Every week in this space, Chris Wesseling will roll out the power rankings for one specific NFL position, attribute or award.
A few weeks back, we reviewed the best offseason bargains. It's now time to unveil the companion piece, biggest free-agent flops.
On to the list:
1. Dwayne Bowe, Cleveland Browns wide receiver: This was an easy call. Even though Bowe had been moving like a tight end for two seasons, the Browns opted to hand him $9 million in guarantees. As a result, they've been forced to carry a player they would rather release. A healthy scratch most weeks, Bowe has contributed a catch in just one of 10 Browns games this season. If there's a silver lining, it's that "only" $2.85 million of his 2016 salary is guaranteed.
2. Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver: After recruiting Johnson with a three-year, $21 million offer, coach Chuck Pagano insisted that the 34-year-old receiver was a "dominant guy" and a "force to be reckoned with." Johnson was supposed to be a major upgrade on an injury-ravaged Reggie Wayne, accelerating Andrew Luck's development. Instead, Luck has regressed beyond all imagination while Johnson has been outplayed of late by fifth receiver Griff Whalen.
3. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles running back: Murray is the poster-child for the perils of building through free agency in the NFL. Chip Kelly conceded this summer that Murray's extraordinarily heavy 2014 workload was a valid concern going forward, but opted to hand him a five-year, $40 million contract regardless. An investment of that size can't be allowed to fail, even if it means re-tooling the offense to suit Murray's strengths after watching him get outplayed by Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles early in the season. Murray is a power runner who struggles to move laterally. The Eagles should have realized he was a poor fit for their spread attack.
4. Brandon Browner, New Orleans Saints cornerback: Signed to a three-year, $15 million contract two days after the Patriots declined his 2015 option, Browner has been an unmitigated disaster in a historically bad Saints secondary. A pass interference call waiting to happen, Browner has been charged with an astounding 16 penalties this season. As if that wasn't distressing enough, he opted to take a head-scratching cheap shot at Redskins guard Spencer Long rather than attempting to tackle ball-carrier Matt Jones last week.
5. Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets cornerback: The Cardinals had the right idea, landing Cromartie at the bargain rate of $3.25 million on a one-year contract in 2014. The Jets got hornswoggled, throwing $32 million over four years at the 31-year-old cornerback after a bounce-back season in Arizona. Cromartie has been one of the NFL's least effective corners this season, allowing six touchdowns and a passer rating of 135.3, per Pro Football Focus. The Jets have surrendered 1,227 passing yards over the past four games, more than any four-game stretch with last year's patchwork secondary.
6. Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills wide receiver: The Bills received 249 yards and one touchdown over five games for their one-year, $6 million investment in Harvin, who was so frustrated with a chronically injured hip that he has considered retirement at age 27. In exchange for the $31.5 million he has collected from the Seahawks, Jets and Bills over the past three years, Harvin has delivered a grand total of five touchdowns.
7. Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver: How many parties have been aggrieved by Smith's defection to San Francisco for $40 million over five years? The Ravens have desperately missed Smith's speed and playmaking ability whereas Smith's field-stretching skills have gone to waste at the wrong end of Colin Kaepernick's scattershot arm. At least 50 receivers and tight ends have produced more plays of 20+ yards than Smith this season.
8. Byron Maxwell, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback: Speaking of signings that have gone wrong for both teams, the next two players on this list were essentially swapped for each other. The Eagles "upgraded" from Cary Williams to Maxwell, shelling out $63 million in the process. Brought onboard to neutralize No. 1 receivers, Maxwell has been toasted by Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham this season.
9. Cary Williams, Seattle Seahawks cornerback: Given $7 million upfront on a three-year, $18 million contract, Williams was signed to replace Maxwell opposite Richard Sherman while stabilizing the celebrated Legion of Boom secondary. So much for that plan. The Seahawks allowed as many points in their Week 10 loss to the Cardinals as they allowed in their final six regular-season games combined last season.
Granted a second chance despite thumbing his nose at that all-important contrition phase, Hardy has rewarded the Cowboys with a rap video heavy on strippers and guns, eyebrow-raising comments about Tom Brady's wife, a shoving match with the special teams coach, multiple tardy or missed appearances at team meetings and a sideline flare-up with teammate Demarcus Lawrence in Week 10.
The Cowboys have lost five consecutive game since Hardy's suspension lapsed in Week 5. They can accomplish that much without a continually divisive force undermining the efforts of everyone else in the building.