NFL teams try to improve in free agency each offseason by spending big money, but sometimes those plans backfire in a big way. Here's a look at the worst NFL free agent signings ever.
After holding out in Pittsburgh and missing all of the 2018 season, Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with $35 million in guarantees to become a Jet. The deal has a long way to go, but the early returns have been terrible thus far. Bell had just 3.2 yards per carry in his first season in New York for a team that won seven games.
Green Bay added Graham hoping that he'd be a great weapon for Aaron Rodgers on a three-year, $30 million contract. The five-time Pro Bowler averaged just over 500 yards receiving in his two seasons with the Packers and scored a total of five touchdowns before getting cut in the 2020 offseason.
After the great success of tight ends Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson in New Orleans, Fleener seemed like a perfect fit for the Saints. He came over from Indianapolis on a five-year, $36 million contract. After a somewhat disappointing first season in which he finished with 50 receptions for 631 yards, Fleener had only 22 catches in 2017 before getting released. He was out of the league in 2018.
Broncos head honcho John Elway decided Osweiler's contract demands were too rich for his blood after the retirement of Peyton Manning, spurring the quarterback to sign a four-year, $72 million contract with Houston. The contract was a complete disaster, as Osweiler threw more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15) in his one season with the Texans and was traded to Cleveland the following offseason in a salary dump that cost Houston a second-round pick.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly wanted to make a splash in the 2015 offseason, but some of his moves were truly bizarre. He signed two running backs in Murray and Ryan Mathews to lucrative deals after trading LeSean McCoy. Murray's contract was worth $42 million over five seasons, but he proceeded to average only 3.6 yards per carry on 193 carries as a poor fit in the Philly offense. Murray was traded to Tennessee following the season.
Smith became one of the premier speed receivers in football early in his career with Baltimore, netting him a five-year, $40 million contract with the 49ers in free agency. While he still averaged a league-high 20.1 yards per reception in his first season with San Francisco, Smith had only 33 catches and four scores. The following year he played only 12 games with 20 catches before getting cut.
Flynn parlayed a spectacular Week 17 performance with the Packers in 2011 into a three-year, $26 million contract with the Seahawks. Despite the signing, Flynn never actually started a game for Seattle, getting beat out by third-round draft pick Russell Wilson in training camp. Flynn was traded by Seattle following the season and started five games for the remainder of his career.
Philadelphia revamped its secondary by signing Asomugha to a five-year, $60 million contract in the 2011 offseason. After making three straight Pro Bowls in Oakland, Asomugha's play fell off a cliff with the Eagles, and he lasted only two seasons with the team.
Haynesworth was a star defensive tackle with Tennessee before signing an epic seven-year, $100 million contract with Washington. The fit was never right with his new team on or off the field, and Haynesworth was eventually traded to New England after two seasons.
Despite playing only eight games for Denver in 2007, Walker found a six-year, $55 million contract with the rival Raiders in 2008. The two-time 1,000-yard receiver was a complete bust at age 30, with only 15 receptions in eight games for the Raiders in 2008. He appeared in only three games the following season before his career ended.
Javon Walker wasn't the only wide receiver bust to sign in 2008. Porter signed a six-year, $30 million contract at age 30 with Jacksonville. He contributed very little for the Jags, with only 11 receptions in 10 games during 2008. He was released following the season and never played again.
A consistent workhorse and star over seven seasons in Green Bay, Green signed a four-year, $23 million deal with the Texans in 2007. He proved to have very little left, playing only 14 games over two seasons and averaging just 3.8 yards per carry for Houston.
The Rams offense was far removed from the historic offenses from years prior but looked to revamp after signing Bennett to a six-year, $30 million deal. St. Louis hoped he could match his breakout 2004 performance when he had 80 receptions for 1,247 yards and 11 touchdowns, but Bennett played only 15 games with 34 catches in two seasons.
Washington owner Daniel Snyder handed Archuleta a seven-year, $35 million contract to make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. The hard-hitting Archuleta was a productive safety in his first five seasons in St. Louis, but he failed to keep his starting job with the Redskins and was traded after only one season.
A former college quarterback, Randle El established himself as a versatile wideout and special teams player in Pittsburgh before getting a seven-year, $31 million contract with Washington. The contract seemed excessive at the time, and Randle El didn't do anything to offset that impression. He averaged just over 550 yards receiving with a total of nine touchdowns in four seasons with Washington.
Collins had some productive seasons in his 17-year career, but his two-year stay in Oakland was forgettable. He went 7-21 after signing a three-year, $16.8 million contract. Collins completed less than 55 percent of his passes with the team.
Garcia was a late bloomer who made the most of his ability in the NFL, but like many quarterbacks, he failed in Cleveland. He signed a four-year, $25 million contract with the Browns in 2004 but lasted only one season, going 3-7 in 10 starts.
Price had a breakout year at the right time with Buffalo in 2002, which netted him a seven-year, $37.5 million contract with Atlanta. He played only two years with the Falcons, totaling just 109 receptions for 1,413 yards and six touchdowns during that time.
Boston signed a seven-year, $47 million contract with the Chargers, just one year removed from leading the NFL in receiving. He clashed with San Diego's staff, getting suspended one game, and he was traded to Miami after only one season. The following year, Boston was suspended four games for steroids and suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Johnson had 21 sacks in two seasons with New Orleans before signing a six-year, $33 million contract with the Packers in 2002. He played only 11 games in two seasons with the Pack due to injury before effectively calling it quits.
The strong-armed George never fully realized his potential in the NFL, and his short stay with Washington was just one more example. He signed a four-year, $18 million contract with Washington at age 33 in 2001 but went 1-6 in seven starts over two seasons before his career ended.
Sanders had eight Pro Bowl appearances under his belt when he signed a seven-year, $56 million contract with Washington, but he struggled in his first season with the team at age 33 before announcing his retirement. While Sanders would return to the NFL four years later, that was little consolation for the Redskins.
A shutdown cornerback in his first seven seasons with the Chiefs, Carter signed a four-year, $22 million contract with the rival Broncos in 1999. He had a solid first season in Denver but was suspended for all of 2000 for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy before getting released.
A star defensive tackle in San Francisco, Stubblefield signed a six-year, $36 million contract with Washington in 1998. After recording 15 sacks and winning Defensive Player of the Year with the 49ers in 1997, Stubblefield recorded a total of seven sacks in three seasons with Washington.
Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance with the Steelers, O'Donnell signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Jets in 1996. He went 0-6 in an injury-plagued 1996 season but did improve to 8-6 in 14 starts with 17/7 TD/INT the following year. Still, the Jets decided to move on after only two years.
Brown won MVP of Super Bowl XXX after recording two interceptions for the Cowboys. He cashed in that performance with a five-year, $12.5 million contract with the Raiders the following year. He played only 12 games over two seasons with Oakland before returning to Dallas to finish his career.
The Lions struggled to find success during the Barry Sanders and Herman Moore years, and many fans still blame Mitchell. He came over from Miami in 1994 on a three-year, $11 million contract. During five seasons with the Lions, Mitchell went 27-30 as a starter in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs. He left Detroit having thrown 57 picks and completing less than 57 percent of his passes.
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