Silva did a great job breaking down some of the best free agent bargains. Now it’s my turn to do a mediocre job looking at some players that will get overpaid in free agency.
These are some buyer beware options in free agency.
1. Marques Colston, Saints wideout
The surgeries are well documented. I’m less worried about the injury risk because Colston has only missed ten career games, including three in the last three years.
I’m more concerned that you will have to pay for his past production and that production matches up with the game’s elite receivers since 2006. You aren’t likely to get anything close to that production unless you also have Drew Brees throwing Colston the ball.
Brees’ pinpoint accuracy and trust in Colston creates a lot of plays that aren’t there because Colston doesn’t get much separation. Ultimately, he’s a possession receiver.
2-3. Pierre Garcon and Mario Manningham, wide receivers
I’m listing these two together because they are in many ways the same guy. They can look like No. 1 receivers for stretches, but they make way too many mental errors and drop too many passes to invest big money on. Those mental errors are only going to pick up from Peyton and Eli Manning.
Garcon and Manningham are borderline No. 2/3 receivers that will get paid like No. 1 receivers.
4. Jared Gaither, Chargers tackle
Just look at the tackle list available. Gaither is the most talented player by far and he’s worth a gamble if the price was low. I doubt the price will be low.
Gaither’s back issues can’t be overlooked. He missed five games in 2009, all of 2010, and made a successful contract push with five terrific starts in San Diego. After five years in the league, you usually are what you are. Gaither is unreliable.
5. Demetrius Bell, Bills tackle
High demand and no product will create a free agent feeding frenzy at tackle. There just aren’t quality tackles available, so someone will overpay for Bell. You are better off looking in the bargain bin or just drafting and developing.
6. Jarrett Johnson, Ravens linebacker
Johnson has been one of the most underrated players in the league for a while. But you aren’t getting those years. You are getting a 10-year veteran that is ready to decline at age 31. Maybe you get a good year, but it will cost too much. He won’t look the same away from all the talent and the system in Baltimore.
7. Curtis Lofton, Falcons linebacker
Lofton is a fine two-down player, but teams can only pay so many players at star-level prices. I don’t want to pay huge bucks to a guy that doesn’t rush the passer or play effectively on passing downs. There are too many low cost inside linebackers out there, like Stephen Tulloch.
8-10. David Garrard, Brady Quinn, and Donovan McNabb, quarterbacks
These should be obvious. But this is a year with plenty of halfway decent “1A” options like Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, and Josh Johnson.
11. Randy Moss, UStream star
Don’t fall for the excuses or the reports about his great workout. He was dumped by three teams in the span of one season, and then spent a year out of football. He’s 35 years old. That’s all I need to know.
Teams will hold on to talent as long as possible and Moss simply wasn’t that talented in the 2010 season. There is almost no historical precedent for a truly successful comeback at this point. You only want Moss if he can start.
(I could also throw Reggie Wayne into my “likely to be overpaid” pile, but I’m tired of picking on wideouts.)
12-13. Carlos Rogers and Marcus Trufant, cornerbacks
Beware the over-30 free agent cornerbacks. It’s only a matter of time before their level of play declines. Rogers is a nice candidate for a one-year deal, but my guess is that he’ll be able to get more.
14. Reggie Nelson, Bengals safety
Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer changed Nelson into a different player, but he still takes bad angles and isn’t a good tackler. It is telling that the Bengals aren’t extending financially to keep Nelson.
15. Cedric Benson, Bengals running back
Benson may actually have been a little underrated the last two years in Cincinnati, but that doesn’t matter now. He’s a 30-year-old back that doesn’t help on passing downs or special teams. Guys like him quickly fall from a 250-carry back to an en-player. Benson will get a job, but not the starting gig he wants.