There’s nothing worse than when your team goes out to the free agency market, finally drops millions of dollars on a supposed to be star, and then your new go-to player bottoms out. It’s the worst. Seeing your team finally go out and spend a load of money on a failure is awful. And it happens all too often. We’re not looking at every free agent flop on this list, this list is reserved for the worst free agent busts since 2010. These are the worst 15 signings of this decade. It has only been a short time, yet there’s still a good chunk of high-profile pickups that did not live up to the expectations.
You would think that once a guy reaches free agency, it’s obvious what he can and can’t bring to a team. By the time players reach the free agent market, they have a track record of work put in after years of being in the NFL. This list doesn’t look at the undrafted free agents, we’re looking at the guys who have years of experience and were supposedly stars.
This list includes guys who never saw the field on the teams that offered them multi-year contracts and it also includes guys who were supposed to be superstars and just didn’t fit the mold. Some of the guys were among the NFL’s best athletes before signing their shiny new contract. The one thing all of these guys have in common is that they were expected to be stars. But none of these guys starred on the team that offered them the huge contract.
15 Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles, 2011
This is one of the signings that doesn’t seem like the athletes fault. Nnamdi Asomugha was selected to three-straight Pro Bowls before getting signed to a five-year, $60 million deal from the Eagles. He was one of the best in the league at the time and he got a contract deserving of the NFL’s best. But unfortunately, he was in the spotlight on a team dubbed as the most talented in the league.
It meant that anything other than league-leading stats would warrant the fans calling for his departure. And that’s what ended up happening. In 2011 and 2012 with the Eagles, Asomugha started all but one game and recorded four interceptions. And in each of those two years he recorded more tackles than he had since the 2006 season. But he was still labeled as a bust and that’s why he leads on these rankings.
14 Antonio Bryant, Cincinnati Bengals, 2010
Antonio Bryant was in the process of recovering from a left knee injury when he got four-year, $28 million deal in 2010. But he never made it to the field. Bryant got cut before getting a chance at playing again in the NFL. He had a pretty good career before that point playing for Dallas, Cleveland, San Francisco and Tampa Bay. The Bengals seemed to take a chance.
But after struggling with his knee injury, he was not able to compete in any of the preseason contests. The Bengals eventually dropped him in August of that year. Bryant attempted a return to the NFL. But as he was working out with the Seahawks in 2012, it seemed he just couldn’t return to football shape and had not seen another down in the NFL.
13 Ray Edwards, Atlanta Falcons, 2011
Ray Edwards seemed very deserving of the five-year $27.5 million contract that Atlanta offered him in 2011. Edwards was coming off five seasons in Minnesota with a consistently good string of performances and had more than eight sacks in each of his final two seasons with the Vikings.
In Atlanta, Edwards started every game his first year but recorded just 3.5 sacks and then started just four games with no sacks in 2012. It was reported that the Falcons released Edwards because of a poor attitude, and he never returned to the NFL. Edwards ended up pursuing a career in boxing. His last boxing match was in November 2016, and it was his first loss in the ring. In all, Edwards has a 12-1-1 record in boxing.
12 Derek Anderson, Arizona Cardinals, 2010
It seemed obvious that Derek Anderson wasn’t made to be a starter in the NFL, but Arizona paid him like he was going to be the starting quarterback with a two-year $7.5 million deal. Sure, Anderson had a 10-5 season in Cleveland in 2007. He made the Pro Bowl that year and even tossed 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. But he followed up the next to seasons in Cleveland with losing records (3-6 and 3-4). Even worse, he had a 50 percent completion percentage and then completed about 45 percent of passes the next year.
After this there was no reason Arizona should have expected anything better than the 2-7 he provided in the one year he played for the Cardinals before getting dropped. The fact Arizona payed him this much is troubling, but if the Cardinals threw any more money at Anderson, he would have been much higher on this list.
11 Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints, 2016
This five-year deal really looks like a dud. The New Orleans Saints seemed to think that Coby Fleener was going to be one of NFL’s next star tight ends. The Saints gave Fleener a five-year $36 million contract before the 2016 season. Fleener has never been much of a blocker, and it really looked like the Saints were positioning Fleener to be one of Drew Brees main targets. But he didn’t fit that mold last season.
Sure, Fleener never had much of a career as a receiver. The last season he played with the Colts he posted 491 receiving yards and three touchdowns. But apparently, the Saints though he would do better on their roster. Well, Fleener didn’t come close. He was targeted 81 times and caught just 50 of those passes for 631 yards and three touchdowns.
10 Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns, 2010
There was a lot of hope in Cleveland after the Browns decided to sign Jake Delhomme. Although Delhomme had a rough 4-7 season the year before, the Carolina quarterback was among the NFL’s top stars. He was constantly praised on ESPN and had a winning record that deserved praise. Although Delhomme had two losing season as a starting quarterback (that’s actually pretty impressive as he played seven seasons with the Panthers), he still finished with a 53-37 record in Carolina and a 56-40 career record as a starting quarterback.
But by the time Delhomme was on Cleveland, he was 35 years old and suited up in just five games and started just four times. He was dropped after the season where he tossed two touchdowns and seven interceptions.
9 Michael Oher, Tennessee Titans, 2014
Michael Oher is one of the most famous NFL offensive lineman in league history. After being the star of a movie, he gained stardom not seen by any NFL lineman in league history. Oher’s story made him an immediate star in the eyes of many fans who don’t pay a second thought to O-linemen. But that also added an additional level of scrutiny to the offensive lineman, who saw an injury in the year following a four-year $20 million contract.
Oher played one season in Tennessee and played in just 11 games before he moved over to Carolina. That was the first season in his career at the time where he didn’t start every game. The Titans got rid of him after that year and he went to Carolina, where he played every game in 2015, but only played three games last season.
8 Lamarr Houston, Chicago Bears, 2014
There was high hopes for Lamarr Houston (#99), but he just hasn’t been the same since leaving Houston. After his first four years in Oakland, the Bears tabbed Houston as their defensive future. It seemed that Houston was put in place to be the replacement for the great Julius Peppers. After Houston started nearly every game in Oakland and posted 16.5 sacks and 171 tackles, Chicago offered the young defensive star a five-year $15 million deal.
It didn’t go as planned. Houston has started just 10 games in the last three years and was active for just two games last season. After playing great for four-straight seasons, Houston went without a sack for the first half of the 2014 season, his first season in Chicago. He finally got a sack in a blowout loss, and tore his ACL while celebrating a sack. That was just terrible and very annoying to watch for Chicago fans.
7 LaRon Landry, Indianapolis Colts, 2013
LaRon Landry was tabbed to be the starting safety in Indianapolis for four seasons with a $24 million contract with $14 million guaranteed. It seemed like a sure thing. Of course, he had a couple seasons where he only played in about half of the games, but he was just coming off a Pro Bowl deserving season with the New York Jets. He had proven after six years in the NFL that he was a solidified starter.
But with the Colts, Landry was almost nonexistent. He never recorded an interception, was suspended for violating the league’s drug policy and started just 18 games for the Colts before he was dropped after just two seasons. In November 2015, he violated the league’s drug policy for the third time and was suspended indefinitely.
6 Jairus Byrd, New Orleans Saints, 2014
Jarius Byrd was a three-time Pro Bowl selection when he played for Buffalo. In his rookie season, he led the league with nine interceptions during his rookie season in 2009 and followed that up with two more Pro Bowl selections in 2012 and 2013. After that 2013 season, the Saints signed him to a six-year $28 million guaranteed deal.
During that first season with the Saints, Byrd played just four games because of an injury and didn’t record any interceptions during that stretch. Byrd played more throughout his next two seasons. He started 12 games in 2015 and started every game last season. But he recorded just three interceptions during those two years and hasn’t seemed as good defending the pass. Byrd isn’t bad, he’s just nowhere near the Pro Bowl player that the Saints were expecting.
5 Chase Daniel, Philadelphia Eagles, 2016
Chase Daniel became one of the highest backup quarterbacks when the Eagles paid him $21 million for a three year contract. But the plan for the Eagles seemed to be to have Daniel take over the offense at least for a short amount of time. Even if Daniel was set as the team’s backup, the money could have been justified. Instead, Daniel suited up for just two games last season and had a whopping one pass attempt. Even though it’s only been one season, Daniel’s free agent flops is one of the worst in NFL history. He managed his way into a huge contract and has done nothing to prove worthy of the contract he signed. With the other quarterbacks the Eagles are attempting to work with, it’s highly doubtful that Daniel will ever prove worthy of this type of contract.
4 Derrick Shelby, Atlanta Falcons, 2016
There’s a few reasons to be upset of Atlanta’s signing of Derrick Shelby. Shelby spent his first five years in the league pressuring the quarterback and locking down wide receivers. When Atlanta signed him for a $21 million contract over the course of four years, he really didn’t fit the mold expected from him. Sure, Shelby has never been a consistent starter. But he has consistently showed up. When Shelby got to Atlanta, he suited up for just six games. Before that, he missed just on game in the 2014 season. What’s even worse? He didn’t record a sack or an interception. Sure, he only started four games. But you expect more from a guy with a $20-plus million dollar contract. He can turn things around in Atlanta, but if not, he’ll become even more of a bust.
3 DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles, 2015
This year after free agency really made it seem like DeMarco Murray didn’t want to play after being signed by Philadelphia, or maybe the Eagles just can’t figure out how to create a productive offense no matter how much talent they have of the field. Murray suited up for 15 games but started in just eight contests. He had one of his worst rushing seasons and posted just 702 rushing yards with 322 receiving yards. Murray went from leading the league with rushing yards (1,845), rushing touchdowns (13) and rushing yards per game (115.3).
Murray did also rush a league-leading 392 times, but with the Eagles he had just 193 rushing attempts. Last year, Tennessee fixed that equation and got him back on track, but the Eagles never saw any benefit out of signing Murray.
2 Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks, 2012
Matt Flynn was signed to a three-year deal worth $26 million in 2012 by the Seattle Seahawks. He was way overpaid. The Seahawks offered Flynn a huge contract because of what Flynn did in his only start in 2011 (he only started one game in his career before that). In the last game of the season when Flynn was still with Green Bay, he filled in for Aaron Rodgers and tossed a franchise record of 480 yards, six touchdowns which ties a franchise record and he led the way to a 45-41 win. For Seattle, that was enough to offer him a contract deserving of a starting quarterback.
Well, Flynn ended up throwing just nine passes in a Seahawks jersey and suited up for just three games in Seattle before playing for three teams the next season. Russell Wilson took over in his rookie season and Flynn quickly became an afterthought.
1 Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans, 2016
Brock Osweiler begins this list because he isn’t the worst free agent flop, but he hasn’t proved to be a success either. Osweiler has been in the league for five seasons but has seen consistent regular season playing time in just his last two seasons. In Osweiler’s first three seasons, he had just 30 passing attempts. Osweiler has seen a winning record each season, but he hasn’t seemed like a major factor in those wins. Looking at Osweiler’s gameplay, he seems to be barely holding on as a starting quarterback. It’s also looking like the Texans heavily overpaid for the quarterback who threw more interceptions than touchdowns last season. For a four-year $72 million contract, the Texans were hoping for more. At the very least they were hoping to have a solidified quarterback for the next four years rather than a question at the most important position.
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