Every year, the majority of significant free-agent signings are lauded. Yes, there’s the occasional overpay that’s criticized or a what-the-hell-were-they-thinking-type move, but in general, most fan bases get swept up in the optimism of the offseason.
But history tells us that a fair portion of these moves won’t work out, and that some will be the type of bust that sets their teams back years.
So, to destroy all the good feelings around the league in one fell swoop, we’re going to play devil’s advocate and tell you why these major moves were bad:
A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell to Jaguars
For what felt like the millionth straight offseason, the Jaguars were flush with cap space – a rare positive aspect of failing to draft many players worthy of a second contract.
And, like always, the Jaguars threw big piles of money at some of the top free agents on the market, adding cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive lineman Calais Campbell.
Normally, just saying it’s a signing by the Jaguars is enough to call it terrible, but Bouye and Campell are top players, so we have to dig deeper.
Bouye is a one-hit wonder. Before the 2016 season, few had even heard of the cornerback. He was elite this past campaign, but it’s a huge gamble for the Jaguars to pay top dollar for a player with only one year of success.
Campbell, on the other hand, is 30 years old, and at 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, you have to question how much longer he can be a top-tier player and hold up in terms of health. The Jaguars think they can compete in 2017, but with Blake Bortles under center, we all know that’s misplaced belief. Campbell will be a cap casualty long before the Jags find a quarterback they can win with.
Mike Glennon to Bears
Do we have to say more? Good luck, Chicago.
Stephon Gilmore to Patriots
Gilmore has occasionally looked like a top-tier cornerback, but not often enough for the Bills to spend big to keep him. Few criticized Buffalo’s decision to let him walk.
Shockingly, it wasn’t the Browns or Jaguars that handed Gilmore a five-year, $65-million contract; it was the New England Patriots, who rarely dole out big money in free agency.
Because Bill Belichick is rightfully viewed as a genius, it’s blasphemous to question a decision made by the Patriots. Therefore, moves that might have been slammed had another team made them are suddenly considered brilliant.
Now, Gilmore could easily flourish under Belichick, but the Patriots are paying a high price to find out if he can overcome inconsistencies and cement himself as an elite corner. Plus, by paying Gilmore, the Patriots may have irreparably damaged their relationship with their other top corner, Malcolm Butler.
Butler has been angling for a big-money extension recently and had to watch New England give the deal he wanted to an outsider. If Gilmore struggles or his presence convinces Butler to leave next season, it will be one of the few major errors of the Belichick era.
DeSean Jackson to Bucs
On the surface, Jackson and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like a perfect match. Jackson should give Jameis Winston the deep threat he desperately needs.
However, the Bucs did pay a premium for a 30-year-old receiver whose game is based solely on speed, and Jackson isn’t transitioning to a possession guy who can win over the middle as he ages. He’s a speedster through and through, and you never know when that will drop off.
Jackson is also known to be a volatile guy, so what’s going to happen when Mike Evans sees 15 targets in a game and he doesn’t get any? Jackson could be the spark that blows up this cohesive, young Bucs team.
Chandler Jones re-signs with Cardinals
One of the few major re-signings over the first few days of free agency came from the Arizona Cardinals, who opened up their wallets in a big way to secure franchise-tagged linebacker Chandler Jones.
The pass-rusher received $83 million over five years with $53 million in guarantees – a massive but not unexpected amount. However, Jones is now paid like one of the top five edge players in the league, and does anyone really consider him a game-changer on that level?
To compare, the Cardinals gave Jones just a few million less per year than Denver’s Von Miller, who has a proven history of taking over games. Jones wasn’t even the leading sacker on the Cardinals last season, finishing 1.5 behind Markus Golden.
Arizona may have just paid elite money for a decent edge player who could cripple its cap for the foreseeable future.
Alshon Jeffery to Eagles
It made sense for both Jeffery and the Philadephia Eagles to agree to a one-year deal. The receiver is looking for elite money and wants to re-establish his value, while the Eagles needed a top wideout to help the development of quarterback Carson Wentz.
However, Jeffery is a significant risk due to his injury history and PED suspension during 2016. One-year contracts are great to evaluate whether a player can rediscover their form, but it only works if they’re able to stay on the field.
The receiver is one misstep away from sitting out 10 games, which would leave the Eagles no closer to solving their wide receiver problem and Wentz no closer to that elusive MVP trophy.
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