, and will be playing in an offensive system that usually sees the passing game excel. There's a lot of advantages Pryor has going into the 2017 season.
He won't have to be the standout receiver for the Redskins, but then again, he could be and nobody would be surprised. Expect Pryor to settle in nicely with another 1,000-yard season, and to rack up more touchdown catches than he did last season.
4 A.J. Bouye (Fail)
Bouye commanded a premium on the free agent market this year, and there are serious questions as to whether he'll be worth the long-term deal that the Jaguars gave him. There's no denying that they have the cap space to accommodate him, but that doesn't mean he'll produce enough on the field for it not to be a bad contract.
The Jags have been busy in free agency over the past several years, and a lot of the moves haven't indicated that they're improving at a sufficient rate. Bouye has just a single year as a full-time starter, and he'll need to prove that he can be consistent enough to live up to such a contract. It's unlikely that's the case, at least for the 2017 season. Keep expectations tempered here.
3 Jeremy Maclin (Succeed)
After being a surprise cut by the Chiefs after the initial free agency period, Maclin signed on with the Ravens, a team that desperately has needed wide receiver help for the past several years. Maclin was hindered by injuries while in Kansas City, but also because of the fact that Alex Smith was throwing him the ball. As we know, Smith has proven to be one of the most risk-averse players in the league.
Now with Joe Flacco presumably starting for an entire season, Maclin will have a quarterback at least willing to throw the ball down the field. He'll be able to excel again on deep routes, and overall this pickup really helps the Baltimore receiving group. Maclin will have a bounce-back season in 2017.
2 Jay Cutler (Fail)
The Dolphins were in desperation mode after Ryan Tannehill went down with a season-ending injury in training camp. Cutler was willing to make a return to the league, but he may regret it and wish he was still retired. The connections with head coach Adam Gase are legitimate, but that won't make Cutler any better of an overall player at this stage in his career. This has all the makings of a complete disaster, as many would expect.
Cutler's biggest detriment throughout his career has always been his general apathy, and that doesn't project to change when waltzes on to the Dolphins' roster in August to get a quick cash-grab. It's not a foregone conclusion that this will be a failure, but it's pretty close, given that Cutler is the subject at hand.
1 Alshon Jeffery (Succeed)
Jeffery has missed time in each of the past two seasons, and now has an opportunity to regain his standing as one of the league's elite receivers. Philly inked him to a one-year deal this offseason, and Jeffery will be betting on himself to excel in the Carson Wentz-led offense that projects to take a significant step forward in his second year as the franchise quarterback.
Truly, the Eagles' wide receivers were absolutely horrific last season. Between drops, carelessness and a general lack of talent, they were among the worst in the entire league. But with the addition of Jeffery, and other quality pickups like Torrey Smith to take the edge off of Jeffery, he could lead Philly's passing attack back into prominence, earning himself a long-term deal in the process.
Jeffery's took good to not produce if he's healthy and on the field. Expect him to become Wentz's go-to target for the foreseeable future.