Studs & Duds - The NFL's All-Time Best And Worst Free Agent Signings

Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

For as much as it pains me to admit this, I have to come clean. Die-hard NBA fans have desperately tried to claim that the league has surpassed the NFL as America's favorite sport -- and they're wrong. Dead wrong. Last I checked, more people watching the NFL Draft vs. the NBA playoffs is all you need to know. But I'm not here to dunk on the NBA -- I can get rim, though. I digress. I said I am here to come clean and I have to admit that I was thrilled monitoring the NBA's free agency action. That's right, I'm here to praise the NBA. It was WILD. Between the sign and trade deal of Jimmy Butler, the Warriors landing D'angelo Russell, Kemba Walker jetting to Boston, Kevin Durant signing in Brooklyn because social media hurt his feelings -- again *AND* the Knicks landing no one along the way? My goodness gracious the Twitter feed was fun.

I'm hoping for no #WojBombs during your time here at Studs & Duds this week -- just long enough for you to read up on the NFL's best and worst free agent moves of all-time.

STUD - New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees

Oh, what could have been. Brees had finally begun the process of turning his career around -- going 20-11 in 31 starts for the Chargers whist throwing for 6,700 yards, 51 touchdowns and 22 interceptions -- when his contract ran up -- and the Chargers had Philip Rivers waiting in the wings. Plus, Brees had an issue in his throwing shoulder, so the logical move for the Chargers was to send their "used goods" packing. They'd had a chance to see Rivers up close before making the decision and clearly the Chargers felt comfortable with what they had.

So Brees hit the market in 2006 and was ready to sign in Miami -- until Miami's doctors flagged his shoulder and opted to sign...wait for it...Dante Culpepper instead. In the 13 years since, all Brees has done is throw for 62,089 yards and 440 touchdowns whilst completing 68.5% of his passes. Oh, yeah -- and the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.

DUD - Philadelphia Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha

Asomugha signed a 5-year, $60M contract with the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2011. And heck, considering his status as a three time Pro Bowler and two time All-Pro defender (all in the three seasons prior to leaving Oakland, no less), who could blame them? Asomugha faced only 87 pass attempts in his final three seasons with the Raiders, he was considered a bona-fide stud.

There's just one *little* problem here. Asomugha was a press man defender who thrived beating up receivers early on in reps and riding them out from there. The Eagles? They asked him to play in space. The "Dream Team" of 2011 lived up to their name with this signing -- because you'd have to be dreaming to think that kind of transition after 8 years of press man would work.

STUD - Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning

Stop me if you've heard this one before -- star quarterback hits free agency after having his replacement drafted by his original team, meets/flirts with the Miami Dolphins before eventually signing elsewhere and winning a Super Bowl. Neat-o, Dolphins fans!

Manning played his first 13 seasons in Indianapolis, missing his 14th with a neck injury before playing out his final four years in Denver. Manning replaced New York Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow in Denver after signing a 5-year, $96M contract and within 24 months had a Super Bowl appearance and broke the NFL's single season record for touchdown passes (55). It would take Manning until his 4th and final season with the Broncos to win a Super Bowl in Denver -- though Manning at that point was just a shell of his former self.

Manning played in 10 games that season but failed to throw more touchdowns (9) than interceptions (17) and complete 60% of his passes (59.8%) for the first time since his rookie season in 1998. It's a good thing he had some help from.....

DUD - Houston Texans QB Brock Osweiler

...the #BrosenOne! Brock stepped onto a Super Bowl winning roster and didn't look like complete shit in the process -- so naturally that was the green light the Houston Texans needed the following offseason to give Osweiler a 4-year, $72M contract with $37M in guaranteed money. How badly did this end?

Osweiler (after signing that deal) played one(!!!) season in Houston and averaged an adjusted 4.34 adjusted net yards per pass attempt. What does that mean? If effectively means that every time the Houston Texans dropped back to pass they gained an average next of 4.34 yards. Shoot, you want some historical context year? Osweiler had 510 pass attempts and averaged 5.80 yards per attempt. Only eleven times IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL has a quarterback attempted over 500 passes and averaged below 6 yards per attempt.

Osweiler's 5.80 yards per attempt falls as the 8th worst on the list -- in his first year with a team that just gave him $37M.

I ask again -- how badly did this end? The Texans traded Osweiler after that first season to the Cleveland Browns -- and they had to give up a 2nd-round pick in 2018 in addition to Osweiler to just get him to go away.

STUD - Green Bay Packers DL Reggie White

I'm trying to do the math in my head and figure out how exactly the Philadelphia Eagles let Reggie White walk out the door. White played his first 8 seasons with the Eagles and logged an incredible 124.0 sacks with the Birds during that time.

READ: Reggie White averaged 15.5 sacks a season for 8 seasons with the Eagles and they let him hit free agency.

White would hit the road and head west -- to Green Bay. White spurned the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers to sign a 4-year, $17M deal with the Packers in 1993 and proceeded to play 6 years for the Packers and log 68.5 sacks over that timeframe. Oh, yeah. And a Super Bowl title in 1997.

DUD - Washington Redskins DL Albert Haynesworth

Good news, Redskins fans. You may have missed out on Reggie White but at least y'all got your man in Albert Haynesworth! The Redskins signed Haynesworth away from the Tennessee Titans in 2009 on a 7-year, $100M contract with $41M in guaranteed cash.


This man got quarterback money after logging 24 sacks in 7 years. Granted -- my guy was a nose tackle who was much more of a run defending presence, but is that really going to excuse this contract? Haynesworth was 28 years old in year one of his contract with the Redskins and thinks went...okay. Conditioning was a problem -- he often appeared gassed and had to be taken out of games. Fast forward 12 months after Haynesworth signed his deal and the big man infamously failed his offseason conditioning test.

Not only did Haynesworth fail his test, he failed it on multiple occasions. The first time he failed, Haynesworth actually passed the time threshold -- but violated the rules by spending the next 10 minutes walled up in a bathroom when you're only permitted a three and a half minute break.

I wonder if he wiped with a few Benjamin Franklins when he was done...

STUD - Dallas Cowboys CB Deion Sanders

Primetime signed with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1995 offseason after playing 5 seasons in Atlanta and one in San Francisco (his year with the 49ers was phenomenal...he logged 6 interceptions and had three defensive touchdowns). Prime would get a 5-year, $30M contract -- a heft amount of coin in 1995. Remember, Reggie White got 4-years, $17M from the Packers in '93.

Sanders would prosper in Dallas, logging 14 interceptions during his tenure and scoring three 1st-team All-Pro seasons along the way. Dallas would win the Super Bowl in 1995, too -- Sanders' first year on the team.

DUD - Washington Redskins CB Deion Sanders

WELP. Primetime giveth and Primetime taketh away. The Redskins -- I'm sure you're shocked to see another bad contract from them -- gave Sanders a 7-year, $55M contract in 2000. Bonkers money. Crazy money. To a 33 year old cornerback. The Redskins literally signed him to play until he was 40. What are we doing here?

Long story short, Sanders let them off the hook. Sanders played in 2000 but retired -- and stayed retired until 2004 before playing two years with the Baltimore Ravens.

Written By:

Kyle Crabbs

Director of Content

Director of Content & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Former NDT Scouting Overlord.