Overrated NFL Free Agent Pickups
by Trevor Whenham - 8/3/2011
The craziness of this NFL free agency season has led to some serious hype by the media. Bandwagons are being jumped onto and off of at a record pace as the media writes and talks about the high-profile moves with great excitement. Some of the excitement is warranted, but for every move worthy of the hype there are a couple which are quite possibly heading towards disaster. Here are six moves that are getting more attention — and generating more excitement in the betting public — than they should be:
Kevin Kolb to Arizona - I said I was talking about free agents, and then I start with a guy who isn’t a free agent. Since Kolb was the one piece that started the whole QB revolving door spinning this year, though, his inclusion makes sense here.
Does Kolb have potential? Sure. Has he ever done anything on the field to assure us that he can reach that potential? Not really. Arizona paid a big price to get Kolb and they are banking on his success now and into the future. It’s a huge risk.
The obvious comparisons are to Matt Schaub and Matt Cassel because they both joined their new teams in similar circumstances. While both players have had their moments, neither has yet carried their team to the promised land.
The Cardinals are a fragile team in a vulnerable conference, so it is debatable whether they made the right move by banking on the success of this player. The public is clearly excited by this move, so there is a very good chance that their expectations will be higher than they should be.
Sidney Rice to Seattle - there is a lot of hype around Rice right now, but I am decidedly not on his bandwagon. He has had just one good year in the four years he has been in the league, and in that season he benefited from being the favorite target of a comfortable and effective Brett Favre. He has injury issues, and I have real questions about his attitude as well.
He has familiarity with Tarvaris Jackson, but Jackson’s success in Seattle is far from assured. Seattle has really struggled to bring in top-level receivers and make them successful, so it only makes sense to be skeptical here.
I really don’t think that Rice will perform up to the level he is expected to by the betting public. There are a few other guys from Seattle who could be mentioned here as well. They have made some bold moves, but I am not sure that they are going to have a high rate of success. I am bearish on the team.
Takeo Spikes to San Diego - Spikes is a solid player, but he is 14 years into his career and he has lost more than a step. He reads plays well and understands the game well. He’s not nearly as good as he should be in man coverage or on deep passing plays, though.
The Chargers need an upgrade on defense. Seven years ago Spikes would have been the answer. Now he is at best a short-term, band-aid solution for a team that should be looking for a longer-term answer.
Darren Sproles to New Orleans - Several times now I have heard about how Sproles is a massive upgrade over Reggie Bush. I don’t see how.
He has just 1,154 career rushing yards, and in 2009 when he had his best total numbers he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. He has been in the league for six years already, and he has missed one full season to injury.
There is a chance that he’ll be very good, but given his size, his age, and his lack of proven performance I’m not betting on his success. Bush’s departure removes a distraction and gives everyone a chance to start over, but I don’t expect Sproles to be dramatically more than what they had.
Plaxico Burress to New York Jets - People are talking about Burress as a potential difference maker for the Jets — A guy who will more than make up for the loss of Braylon Edwards.
A big part of that, obviously, is the redemption story. The public loves that at the best of times, and Michael Vick’s success has only fueled that desire.
The facts aren’t particularly optimistic, though — he will be 34 when the season starts, he hasn’t been in the league for two years, and his last season was statistically his worst since his rookie year. I’m just not on his bandwagon.
Donovan McNabb to Minnesota — Years from now the Vikings will be studied as an example of how not to manage the QB situation. They left Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels hanging last year before hitching themselves yet again to Brett Favre and all his baggage. That didn’t work, so they obviously needed to head in a new direction.
Instead of recognizing what they had and working with that while getting Christian Ponder ready to take over, they decided they needed to bring in a big name.
McNabb doesn’t have quite as much baggage as Favre, but it’s close. After his season in Washington last year there is no guarantee at all that he will be successful here, and there is also no guarantee that he’ll be a positive influence in the locker room.
Expectations are high for McNabb, but if he doesn’t find early success then the pressure could mount and that could only spell trouble. It’s been a couple of years since McNabb was consistently strong, so this is a risk that the Vikings should not be looking to take. The potential reward just isn’t big enough.
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