Worst NFL Free Agent Signings of All-Time

The 20 Worst NFL Free Agent Signings of All-Time

This is a list of the 20 worst NFL free agent signings of all-time. There were many terrible transactions that didn’t make the cut, but I feel as though these were the 20 worst. Follow me @walterfootball.

20. Jeff Garcia, QB, Browns, 2004
The poor Browns don’t have any luck with quarterbacks. They’re dealing with the Johnny Manziel debacle now, but a decade ago, they paid Jeff Garcia $24 million over four seasons. After all, Garcia had a successful tenure in San Francisco as Steve Young’s successor. Garcia lasted just one year in Cleveland, going just 3-7 in 10 starts. He completed only 57.1 percent of his passes.

19. Antwaan Randle El, WR, Redskins, 2006
Daniel Snyder deserves special mention before I go any further. Snyder is responsible for so many terrible free-agent contracts over the years that he single-handedly made this list possible. Antwaan Randle El is one such example, though there are far worse offenders, as you’ll see. Snyder opted to give Randle El a $31 million deal over seven years despite the fact that the former Steeler had never eclipsed 47 receptions in a single season beforehand. Randle El barely did that in Washington; in his best year, he caught 51 passes for 728 yards and one touchdown.

18. Aaron Brooks, QB, Raiders, 2006
There will be many Raiders on this dubious list, and Aaron Brooks has to make the cut. During the 2006 offseason, Oakland decided to give Aaron Brooks $4 million per year to quarterback the team. The front office would’ve gotten more production lighting that money on fire; Brooks lost all eight games he started, throwing just three touchdowns compared to eight interceptions before getting benched in favor of someone named Andrew Walter.

17. Desmond Howard, PR, Raiders, 1997
The Raiders watched Desmond Howard win MVP for the Packers in the Super Bowl with envy. They offered him a $6 million contract the following offseason – a ton of money for a return specialist back in 1997 – yet he managed just two touchdowns for them in as many years. By 1999, Howard was back with Green Bay.

16. Peerless Price, WR, Falcons, 2003
Everyone kept waiting for Peerless Price to break out and become one of the top, consistent receivers in the NFL. Price had a big 2002 campaign, prompting the Falcons to fall victim to the ruse. Atlanta eagerly dished out a 7-year, $37.5 million contract to the former Buffalo receiver, only to watch him play just two seasons in his new home. Price caught just 45 passes for 575 yards in 2004 before moving on to Dallas the following year.

15. David Boston, WR, Chargers, 2003
David Boston looked like he could emerge as the best receiver in football when he caught 98 passes for 1,598 yards and eight touchdowns in 2001. However, it was clear that something was going on with him when he began looking like the Incredible Hulk and inexplicably clashing with his teammates. The Chargers paid him $47 million over seven years, hoping Boston would mellow out in his new home. That didn’t happen, as Boston played just one season in San Diego before being shipped off for a sixth-round pick.

14. Alvin Harper, WR, Buccaneers, 1995
Alvin Harper was a solid No. 2 receiver for the Cowboys across from Michael Irvin for four seasons. The Buccaneers took notice and handed Harper a $10 million contract, which was a considerable amount of money back in 1995. Harper lasted just two years in Tampa, accumulating a total of 922 yards and three touchdowns in those seasons. He signed with Washington in 1997.

13. Larry Brown, CB, Raiders, 1996
Larry Brown was the Super Bowl MVP in a victory against the Steelers, thanks to a pair of pick-sixes. He cashed in with a $12.5 million contract with the Raiders, yet he did nothing with his new team. Brown intercepted one pass in two seasons for the Raiders before signing with Dallas again in 1998.

12. Andre Rison, WR, Browns, 1995
Two decades prior to Josh Gordon, the Browns had another receiver flame out on them. Andre “Bad Moon” Rison was signed over from the Falcons following the 1994 campaign for $17 million. Rison had eclipsed 81 receptions and 976 receiving yards in five consecutive seasons prior to signing with the Browns, yet he caught just 47 passes for 701 yards and three scores in 1995. Rison left the team the following offseason, only to win a Super Bowl with the Packers. Cleveland just doesn’t have any luck.

11. Dana Stubblefield, DT, Redskins, 1998
Dana Stubblefield was a monster with the 49ers. He helped the team win a Super Bowl and then managed to register 15 sacks in 1997. The pre-Daniel Snyder Redskins decided to give Stubblefield a 6-year, $36 deal to put pressure on all of the other NFC East quarterbacks. Stubblefield didn’t do anything close to that, churning out just seven sacks in three years. By 2001, Stubblefield was back in San Francisco.

10. Ahman Green, RB, Texans, 2007
It’s never wise to pay lots of money to 30-year-old running backs, but the Texans apparently didn’t recognize that rule when they brought in Ahman Green, formerly of the Packers, for four years and $23 million. Green played just two seasons in Houston, accumulating a total of 554 rushing yards. Fortunately for the Texans, they fixed their running back woes soon after the Green debacle with Arian Foster.

9. Joe Johnson, DE, Packers, 2002
Reggie White was No. 2 on my Top 20 NFL Free Agents list, so obviously, the Packers needed a replacement for him once he retired. They figured Joe Johnson could be the guy; after all, the former Saint collected a total of 44 sacks in five seasons prior to the 2002 campaign. Johnson barely did anything in Green Bay, mustering only two sacks despite signing a 6-year, $33 million deal. Those are two expensive sacks!

8. Jeff George, QB, Redskins, 2000
Jeff George led the Vikings to an 8-2 record in 1999, throwing 23 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Always a fan of flashy players, Daniel Snyder figured that he wanted George to be his quarterback for about $15 million over four years. George predictably failed, going 1-6 in seven starts. He was responsible for more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (7), and he threw many of his teammates under the bus in the process.

7. Neil O’Donnell, QB, Jets, 1996
The Jets haven’t won the Super Bowl since Joe Namath was their quarterback, yet they thought they were getting the reincarnation of Broadway Joe when they signed O’Donnell to a $25 million contract in 1996 – the richest deal in Jets’ history at the time. O’Donnell piloted Pittsbrugh’s offense to the Super Bowl the year before, so there was plenty of cause for optimism. Instead, O’Donnell started just six games in 1996. He went 0-6, throwing just four touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. O’Donnell wasn’t with the team by 1998.

6. Daryl Gardener, DT, Broncos, 2003
I remember being extremely confused when I heard that the Broncos paid Daryl Gardener close to $35 million over seven years. Gardener was a solid player for the Dolphins and Redskins, but he wasn’t worth anywhere near that sort of cash. He played in just five games with Denver, as he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team not once, but twice! Fortunately for the Broncos, they were able to recoup some of the signing bonus they gave to the bust defensive tackle.

5. Jerry Porter, WR, Jaguars, 2008
Jerry Porter was the third receiver in Oakland’s high-powered offense that went to the Super Bowl following the 2002 campaign. Porter was seen as having great upside, but he never accumulated more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season with the Raiders. Thus, it was odd that Jacksonville offered him a 6-year, $30 million deal in 2008. Porter caught only 11 passes in his sole season with the Jaguars.

4. Deion Sanders, CB, Redskins, 2000
Deion Sanders is responsible for two entries in the Top 20 NFL Free Agent Signings, but he deserves a spot on this dubious list as well. Daniel Snyder offered Sanders a ridiculous 7-year, $56 million contract in 2000. Granted, Sanders was one of the top cornerbacks in NFL history, but giving a 33-year-old non-quarterback that much money is absurd. Sanders laughably played just one season. He snatched four interceptions, meaning each pick cost Snyder $14 million.

3. Javon Walker, WR, Raiders, 2008
There have been many Raiders on this list, but Javon Walker stands out as the worst one. Walker had a couple of terrific seasons with the Packers and Broncos, but had been dealing with injuries in 2007. The Raiders paid no attention to his durability issues, handing him a 6-year contract worth $55 million. Walker played just 11 games for Oakland before retiring. In those 11 contests, he caught just 15 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown. For those scoring at home, the Raiders paid Walker $3.6 million for each catch.

2. Adam Archuleta, S, Redskins, 2006
Adam Archuleta happened to be a hard-hitting safety for the Rams who was never really effective in coverage. Daniel Snyder was just a fan of the hits though, as he handed Archuleta a 6-year, $30 million contract. Archuleta collected one sack, caught no interceptions and was responsible for numerous big gains by opposing receivers in 2006. That was Archuleta’s only season in Washington, and by 2008, he was out of the NFL entirely.

1. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Redskins, 2009
Albert Haynesworth was a dominant force with the Titans when he was on the field, but he always missed a few games each year because of lingering hamstring injuries. Daniel Snyder didn’t care, throwing $100 million at the monstrous defensive tackle. Haynesworth took the money and gave Washington nothing in return. He gained weight, fought with the coaching staff, complained about his usage in the 3-4 scheme, looked sluggish and failed to perform. There was even one instance in which he remained on the ground during a live play and refused to get up because he was too lazy. He just didn’t care. Haynesworth tallied 6.5 sacks in two seasons before getting released.

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