It’s one of the worst feelings to wake up after a night of fun only to realize how much money was wasted. NFL teams get this feeling every year, the big difference is they have to suffer the consequences for years to come. NFL free agency has the ability to turn a team around but also has the very real danger of hindering a team’s cap situation for years to come. This keeps them from making more sensible moves in the interim. NFL free agency in 2017 saw a bevy of these types of contracts handed out.
On paper, moves like Robert Woods at 5 years $35 million looked bad and Martellus Bennett at 3 years $21 million looked like a steal. Both of those moves proved the opposite. It’s hard to tell what to make of free agency signings until the season starts. However, there are some moves that look bad on paper and the mistake is only confirmed when the players take the field. Here were the worst signings of the 2017 NFL free agency season.
Mike Glennon QB, Chicago Bears
The Bears made a puzzling decision to sign Tampa Bay backup Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million dollar deal last spring. It came with $18.5 million guaranteed and would then trade up to draft Mitch Trubisky. This immediately put the countdown clock on Glennon’s time in Chicago. He would make that clock expire more quickly by throwing for 833 yards, four touchdowns, five picks and three fumbles. Trubisky got the nod and Glennon became an expensive bench warmer. Oops.
Kenny Britt WR, Cleveland Browns
Despite Jeff Fisher‘s “Leatherheads” era offense, Britt had over 1,000 yards in 2016. He was the first Ram to do so since the Greatest Show on Turf era. The Browns saw this and thought that he could be productive for them too. They signed him to a four-year, $32.5 million with $10.5 million guaranteed. Britt delivered with 18 catches and 233 yards before he was cut and later signed with the Patriots. He had two catches for the rest of the season with New England. Sure, Britt came within a Hail Mary of getting a ring but for the Browns, this was another in a string of bad signings.
DeSean Jackson WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one isn’t necessarily Jackson’s fault. The Bucs needed a deep threat for third-year quarterback Jameis Winston. The three-year, $33.5 million with $20 million guaranteed seemed like a steal considering he’d be lined up across fellow receiver Mike Evans. It isn’t clear whether Jackson’s ineffectiveness was due to Winston playing hurt, regressing or Dirk Koetter not being the brilliant tactician Tampa believed him to be. The one thing that is clear is Tampa Bay needs more production from Jackson. $20 million for 668 yards and three touchdowns is a bigger waste of money than “The Mummy” reboot.
Russell Okung OT, Los Angeles Chargers
Okung was a starter for the Seahawks team that won the Super Bowl and because of his accomplishments, he made the Pro Bowl that year. That being said, his value became diminished because he never grew as a run or pass blocker. He would play one season with the Broncos but Denver refused to give him a new deal after the 2016 season. He acted as his own agent and somehow got a $53 million deal with $25 million guaranteed from the pass-protection starved Chargers. His 2017 campaign was marred by injury and whenever he did play, he was largely ineffective for Los Angeles. If not for Tavon Austin‘s contract, Okung’s would’ve been the worst contract in LA since baseball’s Carl Crawford.
Luke Joeckel OT, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have an atrocious offensive line. It makes life hard for franchise cornerstone Russell Wilson and their even more odious running game. Joeckel, a former second-overall pick in 2013, only received a one-year, $7 million deal. That’s not a lot but his lack of production caused them to trade for Texans tackle Duane Brown, resulting in Seattle having to trade away a 2018 third-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick. So while Joeckel’s playing days in Seattle will likely only be for the 2017 season, the impact of actions he forced Seattle to do will stick around much longer.
Terrelle Pryor WR, Washington Redskins
Pryor converted from quarterback to receiver in Cleveland and, to the surprise of many, performed quite well. Washington did what fantasy owners do: over bid for a good stats, bad team guy. His one-year, $6 million deal wasn’t the worst thing Dan Synder has done but it wasn’t great. If either Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson had been on the team, this deal might have even worked out. Luckily, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed made up for Pryor’s ineffectiveness. Pryor finished the season with one touchdown and 244 yards. It’s fair to ask if adding another inept addition to the offense was one of the final nails in the coffin between Washington and quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Eddie Lacy RB, Seattle Seahawks
On one hand, Lacy’s $3.5 million dollar hit wasn’t that bad. It was incentive-laden and required him to be in shape. He made bonuses by losing weight yet it was still a massive failure. He only managed a total of 179 yards and zero touchdowns on the season. The Seattle backfield was putrid and Lacy was the highest profile member of it.
Adrian Peterson RB, New Orleans Saints
The Vikings let Peterson go because his personal problems eclipsed his ability on the field. The Saints looked like a logical place for him to go. The team struggled to run the ball and he needed to prove he was still a viable back at the age of 32. Unfortunately, Peterson and Saints coach Sean Payton never really meshed. The two-year, $7 million deal didn’t nuke their cap but Peterson’s frustration caused them to trade him to Arizona.
Lawrence Timmons LB, Miami Dolphins
It wouldn’t be a bad contract article without the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins throw bad money around like Jeffrey Loria during MLB free agency. Something about the water in Miami. Lawrence Timmons got $12 million with $11 guaranteed. He had 58 tackles and zero sacks or forced turnovers. He also started the season with controversy after he missed the Dolphins second game of the season and was temporarily suspended from the team. It was clear his Pittsburgh days were behind him.
Brandon Marshall WR, New York Giants
At face value, it was a great deal. Two years, $11 million for a guy who routinely moves the chains is a steal. Sadly, like everything about the Giants season, this deal collapsed like the third act of “Three Billboards”. Before landing on IR, he managed 18 catches and 154 yards. While he showed some promise of being a veteran leader for a young, talented receiving corps, a season-ending injury is one of the quickest ways to turn a good contract bad.