Money doesn’t solve all problems in free agency


Denver Broncos defensive tackle Malik Jackson (97) zeroes in on Carolina Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker (43) during first quarter action against the Carolina Panthers in the NFL Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara, Calif. February 7, 2016 (Photo by Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)

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(Malik Jackson photo courtesy of Eric Bakke/Denver Broncos)
(Ndamukong Suh photo courtesy of the Miami Dolphins)

By Rick Gosselin

Talk of Fame Network

The big winner in free agency this offseason has been Malik Jackson.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed the Denver defensive end to a six-year, $90 million contract, with $42 million of it guaranteed — the largest payday in free agency this offseason. Jackson was a solid player for the Broncos last season, collecting five sacks and recovering two fumbles for the NFL’s top-ranked defense.

But Denver had four defenders selected to the 2016 Pro Bowl, and Jackson wasn’t one of them — edge pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Two other Denver defenders were selected as Pro Bowl alternates, and, again, Jackson wasn’t one of them – linebacker Brandon Marshall and safety T.J. Ward.

Jackson was a member of the supporting cast of the Super Bowl-champion Broncos, but it’s clear the Jaguars are expecting him to be much, much more for them. Jacksonville finished 24th in the NFL in defense in 2015 and 20th in sacks.  But money doesn’t solve all problems. Check out how the highest-paid free agents have fared in each of the last five free-agency classes. Few have played to the level of the money or the duration of the contract. Four of them, by the way, were defenders:

2015: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Miami

Contract: 6 years, $114 million, $60 million guaranteed

The Dolphins lured Suh away from Detroit by making him the highest-paid defender in NFL history. Suh went to four Pro Bowls with the Lions, but his streak of three consecutive appearances came to an end in Miami. He wasn’t the impact defender the Dolphins paid him to be — not with just six sacks and 61 tackles. Miami finished last in the AFC East with a 6-10 record, with the Dolphins finishing 25th in the NFL in defense and 28th against the run.

Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) breaks up a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) during fourth quarter action in the NFL AFC Conference Championship playoff game at Denver, Colo. January 24, 2016. (© Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)

(Aqib Talib photo courtesy of Eric Bakke/Denver Broncos)

2014: Aqib Talib, CB, Denver

Contract: 6 years, $57 million, $26 million guaranteed

Talib left New England in free agency for the team that beat the Patriots in the 2013 AFC title game, the Broncos. Denver was moving on from aging Champ Bailey and needed a shutdown corner to replace him. Talib was a Pro Bowler with the Patriots and remained one with the Broncos. He has gone to back-to-back Pro Bowls in Denver, helping the Broncos field the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2015 and capture a Lombardi Trophy. He has intercepted seven passes in his two seasons and the Broncos have won 24 of 32 games.

2013: Mike Wallace, WR, Miami

Contract: 5 years, $60 million, $30 million guaranteed

Wallace played only two seasons with the Dolphins. Miami signed him hoping he could be the receiver that could stretch the field and accelerate young Ryan Tannehill’s development as a quarterback. But Wallace couldn’t manage 1,000 yards receiving in either of his two seasons before the Dolphins dumped his contract, trading him to Minnesota. He played one year for the Vikings, catching only 39 passes, before Minnesota cut him this month. He has since signed a two-year deal with the Ravens. Miami went 16-16 with Wallace, with no playoff berths.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL. The Miami Dolphins won against the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 37 to 35 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL December 7, 2014. (Dave Cross/Miami Dolphins)

(Mike Wallace photo courtesy of the Dave Cross /Miami Dolphins)

2012: Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo

Contract: 6 years, $100 million, $50 million guaranteed

Williams played four seasons with the Bills. He was the pass rusher the Bills were hoping he’d be in his first three years when he delivered seasons of 10-½, 13 and 14-1/2 sacks. But after a five-sack season in 2015, at the age of 31, the Bills released him this month. He has since signed a two-year contract with the Dolphins. Buffalo went 29-35 with Williams, with no playoff berths.

2011: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Philadelphia

Contract: 5 years, $60 million, $25 million guaranteed

Asomugha played only two years with the Eagles. A three-time Pro Bowler with the Raiders and a member of the 2000s’ NFL all-decade team, Asomugha wasn’t the same player in Philadelphia and was released in March 2013. In his two seasons, Asomugha started 31 games and intercepted four passes. Philadelphia went 12-20 during his brief tenure, with no playoff berths.

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