Learn Which NFL Free Agency Moves Have Been the Worst in 2014
|Date & Time||Wednesday March 19, 2014, 12:00 PM (EDT)|
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We already looked at the teams and players who’ve won big time in 2014 free agency thus far. Now, especially sadly for Oakland fans, we have to look at the losers. I know it isn’t fun if your team is on this list, but grab a tissue, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and start looking at 2015’s draft class…
1. Raiders loyalists have had a rough go of it lately…like, think the past decade or so. They haven’t seen a play-off appearance since 2002. This year, the club entered free agency with upwards of $60 million in cap space; this would, in most cases, be an excellent thing. Oakland, however, managed to botch the situation in a truly epic fashion. The allowed hometown boys OT Jared Veldheer and DE Lamarr Houston to leave, while signing older players Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley. Then, to top it off, there was the Rodger Saffold debacle, which needs no explanation if you’ve paid any attention over the past few days. SMH and WTF, indeed.
2. Oh, the Cowboys. The NFL’s epitome of mediocrity lost key players DE DeMarcus Ware and DE Jason Hatcher (to their division rival Washington Redskins, no less) and have very little cap space to compensate for the problems that this will inevitably cause. The team also just signed former Browns QB Brandon Weeden instead of addressing the fact that their D has just been more or less dismantled. Fans should probably start praying now for an off-season miracle in the Big D; they’re gonna need it.
3. Panthers QB Cam Newton is firmly among the losers of this year’s free agency period. Newton just lost his favorite target, WR Steve Smith, to Baltimore and lost two more key wideouts, Brandon LeFell and Ted Ginn to New England and Arizona, respectively. This leaves him with a decimated receiving corps and few free agent choices available (top wideouts have already been snapped up). If Carolina’s front office can’t remedy the situation, expect Newton to rely heavily on his legs in 2014. He should probably start upping his leg press regimen now…
4. The Cleveland Browns, as per usual, have made some inexplicable off-season choices. While it initially seems like a good idea to sign both LB Karlos Dansby and S Donte Whitner, these moves leave something to be desired upon closer inspection. The Browns let LB D’Qwell Jackson, who was a team leader both on and off the field, go in order to sign 3-years-old Dansby; it’s noteworthy that Jackson signed with the Colts for less money than the Browns are paying Dansby. Whitner, a hometown boy, makes sense at Cleveland for that reason, but again, he’s older than S T.J. Ward, whom he will be replacing.
5. 2014 has not proved to be the year of the running back where free agency is concerned. This is especially apparent when looking at RB Darren McFadden who lost out in two areas. First, McFadden was signed by the Raiders (re-read No. 1). Secondly, only $100,000 of his deal is guaranteed money. As an NFL player, it should be a red flag when New York City’s sanitation workers are in the same pay grade as you are. Way to go, McFadden’s agents.
6. The Chargers made one of the more confusing decisions of this year’s free agency period when they signed former Colts RB Donald Brown to a contract that guarantees him $4 million. San Diego already has two successful RBs, Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, on the roster, so signing Brown to such a large deal is nonsensical.
7. DB Cortland Finnegan struggled mightily in Saint Louis during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Finnegan, an aging player plagued by injuries that wouldn’t fully heal, is simply not worth the 2-year, $11 million deal granted to him by the Dolphins. Shades of Jeff Ireland, anyone?
8. The Jets, true to form, lost when they signed, well, a player. In this case, the contract in questionwas given to WR Eric Decker. While Decker himself made my winner’s list, the team landed here. Signing a guy who is, at best, a No. 2 receiver when you need a solid No. 1 is befuddling beyond belief. Just because Decker can catch balls thrown by Peyton Manning doesn’t mean he can do the same with Geno Smith under center.
9. The Kansas City Chiefs had 11 wins last year (the last time they won more than 11 games was over a decade ago in 2003), then suffered a brutal play-off loss to the Colts on January 4. Even though they had success last year, Andy Reid and Co. were unable to hang onto a slew of key players, including LB Branden Albert (Dolphins), WR Dexter McCluster (Titans), DE Tyson Jackson (Falcons), and G Geoff Schwartz (Giants). Though there’s no reason to think the Chiefs will be horrible next year, this isn’t great news. They could find their depth charts sadly lacking come kick-off.
10. At first glance, Jacksonville and San Francisco’s trade of QB Blaine Gabbert for a 2014 sixth round pick and a conditional pick in 2015 seems like an incredible deal. However, the Jags originally used the 10th overall pick to obtain Gabbert, so really, they still lose in this situation.