Big-Ticket Free-Agency Follies, 2019 Edition:
The biggest free-agent contracts for players who changed teams in 2019, with the eight free-agent signees who got at least $25-million guaranteed with their new teams:
- Zero of eight have been big stars fully justifying their pay.
- Three of eight have been moderate to good contributors: Thomas, Flowers and Collins.
- Four of eight will miss half the season or more with injuries: Mosley, Alexander, James and Foles.
- One of eight has been a significant disappointment: Bell.
Foles is in almost a separate category, both injured and underperforming.
The injured, or the bad:
• Foles, who missed half the season with a broken clavicle, was benched for poor play in his third start back. He likely is done for 2019.
• Mosley has missed all but 114 snaps with the Jets with a groin injury. He’s on season-ending IR.
• Bell, averaging 3.2 yards per rush (1.1 yards less than his career average), has been wholly unimpactful for the Jets.
• James has been sidelined all but 32 snaps with a knee injury this year. He’ll make $17 million, total, in 2019.
Alexander, PFF’s 43rd-rated linebacker, was lost with a torn pectoral in game eight. It’s the second straight year he’s played half a season or less.
The healthy, and the pretty good:
• Flowers has played but 63 percent of the snaps—way down from his last two Patriot years. He has seven sacks and 29 QB hurries.
• Collins has played all 910 Washington defensive snaps and been a good run defender and middling pass defender.
• Thomas hasn’t made the splash plays other Ravens defenders have, but he came in with injury question marks and has been a relative ironman, playing 95 percent of the snaps and providing good leadership.
Moral of the story: It was a bad year for spending big in free agency.
(Note: Green Bay pass-rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been a boon to the Packers in remaking their pass-rush, but neither got a deal with $25-million fully guaranteed. Maybe that’s a moral to the story—that it’s smart to pay big and guarantee only a moderate sum, which could be effective in luring players like Smith and Smith. They were rising stars but not worthy to most teams of huge guarantees.)