Free agency winners often cautionary tales

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It would be inaccurate to say you can’t win a Super Bowl by banking heavily on free agency.

But it is rare.

John Clayton of the Washington Post points out that the Broncos’ generous spending helped them to a Super Bowl 50 title, otherwise the big winners in March seldom duplicate that success in January and February.

According to Clayton, of the 49 highest-paid players in 2016 free agency, only 14 remain on the teams that signed them. Only 22 of the top 60 highest-paid in 2017 are still with the teams that made those splashes. And last year’s unrestricted free agent class produced just two Pro Bowlers, neither of them starters (special teamers Andre Roberts and Michael Thomas, and Roberts has already changed teams again).

Last week served as a reminder that some of the biggest deals often unravel quickly, with the Panthers cutting left tackle Matt Kalil after two years of a five-year, $55 million deal, the Buccaneers trading DeSean Jackson, and two previous prime free agent signings being traded for each other (Olivier Vernon and Kevin Zeitler swapping their Browns and Giants addresses).

There are still plenty of teams doing big business in free agency, and it’s hard to argue that the Jets in particular haven’t improved with the addition of C.J. Mosley and Le'Veon Bell. But many teams are also overspending on players who are not among the best at their positions, because fewer great players are making their way to the open market at all.

11 responses to “Free agency winners often cautionary tales

  1. Patriots pretty much prove this to be true. They lose ever FA season and have been to the AFC championship 8 straight years…

  2. The Redskins are the prime example of this. They always mistakenly think they are only a few players away from being relevant and give a lot of money to a free agent or two. It’s Dan Snyder’s fantasy franchise.

    Teams that truly are only a player away can greatly benefit from the right FA acquisition. Most teams aren’t in that situation and are wasting money.

  3. Teams rarely part with players they feel are still effective. That said, what is the success rate of a high draft pick compared to a free agent? I’m guessing it’s not much higher, they’re just cheaper so they stay on longer.

  4. Liberalsruineverything says:

    March 17, 2019 at 8:54 am

    The Packers just payed $50+ million to a bunch of nobodys. Hilarious

    You must be a Viking fan because you obviously dont know much about football if you think the guys they signed are nobodys.

    Go look at any of the FA lists before free agency started, both Smith’s were in the top 20 of FAs available. Amos ranked as the 7th best safety in the NFL last year and 2nd overall in 2017.

    Just about everybody overpays in the first couple days of FA, it’s just the nature of the beast.

  5. It’s a viscous cycle. GM doesn’t draft well, doesn’t have players worth retaining so he’s got a bad team with a lot of cap space. The FA’s are the guys who teams that do draft well deem expendable so you’re paying second tier talent top tier money hoping to improve enough to not get fired. Next guy has to deal with the cap mess this creates and it’s even worse when they’re short draft picks from bad trades. Begin cycle again.

  6. Overpaying middling players is part of the deal if the team thinks they are only a few players away. The Browns rode that theory from 2007- 2015 and a goose egg in 2017 after realizing that those contracts weren’t the answer. They eventually had to strip it down to the studs and dump those bad conrtacts and attitudes. It’s a painful thing to watch and really tries your fandom.

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