The 10 Worst NFL Free Agency Contracts of 2017

The free agency period of every NFL offseason reminds us that literally every franchise in the league would prefer to build their roster through the draft. Bargain NFL free agency signings that yield All-Pro and Pro Bowl-caliber seasons are few and far between, while a team overextending themselves for a mediocre player happens far too frequently. Here is a look at the 10 worst NFL free agency contracts of 2017.

1. Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, now with the San Francisco 49ers, sits on the bench.

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, now with the San Francisco 49ers, sits on the bench. | Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Contract length: 5 years
Total money: $47.5 million
Total guaranteed money: $20 million
Guaranteed at signing: $17 million

This one is truly a head-scratcher. While Pierre Garcon has had an excellent NFL career (564 receptions, 7,068 yards, and 37 touchdowns), we just don’t see how the 49ers can justify this contract. The former Mount Union star is a standup guy and a true professional. His presence should do wonders for the San Francisco locker room. But when it comes down to it, he only has two career 1,000-yard seasons and has yet to score more than six touchdowns in a single season.

2. Russell Okung, LT, Los Angeles Chargers

Tackle Russell Okung of the Seattle Seahawks speaks to the media during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day.

Tackle Russell Okung, now with the Los Angeles Chargers, speaks to the media during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day. | Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Contract length: 4 years
Total money: $53 million
Total guaranteed money: $25 million
Guaranteed at signing: $25 million

This contract serves as a straightforward lesson on supply and demand. Only a handful of NFL teams can boast that they don’t have a pressing need at left tackle. With a weak draft class at the position, the veteran left tackles who hit the open market got paid handsomely.

Ever since his days at Oklahoma State, Russell Okung has oozed with potential. Unfortunately, a string of injuries derailed his career with the Seattle Seahawks, and he was average (at best) in his lone season with the Denver Broncos. We would like to think that Okung could still become the Pro Bowl-caliber player he seemed destined to be coming out of college. But the reality of the situation here is that the Chargers paid big money for a run-of-the-mill player.

3. Mike Glennon, QB, Chicago Bears

Mike Glennon, now with the Chicago Bears, throws a pass.

Mike Glennon, now with the Chicago Bears, throws a pass. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Contract length: 3 years
Total money: $45 million
Total guaranteed money: $18.5 million
Guaranteed at signing: $18.5 million

This contract isn’t terrible when you factor in both the going rate for starting NFL quarterbacks and the fact that the Bears had yet to mortgage their future on Mitchell Trubisky in the 2017 NFL Draft. That said, you can’t ignore the fact that Mike Glennon is relatively unproven as a starter in the NFL. (We all saw what happened when the Houston Texans pulled a similar move in signing Brock Osweiler.) On top of that, Trubisky’s presence essentially guarantees that Glennon will only be the Bears’ starter for one season — at a cost of $18.5 million.

4. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Robert Woods, now with the Los Angeles Rams, makes a catch past Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals.

Robert Woods, now with the Los Angeles Rams, makes a catch past Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals. | Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Contract length: 5 years
Total money: $34 million
Total guaranteed money: $15 million
Guaranteed at signing: $10 million

It seems like the Rams have searched for help at the wide receiver position ever since Torry Holt — the last remnant of “the greatest show on turf”  left as a free agent in 2009. The position was one of their biggest areas of need again this offseason. Instead of making a run at guys like Terrelle Pryor, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Marshall, or Alshon Jeffry, the Rams shelled out a ridiculous contract for Robert Woods.

The former USC Trojan spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills, where he never lived up to his immense potential. Woods’ best season came in 2014 when he caught 65 passes for 699 yards and five touchdowns.

5. Kyle Juszczyk, FB, San Francisco 49ers

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, now with the San Francisco 49ers, is tackled by strong safety Jahleel Addae of the San Diego Chargers.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, now with the San Francisco 49ers, is tackled by strong safety Jahleel Addae of the San Diego Chargers. | Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Contract length: 4 years
Total money: $21 million
Total guaranteed money: $9.75 million
Guaranteed at signing: $7 million

This is in no way a knock on Kyle Juszczyk as a player. In our eyes, the former Harvard standout is easily one of the top two or three fullbacks in the league. However, when you consider the following facts, it is clear that Juszczyk’s contract is borderline outrageous:

  • Juszczyk’s contract makes him the ninth-highest paid running back in the NFL.
  • Juszczyk’s contract is substantially bigger than every NFL free agency contract signed by a running back in 2017.

6. Kenny Britt, WR, Cleveland Browns

Kenny Britt, now with the Cleveland Browns, stretches out over the goal line for a touchdown.

Kenny Britt, now with the Cleveland Browns, stretches out over the goal line for a touchdown. | Leon Halip/Getty Images

Contract length: 4 years
Total money: $32.5 million
Total guaranteed money: $17 million
Guaranteed at signing: $10.5 million

Simply put: This move made little sense to us. Not only did the Browns allow Terrelle Pryor, an Ohio native with a seemingly unlimited amount of upside as a wide receiver, to sign with the Washington Redskins on a team-friendly deal (one-year, $6 million), but also they went out and spent way more money on Kenny Britt, who has only one 1,000-yard receiving season in his eight-year NFL career.

7. Lawrence Timmons, LB, Miami Dolphins

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons, now with the Miami Dolphins, chases a ball carrier.

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons, now with the Miami Dolphins, chases a ball carrier. | Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Contract length: 2 years
Total money: $12 million
Total guaranteed money: $11 million
Guaranteed at signing: $11 million

We’re among those who would have preferred to see Lawrence Timmons finish his career in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform. But at the same time, it’s hard to blame him for going out and getting as much money as he possibly can before he hangs up his cleats.

At face value, the financial aspect of this contract isn’t terrible. However, when you factor in Timmons’ age (30 years old with 10 NFL seasons under his belt), and his declining abilities (especially in coverage), it becomes clear that this is a bad contract for the Dolphins.

8. Matt Kalil, LT, Carolina Panthers

Matt Kalil, now with the Carolina Panthers, looks on before a game.

Matt Kalil, now with the Carolina Panthers, looks on before a game. | Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Contract length: 5 years
Total money: $55.5 million
Total guaranteed money: $31 million
Guaranteed at signing: $13 million

In our opinion, this was the undisputed worst NFL free agency contract of 2017. Not only did Matt Kalil never live up to expectations during his career with the Minnesota Vikings, but he was a liability at times. He could never be trusted to stay healthy for an entire season. Now, the Panthers must hope that the former USC Trojan can somehow develop into a starting left tackle who can competently protect Cam Newton’s blindside. If not, this could go down as one of the worst free agent signings in NFL history.

9. Malcolm Smith, LB, San Francisco 49ers

Malcolm Smith, now with the San Francisco 49ers, celebrates after winning Super Bowl XLVIII.

Malcolm Smith, now with the San Francisco 49ers, celebrates after winning Super Bowl XLVIII. | Elsa/Getty Images

Contract length: 5 years
Total money: $26.5 million
Total guaranteed money: $11.5 million
Guaranteed at signing: $11.5 million

Malcolm Smith gained notoriety as one of the most unexpected Super Bowl MVPs (he won the award in Super Bowl XLVIII) in NFL history. But outside of that one legendary game, the former USC Trojan has been an average linebacker at best during his six-year NFL career.

Throughout Smith’s four years with the Seattle Seahawks, he was a role player who started in only 16 regular-season games. He then signed with the Oakland Raiders, who ultimately released him after two wildly disappointing seasons (Pro Football Focus graded him as the 67th-best linebacker in the league in 2016). It’s difficult to truly comprehend what the 49ers were thinking when they committed themselves to this contract.

10. Luke Joekel, OL, Seattle Seahawks

Luke Joeckel, now with the Seattle Seahawks, defends against Erin Henderson of the New York Jets. | Al Bello/Getty Images

Contract length: 1 year
Total money: $8 million
Total guaranteed money: $7 million
Guaranteed at signing: $7 million

Bottom line: Seattle General Manager John Schneider did an uncharacteristically bad job on this contract. Luke Joekel was a flat-out bust for the Jacksonville Jaguars (at two positions), which, in our eyes, should have resulted in the former Texas A&M Aggie playing the 2017 season on a prove-it deal for a salary close to the league minimum. Instead, Joekel has the luxury of knowing that almost all of his current contract is fully guaranteed, making him a lock to make the Seahawks’ final roster.

Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference and Pro Football Focus. Contract and salary cap data courtesy of Spotrac

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