With the 2017 NFL free agency period in full swing, teams are anxiously waiting to overpay big name free agents. It happens every year… At least one NFL franchise makes a splashy signing in free agency, only to have their prized deal end up as one of the worst moves of the offseason. Ouch! With that in mind, let’s take a moment to reflect on the 13 worst free-agent signings in NFL history. To the fans of the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders, we apologize in advance!
Honorable Mention: Brock Osweiler
It’s an understatement to say that the Brock Osweiler experiment in Houston was an utter and complete disaster. After signing a four year deal worth a whopping $72 million, Osweiler did very little to deserve a single dollar of that money last season. In 15 games, Osweiler threw just 15 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions. During his one season in Houston, Osweiler was widely inaccurate and his decision-making was atrocious. In a not so surprising move, the Texans traded Osweiler, his massive salary, and valuable draft picks to the Cleveland Browns.
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13) DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles
Even though we’re only one year into his deal, it’s safe to say DeMarco Murray’s contract is one of the worst free agent signings in NFL history. What were the Eagles thinking? Even after signing free agent running back Ryan Mathews, the Eagles still thought it was necessary to give Murray a massive five year, $40 million contract. Former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly envisioned a backfield where Murray and Mathews would each get double-digit carries, wearing out opposing defenses. Instead, the only thing Murray ended up “wearing out” in the 2015 season was the bench. He was an awful fit in the Eagles offense, and eventually lost a majority of his carries to Mathews and Darren Sproles. Just one year into his contract, the Eagles traded Murray to the Titans. To make matters worse for the Eagles, Murray had a fantastic bounce back season in 2016 with the Titans.
12) David Boston, San Diego Chargers
Those muscles speak for themselves! Who wouldn’t want to throw some money at this remarkable physical specimen?! In 2003, wide receiver David Boston was an emerging star in the NFL. After recording two straight seasons with over 1,150 yards receiving, Boston was a hot commodity heading into free agency. Which is exactly why the San Diego Chargers signed Boston to a massive seven-year, $47 million contract in 2003. It didn’t take long for things to turn ugly for the Chargers and Boston. As his physical size increased to alarming proportions, rumors swirled of Boston taking performance enhancing drugs. Which would explain his antics in San Diego — including a messy fight with a strength coach, and his generally “moody” demeanor. It was eventually announced that Boston tested positive for GHB, a drug often used by bodybuilders. The Chargers released Boston after just one forgettable season.
11) Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles
In 2011, Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha left the Oakland Raiders to sign a five year, $60 million contract with the Eagles. The deal made him the highest paid corner in the NFL. But the honeymoon was short lived, as Asomugha showed serious signs of decline from the get-go in Philadelphia. During his first two seasons, Asomugha and his enormous contract were picked apart, as the Eagles allowed a whopping 60 touchdown passes. When Asomugha refused to renegotiate his contract after the 2012 season, the Eagles parted ways with him.
10) Deion Sanders, Washington Redskins
Prime Time! During the 1990’s, cornerback Deion Sanders was the most electrifying player in the NFL. Whether he was shutting down opposing receivers with his elite coverage skills, or showing off his dazzling moves with highlight reel punt returns, there wasn’t anything Sanders couldn’t do on a football field. And then he joined the Redskins… In 2000, new owner Dan Snyder, lured Sanders (33 years old at the time) to Washington with an absurd eight-year, $56 million contract. Sanders had four interceptions in 2000, then abruptly decided to retire before the start of the 2001 season. According to reports, his relationship with head coach Marty Schottenheimer had soured to the point that Sanders decided to retire in protest of his coach. Sanders eventually returned to the NFL in 2004, as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
9) Neil O’Donnell, New York Jets
Like Larry Brown, Neil O’Donnell earned a fat contract after Super Bowl XXX. But, unlike Brown, it wasn’t based on his performance in that game. The Jets believed that O’Donnell’s miserable performance as the Steelers quarterback in that Super Bowl was an outlier. The Jets were willing to overlook his Super Bowl meltdown, and rewarded him with a lucrative five year, $25 million deal. No surprises here, O’Donnell’s deal was a disaster. In his first season in New York, O’Donnell lead the Jets to a franchise worst 1-15 record. He spent most of the following season in Bill Parcells’ doghouse, and was eventually released.
8) Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks
Two years after the Seattle Seahawks handed Matt Flynn a three-year, $26 million contract, they won the Super Bowl. The sad irony? By that point, Matt Flynn wasn’t even on the team. After capitalizing on garbage time stats as Aaron Rodgers’ replacement in Week 17 of the 2011 season, the Seahawks signed Flynn to be their next starting quarterback. But, during that same 2012 offseason, the Seahawks happened to draft some guy named Russell Wilson. Ever heard of him? The rookie Wilson outperformed Flynn in training camp, forcing head coach Pete Carroll to name Wilson the starting QB. Wilson did not disappoint, and Flynn never started a game for the Seahawks. He was eventually traded to the Oakland Raiders for a 5th-round draft pick.
7) Javon Walker, Oakland Raiders
Despite having missed at least 50 games due to injury in his first 6 NFL seasons, the Oakland Raiders ignored the obvious red flags and signed wide receiver Javon Walker to a six year, $55 million contract in 2008. Things couldn’t have started off worse for Walker. Before ever playing a game with the Raiders, Walker was beaten and robbed of $100,000 in jewelry, cash and credit cards after a night of partying in Las Vegas. On the field, he did manage to play in eight uninspiring games that season (recording only 15 catches for 196 yards), before missing the final eight games due to injury. But who saw that coming…? In 2009, Walker played in just three games for Oakland, before the Raiders eventually released the injury plagued receiver.
6) Jeff George, Washington Redskins
Quarterback Jeff George was the #1 overall pick in the 1990 NFL draft. After bouncing around the league for the next decade, the Washington Redskins decided George was the missing piece to their puzzle. In 2000, Redskins owner Dan Snyder (foolishly) signed George to a four year, $18.3 million contract. In his first season with the team, George started only six games and threw seven touchdowns and six interceptions. The following year he started the first two games of the season and threw three interceptions. Apparently that was enough evidence for new head coach Marty Schottenheimer, who released George just two weeks into the season. Unfortunately for Redskins fans, Jeff George is just one of many awful (Dan Snyder) signings that will appear on this list.
5) Alvin Harper, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Alvin Harper made a name for himself in the NFL as a dangerous deep threat for the Dallas Cowboys, opposite Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. In 1994, Harper led the NFL with a ridiculous 24.9 yards per reception average. He parlayed that success into a lucrative free agent contract with the Buccaneers, to the tune of four years, $10.66 million. But over the next two seasons, he was plagued with injuries, and never produced anything near the value that Tampa Bay paid for his services. By the time he left Tampa Bay, Harper had started in only 20 games and scored a grand total of three touchdowns. To put those dismal numbers into perspective, that’s $3.5 million per touchdown!
4) Larry Brown, Oakland Raiders
Brown cashed in on being named the first cornerback to ever win the Super Bowl MVP award, earning a five-year, $12.5 million contract with the Oakland Raiders. Although he played well as a member of the Cowboys, Brown benefited tremendously from playing on a defense loaded with Pro Bowl talent. That certainly wasn’t the case in Oakland, and it showed immediately. In the first two years of his contract, Brown started a grand total of one game! Brown was eventually waived by the Raiders.
3) Dale Carter, Denver Broncos
Cornerback Dale Carter spent the first seven years of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he blossomed into one of the best defensive backs in the NFL.When Carter hit the free-agent market in 1999, the Denver Broncos thought it would be a good idea to steal him away from their division rival. Willing to overpay for his services, the Broncos signed Carter to a six year, $34.8 million contract. Although Carter provided a respectable effort in the 1999 season, it would be his first and only season in Denver. He was suspended for the entire 2000 season, and half of the 2001 season, for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. After multiple arrests, the Broncos eventually parted ways with Carter.
2) Dana Stubblefield, Washington Redskins
Most NFL fans don’t realize that one of Washington’s most colossal free agent failures actually took place before Dan Snyder purchased the team. In 1998, the Redskins signed defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, to a six-year, $36 million contract. But Stubblefield was never the same player in Washington. In 1997, his final season with the 49ers, Stubblefield was unstoppable, recording a league high 15 sacks. In his three seasons with the Redskins, Stubblefield totalled just 7 sacks.
1) Albert Haynesworth, Washington Redskins
Albert Haynesworth’s infamous seven year, $100 million contract is regarded as one of the very worst contract in the history of professional sports. Even after Haynesworth publicly declared that “You’re not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust” in his introductory press conference, he was exactly that. From the very beginning of his time in D.C, Haynesworth presented problems for the coaching staff. The trouble began when he refused to participate in off-season workouts, and then arrived at training camp in poor physical condition, unable to pass a basic fitness test. The final straw came when Haynesworth publicly criticized the coaching staff, then decided to skip a series of practices.
Desperate to get Haynesworth off the team, the Redskins traded the disgruntled big man to the Patriots for a low round draft pick. As expected, Haynesworth got into a fight with an assistant coach in New England, and was waived from the team just three months after the trade. There is no doubt that Albert Haynesworth and his mammoth contract is the worst free agent signing in NFL history!