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Thread: Teams spending more than $100M in free agency almost always flop

  1. #1

    Teams spending more than $100M in free agency almost always flop

    The opposite of a magic number




    Originally Published: May 27, 2013
    By John Clayton | ESPN

    In doing some paperwork to wrap up the bulk of 2013 free agency, I stumbled across a weird trend.

    As we all know, teams can't buy championships through free agency. Those that have tried have failed. In fact, recent history has shown the top spenders in unrestricted free agency haven't had winning seasons or significantly improved their record

    In 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($147.38 million), Buffalo Bills ($118.98 million), New Orleans Saints ($114.55 million) and St. Louis Rams ($106.2 million) were the top four spenders in unrestricted free agency yet didn't have winning seasons. The Bucs improved by three games but finished with a 7-9 record. The Bills grabbed the top free agent -- defensive end Mario Williams -- but repeated with a 6-10 record. The Saints filled holes in free agency, but the bounty controversy and suspension of head coach Sean Payton dropped them from 13-3 to 7-9. The Rams improved 5 games but fell short of a winning record at 7-8-1.

    In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles put together the so-called "Dream Team," signing 12 players for contracts totaling $127.1 million, but the team dropped from 10-6 to 8-8. The Jacksonville Jaguars were second in spending that year with $115.53 million, but slipped three games to 5-11. The Seattle Seahawks kick-started their rebuilding under Pete Carroll with $107.6 million, but their record matched the 7-9 mark from the previous season.

    We'll skip the uncapped year in 2010 because only 51 players moved to different teams. There isn't a big enough number to judge. The Chicago Bears grabbed defensive end Julius Peppers as the top free agent and spent $111 million on contracts. They did improve by four games to make the playoffs at 11-5.

    In 2009, the Denver Broncos were the only team that spent more than $100 million in contracts ($108.5 million). The Broncos stayed at 8-8.

    In 2008, the Jets were the $100 million team with a $109.62 million shopping list. They bucked the trend, improving by five games to go 9-7, but didn't make the playoffs, and a coaching change followed.

    In 2007, the San Francisco 49ers were the big spenders at $129.37 million, but they went from 7-9 to 5-11.

    You have to think the trend will change this year. The Miami Dolphins were the offseason leaders with a $146.1 million free-agency haul. They have a decent young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. They've added wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller. Coming off a 7-9 season, you figure they will get better by a couple of games with the additions.

    If they aren't the team to beat the $100 million free-agent trend, the Indianapolis Colts should be. They went 11-5 with Andrew Luck leading the way as a rookie. They added eight players with contracts totaling $132 million. Their record might not be better, but the additions can't make them worse as a team.

    I think the Trend continues. I see Miami possibly flopping and for sure I don't see the Colts finishing better than 11-5. They pulled off some magic to get that record. Sooner or later owners and GM's will learn that football is a team game. When you bring in high priced selfish players that left their old teams for more money elsewhere you might have a better player here and there but not necessarily a better team.

    I wouldn't say there is a $100 million jinx on teams spending that much in free agency, but there still needs to be caution about what happens to the big spenders. Recent history proves a big checkbook doesn't guarantee great success.

  2. #2
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    Very interesting. This is just further proof that building through the draft is the best way.

    I would not include the Saints b.c of bounty gate. Didn't the Broncos spend $100 million last year on Peyton Manning?

    Also I think the biggest factor would be that all the teams mentioned did not get good QB play the year after they went on the spending spree. We probably came the closest until Favre got hurt.

    I do think the Dolphins (kills me to say it) and Colts will curb the trend. If anything the Colts are just fortifying with FAs b.c they are loaded with some nice young players.

  3. #3
    I will say it again, the Dolphins are going to be a bust. I am not sold Tannehill. As much hate/criticism as Sanchez gets, some fair some not so much, he played and produced much more than Tannehill has in his first season. Many of his yards came in garbage time and he did not produce in a big spot last year. But time will tell.

    As for spending in FA, I agree. Not only in football but one could argue in pro sports. Just look at both LA baseball teams. Talk here in LA is Yankee great Don Mattingly is going to be fired. Same too with Angel's Mike Scioscia. Both teams are huge disappointments with very high expectations this year.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJam Football View Post
    When you bring in high priced selfish players that left their old teams for more money elsewhere you might have a better player here and there but not necessarily a better team.
    That was my first thought when he stated his premise. And I think we had a good taste of it back when we had holMEs, Burrass and Mason moping around breeding hate and discontent. Two down one to go. Maybe that's part of Idzik sticking with our young WRs hoping to mature them and "grow our own."

  5. #5
    Go look at the Super Bowl winners. Baltimore, NY Giants, Packers, Saints, Steelers, Colts. None of those teams binge in free agency. They carefully draft players and develop them. That's how you win.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jetssjumets View Post
    I will say it again, the Dolphins are going to be a bust. I am not sold Tannehill. As much hate/criticism as Sanchez gets, some fair some not so much, he played and produced much more than Tannehill has in his first season. Many of his yards came in garbage time and he did not produce in a big spot last year. But time will tell.

    As for spending in FA, I agree. Not only in football but one could argue in pro sports. Just look at both LA baseball teams. Talk here in LA is Yankee great Don Mattingly is going to be fired. Same too with Angel's Mike Scioscia. Both teams are huge disappointments with very high expectations this year.
    Off topic but if the Angels were dumb enough to fire Scioscia there will be a dozen teams lined up for his services.

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    Snyder's Law.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 10PennyToColes87 View Post
    Snyder's Law.
    Excellent!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by jetssjumets View Post
    I will say it again, the Dolphins are going to be a bust. I am not sold Tannehill. As much hate/criticism as Sanchez gets, some fair some not so much, he played and produced much more than Tannehill has in his first season. Many of his yards came in garbage time and he did not produce in a big spot last year. But time will tell.

    As for spending in FA, I agree. Not only in football but one could argue in pro sports. Just look at both LA baseball teams. Talk here in LA is Yankee great Don Mattingly is going to be fired. Same too with Angel's Mike Scioscia. Both teams are huge disappointments with very high expectations this year.
    I disagree with you on Tannehill, I like the kid a lot. He absolutely had no one to throw the ball to. Like Sanchez he only played one year in college, but physically he is just the better player after year one. A stronger arm, can tuck and run, ( I expect over 500 yards this year on the ground.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by DDNYjets View Post
    Off topic but if the Angels were dumb enough to fire Scioscia there will be a dozen teams lined up for his services.
    Same goes with firing Rex IMO.

    Back on topic, I'm thrilled to see that we're becoming a team that builds thru the draft. Thrilled. There is a saying that the best, most elegant answer to a problem is always the simplest answer. I don't think it gets any simpler than draft for best talent and buy FA's to fill the holes.

    I know a lot of fans hate Woody but I'm giving credit where credit is due and his plan of hiring a search firm to find our GM was one of his best moves. I guess you can tell I'm pretty hopeful in our future. These last two years have been brutal. I love Rex but he needs someone to reign him and I think the Idzig/Rex team is just the right makeup.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jetssjumets View Post
    I will say it again, the Dolphins are going to be a bust. I am not sold Tannehill. As much hate/criticism as Sanchez gets, some fair some not so much, he played and produced much more than Tannehill has in his first season. Many of his yards came in garbage time and he did not produce in a big spot last year. But time will tell.

    As for spending in FA, I agree. Not only in football but one could argue in pro sports. Just look at both LA baseball teams. Talk here in LA is Yankee great Don Mattingly is going to be fired. Same too with Angel's Mike Scioscia. Both teams are huge disappointments with very high expectations this year.
    I'm not trying to start a silly debate on this, but IMO Tannehill was much better his rookie season than Sanchez. I don't recall any garbage time yards for tannehill, and obviously every qb has those. If you can show me he had more than normal, I will change my position, but I highly doubt you can.

    As far as producing in big spots, thats a fair comment. He did beat seattle on a last minute drive, and did his job against the Jets, only for carpenter to miss his kicks, but for the most part he didn't produce late in games.

    Now as far as the Sanchez comparison, Tannehill had less to work with, worse offensive line, worse weapons, and worse running game, yet had about the same touchdowns, much less interceptions, higher completion percentage, and higher yards per attempt. He also went through his progressions, stood in the pocket and took big hits while delivering the ball accurately, and called out audibles and protections.

    Sanchez still deserves credit for stepping up in the post season, but since Tannehill didn't get their we can't compare them in that facet yet, but regardless, I'll give Sanchez credit where it is due for that, and Tannehill fault for not getting his team to the postseason.



    As far as the spending goes, I think it all comes down to QB play. You can spend all of the money you want, but if your QB doesn't perform, you will struggle to win games. Buffalo didn't struggle because they spent their money poorly, the struggled because of their QB. And it will be the same for the Dolphins if Tannehill doesn't step up.

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    Who did the colts even sign?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by BIGKIDD325 View Post
    Go look at the Super Bowl winners. Baltimore, NY Giants, Packers, Saints, Steelers, Colts. None of those teams binge in free agency. They carefully draft players and develop them. That's how you win.
    What do all of those teams have in common?

    They don't have a quality NFL QB. Spend, don't spend, trade down, trade up...without a quality NFL QB you can not win in the NFL.

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