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“Huge free agent” can but doesn’t always equal NFL impact

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With Sunday night’s bombshell news that LeBron James is leaving via free agency to go and try to make the LA Lakers great again, it got us to thinking that the Buccaneers, Dolphins and Jaguars have all recently taken big swings in free agency with mixed success.

First, we have the understanding that in the NBA, one player can mean everything. And LeBron has proven that. He definitely carried the Cavaliers this past season all the way to the NBA finals virtually by his “All-World” self.

The NFL is obviously different. There are 11 guys on each side of the ball, and with the exception of the quarterback, it’s tough for any one of the other 21 who can be that big of a difference maker by themselves for a championship.

Now, Peyton Manning was recently that such a QB/free agent acquisition for the Broncos, and it made them a Superbowl contender and eventually a Lombardi winner, again.

So, you can get a player, and that player can make a huge difference.

That being said, Tampa Bay, Miami and Jacksonville have all stepped up and tried to make a recent blockbuster move to help them in the last two-three years.

You can argue that the Jaguars scored the biggest free agent signing of 2017, when they landed Calais Campbell from the Arizona Cardinals on a four year $60 million deal with $30 million guaranteed.

Campbell delivered with a massive season that included him being near the top of sacks in the NFL and leading the Jaguars to not only a division title but two playoff wins in his first season.

Money well spent.

Now, three years ago, the Dolphins were elated that they had signed arguably the premier defensive lineman in the NFL at that time and Ndamukong Suh from the Lions. While Suh was solid and made the Pro Bowl in two of the seasons, he was never a dominant player in Miami during the three seasons of 2015 – 17. He didn’t live up to the $60 million they paid him last year.

The fans ended up cutting him in a salary cap saving move in March, and most would look at that and say he was a disappointment on the whole.

As for the Buccaneers, they attempted to make a splash a year ago with Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson signing up on a three year $33.5 million deal that has $20 million guaranteed.

However, Jackson was virtually no-factor in 2017 with his key asset- the deep ball. Some of that may have been Jameis Winston shoulder injury that sidelined him for parts or all of five games last year but still he didn’t come close to having the impact that the Bucs would have hoped.

Maybe, Jackson will prove more valuable this season and make the impact the Bucs hoped. Then again, Winston is suspended for the first three games of the year, and who knows what that will mean for his remaining career in Tampa and for Jackson’s, too.

So, in the end, a free agent can make you great.

Kevin Durant to Golden State.

Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees.

Still, as two of the examples above show, the “splash signing” doesn’t always make you great.

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