When oh when will teams learn? Championship teams simply aren't built in March. Year after year, mediocre to average NFL players are given large amounts of money when they hit the open market, because teams feel they can make that player better, or they simply feel they're an upgrade over what they have. Teams get desparate in March because they don't feel they'll get a draft pick that will make an immediate difference. Thus, they pour money into free agents hoping they can plug some holes on a team.
We're already about midway through the 2016 NFL season and not much has changed across the league. The Patriots are still great, despite no big splash in free agency. The Browns are still horrible. The Jaguars still have a terrible defense. The Denver Broncos still look like they could contend for the Super Bowl.
As we are midway through the year, we can already see which free agent signings from March have paid dividends and FAs who already look like busts with their new teams. Their teams must already be regretting dishing out so much money for them, but they should have foreseen this from past mistakes. Here are 2016's free agent signings that already look like busts.
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15 Mohamed Sanu
It's a bit of a mystery as to why the Falcons felt one of their top needs was a wide receiver opposite Julio Jones. No.2 receivers could easily be found in the draft, but Atlanta felt the need to pay Mohamed Sanu $32.5 million. If he wasn't good enough to earn a starting spot opposite A.J. Green in Cincinnati, why did Atlanta think he'd do the job opposite of Jones?
While the Falcons are off to a good start this season, it doesn't excuse the signing of Sanu to such a ridiculous amount of money. After seven games (as of this writing) Sanu has 23 receptions, 259 yards, 2 touchdowns, while only averaging 11.2 yards per catch. Did the Falcons really find an upgrade here?
14 Chris Ivory
The Jaguars began a rebuilding phase four years ago and it still hasn't shown any signs of progression. You can show all the 'promise' you want, but if you don't start winning games after four years, how much have you really done? Take a look at the Jags' recent matchup with the Oakland Raiders and you saw one team who's clearly progressing and one team who is stagnating.
Part of what has kept the Jags in the basement is overpaying for average free agents. When you have over $60 million in cap room like the Jags had this past spring, I guess that leads to such decisions, otherwise fans will question whether you're trying to win.
Chris Ivory was one such signing and he's had trouble staying on the field. He's missed three games this season and when has has played, he's only received 40 carries in his first five games, only gaining 129 yards and scoring one touchdown. Not a great return for a five-year, $32 million investment.
13 Robert Griffin III
Poor RG3. I hate putting him here because it's only due to an injury, but it's more of the same for a player who hasn't been able to stay healthy since his rookie season. The Browns were hoping they could get the Robert Griffin of old when they signed him this offseason after releasing Johnny Manziel. Griffin was given a reasonable deal at two years and $15 million, but the fact that he suffered a season-ending injury in his first start was so... Browns.
Griffin is under contract for 2017 but will carry a $8.5 million cap hit. You have to wonder whether Cleveland will just cut their losses and release RG3. It seems they will be in position to take the top QB from this year's draft class, so there's really no future for RG3 in Cleveland.
12 Mario Williams
Mario Williams was a declining player with the Buffalo Bills, but many were pointing to the fact that his numbers only went down when Rex Ryan took over in Buffalo. The Dolphins pounced on Williams when the Bills released him, hoping to get the dominant pass rusher everybody knew from his years in Houston and his first few in Buffalo.
Williams signed a two-year, $17 million deal. The deal isn't too risky for the Dolphins, who can cut him after this season and only suffer a $2 million cap hit in dead money.
The Fins must have felt between Williams, Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, they'd be terrorizing offenses, but that hasn't been the case. Williams has only registered one sack in his first six games. It seems his days as a dominant pass rusher are over.
11 Arian Foster
Arian Foster isn't a free agent signing who is looking like a bust. We already know the signing didn't work out for Miami, as Foster recently announced his retirement after battling yet more injury problems this season.
It's a shame that Foster's career ended up being injury riddled as he was a premier back in the league when healthy. Fortunately, Foster's struggles has led to the emergence of Jay Ajayi, who rushed for over 200 yards in two straight games not long before Foster announced his retirement from football. Foster finished his stint as a Dolphin with just 22 carries for 55 yards, averaging 2.5 yards per carry.
Foster perhaps realized that his body can just no longer handle the rigors of professional football. Hopefully he finds himself a fruitful post-NFL career.
10 Coty Sensabaugh
Coty Sensabaugh wasn't given a huge contract by the Rams, but it's still curious as to why they felt he could be an upgrade in the secondary when he struggled mightily in Tennessee. Sensabaugh received a $14 million deal from the Rams on a three-year contact, but was cut after just four games.
He's now found himself with the New York Giants, who signed him shortly after the Rams cut him. The Rams have made a habit of snatching Titans free agents, as they've signed the likes of Kenny Britt, Jared Cook and Cortland Finnegan in recent years. Perhaps it has to do with Jeff Fisher's previous ties to the Titans, but it was strange as to why they felt the need to sign Sensabaugh earlier this year. At least they realized their mistake quickly.
9 Derrick Shelby
One of the Falcons' main problems the last few years is that they haven't been a very physical football team and their weak pass rush has made life easy for opposing quarterbacks. Coach Dan Quinn vowed to fix that when he was brought in as head coach in 2015, so this past offseason they signed Derrick Shelby. Shelby was signed to a four-year deal worth $21 million.
While the Falcons look to be one of the most improved teams of 2016 and their pass rush is indeed better, it's hardly thanks to Shelby. Shelby has struggled to get many snaps and through his first six games, he has yet to register a sack. Shelby's cap hit will double next year, from $2.25 million to $4.25 million, so the Falcons may have to consider parting ways with him.
8 Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets were at a lenghty standstill this offseason. Coming off the best season of his career and leading the Jets to a 10-6 record, Fitzpatrick felt he had earned himself elite QB level money, even though it led to disaster when the Bills gave him that several years ago.
Perhaps sensing that they could overtake the Patriots in the AFC East and Fitzpatrick realizing that he wasn't going to get any big offers from other teams, he returned to the Jets on a one-year deal, worth $12 million.
This season hasn't been the same as last year, with Fitzpatrick actually getting benched in favor of Geno Smith, only for Smith to suffer an injury, forcing Fitz back in. Fitzpatrick hasn't been shy about saying he was pissed off for the benching. This seems to be leading to an ugly divorce.
7 Reggie Nelson
The Oakland Raiders are off to their best start since their Super Bowl season back in 2002, but it's definitely not because of their defense. Despite pouring many of their resources into upgrading their defense, it's been Oakland's offense that has carried them to contention in the AFC West.
Reggie Nelson was one of Oakland's big free agent signings, but the veteran safety has had trouble manning the fort. The Raiders often find themselves in shootouts, with Derek Carr and the offense having to bail out the defense time and time again.
Sure, two year and $8.5 million isn't that big of a deal, but the Raiders could have found similar production from a mid-round draft pick. Luckily for Oakland, they could easily part ways with Nelson after the season.
6 Tashaun Gipson
We come to our second Jaguar signing on the list. Tashaun Gipson was brought in to boost Jacksonville's defense in the secondary. Gus Bradley is trying to recreate the Legion of Boom he had in Seattle, but Gipson is clearly not Earl Thomas. His contract might make you think that though, as the Jags signed him to a five-year deal worth $35.5 million.
The Jags have continuously been beaten on the deep ball this year, and the defense hasn't shown much improvement over last year, despite pouring a lot of their cap space into plugging holes on that side of the ball.
On top of his on-field struggles, Gipson has also had trouble staying healthy. With Gus Bradley now on the hot seat in Jacksonville, you have to wonder what Gipson's future with the team is.
5 Coby Fleener
It was a little surprising to see Coby Fleener leave Indianapolis and leave behind the chemistry he had with Andrew Luck. I guess he figured Drew Brees wasn't a bad alternative. While Brees has indeed looked every bit like an elite quarterback, he doesn't have the surroundings he needs to make the Saints a winner again.
Fleener was brought in on a five-year deal, worth $36 million and it now looks like an ill advised signing. In his first six games of the season, Fleener has only caught 21 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps his chemistry with Brees will develop over time, but as we said, the list is about FA signings who look like busts. So far it's hard to argue that Fleener has been a success in New Orleans.
4 Olivier Vernon
Just about everyone could have seen that this signing was absolutely ludicrous. After missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, the Giants poured a ton of money into free agency, hoping to recreate the kind of defense they had in their Super Bowl winning season in 2011.
The Giants are still near the bottom of the league in sacks, despite paying Olivier Vernon $85 millon on a five-year deal. He's also getting $52.5 million in guaranteed money, which means the Giants are pretty much stuck with him for the duration of his contract.
After seven games, Vernon has only one sack. While he enjoyed some successful seasons in Miami, he was successful as a substitute on passing downs. Being the focal point of the defense is not Vernon's strong suit. Unfortunately, that's what the Giants are paying him to be.
3 Malik Jackson
We now come to a third Jaguar signing on this list. This actually seemed like it would be a difference making signing for the Jags, as Malik Jackson was a force up the middle for Denver in their Super Bowl win last year.
Now, it's looking like Jackson's success was caused by playing alongside fearsome pass rushers in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, as well as having the best defensive coordinator in all of football, Wade Phillips.
Jackson was given an exorbitant six-year, $85 million contract, with $42 million in guaranteed money. That would imply he'd be the centerpiece of Jacksonville's defense, but so far, it doesn't look like Jackson's presence has changed much in Jacksonville.
Perhaps the pieces simply aren't around Jackson for him to succeed, but that begs the question; why pay him like he's the centerpiece?
2 Chase Daniel
I think the Eagles are actually okay with this signing looking like a bust. That's because it's led to rookie Carson Wentz coming in right away and proving that the Eagles made a shrewd move in trading up to get him at the draft.
Chase Daniel was brought in as an insurance policy, with Sam Bradford already on the roster and Wentz the guy waiting in the wings. Bradford was traded and Wentz took over, leaving the Eagles with a really expensive backup in Daniel, who's on a three-year, $21 million deal.
The bad news for the Eagles is they can't cut him, as he carries a dead money cap hit of $12 million this season and $7 million next season. Thank heavens Wentz is succeeding. Throwing Chase Daniel in to start is a scary thought.
1 Brock Osweiler
When you're given a four-year, $72 million contract as a quarterback, odds are it's because you've really proven something at the NFL level. Apparently seven starts was all it took for the Texans to think that Brock Osweiler could be the franchise quarterback that has long eluded them.
While his completion percentage isn't atrocious through his first seven starts at 58.2%, Osweiler's decision making has been. He has thrown or 1,533 yards and eight interceptions to match his eight touchdowns. While the Texans are still in the driver's seat in the AFC South, they were there last year with Brian Hoyer starting for them.
The Texans seem like a team that's going to make the playoffs, then get blown out again by a team like New England or Denver. They're essentially paying $72 million for a player that's going to get them the same results as last year, if not worse.
Bronco fans are probably relieved that Osweiler left in free agency. Trevor Siemian isn't Peyton Manning, but he doesn't cost $72 million.
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