With more than two months to go before the NFL draft in May and four more months until the 2014 NFL season kicks off, teams and their fans are left with little to do but read about potential draftees and free agents, and speculate on which ones could be the that guy who makes the difference for their team. When you read about the same people over and over again, there is a tendency to overlook their flaws and inflate their positive attributes until the flaws simply disappear and all you can see is the potential for how great an impact this individual player could have on your favorite team. What inevitably happens is those players turn into let-downs, often costly let-downs, especially in the case of free agents. I have compiled a list, in no particular order, of some of the more prominent failures in just our small corner of the NFL.
Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker, Buffalo Bills, 2009
These two bums combined to fleece the Bills organization of over $70 million and both managed to last only two years in Buffalo. The Bills, under then GM Marv Levy, needed serious help at the offensive line and they spent the big bucks to get these two sacks of lard in place, only to watch them fail miserably and eventually they were both cut in 2011. This is in keeping with the track record the Bills maintained throughout the entire first decade of the 21st century.
Aaron Maybin, Buffalo Bills, 2009
Speaking of the 2009 Buffalo Bills, Aaron Maybin was selected by the team at 11th overall in the 2009 NFL draft. He was touted as a premier pass rushing talent coming into the league. What he ended up being was the next thing to worthless, playing in 27 games over two seasons and compiling a staggering stat line of 24 tackles and 0.0 sacks. Epic. Bear in mind, the Bills passed on a guy named Clay Matthews when they took Maybin that year.
Adalius Thomas, New England Patriots, 2007
Leaving Buffalo for the moment (though I’m sure I’ll be back soon), the Patriots signed Adalius Thomas after an All-Pro season in 2006. Unlike other members of this list, Thomas was not an immediate failure, producing well for his first season. However, the next two seasons were marred by injury and struggles with the organizational leadership and Thomas’ numbers sharply declined in 2008 and 2009, leading to his eventual dismissal. He has not played a game in the league since.
Jake Grove, Miami Dolphins, 2009
2009 really was a banner year for failed offensive line signings, wasn’t it? Miami decided to give this guy a 5 year deal worth $29 million. After 5 years in Oakland, where he managed to play only one full 16 game season, he was a free agent and the ever-shrewd Dolphins Front Office snapped him right up. He managed to play 12 games in 2009, then he got hurt (shocking) and never played another snap in the NFL.
Tim Tebow, aka The Time Lord, New York Jets, 2012
Surprisingly, the Jets don’t have a ton of candidates for this list, but their flagship representative is a heavyweight that could destroy the combined bulk of the rest of this list entirely. Tim Tebow, one of the least talented people to ever garner such an obscene amount of hype and media coverage, was signed by the Jets in 2012. He proceeded to draw an ridiculous amount of attention from the population of Planet Earth, destabilize an already shaky locker room, destroy Mark Sanchez’s confidence (such as it was), and contribute approximately nothing to on the field, except for this blooper reel all-star. Oh, and he made us all boycott E!SPN for a day.
The collective failure of the WRs and DBs drafted in the second round round because they always traded back, New England Patriots, 2003 – 2010
Brandon Meriweather, possibly the dirtiest player to step on the field in the last 10 years. A continual source of personal fouls, negative press, and fines, he was cut in 2011 despite a pair of pro bowl seasons. Terrence Wheatley, a well regarded second round pick at CB, he has totaled 4 tackles in 12 games over 4 seasons. Bethel Johnson, super fast with a total inability to run a decent route or catch anything. Darius Butler, a rookie season to remember with 3 INTs and a TD… and a career better left forgotten. Chad Jackson, a steal as an early 2nd round pick who had a decent rookie season then fell off the map in 2007 and was cut in 2008.
Jason Allen, Miami Dolphins, 2006
At 16th overall in 2006, this product of the vaunted SEC was a problem from Day 1. He was the last 1st round pick to sign a contract that year and never stepped his game up to the NFL level. Even though the great Nick Saban tried him at CB and S multiple times,he never panned out, continuing a pattern of up and down play for 4 years, until he was finally cut in week 9 of the 2010 season.
Ted Ginn Jr, Miami Dolphins, 2007
Oh Miami. I promise I’m not doing this on purpose, but this guy stands out on this list for me, not just for what could have been and where he was drafted, but also for the list of players who could have been taken instead of him. Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lawrence Timmons, Dwayne Bowe, Greg Olsen, or Paul Posluszny. OUCH! Despite the fact that Ginn actually had a decent 2008 season and is possibly the only speedster to burn Revis Island (once, in 2009), he’s undoubtedly one of the more disappointing WR picks of the last 10 years.
JP Losman, Buffalo Bills, 2004
I told you I’d be back in Buffalo. So, the Bills get a top tier WR in Lee Evans in the first round of the 2004 draft, then they trade back into the first round to get this failure at 22nd overall. I say failure because I’m a Bills fan, and a bitter one at that. This kid was the worst kind of QB, he played just well enough to make people believe in him, then CRUSHED hopes and dreams like a bug with his gun-shy and baffling decisions.
That’s about all I have the stomach for today, the list could go on for ages.
Non-Dvisional Dishonorable Mentions – The Washington “Politically Corrects” and the Oakland Raiders
In my research for this article, every list of free agent signing and draft busts was utterly dominated by these two teams. They combined, in some cases, for over 50% of the lists I looked at. Wow…