A lot of NFL players found themselves in new situations during the 2017 free agent period. A few of these transactions may have the allurement of good moves, but in fact, are not as tantalizing as they appear. Take a look at five of the worst free agent moves of the offseason. Tell us your opinion and tweet at us!
5. Jets – Morris Claiborne
In one of a series of moves to begin life after Darrelle Revis, the Jets signed former Cowboy corner Morris Claiborne to a one-year $5 million deal. This Jets team, who just released veteran WR Eric Decker, is one step away from a full rebuilding process, and this signing is just a waste of time.
The one-year contract makes it clear that they aren’t expecting Claiborne to be a foundational player for the team, but this is a team that needs to think a lot harder about the future than a cornerback who has yet to play a full season and has struggled with injuries his whole career.
If they were looking for a band-aid, they could’ve done better than the used one stuck to the wall of the shower.
4. Chargers – Russell Okung
The Chargers are a healthy season from Keenan Allen and an enthusiastic attitude from Philip Rivers away from actually being an interesting team. They were forced to be run-happy team last year by Allen’s early injury, riding Melvin Gordon’s legs for thirteen games until leg injuries sidelined him at the end of the season.
Gordon came just three yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark last year but was incredibly inefficient in doing so. While his 997 yards were good for 10th in the league, his 3.93 yards/attempt put him at 28th in the league, just behind Christine Michael. The Chargers simply need protection for their guys to run the offense at its full potential.
While Okung’s experience in the league may be a positive for the Chargers’ new offensive line, his injury-filled past should be a major warning flag. He hadn’t played a full NFL season until last year with Denver. Betting on the knees of a 30-year-old injury prone offensive lineman is a sketchy move in and of itself, but four years and $53 million is a bit much.
3. Patriots – Brandin Cooks
Yes, this is technically a trade and not a free agent signing, but let’s just leave technicalities aside.
On the surface, this seems like a great combo. Arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time coupled with one of the fastest receivers in the game? Many may take that and believe the Patriots are bound to win yet another Super Bowl this year, stronger than ever. However, this signing is not as good as it looks; in fact, it’s downright detrimental for both Brandin Cooks and Tom Brady.
Tom Brady may appear as the ageless wonder, posting the best season for a 39-year old quarterback In 2016, but when the deep ball has been a focus of the New England offense, Brady has struggled with accuracy in recent years. In 2015, Brady did well over the first seven games of the season with the deep ball, but as their passing attack included more and more deep passes (a jump from 8% of throws to 14.7% of his throws), his passer rating dropped to 34.8 on deep throws.
Cooks has certainly shown he can hop out on screens or short inside slants, but he thrives on the deep ball. He’s going from Drew Brees, who came in second for air yards in 2016 with 174.75 yards/game, to Brady, who came in 24th with 150.17 yards/game.
With Tom Brady aging and a right shoulder that has been through the ringer throughout his career, this matchup could be a lot worse than it looks from the surface.
2. Giants – Geno Smith
This one probably doesn’t need to be expounded on, but let’s do it anyway. Geno Smith’s career has been marked by turnovers, a humiliating NFL draft, and a punch to the jaw by a teammate. To make matters worse, his other teammates, rather than backing him up, claim he deserved it.
A good quarterback to compare Smith with would be EJ Manuel, who signed with the Raiders in free agency this offseason after an unsuccessful few years with the Bills. Both came out of the 2013 draft, and both were placed in difficult situations. Both have put up similar stats, with Geno getting more starts, but with Manuel ending up with a higher QBR of 77.5.
Financially, this contract is pretty harmless for the Giants; they can opt out for pennies at $325,000, but the effect in the locker room could be taxing. If Smith hasn’t been humbled by this situation and by the broken jaw, there could be some emotions flying in the Giants’ locker room this year.
1. Browns – Brock Osweiler
Brock Osweiler is not a starter in this league. The Texans paid him way too much last year, did some crafty offseason work to get his $16 million guaranteed salary off their hands, and the Browns are slated for another losing season.
Even the best of writers can’t make a quarterback battle between Cody Kessler, Osweiler, and DeShone Kizer sound exciting because it isn’t. You have two backups and a rookie (who could be great, but probably not with this team) fighting for the wheel of a sinking ship – no, a sunk ship and nobody wants to watch.