Wow, Now That's RichWednesday, April 04, 2012
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The 2012 free agency period has slowed considerably since mid-March, giving us time to reflect fully upon signings that took place over the past three weeks. Looking ahead, Rotoworld draft analyst Josh Norris will soon begin cranking out weekly reports on offensive skill positions as the April 26-28 draft approaches. For now, let's take a look back at players whose recently signed contracts don’t match their on-the-field performance.
1. Vikings tight end John Carlson
Carlson's five-year, $25 million deal made him the NFL's 12th-highest paid tight end in terms of annual average. While his $9.1 million in guarantees were more reasonable and put Carlson a few notches lower in the league's tight end contract rankings, it's still quite a pricey sum for a guy who didn't play a down last year and lacked an impressive track record in previous seasons.
Carlson ran a 4.89 forty at the 2008 Scouting Combine and has struggled mightily as a blocker in the NFL. He has a history of concussions and tore a labrum in his shoulder last August. While Carlson will be 100 percent for OTAs, his first four seasons suggest Carlson stands little to no chance of meeting the expectations set forth by the money he's making. Especially once 2011 second-round pick Kyle Rudolph easily surpasses him as Minnesota's go-to option at tight end.
2. Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright
Wright, who ranked 104th of 109 in Pro Football Focus' 2011 cornerback rankings, became the NFL's 16th-richest corner when he inked a five-year, $38 million deal on March 14. The contract includes $15.5 million in guarantees and locks in Wright through at least the 2014 offseason. Tampa Bay wasn't the only team hot for Wright's services, but they were clearly willing to pay the most despite two straight poor seasons. Wright was benched in Cleveland the previous year.
Wright is only 26 -- he turns 27 in July -- and talent has never been an issue. He appeared to be emerging as a top-ten NFL corner as recently as the 2009 season, when Wright picked off four passes as a 16-game starter for the Browns. The Bucs aren't paying Wright for 2011 and 2010. They're wagering he'll maximize his abilities in new coach Greg Schiano's scheme. It's an expensive gamble.
3. Browns defensive end Frostee Rucker
The 91st pick in the 2006 draft, Rucker's six-year Bengals tenure can be described as pedestrian at best. He's registered seven sacks in 53 games (19 starts) with a career high of four in 2011. Rucker is entering his age-29 campaign, and he could never have been mistaken for an explosive edge rusher. At the cost of $20.5 million over five years, the Browns expect him to be their new starting right end.
Rucker was arrested in college for spousal battery and vandalism, and was fined one game check in the NFL. He's ended a season on I.R. three times in six years, making it through 16 games once in his career. The Browns gave a $5 million signing bonus to a player with medical and character red flags who's been sparingly productive through six seasons. That's not very good business.
4. Jaguars wide receiver Laurent Robinson
Robinson's five-year, $32.5 million contract made him the league's 18th-highest paid receiver in annual average and 16th in guarantees per year. Robinson preyed on single coverage as the Dallas' third receiver last season while Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Miles Austin got the defensive attention. Prior to 2011, Robinson had never caught more than 37 balls or cleared 13 yards per catch across four years in the NFL. His previous career high in touchdowns was two.
GM Gene Smith would say otherwise, but the Jags seemed to operate with desperation in their Robinson pursuit. Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker, and DeSean Jackson were all franchise tagged. Stevie Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon, and Reggie Wayne had all already signed. The Jags never wanted Brandon Lloyd or Mario Manningham, so they set their sights on Robinson and overpaid. Hopefully, Blaine Gabbert can get him the ball.