Worst, Best Free Agent Deals So Far

Ah, free agency. The best time of year for overrated NFL free agents to get criminally overpaid and make the big bucks while their team slowly sinks into mediocrity because they can’t afford to pay any actual players. Okay, enough satirical sarcasm and onto football analysis. It happens every free agency, on the first day, several players get way-too-big contracts and the teams with less cap space stand by and pick up a steal on day two or three. Here are some of the best and worst contracts given out so far.

*Note: This of 3/17/2019 at 11:46 a.m.

Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers

Previously of the Atlanta Falcons, Coleman had a breakout season filling in as the number one back for the injury-riddled Devonta Freeman. In 2018, Coleman carried the ball 167 times and gained 800 yards (4.8 avg) with 4 touchdowns. Through the air, he added 276 yards on 32 catches (8.6 avg)  with 5 touchdowns. I had heard prior to the legal tampering period (March 11) that Coleman would garner a lot of interest, and would likely receive $8-9 million per year. But Coleman was left without a deal after free agency opened up on Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon, was still unsigned. San Fran then reunited Coleman and his former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, now the 49ers head coach. The deal is for 2 years, $10 million, and the 49ers got an absolute steal.

Verdict: Good Deal

Golden Tate, New York Giants

Traded from Detroit to Philadelphia at the trade deadline, the 30-year-old Tate gave the Eagles a shifty slot threat that they previously didn’t have. With the Lions and Eagles in 2018, Tate caught 74 passes for 795 yards (10.7 avg) and 4 touchdowns. He’s obviously still an effective receiver, but I simply don’t see where the Giants are coming from here. They are evidently trying to rebuild, but giving a 30-year-old slot receiver 4 years and $37.5 million doesn’t make much sense to me. They’re not tight against the cap for the future as I’ve been told, but they would have been much better off investing in young and/or cheap talent for now.

Verdict: Bad Deal

Kwon Alexander, San Francisco 49ers

Alexander, 25, played well enough in his young career to earn himself a 4 year, $54 million contract with the 49ers. We had a small sample size of his play in 2018, as he made 45 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles in six games played. In his career of 4 years, he has played 46 games, racked up 380 tackles, 7 sacks, 22 pass deflections, and 6 interceptions, including 1 pick six. His best season came in 2016, where he appeared in all 16 games and recorded 145 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 pass deflections, and 1 interception that he returned for a touchdown. Durability issues have been a concern with Alexander. He’s played a full season only once, and has missed at least 4 games in every other year. Also, Alexander has missed the most tackles in football since he entered the league in 2014 according to PFF. To me, this contract is simply too big, because we have not seen enough of him. Coming off a torn ACL, a 1 year “prove-it” deal would’ve made more sense here.

Verdict: Bad Deal

Adrian Amos, Green Bay Packers

The Packers swiped starting strong safety Adrian Amos from  the rival Chicago Bears. Amos has come into his own in the past two years after being nothing but a mere backup in his first two seasons as a pro. In the past two seasons, Amos has racked up 142 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 interceptions, as opposed to 132 tackles, 1 sack, and 0 interceptions in his first two seasons. Amos is a hard hitting box safety who is a good open field tackler, but nothing else. He is absolutely horrific in pass coverage. Maybe the biggest reason he’s broken out the last two seasons is because of the arrival of all-pro free safety Eddie Jackson, who can easily cover up Amos’ inability to cover. “Well how do we know he’s so bad in coverage?” Let’s take a look at this tweet from Nick Whalen, where he gives five clips from the Bears vs. Eagles wild card game (where Eddie Jackson was out for the entire game) where Amos blew coverage five(!) times. Please, click the hyperlink and watch each clip if you think Amos deserved a 4 year, $36 million contract with Green Bay. People will quickly notice how overrated Amos is once they see him play full time without an elite free safety. Also, when looking at the tweet, read the entire thread, as it will make more sense.

Verdict: Bad Deal

Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets

Bell has established himself as one of the most prolific running backs in today’s game, as he excels as both a patient, slippery runner and an elite pass catcher out of the backfield. Bell made a serious business decision in 2018 and sat out the entire season due to a contract impasse with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 5 seasons played, he has 1,229 carries for 5,336 yards (4.3 avg) and 35 touchdowns. He’s also racked up 312 receptions for 2,660 yards (8.5 avg) and 7 touchdowns, including 80+ reception seasons in 2014 (83) and 2017 (85). Although Bell reportedly turned down a 5 year, $70 million deal with the Steelers, he only signed a 4 year, $52 million contract with the Jets. Now, Sam Darnold has versatile weapon that can take all the pressure off of him, and the Jets also got him for a lot less than Bell thought he was worth.

Verdict: Good Deal

Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay Packers

A few years ago, the Packers were said to be trying to trade for Smith, but the Ravens would not give him up. Now, Green Bay gets a really good, young player that they’ve coveted for years, and they fill a big need at a very important position. In 2018, definitely his best season in his four year career, the 26 year old racked up 45 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Smith played himself into a 4 year, $66 million contract with the Packers on their new-look front seven. Durability is certainly not a concern with Smith. He played all 16 games in 2018 and has never missed more than 3 games in a season.

Verdict: Good Deal

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Chicago Bears

Who better to replace Amos with than the former Packer Clinton-Dix? Unlike Amos, HCD is a very good cover safety, and is also a good box safety and is about as good of a tackler as Amos. In 2018 (7 games with Washington, 9 games with Green Bay), Clinton-Dix made 93 tackles, 6 pass deflections, 1 sack, and 3 interceptions (the same number Amos has in his career). Still only 26, HCD is just entering the prime of his career, and signed 1 year, $3.5 million deal with the Bears. He told Chicago reporters he turned down much more money elsewhere to sign with the Bears and be part of that culture and defense. At about a third of the cost per year, the Bears may be getting a better player, and certainly a more versatile player.

Verdict: Good Deal