Possible bargains and probable busts
It’s been a week since free agency began, which is a relative lifetime. Now that the dust has settled on the first and second rounds of player movement, we can see what the market looks like. Most contracts run the usual gamut between poor to good, but a few stood out as bargains or high upside/low risk moves, while others stood out as signs of a team that doesn’t know what it’s doing.
Martellus Bennett, Packers, 3 years/$21M, $7.2M guaranteed. Jared Cook had a couple of good games in the playoffs for Green Bay but during the regular season caught just 30 passes for 377 yards in 10 games. In Bennett, they should get double that production for less Guaranteed money than TEs Dion Sims (Bears) and Rhett Ellison (Giants).
Alshon Jeffery, Eagles, 1 year/$9.5-14M. The Eagles got not just the best WR on the market but one of the best WRs in the league. A one year deal means he could bolt, but if it’s a productive one then the Eagles have gotten a much needed season of good WR play to help Carson Wentz’s development. If he disappoints, the Eagles are off the hook in 2018, unlike other teams who paid good prices for average WRs.
Eddie Lacy, Seahawks, 1 year/$3.6M. In what became a buyer’s market for running backs (no surprise given the draft), the Seahawks snatched up the best of the bunch on a one year deal. Lacy looked like he was having a bounce back year in 2016 before an ankle injury ended his season. With Seattle going through three ineffective starters in 2016, they should enter the season with a clear starter, but with no strings attached if 2016’s five games were more mirage than the mean.
Brandon Marshall, Giants, 2 years/$11M, $5M guaranteed. The Giants are taking a $5M gamble that they’re getting something much closer to the 2015 version of Marshall than the 2016 version, and that’s probably a good bet. If not, they’re out of it in 2018 with a $500k dead cap hit, which is peanuts.
Terrelle Pryor, Redskins, 1 year/$6M. Yes, the Redskins actually had a good signing. Is Pryor even good? Maybe not, he was 12th in targets but just 27th in receptions, only Allen Robinson had more targets and a worse catch rate. Is Kirk Cousins even good? Maybe not, he’s had DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to throw to, and they’re now gone. That the best Pryor could do is a one year deal on a team desperate for WR says a lot about his value, but for a team that has no idea what it is doing, it’s a worthwhile risk. The blind squirrel found a nut.
Rhett Ellison, Giants, 4 years/$18M, $8M guaranteed. For more Guaranteed Money than Martellus Bennett received, the Giants gave a TE/FB who has played more than 40% of snaps just twice in his five year career, totaling 51 receptions and 3 touchdowns. $8M guaranteed for a blocking TE in a year with some pretty good options in the draft. The Giants got smart with the Brandon Marshall signing, then outsmarted themselves.
Mike Glennon, Bears, 3 years/$45M, $18.5M guaranteed. The entirety of the Bears free agency could qualify, but part of a QB’s job is to take blame he doesn’t deserve, so we’ll focus on Glennon. The Bears gave a guy who hasn’t started a game since November of 2014, wasn’t particularly good in them, and attempted just 11 passes since then starter money. For half the price they could have kept Brian Hoyer, or they could have just just lit the money on fire. Good luck to whoever is GM in 2018, because it probably won’t be Ryan Pace, who bid against himself for a backup QB.
Matt Kalil, Panthers, 5 years/$55M, $31M guaranteed. The Panthers need offensive line help, and they still will. Kalil has been living off his rookie season rep for years, and played in just two games in 2016. The Panthers gave him the most guaranteed money of any offensive lineman this year.
Luke Joeckel, Seahawks, 1 year/$8M. Signing a 25 year old former top pick on a one year deal is smart move. Giving him $7M guaranteed to play a position he’s barely played if they put him at guard, or played terribly if they put him at left tackle, and coming off an ACL tear is putting far too much confidence in your staff that has assembled and coached a poor offensive line over the past couple of seasons. It would be a surprise if Joeckle is starting in December by choice.
Kyle Juszczyk, 49ers, 4 years/$21M, $5.25M guaranteed. No, Juszczyk isn’t your typical fullback in that he can block, catch and run. But that’s not reason to pay him like he’s a starting running back. Like the Bears, the entire 49ers offseason could qualify, and like Glennon, it’s not just the contract, it’s the reasoning behind it.
Six years, Niners fans. pic.twitter.com/KkFOQZwLXn— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) March 13, 2017
Maybe it’s just me, but don’t hire hilariously unqualified people to run your team.
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