10 NFL free agents set to be overpaid this offseason

Dec 31, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) reacts to a safety during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams are going to be throwing out a ridiculous amount of cash to impending free agents once the market opens up next week. Another $10-plus million increase in the salary cap demands this.

Whether it’s players performing at a position that’s valued high or teams projecting future success, a number of these free agents are going to be vastly overpaid. From a safety in New Jersey coming off a down year to a relatively unknown wide receiver in Southern California, here’s a look at 10 players who fit under this category.

Landon Collins, safety, New York Giants

New York decided against placing the $11.15 million franchise tag tender on this three-time Pro Bowler. Sure it would have been a hefty price to pay, but Collins has been the Giants’ most consistent player over the past three seasons. He’s now going to earn a fortune in free agency.

At issue here has been a regression in terms of Collins’ play-making ability. He didn’t record a single interception and forced just one fumble last season. In fact, Collins has just three takeaways over the past two seasons. Given that he’s going to earn something north of the $13 million Eric Berry is making annually for the Chiefs, this means Collins could very well end up being overpaid.

Dante Fowler Jr., EDGE, Los Angeles Rams

Fowler was darn good with Los Angeles after being acquired from Jacksonville during October’s trade deadline. The former No. 3 overall pick recorded five quarterback hits and two sacks in six starts before turning it up big time in the playoffs. Though, these numbers are not indicative of a player set to earn $10-plus million annually on a long-term deal.

Teams are going to be paying for Fowler’s still untapped potential rather than the production we’ve seen thus far in his career. After all, he has just 16 sacks in three NFL seasons and missed his entire rookie campaign to injury. Even then, Fowler is just 24 years old and will entice many pass-rush needy teams.

Tevin Coleman, running back, Atlanta Falcons

Coleman has shown out big time in a part-time role for the Falcons over the past three seasons — putting up a combined 2,944 total yards and 28 touchdowns while averaging a robust 5.5 yards per touch. At 23 years old, he’s also hitting free agency at the exact perfect time.

Unfortunately, Coleman has never proven himself to be a true three-down back. Even with Devonta Freeman missing all but two games this past season, Coleman averaged less than 11 rush attempts per game. He also took a back seat to Ito Smith on short-yardage and red-zone opportunities. Is this body of work worth well north of $6 million per season? We’re not too sure. But that’s what Coleman will get paid on the open market.

Bradley Roby, cornerback, Denver Broncos

After starting a grand total of 29 games in five seasons with the Broncos, Roby has apparently priced himself out of Denver’s market. He’s said to be demanding north of $10 million annually on a long-term deal. Given the lackluster free agent market at cornerback, we’re pretty sure Roby will get said contract.

According to Pro Football Focus metrics, Roby allowed the second-most passing yards of any cornerback in the NFL last season. It’s this type of inconsistency that should concern teams. After all, the former first-round pick was much better for Denver in 2017.

Trent Brown, offensive tackle, New England Patriots

The San Francisco 49ers pretty much gave up on an out-of-shape Brown during the 2018 NFL Draft — selling him off to New England for mere pennies on the dollar after selecting Mike McGlinchey No. 9 overall. Brown, 25, responded by putting up a borderline Pro Bowl performance in his first season with the Pats. He anchored an offensive line that yielded just 21 sacks of the immobile Tom Brady.

One of the biggest concerns here is Brown’s size. He stands at 6-foot-8 and weighs 380 pounds. Are teams willing to offer top-end left tackle money for a man this size that has had conditioning issues in the past? We’re not too sure. But the market will dictate a solid pay day for Brown. If so, the team he lands with might come to regret the decision.

Tyrell Williams, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers

In what promises to be a watered-down free agent market at wide receiver, the 27-year-old Williams stands to benefit big time. At 6-foot-4, he has the size to make a difference as an outside receiver and in the red zone. That was magnified back in 2016 when he went for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns.

Williams has since taken a back seat to other pass catchers for Philip Rivers in Los Angeles. He recorded 41 receptions for 653 yards last season. Those numbers are not indicative of someone that’s likely going to get $10-plus million annually on a long-term deal. Buyer beware.

Anthony Barr, linebacker, Minnesota Vikings

During his five-year career with the Vikings, Barr proved that he can be both a three-down backer and a pass rusher. The four-time Pro Bowler recorded 31 quarterback hits, 13.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles during that span. This will set Barr up well to earn a huge pay day come free agency.

The issue here is what promises to be a ridiculous market for Barr’s services. We’re going to have team after team bidding for his services. That seems to suggest a pay day of north of $14 million annually. Given Barr is not a natural pass rusher, it’s going to be a high price to pay.

Lamarcus Joyner, safety, Los Angeles Rams

After putting up a solid 2017 campaign for the Rams, Joyner was hit with the franchise tag last March. The hope in Los Angeles was that he’d be able to turn in a Pro Bowl-caliber performance in 2018. It did not happen. Joyner lacked the ball-hawk skills we saw the previous season — recording three passes defended and one interception in the process. He also struggled down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Despite all of this, teams are going to value the safety’s centerfield ability. He has proven to fly to the ball in the past and can cover a lot of ground. It should net Joyner a pay day of north of $10 million annually. That would be a massive overpay in our humble opinion.

Preston Smith, EDGE, Washington Redskins

Now that the top-four pass rushers from the 2019 free agent class have been franchised, it ups the value other players at this position will receive. While someone like Ezekiel Ansah will be seen as a major risk, Smith’s consistency will afford him the ability to get a nice pay day.

As good as Smith might have been in the nation’s capital, he’s coming off a substandard four-sack campaign. But with teams making edge pass rush a priority in today’s pass-first NFL, we’re expecting Smith to be paid like a top-flight pass rusher. It’s something he has not proven to be in the past.

Ja’Wuan James, offensive tackle, Miami Dolphins

Given the absurd contract extension Donovan Smith received with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in March, there’s absolutely no reason to believe James won’t be worth north of $11 million on the open market. In fact, that number might grow to $13 million depending on how the market itself plays out.

Is the 27-year-old James worth this? Not in the least. He missed roughly half of Miami’s games to injuries back in 2015 and 2017. He also anchored an offensive line that yielded 52 quarterback sacks this past season. That’s not indicative of a guy that could ultimately become one of the NFL’s seven highest-paid left tackles.