Home / Football / Remembering some of the worst NFL free agency flops

Remembering some of the worst NFL free agency flops

Related eBooks
Julio Cortez/AP

Brock Osweiler skipped out of Denver after he took a back seat to Peyton Manning in the playoffs.

Sometimes it pays to be the new kid on the Brock.

The Denver Broncos’ plan for the future bolted at the prospect of dollar signs in Houston when the Texans offered Brock Osweiler a hefty four-year, $ 72 million deal with $ 37 million guaranteed.

Osweiler got his first real chance to prove himself when recently retired QB Peyton Manning was sent to the sidelines this past season, and the young quarterback delivered with seven solid starting performances. He went 5-2, threw 10 touchdowns and put the Broncos back on track for the playoffs where, ultimately, they returned to Manning’s leadership.


But Houston is taking a big risk betting on the 25-year-old, who isn’t exactly awash with experience after four seasons in the league and precisely zero starts prior to 2015.

Reactions to the decision have been mixed. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was recently franchise tagged, tweeted his support of Osweiler using his trademarked slogan.


Others weren’t so forgiving, though maybe they should have been. Matt Flynn — who signed a very questionable three-year contract with Seattle in 2012 and promptly had the starting job stolen from under his nose by Russell Wilson — called Osweiler’s contract “unbelievable.”

“Wow I know I’m going to get killed for this and I don’t have a lot of room to talk, but this latest QB contract is unbelievable,” Flynn wrote. At least he’s semi-self-aware.

Osweiler very well might pan out for the Texans, but if he doesn’t, his name could be added to the list of NFL free agency flops. Here are some of the worst (Flynn, to be fair, is at least an honorable mention).

Albert Haynesworth


One of Washington’s most dreadful free agency decisions was giving Albert Haynesworth a $ 100 million contract.

Washington has a bad reputation for more than just its mascot.

The team made a slew of awful signings in the late 90s and 2000s (think Adam Archuleta, Dana Stubblefield, Deion Sanders and more), but Haynesworth takes the cake. Washington gifted the defensive tackle with a seven-year, $ 100 million contract, and he gave them nothing but agita in return.

Haynesworth never got used to the new defensive scheme in Washington and constantly butted heads with head coach Mike Shanahan. After two unproductive seasons, he was gone from the nation’s capital and a year after that, gone from the league for good.

In a retrospective article Haynesworth wrote for “The Players’ Tribune,” he listed his move to Washington as his single biggest regret.

“When you hit free agency, Washington is going to offer you $ 100 million,” he wrote. “The $ 100 million will become a huge burden. Take less and stay in Tennessee where you belong.”

Alvin Harper

Alvin Harper won two Super Bowls in Dallas and then flamed out in Tampa Bay.SCOTT AUDETTE/AP

Alvin Harper won two Super Bowls in Dallas and then flamed out in Tampa Bay.


A pair of Super Bowl titles in Dallas made Harper a tantalizing prospect during free agency.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were willing to shell out in exchange for a high-quality wide receiver with winning experience, but Harper didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. He was hampered by injuries and spent only two seasons with the Bucs, totaling three touchdowns.

After bouncing around three different teams, he effectively bottomed out in the XFL.

Neil O’Donnell

Exported.;Albans, Mike/New York Daily News

Neil O’Donnell was not the franchise quarterback the New York Jets were looking for.

He was no Broadway Joe.

The Jets were looking for another franchise quarterback after five years mired in mediocrity, so they awarded O’Donnell with the biggest free agent contract in Jets history at the time.

O’Donnell didn’t win a single game in his first Jets season, and though he went 8-6 the following year, it wasn’t what New York was looking for. They sent him off and Vinny Testaverde came in to lead the Jets to the playoffs in 1998.

Scott Mitchell

The Detroit Lions gambled on QB Scott Mitchell, an inexperienced backup, and it didn't pay off.TOM PIDGEON/AP

The Detroit Lions gambled on QB Scott Mitchell, an inexperienced backup, and it didn’t pay off.

Like Osweiler, Mitchell had little starting experience — seven games, to be exact — when the Lions signed him for four years, $ 21 million.

He had sat in the shadows of Dan Marino in Miami, and the Lions were hoping some of the future Hall of Famer’s greatness had rubbed off on Mitchell. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Mitchell threw at least as many picks as touchdowns in three of his five seasons in the Motor City. He was the opposite of clutch in the playoffs, tossing four interceptions in the 1995 Wild Card game against the Eagles.

Nnamdi Asomugha

A highly touted defensive player, Nnamdi Asomugha's career began its descent with the Eagles.Lynne Sladky/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A highly touted defensive player, Nnamdi Asomugha’s career began its descent with the Eagles.

Signing with the Eagles was the start of Asomugha’s rapid descent.

Though he joined the Vince Young-led team on a five-year, $ 60 million contract, one of the most highly sought after free agents in 2011 couldn’t give Philadelphia the boost they expected. The Eagles went 12-20 in two seasons before releasing the defensive back, who lasted only part of one more season in the league before he was waived by the 49ers.

He did marry Kerry Washington that same year, though. You win some, you lose some.

Dale Carter

Dale Carter battled off-the-field problems with the Broncos and was suspended for the entire 2000 season.MARK BAKER/REUTERS

Dale Carter battled off-the-field problems with the Broncos and was suspended for the entire 2000 season.

The Broncos hated playing against Carter when he was with their AFC rival Chiefs.

So they went out and signed him for $ 22.8 million over four years. But Carter’s off-the-field problems had begun to surface, and in Denver they exploded.

He was suspended the entire 2000 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and the Broncos quickly parted ways with him. Carter’s Denver career consisted of 14 games in total.

[email protected]

nfl ,
lists ,
news break ,
nfl transactions ,
brock osweiler ,
albert haynesworth

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Football Rss Article only