1 – DT Albert Haynesworth, Washington Redskins
OLD TEAM: Titans ... CONTRACT: 7 years, $100 million ... YEAR: 2009 ... SKINNY: In hindsight, it's laughable that a number of NFL teams whispered the word tampering regarding Haynesworth's landmark deal with the Redskins (first $100 million contract for D-linemen), just hours into NFL free agency.
(NOTE: Unlike today's rules, the NFL didn't provide clubs with a three-day negotiating window for free agents.)
From the outset, Haynesworth (two-time All-Pro with the Titans in 2007-08) was an unqualified bust in Washington, collecting only 6.5 sacks and 43 total tackles in two seasons with the Redskins.
Even worse, Haynesworth was routinely chided by head coach Mike Shanahan for his lack of conditioning, discipline and/or laziness throughout out his D.C. tenure.
The real kicker: Despite only two years in Washington, Haynesworth still walked away with $41 million in guarantees.
2 – QB Jeff Garcia, Cleveland Browns
OLD TEAM: 49ers ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $25 million ... YEAR: 2004 ... SKINNY: From 2000-03, Garcia accounted for 13,854 yards passing and 121 total TDs (102 passing).
So, it made sense – on paper – for the Browns to reward Garcia with a sizable contract, entering his age-34 campaign.
For his Cleveland debut that September, Garcia tallied two TDs and helped the Browns put a 20-3 smackdown on the hated Ravens. So far, so good ... huh?
However, for the following week vs. Dallas, Garcia completed just eight passes (on 27 attempts) and appeared lost throwing to a receiving corps of Andre' Davis, Quincy Morgan and Dennis Northcutt. Ouch.
In his only season with Cleveland, Garcia merely collected three victories, 10 TD passes and 144 completions in 11 games.
3 – CB Deion Sanders, Washington Redskins
OLD TEAM: Cowboys ... CONTRACT: 7 years, $55 million ... YEAR: 2000 ... SKINNY: Sanders might be a Hall of Famer and one of the NFL's greatest players of the 1990s. But in 2000, the 33-year-old had reached the point of no return, in terms of remaining a dominant player.
And yet, this didn't preclude new Redskins owner Daniel Snyder from tossing a fat contract at Sanders (including an $8 million signing bonus), thinking the balance of power in the NFC East would instantly shift from Dallas to Washington.
But that's not how things worked out for Prime Time. After one mortal season with the Redskins, Sanders retired to The NFL Today on CBS set, although he would make another comeback with the Ravens in 2004-05 ... as a nickel cornerback and safety.
List continues below gallery
4 – QB Elvis Grbac, Baltimore Ravens
OLD TEAM: Chiefs ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $30 million ... YEAR: 2001 ... SKINNY: In the Super Bowl era, the Ravens are the only franchise to forsake their Lombardi Trophy-winning quarterback for a new opening-day starter the following season.
In 2001, Baltimore dropped Trent Dilfer and inked Grbac to a high-end deal, which included an $11 million signing bonus.
For that season in Baltimore, Grbac's last in professional football, the 31-year-old passed for a respectable 3,033 yards, but floundered with a below-average TD/INT ratio of 15/18.
Making matters worse, Grbac tossed three interceptions (and zero TDs) in the Ravens' divisional-round playoff loss to the hated Steelers (January 2002).
Soon after that, the presumably healthy Grbac abruptly retired from the game.
5 – CB Nate Odomes, Seattle Seahawks
OLD TEAM: Bills ... CONTRACT: 4 years, $8.4 million ... YEAR: 1994 ... SKINNY: It's impossible to find a live-action shot of Odomes playing a regular-season game with the Seahawks ... for one simple reason:
He never played a down for Seattle.
A two-time Pro Bowler with the Bills (1992-93), Odomes cashed in with Seattle after going to four straight Super Bowls with Buffalo (1990-93).
However, a knee injury sidelned Odomes for the 1994 and '95 campaigns, forcing the Seahawks to waive him after two nonexistent seasons.
6 – LG Carl Nicks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OLD TEAM: Saints ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $47.5 million ... YEAR: 2012 ... SKINNY: Nicks was among the league's best O-linemen in his first four pro seasons, collecting two Pro Bowl trips (2010-11) and one spot on the NFL All-Pro Team (2011).
During that span, the Nebraska product was also a durable linchpin for the Saints and QB Drew Brees, starting in 61 regular-season outings from 2008-11. But everything unraveled once Nicks inked a lucrative deal with Tampa Bay.
Nicks started in only nine combined games for 2012-13; a year later, he would contract MRSA – a potentially life-threatening staph infection which can greatly harm surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs and/or urinary tract.
As a result, the tough-luck Nicks never played another down in the NFL.
7 – Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns
OLD TEAM: Panthers ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $42 million ... YEAR: 2010 ... SKINNY: The Browns rarely, if ever, strike gold during free agency.
For this particular absurdity, Cleveland officials doled out $42 million to a 35-year-old passer with the following meager averages for 2006-09: 2,183 yards passing, 12 TDs.
Which brings us to Delhomme's only campaign with the Browns: Of the five games played, he meekly tossed for 872 yards, two TDs ... and seven interceptions.
For what it's worth, Delhomme's best season in the pros (2004 – 3,886 yards passing, 29 TDs) contrasts well with Jeff Garcia's most forgettable NFL campaign (2004 with the Browns).
8 – WR Javon Walker, Oakland Raiders
OLD TEAM: Raiders ... CONTRACT: 6 years, $55 million ... YEAR: 2008 ... SKINNY: If the Raiders had lavished Walker with a $55 million contract after his sterling 2006 season with the Broncos (69 catches, 1.084 yards, eight TDs), no one might have said boo.
Instead, Oakland surrendered top-market compensation ($16 million guaranteed) to Walker after a deflating, injury-riddled campaign the following year (26 catches, 287 yards, zero touchdowns).
In his final four games in 2007, Walker tallied seven catches for 57 yards ... and yet, he still got crazy money from Raiders patriarch Al Davis.
Predictably, Walker was a bust with Oakland, catching only 15 balls for 296 yards and one touchdown in '08 (with quarterback JaMarcus Russell) — and then playing just three games in '09 (his final NFL season) without a single catch.
9 – DE Ray Edwards, Atlanta Falcons
OLD TEAM: Vikings ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $30 million ... YEAR: 2011 ... SKINNY: It's easy to endorse the Falcons' rationale for bringing Edwards to Atlanta: From ages 22-25 (playing alongside the Vikings' Jared Allen), Edwards had wrapped four straight seasons of five-plus sacks — including 16.5 total for 2009-10.
But alas, after a decent first campaign with the Falcons in 2011 (two fumble recoveries, 3.5 sacks, 26 tackles), Edwards fell off the map the following year, registering zero sacks in nine games (four starts) before getting released during the season.
As a postscript, the 20-something Edwards ($11 million guaranteed upon signing) didn't play again after the 2012 campaign.
10 – QB Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans
OLD TEAM: Broncos ... CONTRACT: 6 years, $72 million ... YEAR: 2016 ... SKINNY: Osweiler's one-and-done debacle with Houston (circa 2016) should serve as fair warning to all future free agents at quarterback, in search of a monster payday:
Don't sign with any team until meeting the head coach first (in this case, Bill O'Brien), especially when he's the guy designing the offense and calling plays.
11 – WR Alvin Harper, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OLD TEAM: Cowboys ... CONTRACT: 4 years, $10.5 million ... YEAR: 1995 ... SKINNY: With the Cowboys, Harper played an integral role on two championship teams, averaging an NFL-best 25 yards per catch and racking up eight TDs (1994).
The Bucs, however, would learn that Harper was more suited to be a balanced offense's third or fourth option and didn't possess the chops to carry a middling group in Tampa Bay.
For example, tight end Jackie Harris tallied more catches and receiving yards (62/751) than Harper in 1995 (46 catches/633 yards). The following season, his last with Tampa Bay, Harper caught just 19 balls for 289 yards and one TD.
That year, according to Sports Illustrated, Harper infamously lost a piece of the tip of his left middle finger when a trainer inadvertently cut it with scissors, while applying athletic tape.
12 – WR Laurent Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
OLD TEAM: Cowboys ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $32 million ... YEAR: 2012 ... SKINNY: Give Robinson (originally drafted by the Falcons) credit.
He certainly earned this bank heist. In 2011, with the Cowboys in desperate need of a No. 2 receiver (behind Dez Bryant and subbing for the injured Miles Austin), Robinson emerged out of nowhere to collect 54 catches and 858 yards ... along with a Dez/Calvin Johnson-esque run of 11 touchdowns in a 10-game spurt.
Upon moving to Jacksonville, though, Robinson was an instant flop, catching just 24 balls (with zero scores) in 2012 – his lone season with the Jaguars.
Adding to the misery, the 20-something receiver never logged another down in the NFL.
13 – QB Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks
OLD TEAM: Packers ... CONTRACT: 3 years, $26 million ... YEAR: 2012 ... SKINNY: Flynn ($10 million in guarantees with Seattle) might be the unluckiest asset here, citing two reasons:
a) An injury precluded Flynn (tied for Packers' single-game passing-TDs record: 6) from fully participating in his first training camp with the Seahawks.
b) That absence enabled rookie QB Russell Wilson (Round 3 pick) to earn a full-time starting gig for the regular season.
(Roughly 18 months later, Wilson and Co. would claim the Lombardi Trophy.)
Of course, it's not like Flynn – who was released by Seattle the next season -- fared better in other locales:
In 2013, he spent time with the Raiders, Bills and Packers, ultimately serving as Aaron Rodgers' understudy in Green Bay. Again.
14 – WR Joe Horn, Atlanta Falcons
OLD TEAM: Saints ... CONTRACT: 4 years, $19 million ... YEAR: 2007 ... SKINNY: Horn was a flop bet in his lone season with Atlanta (27 catches, 243 yards, one TD). He was 35 and at the end of his professional rope.
That aside, the Falcons were crazy to think Horn (2005-06 averages: 43 catches and 2.5 TDs) would magically recapture his under-30 form, even if Michael Vick hadn't received a two-year prison term for dogfighting.
Horn's biggest faux pas with Atlanta, however, didn't occur on the field. In the early stages of the Vick-dogfighting scandal, Horn erroneously spoke on the club's behalf, saying the team fully supported Vick – even though the Falcons organization had been distancing itself from the quarterback.
It was a debacle, even bigger than Horn's inflated contract.
15 – WR Andre Rison, Cleveland Browns
OLD TEAM: Falcons ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $17 million ... YEAR: 1995 ... SKINNY: It's scary to think Jerry Rice was not the league's highest-paid receiver in 1995.
That honor went to Rison, who enjoyed five rock-solid seasons with the Falcons from 1990-94 (423 catches, 5,633 yards, 56 TDs – including four straight years of double-digit TDs) before cashing in with Cleveland.
In fact, legend has it Browns owner Art Modell had to secure a loan to cover Rison's signing bonus ... which explains why Modell was secretly hatching a deal to move the franchise to Baltimore (minus the colors and "Browns" name).
In his lone year with Cleveland, Rison – who would score a Super Bowl TD with Green Bay in January 1997 – caught 47 balls for 701 yards and three TDs.
16 – WR Jerry Porter, Jacksonville Jaguars
OLD TEAM: Raiders ... CONTRACT: 6 years, $30 million ... YEAR: 2008 ... SKINNY: In fairness to Jacksonville, Porter had developed into a reasonable bet for 60 catches, 800 yards and six touchdowns with the Raiders from 2004-07 (when healthy).
So, it's not like the Jaguars were throwing a boatload of money at an unproven or untapped talent.
Porter also had the elite-level speed to boot, making him more attractive in free agency. The main undoing: Jacksonville tried to shoehorn Porter into the lead-dog role at receiver, even though he was seldom more than a No. 2 or 3 wideout with Oakland.
As a result, Porter caught only 11 balls for 181 yards and one touchdown in his lone season with QB David Garrard and the Jacksonville offense. It would also be his last NFL campaign.
17 – CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles
OLD TEAM: Raiders ... CONTRACT: 5 years, $60 million ... YEAR: 2011 ... SKINNY: With the Raiders from 2006-10, Asomugha was a two-time All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler and four-time member of Pro Football Reference's double-digit-point Approximate Value Club.
In the summer of 2011, soon after the NFL lockout ended, the Cowboys and Eagles fought for Nnamdi. Dallas even tossed out a national media leak, characterizing Asomugha's signing as imminent.
However, Philly swooped in with a mega-contract ($25M in guarantees) – prompting backup QB Vince Young to hail the new-look Eagles as a "Dream Team" – a comment which indirectly set the course for a 4-12 implosion that fall.
In two seasons with Philly (2011-12), Asomugha collected four total INTs.
18 – WR Robert Meachem, San Diego Chargers
OLD TEAM: Saints ... CONTRACT: 4 years, $25.9 million ... YEAR: 2012 ... SKINNY: From 2009-11, Meachem notched a respectable 20 TDs with the pass-happy Saints.
However, when digging deeper, the Chargers might have opened up the checkbook here, based on one prolific five-game spurt from 2009: 21 catches, 346 yards, six TDs.
Since Drew Brees and Philip Rivers were once teammates with San Diego (2004-05), perhaps the Chargers' brass thought Meachem would be an easy fit in their offense.
But the former first-round pick (2007) was a washout with the Bolts, catching just 14 balls for 207 yards and two TDs in his lone campaign with San Diego (three starts).
Postscript: Meachem eventually returned to the Saints, but tallied only 23 catches/2 TDs for 2013-14.
19 – WR Peerless Price, Atlanta Falcons
OLD TEAM: Bills ... CONTRACT: 7 years, $37.5 million ... YEAR: 2003 ... SKINNY: In 2002, his fourth season with the Bills, Price finally exhibited the traits of a No. 1 wideout in real-world and fantasy circles, catching 94 balls for 1,252 yards and nine TDs.
It was the first supposed step in a career full of unlimited promise. But things took a turn for the worse the following winter, soon after Price inked a big-money contract with the Falcons.
On paper, Price seemed like a perfect fit for quarterback Michael Vick, and perhaps the final piece to Atlanta's championship puzzle.
Instead, Price's two-year production with Atlanta (109 catches, 1,413, six TDs), although adequate, wasn't commensurate with the NFL's highest-paid receivers.
Atlanta waived him before the 2005 season.
20 – DT Sean Gilbert, Carolina Panthers
OLD TEAM: Rams ... CONTRACT: 7 years, $46.5 million ... YEAR: 1998... SKINNY: This case straddles the line separating free-agent bust and disappointment.
In 1998, the Panthers signed Gilbert to a then-unprecedented deal for a restricted free agent (among D-linemen), while also surrendering first-round picks in 1999 and 2000.
For that inaugural season, Gilbert registered six sacks – the second-highest tally of his career. But injuries and age would become the major knocks against Gilbert from 1999-2002, while impacting the Panthers' 1-15 season of 2001.
In fact, Gilbert (the uncle to NFL star Darrelle Revis) may be the poster boy for the Panthers' bottoming out, paving the way for George Seifert's firing and John Fox's subsequent hire as head coach.
BONUS – QB Scott Mitchell, Detroit Lions
OLD TEAM: Dolphins ... CONTRACT: 3 years, $11 million ... YEAR: 1994 ... SKINNY: Mitchell's '94 campaign (1,456 yards, 10 TDs, 11 INTs) was a lost cause, just months after signing a record-breaking contract (at the time).
To be fair, though, O-tackle Lomas Brown wasn't exactly stonewalling opponents (must-watch link), prior to his passer getting injured.
In 1995, Mitchell became the first Lions QB in history to break the hallowed 4,000 mark (4,338 yards passing, 32 TDs), while leading Detroit to seven straight closing wins and a wild-card berth.
Two years later, he rolled for 3,484 yards passing/19 TDs, again guiding the Lions to the playoffs.
Bottom line: Detroit fans never warmed to the brooding southpaw, even though he stands out in the 51-year gap of the Lions trading away Bobby Layne (1958) ... and drafting Matthew Stafford.