Free agency in the National Football League is an opportunity for teams to improve their roster from top to bottom. Some teams spend big to try and improve the top of the depth chart, while other teams spend "much less" to try and improve the bottom half of their roster. We also cannot forget that some teams tend to stay relatively quiet and try to take care of their own.
This year's free agency has been similar to many free agencies in years past. There also have been some big surprises, such as the Packers and Patriots spending money we usually do not see them spend. Overall, big dollars have been spent thus far and many teams are going into the 2017 season with high expectations. Fanbases are excited to see what the new additions will bring to their teams.
In the end, some of these investments will pay off and other contracts will leave owners with buyers remorse. There are always going to be some Brock Osweiler contracts that just make you wonder what the team was thinking when giving that kind of money out. However, there are also teams that are able to sign players at a "bargain" price and those teams deserve applause. This article will focus on the eight most overpaid free agents and eight bargains.
16 Overpaid - Kyle Juszczyk
Kyle Juszczyk is a Pro Bowler. He is also a great blocker and has even shown some potential as a running back and receiver. And yes, he does the little things that every team needs. However, he has had just seven rushing attempts in his career and his receiving stats trended downwards in 2016.
Therefore, the four year, $21 million with $9.8 million guaranteed is just too much for Juszczyk. I understand that the 49ers have a lot of money to spend, but still. Not only has Juszczyk has become the highest paid fullback in NFL history, but he is also going to be paid much more than many running backs in 2017. I sure hope Juszczyk gave his agent a big cut of the pie.
15 Bargain - Prince Amukamara
Prince Amukamara was not the best corner available in free agency, but that does not mean he cannot play at an effective level. Add in the fact that the Chicago Bears need all the help they can get in the secondary and this is a good signing for the Bears. Another major positive for the Bears is that this is a one year contract. The contract totals $7 million, all guaranteed, which is a little steep, but acceptable since it is just a one year contract.
Amukamara has good coverage skills, is still young, and will be serviceable for at least one season. Worst case scenario, the Bears can use him as a holdover, while they develop younger players that are not quite ready to play yet.
14 Overpaid - Mike Glennon
I understand that quarterback is the most important position in football and most teams will never be able to succeed without a good QB, but I still ask, what were the Chicago Bears thinking when they signed Glennon for three years, $45 million and $19 million guaranteed? This is a quarterback that has thrown less than five passes since 2015. Even when Glennon was a starter, he did not prove to me that he was capable of being a starter for a good team.
In the end, it is probably going to be another rough couple of seasons for the Bears and their fans. Hopefully, they are able to draft a good quarterback and use Glennon as a holdover, because I definitely cannot see him leading the Bears to the playoffs and the only reason he is not higher on this list is because of his position.
13 Bargain - D.J. Swearinger
D.J. Swearinger is a very underrated player and as a result, the Washington Redskins were able to sign him to a team friendly contract of three years $13.5 million with $9 million guaranteed. Swearinger was a second round pick in 2013 and is only 25 years old. He had a breakout season last year when playing for the Arizona Cardinals.
Swearinger is good at forcing turnovers, which can be seen with his three interceptions in 2016. He also shows versatility with his pass rushing ability, his run defense, and decent coverage skills. Overall, while Swearinger may not be a cornerstone for a defense, he is a good contributor and should be able to help the Redskins improve their terrible defense next season. It's amazing that Washington of all teams, found a solid free agent at a reasonable price.
12 Overpaid - Kenny Britt
Kenny Britt had a pretty good season with a pretty bad quarterback situation in 2016. He is a good route runner and has strong hands. Therefore, this signing is more about the Browns mismanagement than it is Kenny Britt. In total, Britt received a four year $32.5 million contract, which is a little steep, but not too bad.
The main question here is why the Browns would commit more money to a receiver that arguably is not even as good as the receiver they chose to let walk in Terrelle Pryor? Pryor is much more explosive and has potential to be even better. Add in the fact that Pryor signed with the Redskins on much cheaper terms, and it makes you wonder what the Browns were thinking.
11 Bargain - Eddie Lacy
Say what you will about Eddie Lacy, but for most of his career he has been one of the better running backs in the NFL. When he was able to stay healthy for the first two seasons of his career, Lacy ran for over 1,000 yards both years. He was also averaging 5.1 yards per carry in 2016 before going down with an ankle injury. Lacy also has underrated ability as a pass-catcher and I think the Seahawks will try to use him in this more role often than Green Bay did.
After signing a one year contract worth $4.5 million with chances to make $5.5 million, Lacy will be extremely motivated this season. There is little risk for Seattle in this signing and therefore, it is a great pickup for them. Overall, I am predicting a bounce back year for Lacy.
10 Overpaid - Malcolm Smith
Ever since winning a Super Bowl MVP, Malcolm Smith has not lived up to expectations, to say the least. Smith has had two average at best, seasons in Oakland the last two years, missing 36 tackles according to Pro Football Focus. Smith also allowed six touchdowns in coverage during the 2016 season, which is right at the top of the league for linebackers.
Despite all of these flaws, Smith was able to secure a five year, $24.5 million contract with $13 million guaranteed from the San Francisco 49ers... And we wonder why San Fran has been so bad ever since Jim Harbaugh left. Who knows, maybe Smith pans out, but for now this is one of the worst contracts given out this offseason. Once again, why did the Niners feel the need to overpay?
9 Bargain - John Simon
Many people may not know who John Simon is, but they will by the time his three year contract with the Colts is up. This was a great signing by the new Colts general manager Chris Ballard and if this is a sign for things to come, Colts fans should be excited.
Simon has been more of a part time player over the last three years with the Texans, but has shown great promise. He has tons of versatility, which is huge for a linebacker. He is able to stop the run and rush the passer. In total, he had 51 tackles in 11 games in the 2016 season. For just three years and $13 million, I think that Simon will outgrow his contract, unless of course injuries derail him.
8 Overpaid - Robert Woods
Signings like Robert Woods remind me why the LA Rams are mediocre at best year after year. Do not get me wrong, Woods is a tough, capable receiver that also is very good at open field blocking. In addition, Woods has also shown flashes of next level receiver.
However, this has not happened consistently enough, and Woods has never had a season of over 700 receiving yards. Therefore, the five year, $39 million with $15 million in guarantees is simply too much. Add in the fact the Rams already have another overpaid wide receiver in Tavon Austin, and I am not sure what management is thinking. In the end, maybe Jared Goff develops into a great QB and these receivers become dominant. But for now, this seems like a stretch.
7 Bargain - Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor proved he can be an effective weapon at the wide receiver position. Despite not having a consistent starting quarterback during the 2016 season, Pryor managed to snag 77 catches for over 1,000 yards in his first full season as a wide receiver.
Despite the aforementioned success, Pryor was only able to manage a one year deal worth a reported $8 million with the Washington Redskins (includes a $2 million signing bonus). This is a very good deal for the Redskins, as Pryor is probably going to be the number one or two receiver for the team after they lost Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Kirk Cousins is a quarterback that puts up big statistics and Pryor will be able to have a good season. Perhaps this will help Pryor land a long term deal that he likes next year.
6 Overpaid - Russell Okung
Good for Russell Okung for obtaining a massive contract, especially since he has not been a very good offensive tackle for some time now. Okung was able to land a massive contract from the L.A. Chargers of $53 million and $25 million guaranteed over four years.
I think the biggest reason Okung was able to secure such a massive contract despite the well documented struggles is because the draft is very weak at the position this year. Sometimes timing is more important than anything and Okung should be thankful that he was released by the Denver Broncos. Overall, do not expect the tackle spot to improve too much in L.A., unless Okung suddenly revives his career (hard to imagine since he is soon to be 30).
5 Bargain - Martellus Bennett
While I do not agree with Mike McCarthy that Martellus Bennett can be the best tight end in the game, I do think the Packers were able to sign Bennett to a very team friendly deal. In total, Bennett signed a three year deal worth $18.45 million with the Packers, which is a lot less money people were expecting Bennett to get.
Some people will argue that Bennett has had declining statistics, but remember, he was playing through injury most of the 2016 season in New England. There is also more to catching passes when you play tight end. Bennett was a tremendous blocker for the Patriots last year and helped the Patriots' run game significantly. Overall, the Packers were able to sign Bennett to a cheaper price than what Jared Cook received and this equals steal.
4 Overpaid - Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell has had a great career, but I am just not sure of his fit in Jacksonville. Good for Campbell for receiving a massive payday, but what was Jacksonville thinking?Campbell is coming into a different defensive scheme, and he is also over 30 years old. Add in the fact that the Jags are paying him $60 million over four years, and these are all the signs of a bust signing.
Overall, I personally feel the main issue with this contract is the length. Why sign a player over the age of 30 that plays in the trenches to such a long deal? Maybe the 30-year-old can prove me wrong and continue his great play for another four years. Guess we have to find out.
3 Bargain - Alshon Jeffrey
I must admit, I have some doubts about Alshon Jeffrey ever since he tested positive for banned substances. However, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to secure him on a one year contract that is well worth the gamble on a potentially dominant receiver. In Jeffrey, Carson Wentz will have a reciever that he is able to throw jump balls to and someone that he can rely on in crucial situations. If Jeffrey fits in well with the Eagles, both sides may be able to work out a long term deal. If it does not work out, there is no long term commitment to worry about.
Add in the fact that the Eagles only have to pay $9.5 million (bonuses may add another $4.5 million) to a game changer, this signing makes sense across the board. A nice move.
2 Overpaid - Matt Kalil
Somehow, Matt Kalil ended up with $55 million over five years with $25 million guaranteed. What were the Carolina Panthers thinking with this signing? I understand the draft is weak at the position, but surely the Panthers could have found a better holdover option than Kalil. Or even signing Kalil to a prove it type deal would have made much more sense.
Simply put, Kalil has been a very poor offensive lineman the last several years. According to Pro Football Focus, Kalil's best season came in his rookie year, when Adrian Peterson came within nine yards of breaking the single season rushing record. Since then, it has all been downhill. For Cam Newton and the Panthers' sake, let us hope that Kalil has a career revival, sort of similar to what Michael Oher was able to do in Carolina.
1 Bargain - Dontari Poe
The addition of Dontari Poe will immediately improve the Atlanta Falcons defense. While Poe may have regressed some when comparing his play to the early years of his career with the Chiefs, he is still a very good defensive lineman. He will surely help a Falcons run defense that struggled at times throughout the 2016 season. At one year, $8 million with potential bonuses of $2 million, this contract is a bargain, especially when considering what some other linemen are receiving on the market.
The one concern I do have with the Poe signing is his weight. It is said that he is going to lose some weight during the offseason and I am not sure how this is going to impact his game. Time will tell.