10 worst free agent signings though Week 4

Eric Eager breaks down the 10 worst free agent signings, in terms of value, so far this season.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

10 worst free agent signings though Week 4

In our previous article, PFF listed the top 10 free agent acquisitions from this past offseason, in terms of value thus far in 2015. While the teams that acquired those 10 players should feel great about their decisions, some teams may be wishing they had their money back. Let’s take a look at the bottom 10 free-agent acquisitions, in terms of value, through the first four weeks of 2015:


1. Byron Maxwell, CB, PHI (six years, $63 million, -5.7)

The acquisition of Maxwell was one of the most notable moves of the offseason, with many questioning whether he was truly a player worthy of his contract, or simply a product of Seattle’s system. He has performed poorly for the Eagles thus far, grading negatively in the first three games (before being injured in the fourth).

Despite Maxwell having two pass breakups, opponents have completed 21-of-25 passes against him for 315 yards and a 145.4 NFL passer rating. His 2.30 yards per coverage snap is the highest in the NFL.


2. Brandon Browner, CB, NO (three years, $18 million, -11.1)

PFF’s lowest-graded cornerback through four weeks, Browner has looked out of place in New Orleans, complementing his normal penchant for penalties (a league-high 7) with poor pass coverage. While Browner has yet to give up a touchdown pass, he has surrendered 25.9 yards per catch, and missed three tackles. His 2.24 yards per coverage snap is tied for second-most in the NFL.


3. DeMarco Murray, HB, PHI (five years, $42 million, -2.3)

After a tremendous year in 2014, Murray has struggled mightily after transitioning to Philadelphia. While offensive line play has certainly contributed to his abysmal 1.6 yards per carry through three games (he missed Week 3 with an injury), he has only 59 yards after contact, which is good for only 46th out of 61 qualifying RBs, and his seven missed tackles forced are good for only 25th. He was first and second in those categories in 2014, respectively.


4. Jared Odrick, DE, JAX (five years, $42.5 million, -7.4)

Signed to complement Sen’Derrick Marks, Odrick has struggled in Mark’s absence. After posting a +9.0 PFF grade for Miami in 2014, Odrick has been the NFL’s lowest-graded 4-3 DE with poor grades both against the run (-3.2) and rushing the passer (-4.1). His pass rush productivity of 3.3 percent ranks third-lowest among 22 qualified 4-3 DEs, with his run stop percentage of 5.7 percent coming in at 15th out of 30.


5. Curtis Lofton, ILB, OAK (three years, $18 million, -8.2)

This signing was puzzling at the time, given Lofton’s performance over recent years ( -21.5, 0.0, -7.6 PFF grades over the past three seasons). Little is different with a change in scenery, as Lofton has the fourth-worst grade amongst ILB’s, despite playing the 12th-most snaps. Opposing QBs are 16-for-16 throwing in his direction, including two touchdowns and a 148.2 NFL passer rating. His stop percentage of 4.6 percentage ranks 29th out of 36 qualifying ILBs.


6. Orlando Franklin, G, SD (five years, $35.5 million, -4.4)

In a year where many relatively-cheap free agent O-linemen have performed poorly, Franklin has stood out due his poor pass blocking (he is tied for fourth amongst guards in QB hurries allowed, with nine, in just 2.5 games). His run blocking grade (+0.3) has been a positive, but there’s no doubt San Diego was expecting more when they signed Franklin for $7.1 million per year.


7. Antonio Cromartie, CB, NYJ (four years, $32 million, -4.7)

In his return to the New York Jets, Cromartie has been shaky against the run (-1.5) and in pass coverage (-2.5). While opposing quarterbacks have completed just 9-of-16 passes against him, three of those passes have gone for touchdowns, and he has committed three penalties. Cromartie has also missed two tackles, and has failed to make a run stop through four weeks.


8. Michael Oher, LT, CAR (two years, $7 million, -9.9)

Oher has struggled for of the past few years (-20.2, -17.1, -16.6, -11.6, -11.3 PFF grades over the past five season), suggesting that, even at $3.5 million per season he was no bargain. The poor play has continued even with his transition to Carolina, where he has rated as the fourth-worst run blocking offensive tackle in the NFL. He has also committed two penalties, surrendered two sacks, and given up seven QB hurries.


8. Greg Jennings, WR, MIA (two years, $8 million, -7.2)

A few free agent wide receivers in Jennings’ price range have performed poorly this season, but the Dolphin has been the worst of the bunch, with the second-lowest PFF grade amongst WR in the NFL. Targeted just 15 times, Jennings has managed seven receptions on those targets for a total of 54 yards, including 8 yards after the catch and three drops.


10. Chris Culliver, CB, WAS (four years, $32 million, -4.1)

While Culliver was solid in 2014 (+8.0 PFF grade) for San Francisco, many were surprised Washington was willing to give him $8 million per season in free agency. Through three games (he missed Week 2 with an injury) he has given up seven completions on only 11 targeted throws, good for 13th in coverage snaps per reception.

But these completions have gone for 15.6 yards per reception and a touchdown, good for a 126.7 NFL passer rating. He has also produced zero stops in the run game, and committed two penalties. The sample size is small here, and there is plenty of time for Culliver to turn it around, but thus far, he hasn’t produced at a level commensurate with his contract.


If you haven’t already, be sure to check out PFF’s best 10 free agent signings through Week 4 of the season.

| Analyst

Eric Eager joined Pro Football Focus in 2015. He is currently working on a number of analytics projects, primarily focused on the NFL.

  • Samuel Myers

    Odrick scored 6.5 against Miami, so the description here is obviously lacking in depth, and at the very least ought to be counterpointed by his fine performance in that game. Separately, it’s hard to believe he has really been -14 across three other games. The whole defensive line had issues against the Colts although they dominated in the run game, and given the Jags’ success defending the run most of the season it’s hard to believe, again, that one of their most prominent players would have graded below 4 in all but one game where he was above 6. Probably requires a bit more of an explanation than is given here.

    • Jaguars28

      They dropped his grade in that game but it’s still pretty ridiculous. Oh well.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      his grade is his grade tho, no explanation needed, i think the size of his contract plays a factor in being on this list as well

    • Nik Hildebrand

      Odrick’s grades
      vs CAR: -3.9
      vs MIA: 4.5
      at NE: -3.7
      at IND: -4.3
      Total: -7.4

    • dante

      If the Jags moved Odrick inside to his natural DT position I’m sure his grade would go up, quite possibly even significantly would it go up.
      There was a season when Miami played him at DRE & he was abysmal rushing the passer (I did see him throw backup Miami LT Jason Fox to the side to sack the QB & again & again to put a hit or hurry the QB. But who doesn’t? It’s J. Fox ): ) But while his pass rush may suffer from his playing out of his natural position his run defense should be solid. He excelled for us most as a 4-3 DT & was very solid as a 3-4 DE. By far, though 4-3 DE, especially RDE was his worst position he played while with us.

  • Greg

    No Dwayne Bowe? 9 mil to sit on the sideline

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi


    • crosseyedlemon

      9 mil to have someone guard the Gatorade does seem to be a bit excessive. I’d be willing to do the job for half that amount.

  • Douglass Pinkard

    Amen regarding Cromartie.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Even though Murray has been a bust to this point I think the strategy of trying to steal an impact player from a division rival is a sound one.

    • Matt

      It’s not a steal if the division rival didn’t want him.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Cowboys simply couldn’t afford to pay both Murray and Bryant…it was never a question of wanting one but not the other.

        • jody

          I’m sure that’s what they told Murray and his agent…

          • crosseyedlemon

            We don’t know what Jerry Jones said to the agents but we do know what he said before the media when explaining his decision.

          • crosseyedlemon

            We don’t know what Jerry Jones said to the agents but we do know what he said before the media when explaining his decision.

  • Darnell

    Why do teams take these Seattle CBs and ask them to do anything but what they were asked to do in Seattle? Ask Maxwell and Browner to do what they’ve done well. They’re both flawed players who can be very good when played to their strengths.

    Seattle takes a guy in Cary Williams, who fits their height/arm length/aggressiveness requirements, teaches him their system, and he becomes a solid starter for them.

    • jody

      Would love to see Richard Sherman’s performance on another team… :) Pretty sure he wouldn’t be so loquacious…

      • Patrick

        He would still be great.. Sherman is not like the other SEA CBs. The Seahawks primarily plays cover 1 and 3 with a single high safety (Earl), and they primarily lean coverage away from Sherman, which means that Earl over the top at Cary Williams side most of the time. Sherman is basically playing on a island on the left side.
        And no I’m not making this up. I am getting it from Sam Monson who works for PFF…

        • Anonymous

          Sure didn’t look like they were “leaning coverage away” from him when Tim freaking Wright caught that ball in between him, Earl AND Kam.

          A cover-3 ZONE is a ZONE, RCB, FS, LCB all responsible for a third of the field, so there’s no leaning of coverage. When they play cover-1, I guarantee you he’s not on an island with the number 1 guy for 2 reasons: 1. The #1 guys usually moves around, he doesn’t. So he’ll likely only match up with that guy a handful of times a game (see Detroit game for perfect example) 2. Even when the #1 is lined up across from Sherman, he has help. They only don’t give him help when he’s lined up against some bum (Packers game last season).

          • Darnell

            Whatever they’ve been doing, it seems to have been working for some time now.

            I can’t even recall the last time a #1 WR went off against Seattle.

            Marshall on Browner comes to mind.

          • Patrick

            1. Tim Wright was not Shermans man. Kam even said in his press conference after the game that he was responsible for Tim.
            2. Yes they do lean coverage. When Earl is lined up deep, he is usally lined up on the hash marks away from Sherman not near Sherman.
            3. When i said he was on an island i didn’t mean that he was on the number 1 guy the whole game. I meant that because they lean coverage away from him, he is usually alone with his man.
            4. Of course he has help some time, but most of the time he does not have help! The RCB (Cary Williams) receives the help.
            I would rather listen to real experts like the PFF writers and other sportswriters, than an anonymous commenter. Like i wrote earlier: I am not making this up. I got this from articles and podcasts made by experts. According to them, SEA usually leans coverage with Earl away from Sherman, and i choose to believe that!

  • John

    No Suh? He’s not quite looking like a $100 Million man

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      he’s their best player on D, while no DT is worth that contract (esp the way they built the cap number next year), he is not their main problem

  • jarem

    Culliver gave up most of those 15 yards per catch last week where he played on one leg…so not too worried about him being one of the worst signings

  • AJ

    It’s almost like the Eagles were trying to prove they could make a worse free-agent signing than Nnamdi.

  • Leanne Harrington

    No Julius Thomas? Guy hasn’t even played yet, started with his regular MO, sit out hurt.

  • CioccSonoma

    How’s Darnell Dockett doing?

  • NAJ

    Bit of a surprise seeing this, Culliver and Franklin were 2 of the best available free agents per PFF rankings. Shows how scheme fit and other life aspects may affect a player’s performance

    • Teddy

      Culliver was on the main site’s top 10 list until this past week, he was playing hurt and got beaten badly on two long touchdowns. I’d expect he won’t be on this list for long

  • MJ

    Chris Culliver was suspended for week 2….. Not injured

  • Panthers

    How is Oher a terrible signing? Carolina got him for a low price, especially for LTs, and he is preforming way better than Byron Bell did a year ago. PFF had Bell as the 73rd ranked Tackle out of 74 eligible tackles. Cam has been more stable throwing the ball inside the pocket and his sacks numbers so far have heavily decreased since last year. Outside Oher Carolina made no changes from their OLine from Week 12 fowards. They ranked 22nd last year, and now 2nd this year according to PFF. So clearly he is doing a better job than you guys give credit for. Unless Oher is the worst Tackle in all of football (which he isn’t close) this was an upgrade for the Panthers OLine. So how is this a bad FA signing?