2015 Fantasy Football: The Worst Free Agency Moves of the AFC
With most of the big name free agents off the board, we are doing a four part piece on the best and worst moves made in this offseason’s free agency. We previously covered the best moves made in the AFC and NFC. We will now change direction and focus on the worst moves made in the AFC.
QB Free Agent Signing
Josh McCown, CLE
McCown is just another puzzling decision by the Browns. By now we have gotten used to Cleveland making awful personnel choices at quarterback. McCown has been a career journeyman that is a decent backup at best, a disaster at worst. Sure, he had six solid games throwing to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in 2013, but that’s six games in a decade. In 2014, McCown was the Week 1 starter on the team now on the clock with the first-overall pick in the NFL Draft. His incompetent performance at one point saw him benched in favor of Mike Glennon. The benching was more than justified being that the Bucs had the worst offense in the NFL last season and that’s with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson out wide. Now he has Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline. In 11 games last season, McCown tallied a putrid 11-to-14, TD-to-INT ratio.
They let an already subpar Brian Hoyer walk for an even worse McCown. To make matters worse they gave him $14 million over three years. This is way too much money to pay a QB that will undoubtedly be benched at some point in favor of Johnny Manziel. This signing shows little logic. Even if they merely want McCown to be a mentor. A grossly overpaid mentor. Don’t be surprised if the Browns have the worst offense in football next season. Don’t worry, there’s more from the Browns coming up.
RB Free Agent Signing
Trent Richardson, OAK
Richardson may be the worst running back in the league; not starting running backs, all running backs. So of course the Raiders jumped on the opportunity to bring him aboard. Because that’s what they do. Aside from his miserable production, T-Rich proved to be an overweight malcontent with the inability to hold off the likes of Boom Heron or Zurlon Tipton on the depth chart. Oakland already has promising young backs in Latavius Murray and Roy Helu, so why not just go throw millions at a guy not worth league minimum.
I hate to beat a dead horse here, but once again Raiders personnel choices have forced my hand. After joining the Colts in Week 3 of the 2013 season, Richardson ran for an atrocious 2.9 yards per carry in 14 games. On 157 carries he only managed 458 yards. He totaled just four TDs and a pair of fumbles. He also caught only 28 of his 41 targets in the passing game. His longest run of the year was a measly 22 yards. Sure, these numbers sound terrible, but I don’t believe I’ve done justice to the historical inadequacies of his lack of production. Richardson’s 2.9 YPC in 14 games ranked 46 out of 48 eligible RBs. It was the worst performance from a Colts RB (100 carry minimum) since 1992. Considering he had one of the league’s most prolific QBs pressuring the pass defense, it’s amazing he couldn’t use his 230 pound frame to stumble forward for at least 3.0 YPC.
WR Free Agent Signing
Dwayne Bowe, CLE
Bowe is clearly not the answer for Cleveland. It’s another desperation move to fill a seemingly endless void in the passing game. He hasn’t been good in years and is coming off a zero touchdown season for the Chiefs. In the last game of the season Bowe had a chance to score and end the embarrassment. He fumbled on the one yard line and the ball was recovered by a tight end. That is a microcosm of his career. While he may make a circus catch, he will let you down when you need him most. Whether it’s dropping an easy touchdown in the fourth quarter or pulling a no-show in a must win game. It’s kind of his thing. On a fantasy side note, he has consistently been a disaster come playoff time.
TE Free Agent Signing
Julius Thomas, JAX
Peyton Manning has always made tight ends and wideouts look like Pro Bowlers. When they jump ship and get paid, they prove to be a product of Manning’s offense. Thomas has been extraordinarily overvalued and overcompensated this offseason. The athletic TE has never even hit the 800 yard mark and it’s not likely he’s going to get better with Blake Bortles under center in place of Manning.
Injuries have been a major concern for Thomas. Not once has he played all 16 games in a season. In four seasons, he has missed a total of 32 games, which is also the exact amount of games he’s actually played in. If ever a big name free agent had obvious bust potential, this is it.
It doesn’t help that the Jags already had a number of excellent young pass-catchers, including two solid tight ends in Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor. Jacksonville will almost certainly rue giving Thomas this contract. Especially that $24 million guaranteed.
Nate Allen, OAK
Not to be outdone by the Browns, the Raiders are back with their second appearance in this article. Somehow this horrible signing has flown under the radar. Allen is a below average safety who is bad against the run and worse against the pass. Being that he’s a free safety who is often deep, his somewhat solid tackling has marginal impact on the rushing game and should have less on the passing game. However, since he’s always getting torched, he has to make more tackles than your average free safety. Allen has been sent to the bench on multiple occasions due to his poor play.
His upside is that he has decent ball skills and some playmaking ability. Nonetheless, his $5.75 million annual salary is preposterous. Almost as absurd as his $11.8 million guaranteed. Now I fully understand that very few free agents want to go to Oakland due to their dysfunctional organization and losing culture. One way to change that losing culture and draw interest from free agents, is to not make deals like this.
LeSean McCoy, BUF
Options are limited for this category and obviously adding McCoy isn’t an awful move. Nonetheless, there are some concerns with Shady. After over 390 touches in 2013, the workhorse back saw his yards per carry drop nearly a full yard. It only dropped to 4.2, which is in no way terrible, however, it is a bit concerning after a pretty hefty workload in his career. Still, at only 26 years old, he may be declining a bit but shouldn’t fall off a cliff.
The much bigger concern is the money. The Bills doled out an unheard of $91.5 million in guaranteed money this offseason, including $26.5 million guaranteed to McCoy in a five-year $40 million contract. That’s a ton of money to pay to any running back, especially a back that’s seen the amount of touches McCoy has. I don’t hate the trade, but I don’t love it either.
David Harris, NYJ
The Jets are another team just throwing money around this offseason. Some of the spending was warranted, some wasn’t. However, giving a 31-year-old linebacker a 3-year deal worth $21.5 million with $15 million guaranteed is a bit much. Sure, he’s a solid tackler but at this point that’s about it. Harris has clearly lost a step and it shows in his coverage. That money could have been much better spent elsewhere, and it’s hard to imagine any other team would have outbid them. The deal seems like more of a loyalty deal than anything else. Unfortunately in today’s NFL, loyalty doesn’t always pay off.