NFL News & Analysis

10 worst free agent signings through Week 8

New York Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie (31) lines up during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

In yesterday's installment, we listed the top 10 free-agent acquisitions from this past offseason through eight weeks. While the teams that acquired those 10 players should be feeling good about their decisions, some teams may be wishing they had their money back. Let’s take a look at the bottom 10 free-agent acquisitions, in terms of value, through the first eight weeks of 2015:

1. Brandon Browner, CB, Saints (three years, $18 million, 30.9 overall grade)

PFF’s second-lowest graded cornerback through eight weeks, Browner has continued his habit of committing penalties (a league-high 14). He has been poor in coverage, allowing the 15th-most yards per coverage snap (1.56) and surrendered a 101.1 passer rating on passes thrown into his coverage.  He is allowing 16.8 yards per completion, including 5.9 YAC per completion, on passes thrown in his direction, due in large part to 10 missed tackles, second-most amongst NFL CBs.

2. Jermey Parnell, OT, Jaguars (five years, $32 million, 45.0 overall grade)

After a good season for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, Parnell was acquired to help improve the Jaguars' struggling offensive line.  He has yet to do so, posting the 50th-ranked overall grade among tackles so far, with the seventh-worst pass blocking efficiency (92.1 percent) among qualified offensive tackles.  He has allowed 11 QB hits and 18 hurries through the first eight weeks of 2015.

3. Curtis Lofton, LB, Raiders (three years, $18 million, 35.4 overall grade)

This signing was puzzling at the time, given Lofton’s performance in the past (average or below average season grades the last three years).  Little has changed with the change in scenery, as he has the second-worst run stop percentage (4.2) amongst qualifying ILBs. He has surrendered 18 completions on 19 targets in coverage, including three touchdowns.

4. Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets (four years, $32 million, 44.5 overall grade)

In his return to the Jets, Cromartie ranks 90th among NFL cornerbacks this season. He has surrendered five touchdowns in coverage through seven games, giving up a 132.5 passer rating on targets thrown his way. Cromartie has five missed tackles while only producing three stops.

5. Marshall Newhouse, OT, Giants (two years, $3 million, 32.9 overall grade)

While the Giants didn’t break the bank for Newhouse, they probably should have more thoroughly explored other options. He has posted a negative grade in all but one game this season, had the 10th-worst pass blocking efficiency (92.9) among qualified OTs, and has been equally poor as a run blocker (33.4 run blocking grade, 33.2 pass blocking grade).

6. Byron Maxwell, CB, Eagles (six years, $63 million, 49.0 overall grade)

The acquisition of Maxwell was one of the most notable acquisitions this offseason, with many questioning whether he was truly a player of the caliber of his contract, or simply a product of Seattle's system. He started out very slowly this year, before rebounding slightly of late. Despite some positives grades in recent weeks, Maxwell still owns the ninth-worst yards per coverage snap among CB, at 1.70, has missed four tackles, and surrendered a 113.5 passer rating in his coverage.

7. DeMarco Murray, RB, Eagles (five years, $42 million, 59.3 overall grade)

Like Maxwell, Murray’s acquisition came with much fanfare. Also like Maxwell, Murray struggled mightily early, while experiencing some positives of late.  Be that as it may, Murray is only 18th among qualified running backs in elusive rating (39.2), has dropped 11.54 percent of catchable targets thrown in his direction, and has been overshadowed by another 2015 free agent back, Ryan Mathews (71.3 overall grade), in his own backfield.

8. Erik Pears, OT, 49ers (two years, $4.7 million, 43.7 overall grade)

The offensive struggles in San Francisco aren’t exclusively the fault of the recently-benched Colin Kaepernick. After struggling for the Bills in 2014, Pears was acquired to take over for the retired Anthony Davis this season. The exchange has been a disaster thus far, as Pears ranks 56th among tackles. He has surrendered six sacks, tied for second among OTs.

9. Tracy Porter, CB, Chicago Bears (one year, $870,000, 39.4 overall grade)

The Bears' use of CBs has been puzzling thus far, benching another free agent acquisition, Alan Ball (54.4 overall grade) for Porter after Week 3 of the season. Neither Porter nor Ball are young (29 and 30, respectively) for CBs, which doesn’t appear to coincide with Chicago’s rebuilding movement.  Additionally, it’s clear Porter’s best days are behind him, giving up 1.51 yards per coverage snap, two touchdown passes, and a 94.6 passer rating in coverage.

T-10. Greg Jennings, WR, Dolphins (two years, $8 million, 44.8 overall grade) and Dwayne Bowe, WR, Browns (two years, $12.5 million, 57.8 overall grade)

What’s worse, a veteran receiver playing terribly enough (Jennings has only 10 receptions on 18 targets with three drops) to get benched five weeks into the season (10, 28, and four snaps in Weeks 6, 7 and 8, respectively), or a veteran receiver (Bowe) who hasn’t shown enough to even make it onto the field for more than 19 snaps, or register a reception for a team with two wins?

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