Busted: NFL big money deals sometimes don't always pan out

08/12/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

This past weekend, several new busts were unveiled in the NFL Hall of Fame. But with several big money contracts handed out to free agents heading into the 2015 season, how many "busts" will we see in the coming months?
It seems in a lot of cases, once a player gets his big pay day, his play on game day tends to decline. Will any of this seasons big money free agents be worth the cash? Or will teams have broken their banks on players who will be busts? LeSean McCoy has moved from Philadelphia to Buffalo. Jimmy Graham has left New Orleans to be in Seattle. Julius Thomas is no longer a Bronco and is now a Jaguar. And Miami truly did break the bank signing Ndamokong Suh, who is the highest paid non quarterback in the NFL.
McCoy was actually traded to the Bills, who promptly signed him to a 5 year, $40 million dollar contract extension. McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013, but his production declined last season. Will the "Shady" of two years ago re-emerge with a change of scenery in Buffalo? Or will the Bills be sorry they gave the big bucks to a player Philadelphia thinks they're better off without?

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Graham was also traded from the Saints to the Seahawks. He had previously signed a $40 million dollar, 5 year contract extension. Graham has arguably been the best tight end in football the past few seasons. Heading to Seattle to play with Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and the rest of the Seahawks offense could help Graham continue as one of the top dogs at tight end. Graham has caught at least 85 passes each of the past four seasons, and doesn't look to be slowing down.
Jacksonville made a big splash, signing Thomas away from Denver for $46 million dollars over 5 years. The tight end has caught 24 touchdown passes over the past two seasons, that's the good news. The bad news is the man throwing passes to him is no longer Peyton Manning. And Thomas as missed 28 games in his 4 NFL seasons.
San Francisco paid big money to lure wide receiver Torrey Smith away from Baltimore. The 49ers gave Smith a 5 year, $40 million dollar contract. The 49ers are hoping (and paying) that Smith develops into a #1 receiver. But he's never caught more than 65 passes in a season and only has a single 1,000 yard season on his resume.
The biggest free agent signing was when the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to a 6 year, $114 million dollar contract. Suh could be the most dominate defensive lineman when he's on the field. But he also has a history of on field incidents that have led to multiple fines and being suspended as well. Will his aggressive history and being noted as one of the dirtiest players in the game end up with Suh being injured by a retaliatory cheap shot before those 6 years are up? And a contract of that size for a defensive lineman brings back some bad memories.
Of course those bad defensive line memories are of Albert Haynesworth. Remember when Haynesworth signed a 7 year, $100 million dollar contract with Washington after the 2008 season. Remember that Haynesworth didn't even last two full seasons with the Redskins? That's the risk you take when signing long term contracts for big money.
How many of this years big free agency signings will turn out to be worth the money? How many will prove not to be worth it? And how many will turn out to be flat out busts? Questions that all will be answered in time when the 2015 season kicks off in just about a month.

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