Potential 2013 FAs: Hurting Their Value
With every team having played at least eight games, and some nine, the regular season is about halfway over. Although half a season doesn’t make the entire campaign, we can now start to predict what contracts, big and small, may be signed by potential 2013 unrestricted free agents. You’ve seen who’ve we selected as players who have added to their value with their bright starts to 2012, but now we’ll take a look at some of players who have hurt their free agent value in 2012.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
Jennings’ inclusion on this list isn’t about his poor play on the field, because he hasn’t really been on the field that much. With the emergence of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones at the wide receiver position, even if Jennings had continued his solid play, he very likely might have priced himself out of Green Bay. GM Ted Thompson needs to dole out extensions to Aaron Rodgers, B.J. Raji, and the aforementioned Nelson shortly. Although his -1.6 grade is far from acceptable, it’s the +6.7, +4.9, and +8.9 grades of Jones, Nelson and Cobb that might push Jennings out of town. That, along with his injuries, might result in his guaranteed money going down. He also turns 30 on September 21st of next season.
Jake Long, Miami Dolphins
After being a dominant performer for the first four years of his career, after he was drafted with the first overall pick in 2008, Long has looked very ordinary so far this season. Playing every single offensive snap, Long has an overall grade of -2.0, including a putrid -5.5 performance this past week against the Colts. Further hurting his value, the Dolphins have signaled that they likely intend to let him go, especially after drafting Jonathan Martin, who primarily played left tackle at Stanford. Long wants to get paid like Joe Thomas, and will likely get a nice contract after his fine play for the past four years. The big question is will teams hesitate if he continues to underperform down the stretch?
Connor Barwin, Houston Texans
Barwin is a candidate for the franchise tag, but the Texans would likely be better served if they let him walk into free agency like they did with Mario Williams. By doing so they would let their young outside linebackers in Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus develop. Although Barwin’s counting statistics aren’t terrible (three sacks, seven hits, 12 hurries, three batted passes), he has a -6.6 grade through eight games thus far, with six of those quarterback disruptions coming unblocked. Since being a second rounder in 2009, Barwin has been an up and down player for the Texans, playing on two poor defenses, though to be fair he did miss almost all of 2010 with an ankle injury. He then helped to turn around the 2011 unit that was one of the best in the league, yet still finished with a disappointing -9.0 grade. That performance is hardly deserving of a franchise tender, let alone a lucrative long-term contract.
LaRon Landry, New York Jets
The oft-injured sixth overall pick from 2007 has been a solid performer when he’s been on the field, logging a +14.5 cumulative grade from 2008-2011, which would have been much higher if not for a poor -9.7 grade in 2009. However, he missed 15 games combined in 2010-2011. That has been followed up with a well below average -6.8 grade for this year as he has struggled to regain his form after an Achilles injury sent him to the IR last season. After getting a one year ‘show-me’ deal from the Jets, Landry was obviously looking to put in a good year and cash in during the offseason. Unfortunately, it’s beginning to look like he might have to take another small contract and prove himself further.
Cliff Avril, Detroit Lions
Another 2008 draftee, this one who was a franchise designee last offseason, and briefly held out in training camp before signing his $10 million dollar tender, Avril has shown why the Lions were apprehensive about giving him a multi-year deal. Avril was invisible early in his career, but started to break out in 2009, and followed that up with a strong, but inconsistent 2010. He did the same in 2011, putting up good sack and hurry totals, but often disappeared in the most important games. This includes both New Orleans games, the Green Bay road game, the Atlanta game, and the Cowboys game where he graded out negatively. Over the first eight games of the season, Avril has put up a -3.8 grade, with just one positively graded performance, while being on the field for 67% of the snaps. Mark Anderson got $19.5 million from the Bills after playing as a situational pass rusher in New England, but he played much better than Avril is playing this season. Is that Avril’s ceiling in free agency? Only time will tell.
Marcus Trufant, Seattle Seahawks
In Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, the Seahawks have two young, physical, corners to shutdown opposing wide receivers for the next 10 years. That has pushed Trufant to slot cornerback, a role that he hadn’t been previously exposed to. Trufant now sees an inconsistent number of snaps, always depending on the matchup. Against Detroit and New England, he played nearly every snap because of the spread look that those teams employ. However, in every other game, he played fewer than 35. Turning 32 in December, will he seek to start for one of the many cornerback needy teams in the league? Or, might he choose to resign with Seattle’s stout defense as a bit player?