NFL Free Agency: Someone’s About to be Overpaid

This afternoon the players are reportedly going to vote into agreement the new CBA, which will begin the start of the most frantic free agent signing period the NFL (or any league for that matter) has ever seen. New deals won’t be official until after the union has re-formed, but according to reports teams can begin talking with free agents as soon as this afternoon.

But here are some numbers for you to think about. 24 teams are a combined $559 million dollars under the cap. And that’s before teams like Dallas and the Jets start shedding salary so they can be free agent players too. Now take a look at the free agents available. No question that some of the players at the top of the list are going to get big bucks, and deservedly so (I say that only in comparison to other football players of course), but with that much money to spend there is no question that some team is about to overpay big time for mediocre talent.

Teams like Tampa Bay (59.2) and Seattle (39) are mega millions away from the cap. The Cardinals (37.3), Bengals (35.9), Bears (37), Chiefs (34.3), Bills (35.9) and Browns (33.3) are right behind them.

That means a player like DE Charles Johnson is about to strike oil. Johnson replaced Julius Peppers in Carolina last year and had a great year. He is big, strong, quick…and young. That’s a pretty good combination in the NFL. But which Charles Johnson are teams going to be bidding on? The one that recorded 11.5 sacks last season? Or the one that recorded 4 the season previous, while Peppers was lining up opposite him? Buyer beware. Everyone wants defensive line help, and there are a limited amount of those free agents out there. Can you say bidding war?

Take a look at the defensive backs available. There are certainly a bunch listed. And it looks like every team is going to have to sign one or two. That’s good news for a guy like Eric Wright, whom the Browns may decide to let walk away without a fight. I’d say he may find a decent payday despite his struggles last season.

We will see over the next few days which GMs have been up late doing their homework. I don’t doubt for a second that Heckert and Holmgren have been putting in the hours necessary, what we don’t know is how quick they will be to throw money at some of these free agents. Heckert surprised many Cleveland fans last year by getting Scott Fujita to quite reasonable terms for a player with his talent and winning track record. Will they be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat for a second straight year?

My advice for Heckert? Take deep breaths. And remember the most important free agent you sign this year could be keeping Joe Thomas from becoming one next year.

  • bobby

    Why let Eric walk? Im sure they would get him at a better price then his talent equivalent on the market.

    Also the Charles Johnson argument makes way more sense if it was with Peppers for a year and he exploded. Putting up his production without Peppers? thats gonna be against double teams or being the main target- thats impressive. If Heckert decides hes the one to go after Im fine for “over-paying” a bit. The cap should only rise so a big contract shouldnt hinder us too much and Sheard-Rubin-Taylor-Johnson seems like a sweet DL to me.

  • MrCleaveland

    Thank you in advance for not doing any articles on — or even acknowledging in any way — a certain perennially unretired has-been QB who everyone dislikes and who no one wants to hear about ever again. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Scotty

    @2 – Andrew Luck?

  • dwhit110

    “A certain perennially unretired has-been QB who everyone dislikes and who no one wants to hear about ever again.”

    Yes, keep Jeff George outta here.

  • bobby

    Haha 2- speaking of over-the-hill QBs, I think we get 7 mil added to our roster space come thursday (pending) when we can drop one.

  • Lyon

    TB could really become a contender with that 60 mil. They have a good young team, if they could add a couple FAs, they’d be dangerous.

  • Titus Pullo

    As long as none of those overpaid players wear Orange and Brown, it will be all good.

  • mgbode

    I like the general consensus here. Don’t overpay for a ‘star’ player.

    Since we do have money to burn (literally have to spend it), I am all for going after multiple guys in the middle tiers rather than spending a huge contract on a top tier guy.

    It’s almost football season. Yaaaayyyy!

  • MrCleaveland

    It will be interesting to see if Daniel Snyder ever learns.

  • bobby

    DE is a position of need. I do not mind at all spending a little extra to get a Charles Johnson or Ray Edwards. I would much rather go a little extra for a guy like that then getting 2 guys that could start but should be a back-up. We have essentially 40 mil (subtracting out Jake most likely) and the cap should only grow for coming seasons. Its not something I am worried about. Lets go get Johnson. 12-15 mil/year is something I am ready to do. If its more then ok, if not, why not?

  • mgbode


    1. because Cliff Avril will likely command less money and might be just as good as those two guys (I actually like him better)? (especially skeptical that Edwards can have success away from Minny’s DL)

    2. because we desperately need a safety and I want to see us get a starter-quality one.

    3. because we need to take care of the guys on our own team as well (even cutting Jake; extending Joe Thomas, signing Dawson/Wright/Moore/etc. is going to eat into our cap budget)

    4. because we also still have needs at MLB, CB, RT, etc. and this is a pretty deep FA class (but not really a top-heavy one).

    5. because football is more of a team sport where having quality everywhere is just as important as having a couple elite guys (outside of QB where elite trumps a ton)

  • bobby

    Fujita-Gocong-Jackson are our LBs. Sure a back-up would be nice but you dont need to break bank for a back-up. Johnson had 11.5 sacks in a year without peppers. Maybe its the system, but who do we have to start? Also isnt Detroit interested in resigning Avril? Plus, you get pressure to the QB, you dont need an elite S tho it helps obviously. But there is not realistic major upgrades of Elam out there currently. We still have a good amount of space (say 25 mil assuming Jake is cut and we go 15 for Johnson) to keep our guys and extend Joe. Its not like we will add 10 mil to him per year.

  • mgbode

    I am fearful that is the LB-corps with which we will start the season. Fujita is good. But, Gocong is too slow to start at MLB in a 4-3 and DQ has a bit of an injury history (and we have no idea if he can play like he did in 2008 because that was 3 years ago, which is an eternity in NFL years).

    Yes, Detroit wants to resign Avril. That does not mean they will if we offer a better deal.

    We need a FS w/ Ward playing more as a SS. So, I would argue that Goldson is a major upgrade at S because he would be more of a FS (Weddle could be as well, but I think he will get paid too much for what he does).

    Finally, let’s say that we have $40mil in cap space. $15mil for Johnson leaves $25 as you mentioned (not sure if Dawson’s franchise cap # is included, but I am going to assume it is):

    **Draft picks take up just under $5mil or so (depending on what the final numbers end up from the new CBA).

    **If we are fortunate enough for Joe Thomas to sign an extension, he will likely top the $8yr/$73mil contract Ferguson received. Take another $5mil for him on this year’s cap to make sure the deal gets done.

    **Are we going to resign any of our own guys? Robaire(0.5), Yates(3), Moore(2), Wright(3.5), Mitchell(2), and Robinson(0.5) would likely take at least $12mil of this year’s cap to sign.

    so, we resign our own guys, draft picks, and Charles Johnson. Maybe we have a few million left for a couple bottom tier FAs or to sign extensions to anyone else we might want to lock down going forward (guessing that doesn’t happen much this year though as there is too little time for such finagling).

  • cba

    The browns should go after rt clabo rg dahl and cb grimes all from atlanta. Weaken Atlanta and our draft pick we got from them becomes even better