Free Agency

The past two days, NFL teams around the country have been opening up the checkbooks, throwing big money at free agents in order to lure them to town, with the hopes that they’ll plug a hole on their roster and help them get over the top. Typically, these moves have both the franchise and its fans excited, looking forward to a promising future.

But history teaches us that for every free agent that will pan out, there are just as many that will turn into complete busts. For every newcomer that ultimately is a good use of money, there are plenty that end up a complete waste of dollars.

Will any of this year’s signings be labeled a “bust” in future years? Time will tell. Maybe the Broncos won’t regret signing T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware. Perhaps the Jets won’t rue the day they gave Eric Decker big money. There’s a chance the Lions will be glad they inked Golden Tate to a long-term deal.

But odds are that a few of those moves will turn out to be mistakes. That’s the lesson smart teams have learned over the years.

To reiterate the point, here are the 10 worst free-agent signings in NFL history:


10. Mike Wallace (Dolphins)


Wallace is heading toward the “bust” label.

This may seem a little unfair. After all, it was just a year ago that Wallace inked his five-year, $60 million deal with Miami. But it’s not hard to see how this is going to turn out. There are plenty of people already regretting the move, after Wallace posted a very pedestrian 73-catch, 930-yard, five-TD season in year one with the Dolphins.

9. Elvis Grbac (Ravens)


Grbac was one-and-done in Baltimore.

Months after winning the Super Bowl, Baltimore decided to jettison the quarterback who led them to a title, Trent Dilfer, and replace him with Grbac, who they gave a five-year, $30-million deal, which included $11 million guaranteed. After one season with the Ravens, where he threw 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, Elvis left the building for good.


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  1. Dan Synder as the Redskins owner has a lot more than 2 of the top 3. Redskin fan for 45 years. I know they will never be in the Super Bowl until Synder is out.

    • Dan & Jerry Jones drink the same kool-aid, don’t they ?
      “Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked-up here!”

  2. Johnstone

    Andre Rison’s time in Cleveland deserves to be on this list, became highest paid WR in league history and caught 47 balls and 3 TDs in the last season for the 1st generation Browns

  3. How about Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and of course Vince Young. – Philadelphia Eagles

  4. Terry Roberts

    It would make more sense if it came down as a minimum salary for playing football and tie all the other money into performance. Maybe then players would actually perform instead of falling apart when they trade teams. Of course for player protection, terms to be set up before contract time.

  5. Terry Roberts

    Ravens were really stupid taking Grbac over a proven superbowl quarterback! I know that from the time he played in Kansas City!

  6. Dan Deecj

    Garcia shouldn’t be in the top 10. Cleveland was and is just horrible. He left and was actually productive.

  7. I also dont like Wallaces signing with Miami, but its way too early to call it one of the 10 worst signings.