Big names are constantly on the move in the NFL and most of the time it comes via free agency. There have been some huge deals done in history with guys that you would never imagine leaving their respective teams such as Reggie White, Julius Peppers, and more recently Peyton Manning. The fact of the matter is that the NFL is a business at the end of the day and you can be loved one day and gone the next. Bill Belichick will cut a guy who won him the Super Bowl last Sunday if it means he will have to pay him more now. Free agency can put some teams into contention and put others scratching their heads on where exactly their money went. A lot of times a guy can have a huge season and then sign a big deal somewhere else and not produce nearly as he did before. Why is that? Well the coaching and team play just as big of a role in a players production as the player does himself. How many times have we seen no name players blow up after coming to a team? On the other hand, how many times have seen guys dominate on one team and come to another and be almost invisible?
One of the biggest issues is if the team a player goes to is actually the right move for him or if that team will not be the best place for what he brings to the table. With that being said, here are 10 players who signed with the wrong teams and 10 who found themselves in perfect situations this offseason.
24 Wrong Team: LeGarrette Blount - Detroit Lions
Blount has been to the past two Super Bowls representing the Patriots in 2017 and the Eagles in 2018. He has also come out victorious in both of those. He is one of only five players to win back-to-back Super Bowls with different teams. Known mainly for being a bruising runner to pick up the tough yards, he has actually rushed for over 1,000 yards twice in his career including 2016 with the Patriots where he also led the league in rushing touchdowns with 18.
The issue here is that the Lions simply do not run the ball. Perhaps that changes now that Blount is in town, but let’s not forget that the Lions have not had a 100-yard rusher since 2013 when Reggie Bush accomplished it.
That can be blamed on the running backs they have had since then, but also on coaching and other players as well. Meanwhile, it seems like Matthew Stafford throws over 50 passes a game on the regular. Stafford is a hell of a quarterback, but getting wins can be tough on anyone with no ground game. Stafford has only had seven 100 yard rushers in his career. Let’s hope Blount can change that, but history is not on his side. The positive is that the deal is only for one year worth $2 million.
23 Perfect Fit: Jimmy Graham - Green Bay Packers
Remember when the Saints approached the redzone and every defensive coordinator would simply pray? Well he doesn’t quite strike that same fear in opposing defenses, but he is still one of the best tight ends in the game. After the Saints, he spent three years in Seattle where it seemed as he was never used as he was in New Orleans. He did make it to two Pro Bowls in Seattle, however.
After the departure of Martellus Bennett, the Green Bay Packers had a glaring need at tight end. Well, regardless if Bennet stayed or not, the Packers had a need at tight end as Bennett didn’t produce much. In fact, Bennett was released in the middle of last season after failing to disclose a medical condition designation. The Packers are rarely big buyers in free agency, but they inked Graham to a three-year, $30 million deal. Stop reading this for a second and close your eyes and imagine Aaron Rodgers dropping back with Jimmy Graham running down the middle of the field. Puts a smile on your face if you’re a packer fan and has you losing sleep tonight if you’re not. That duo has the chance to be something special.
22 Wrong Team: Carlos Hyde - Cleveland Browns
Carlos Hyde is a very good running back, so don’t get this twisted. However, the Cleveland Browns are a very bad franchise... Don't get that twisted either. Hyde looks to be the feature back going into 2018. The quarterback to start looks to be Tyrod Taylor, but we all know it is simply a matter of time until first overall pick Baker Mayfield takes over. The problem for Hyde here is simple; the quarterback spot is not elite whether that be Taylor or Mayfield which means crowded defensive fronts for him. On top of that, the Browns rarely lead games, so they can rarely lean on their running game. They are more often than not battling from behind, so they're are unable to establish a quality ground attack which makes Hyde's life that much more difficult.
We actually could’ve just made every bad signing on this list deal with the Browns, but they get enough criticism as it is. I truly hope the Browns can become competitive, but until I see something to convince me, I have to say this was a bad move by Hyde. But as we've seen in free agency, money tends to be the no.1 priority for free agents and it's hard to fault them for that.
21 Perfect Fit: Sammy Watkins - Kansas City Chiefs
The former fourth overall pick spent last year in Los Angeles where he never seemed to get going. He only caught 39 passes for 593 yards and 8 touchdowns. While eight touchdowns is certainly a respectable number, Watkins simply wasn't consistent enough for the Rams to want to keep him around. Those are not the numbers you would like to see from a guy who was selected top 5 in the draft. He has battled a couple of nagging injuries over the past couple years as well which can be cause for concern. However, Watkins has found himself in a very good situation with the Chiefs.
Pat Mahomes has all the signs of being a franchise quarterback and he is surrounded by playmakers. Tyreek Hill can take the top off of any defense, Travis Kelce will replace Gronk as the NFL’s best tight end within the next couple of years, and Kareem Hunt burst on the scene his rookie year. Once you throw in Sammy Watkins, this offense looks like it can be deadly on paper. Everyone needs to stay healthy of course along with Mahomes needing to be the guy everyone believes he can be, but look out for the Chiefs offense.
20 Wrong Team: Jerick McKinnon - San Francisco 49ers
Jerick McKinnon has been known merely as the third down back in Minnesota his entire career. Injuries to Adrian Peterson, then Dalvin Cook last season pushed him into a bigger role over the years, but he has always been best suited as a situational running back. He has played this role well, and it should have been the role he continued to take. We can’t blame him, however, for signing the four-year, $30 million the 49ers offered him.
The question is simply if he can withstand an entire season of being the feature back.
In 2017 he had 150 carries for 570 yards, both career highs. In four years in the league, he has 1,918 rushing yards. Adrian Peterson has done this in single seasons. McKinnon is not AP in any way, shape, or form and we get that. However, it is still highly questionable if McKinnon is a quality feature back to build your offense around and that is exactly the risk the 49ers are taking. The 49ers had plenty of cap space, yet they chose not to re-sign Carlos Hyde, who would've been better off staying in San Fran, if the Niners had offered him what he was looking for.
19 Perfect Fit: Kirk Cousins - Minnesota Vikings
Cousins finally has gotten something other than a high five and a franchise tag from the Redskins. The Vikings signed Cousins to a three-year, $84 million contract after parting ways with both Sam Bradford and Case Keenum. Keenum took them to the NFC Championship game, but eventually came up short against the Eagles. It was clear that Keenum was not the long term answer. Cousins has had three straight seasons of over 4,000 yards passing yet wasn’t able to get the Redskins anywhere promising. So what is different in Minnesota? A dominant defense is what is different. The Vikings defense will keep them in almost all games and now Cousins does not have to worry about doing everything or getting in many shoot outs.
Following his signing in Minnesota, Cousins praised the defense, and it's good for him that he'll only have to face them in practice:
“I’m excited about the challenge in practice,” Cousins added. “I love to compete, just like all the guys on this team. I think that day-to-day competition in practice will be a lot of fun and a great challenge. I’m sure come training camp time, it will be fun for the fans to watch as well.”
Cousins is a definite upgrade over Keenum and should put the Vikings right back in Super Bowl contention.
18 Wrong Team: Danny Amendola - Miami Dolphins
Amendola has been with the New England Patriots since 2013 where he won two Super Bowls. It doesn’t get much better for a small scrappy slot receiver than having Tom Brady as your quarterback, just ask Wes Welker or Julian Edelman. Amendola came up with some huge catches in very big moments and became a very reliable target for Brady. The issue with this deal is that the quarterback in Miami is still a question mark. The Jay Cutler reunion with Adam Gase did not quite pan out and Ryan Tannehill hasn’t lived up to the hefty contract he signed. We also don't know how he'll look in 2018 coming off a year-long ACL injury.
As a receiver, going from Tom Brady to anyone is almost always going to be a downgrade (just ask any who left New England), but this is especially true in Miami where they do not have a proven guy. Amendola’s best years are likely behind him and going to a situation where the quarterback play has been questionable certainly does not make things easier for him. Hopefully Adam Gase can come up with clever ways to use Amendola, but on paper this deal doesn’t look good for him.
17 Perfect Fit: Jordy Nelson - Oakland Raiders
Similar to Amendola leaving Tom Brady, Nelson leaving Aaron Rodgers is going to almost guarantee a dip in his numbers. However, the drop off here is not quite as big as the case with Amendola. Nelson ends up in Oakland on a two-year, $15 million deal where he’ll catch passes from Derek Carr. Carr has a gunslinger mentality and a huge arm and has even drawn comparisons to Brett Favre. They lost Michael Crabtree to the Ravens so Nelson can immediately fill that void. Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson are not a bad starting duo at receiver. When you throw in offensive minded Jon Gruden, the Raiders offense begins to look scary.
Nelson was among the NFL’s best receivers while in Green Bay and still has a lot left in the tank.
He missed all of 2015 due to a knee injury and seen his numbers drop dramatically due to the loss of Aaron Rodgers for most of last season. However, other than those two years Nelson has put up three 1,000 yard seasons since 2013. He has caught 69 touchdowns in his career as well so he is a good threat in the redzone which will bring a much needed element to the Raider offense.
16 Wrong Team: Anthony Hitchens - Kansas City Chiefs
The loss of Derrick Johnson leaves a glaring hole at MLB for the Chiefs and they seem to believe that Hitchen is the answer after signing him to a five-year, $45 million deal. The simple answer is that Hitchens cannot replace Johnson as those are shoes much too big to fill. Hitchens was drafted in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys in 2014 and has spent his career there until now. However, none of his numbers jump off the page and scream, “Pay me $45 million!” He is coming off his best season in 2017 for what it’s worth where he racked up 84 combined tackles and one forced fumble. The Chiefs desperately needed a linebacker to replace Derrick Johnson, but it looks like they may have overpaid for Hitchens here. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com's Around The NFL seems to agree, calling the signing one of the worst free agency deals of the offseason:
"The Chiefs believe Hitchens can add some pass-rush ability from the position, but something doesn't add up when Hitchens' contract is in the ballpark of Luke Kuechly's and Bobby Wagner's last deals."
Hitchens getting over $20 million in guaranteed money over the next two years seems like a steep price to pay for a non Pro Bowler.
15 Perfect Fit: Richard Sherman - San Francisco 49ers
Sherman is back home in California on a three-year deal worth $21.15 million with the San Francisco 49ers. After leaving the legion of boom, it was clear that Sherman wanted to remain in the division to get the opportunity of playing the Seahawks twice a year. Well he gets just that and a good paycheck with the 49ers. The 49ers are the team that many people are looking at to make some noise next season with Jimmy G behind center for a full season. The defense needed some help, especially in the back end and they landed one of the best corners in the league.
Sherman may not be as lock down as he once was, but he is still elite when it comes to shutting down one side of the field. It will take some adjusting to seeing Sherman in a different jersey other than Seattle, but 49ers fans are definitely excited that he will be on their sidelines rather than the enemy for once. He'll also be eager to stick it to the Seahawks for cutting him this offseason. After drafting guys like Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster, this defense is now starting to take shape with the addition of Sherman.
14 Wrong Team: Aaron Colvin - Houston Texans
Colvin was the name not mentioned much in that dominant Jaguars defense from a year ago. He was the nickel corner with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye (who ironically was signed away from the Houston Texans last year) on the outside locking things up. He played well himself, though.
He played so well that the Texans felt they should sign him to a four-year, $34 million deal. However, now he is going to be asked to do much more than stand around and watch elite corners Ramsey and Bouye shut down receivers.
He is getting big money and is going to be asked to start on the Texans defense which is always pretty good. He was drafted by the Jaguars in the fourth round in 2014, but didn’t record his first interception until the Jaguars Wild Card game against the Bills last season. It will be interesting to see if he can play up to his deal or if that he only looked good in Jacksonville because he was surrounded by playmakers. He'll still have plenty of help around him in Houston, but he is going to be expected to play a much bigger role than he did in Jacksonville.
13 Perfect Fit: Ndamukong Suh - Los Angeles Rams
How can an already dominant defensive tackle get even better without doing anything himself? It's simple. You line up next to the best defensive tackle and arguably defensive player period in the league, Aaron Donald. The Rams brought in Suh on a one-year, $14 million deal. Their defense is looking like something you would create in an ultimate team mode in Madden. Suh has spent his career in Detroit and Miami where neither team really made any noise. He now comes to a playoff Rams team which is very much on the rise. Jared Goff looks like he has taken that next step and can become the franchise guy under the very promising, young head coach Sean McVay.
Suh has been known for his questionably dirty plays during his career, but whether you like him or not you have to respect his game. Ha can rarely be blocked by one guy and is always causing havoc in opponents backfields. Pairing him next to Aaron Donald is sure to give them the best interior defensive line in the league. Good luck on running anything of the middle on the Rams next season. Suh should be able to increase his value this season and land himself another big deal next spring. He played this one well.
12 Wrong Team: Michael Crabtree - Baltimore Ravens
It seems like the Ravens bring in an aging veteran at receiver year in and year out. Well, 2018 was no different when they signed Crabtree to a three-year, $21 million deal this offseason. Saying that the Ravens receiving corps from a year ago was nonexistent is putting it lightly. Their leading receiver was Mike Wallace, another aging veteran they signed, with 748 yards. Joe Flacco averaged a measly 5.7 yards per attempt last season as well. Crabtree will likely be the number one receiver at the start of the season and that may not be his best situation. He is a good number 2 option, but shouldn't be viewed as a legit number 1 guy.
He is coming off a decent year in 2017 where he caught 58 balls for 618 yards and 8 touchdowns along with another chain being snatched by Aqib Talib. I'm sure I speak for fans everywhere when I say that I will miss those two being in the same division. On paper this might seem like a good deal seeing how bad the Ravens needed receiving help, but it will be interesting to see how big of a role they expect out of Crabtree. At the very least he can now wear his necklaces as he pleases and not worry about them being snatched.
11 Perfect Fit: Allen Hurns - Dallas Cowboys
The other Allen from Jacksonville's receiving corps also left the team after signing a two-year, $12 million deal in Dallas. After it became clear that Dez Bryant would not return to the team, it opened up a big need at receiver. Hurns isn't exactly a superstar receiver, but he is a solid player. His best year of his career came in 2015 where he caught 64 balls for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns. This just shows what he is capable of. Dak Prescott is also much better than Blake Bortles even though he is still very early into his career.
If Hurns was able to put up over 1,000 yards with Bortles throwing him the ball, he should not have a problem putting up numbers with Dak.
In 2015 when Hurns put up those monster numbers the running back was T.J. Yeldon. the running game opens up the passing game for sure and the 2015 Jaguars rushing attack was nonexistent. That is something that will not be an issue in Dallas as they have a dominant rushing game with Zeke and a bruising offensive line. With the ground game being so efficient it will open up the play action pass and give the Cowboys receivers more one on one opportunities where the 6'3 Hurns can excel.
10 Wrong Team: Malcolm Butler - Tennessee Titans
Remember when Malcolm Butler picked off Russel Wilson to win one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history? I'm sure we all do. The problem is that that was the last real big memory of Butler. He really hasn't been all that great since then. Sure he's been a solid starter in the league, but by no means has he been a shut down corner. Well the Titans sure as hell seem to disagree with that as they signed him to a five-year deal worth $61 million including more than $30 million guaranteed.
The Titans desperately needed help in the defensive backfield and perhaps that is why they paid so much for Butler. By salary, this makes Butler the tenth highest paid corner in the league. Butler's play has declined each year since his famous interception in the Super Bowl so history says that he is not getting any better. His above average ball skills has hidden his lack of coverage skills, but now that he will be the number one corner in Tennessee it is going to be hard to hide anything. Plus, you have to factor in just how many defensive players fail once they leave New England and this just doesn't look promising.
9 Perfect Fit: Tyrann Mathieu - Houston Texans
When news broke that Mathieu would not be returning to the Cardinals because he did not want to take a pay cut, everyone immediately lost their minds. On August 2, 2016, the Cardinals signed him to a five-year, $62.5 million extension with a signing bonus of $15.5 million. The Cardinals wanted to clear up space to sign Sam Bradford, for what reason who knows. Since Mathieu did not want to take the cut, they ultimately released him. Since coming into the league in 2013, Mathieu has been making plays whenever he steps on the field. He has at least 1 interception in each season he has played including 5 in 2015 when he was named an All-Pro.
The Texans are a team on the rise after they found their quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson last year. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL and missed the second half of the season. The defense has always been solid, but has been missing some playmakers in the secondary. They solved that problem, at least for a year, by signing Mathieu to a one-year, $7 million deal. This works for both sides where the Texans can see how he plays after the injuries and Mathieu can see just where this team is headed and if he wants to be a part of it long term.
8 Wrong Team: Sam Bradford - Arizona Cardinals
Sam Bradford was going to make this list on the negative side regardless of which team signed him. It is absolutely mind boggling how teams continue to throw this man cash after he has spent more time in surgery than throwing passes. The Cardinals signed him to a two-year, $40 million deal including a $10 million signing bonus. They must have felt very highly about Bradford because they passed up on some other viable options such as Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, and AJ McCarron.
The Cardinals elected to pick Josh Rosen with their first round pick in this years draft as well. So it seems as though Bradford will get the start and hope that Rosen can sit and learn. The problem is that we all know that never happens. The starter throws one pick and the fans are cheering for the rookie to come in. In this situation, however, I'm sure no one would be surprised is Bradford finds himself on a cart again and the Cardinals are forced to throw Rosen into the mix sooner rather than later.
7 Perfect Fit: Cameron Meredith - New Orleans Saints
Meredith isn't as big of a name as some of the other guys on this list, but he at have found himself in the best situation of all of them. When the Saints offered him two-year, $10 million deal the Chicago Bears had the option to match the offer. They did not, and so Meredith became a Saint. Meredith is coming off of a very serious knee injury and perhaps that played into the Bears not matching the offer.
Meredith went undrafted, but had a breakout year in his second year in the league where he posted 66 catches for 888 yards and 4 touchdowns. Who was playing quarterback for the Bears during that season? It was a mixture of Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley.
If Meredith was able to produce those numbers with quarterbacks like the guys I just mentioned, imagine what he can do with a future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees. By no means am I saying Meredith leads the league in any stats next year, but he can be a solid pick up for the Saints. If that knee holds up, Meredith may have found himself in a spot where he can make some noise.
6 Wrong Team: Trey Burton - Chicago Bears
The Bears came out firing when free agency opened up signing Allen Robinson right away and then Trey Burton soon after. They inked Burton to a four-year, $26 million deal. Some casual fans may not even know who Trey Burton is. Well, let me clear it up for those few. Burton was the guy who wasn't a quarterback and threw a touchdown to Nick Foles (a quarterback) in the Super Bowl. He was the main component of the Philly Special. However, does that make him worth $26 million?
Burton caught only 23 passes last year while mainly playing a backup role to Zack Ertz. He is a good player, that is not the issue. The issue is that it is still a question if he can be a full time starter and the Bears are giving him full time starter money. On top of that, the depth at tight end is not that great on the Bears so it is very possible that Burton gets thrown into a much bigger role than he is uncomfortable with and may struggle. Matt Nagy is a very clever offensive mind as he showcased in Kansas City, but this move might end up being a match that the Bears should have swiped left on rather than right.
5 Perfect Fit: Allen Robinson - Chicago Bears
Allen Robinson was arguably the best receiver available when free agency kicked off and the Chicago Bears, being very depleted at the position, wasted no time in signing him to a three year, $42 million deal. After being drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the former Nittany Lion quickly became the number one receiver in Jacksonville. In just his second year he caught 80 balls for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Bears desperately needed a number one guy to come in and help Mitchell Trubisky take the next step and they got just that in Robinson.
He is a guy that can Trubisky can depend on and win him those 50/50 balls that every young quarterback so desperately needs. He is coming off a significant knee injury, but if he can return to 100%, Matt Nagy and the Bears will have a stud receiver to build their offense around. The Bears quietly had one of the better offseasons in the entire league and signing Robinson shouldn't be overlooked, as the Bears appear to be ready to take a big step in 2018. Robinson has proven he can produce with Blake Bortles, so if Trubisky takes a step, Robinson's production should stay on pace.
4 Wrong Team: Teddy Bridgewater - New York Jets
Teddy Bridgewater has looked good so far in OTAs and minicamp for the New York Jets, but he appears to be in a no-win situation in New York. Yes, the Jets gave him a solid one-year deal worth $6 million, but Bridgewater has proven he can be a starter in the league when he's healthy and it just doesn't look like he has any way of winning the starting job in New York. Josh McCown will likely open the season as the starter and if he does get pulled to the bench, then Sam Darnold is likely to take over. Heck, Darnold may start from day one. You don't draft guys like Sam Darnold in the top three for them to sit on the bench for long (especially since the Jets traded up to the third pick this year).
Bridgewater has an uphill climb to see many significant snaps this year and there were teams with shaky QB situations where Bridgewater could have gone and competed for a starting job. Perhaps the best thing that could happen to Bridgewater is for him to have a great camp, then get traded to a team that could use a starter, or at the very least a capable backup.
3 Perfect Fit: Sheldon Richardson - Minnesota Vikings
Sheldon Richardon has always been the kind of player that leaves you wanting more, because his talent and physical ability is so evident, but he just hasn't been able to put it all together and stay consistent. Well, making the move to Minnesota this offseason may prove to be the best move for his career. Richardson is going to Minny on a one-year, prove it deal and he gets to play on a defense that was ranked no.1 last year.
He'll be well surrounded by one of the better defensive lines in the league and he'll have Mike Zimmer as his coach.
Zimmer has proven over the years that he can get the best out of his players, particularly on defense.
Richardson seems to have high hopes for his season, as he recently told the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
"If I'm having an all-pro season, with the other all-pros (on the Vikings), we should be pretty dominant in the league," said Richardson, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Minnesota. "So that's pretty much what I come to do and no fall off. That's how I look at it."
If Richardson keeps his head on straight, he may just accomplish that.
2 Wrong Team: Sebastian Janikowski
All things considered, Sea Bass found a pretty good fit, as he signed with the Seattle Seahawks who have experienced some major kicking woes over the last couple of seasons. However, there may have been a better fit for Janikowski in Los Angeles with the Chargers, as the Bolts had even worse kicking woes, which may have been the biggest reason they missed the playoffs. Janikowski should be able to bring stability to Seattle, although he is coming off an injury that forced him to miss all of the 2017 season in Oakland. Janikowski already has missed some time in OTAs this offseason with a hip injury and we'll have to see if his health continues to be an issue going into the season. After all, Janikowski is 40 years old now and he hasn't exactly been known as a player who's taken care of his body over the years.
The Seahawks also brought in Jason Myers this offseason, a 26-year-old, whom Janikowski may have to compete with to win the kicking job coming out of training camp. If Janikowski can't, then we may be seeing the last of Janikowski in the NFL. Hopefully it works out for him in Seattle.
1 Perfect Fit: Josh McCown - New York Jets
While we may be ending on a bit of an anticlimactic entry, it was absolutely the right move for both the Jets and Josh McCown to reunite for one more year, even if the team brought in Bridgewater and drafted Sam Darnold. McCown has arguably played the best football in his career with the Jets and the 38-year-old is the perfect stop-gap solution to transitioning to Sam Darnold down the road when the rookie is ready to go.
We'll have to see how things shake out in training camp, as McCown will surely be aiming to win the Jets starting job once again. Odds are, he will win the job, as ESPN's Rich Cimini explained:
"In a perfect world, Sam Darnold would have a lights-out preseason and be the opening-day starter, but that’s not realistic. If it happens, they should try to trade Bridgewater or Josh McCown because it wouldn’t make sense to have $16 million (the combined salaries of McCown and Bridgewater) sitting on the bench."
This may well end up being McCown's last season in the NFL and going to a familiar spot was the best thing he could've done. Now the only question is whether he'll be starting all 16 games at 38 years old.
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