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Teams would be better off avoiding some free agents

US Presswire
Randy Moss bounced around last season and, at 34, there's doubt about how much he has left to offer.


The frenzied nature of free agency after the lockout is going to lead to several mistakes. Teams will rush to overpay for some of the available talent, but problems could be avoided by investigating the potential fit between player and team.

While this premise is routinely uttered around the league, those who adhere to the principle will avoid handing out the type of contracts that lead to buyer's remorse.

With that, there are several players teams should avoid when free agency begins.

Randy Moss, receiver

The name once sent shivers down the spines of defensive coordinators, but his game has deteriorated. Moss no longer possesses the speed to consistently run past defenders, and his route-running deficiencies prevent him from being an effective intermediate option.

Although he's only one season removed from 1,264 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns, his three-team tour in 2010 yielded few impact plays. With the odds of Moss enjoying a revival at his advanced age (34) minute, it seems like a risk to add a declining player with a strong personality.

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Ronnie Brown, running back

Brown has only one 1,000-yard season in his six-year career due to numerous injuries. Even though his career average of 4.3 yards per rush and versatility will entice teams, the fact that he's never thrived as an offense's lead runner should give decision-makers pause.

Big money should head in the direction of ballers, and Brown hasn't shown lately that he is that kind of a difference maker.

Marc Bulger, quarterback

After spending a full season on the sideline as Joe Flacco's backup in Baltimore, Bulger has become a mythical character. He has been spoken of as a potential starter in several situations, but his final three seasons in St. Louis should quell that speculation.

Bulger posted a passer rating around 70.0 from 2007 to 2009, and never got his completion percentage higher than 58.5 during that span. On top of his dismal production, he looked shell-shocked after taking a tremendous beating in the pocket. While it's possible he could regain his nerve under duress, it's more likely he's best suited as a spot player for the remainder of his career.

Ike Taylor, cornerback

Here's a case of a solid player thriving in a system that suits his skills. Taylor is not a lockdown corner with the ability to excel in any scheme. He struggles when forced to consistently play man coverage, and is incapable of snuffing out an opponent's No.1 receiver in one-on-one matchups.

Taylor has been effective in the Steelers' zone-blitz system, but his lack of ball skills (11 career interceptions) and awareness will show up if he leaves the confines the scheme. Considering he's also 31 and likely past his prime, teams would be wise to avoid making a major financial commitment to Taylor.

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Michael Huff, safety

It's should be a red flag when a player's best season occurs in his contract year. You never know if you'll get that production again, and, in Huff's case, it's hard to determine if his 2010 campaign is a sign of an improving game or a fluke from underachieving player.

While scouts and coaches are often willing to gamble on potential, Huff's scattershot play makes him one of the biggest risks on the open market.

Tommie Harris, defensive tackle

The memory of a young Harris wreaking havoc will prompt several teams to consider adding the former Pro Bowler. However, those teams must see declining production and a growing list of injuries. He's a shell of his former self, with just 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season.

Although there's a chance he can become serviceable as a rotational player, a team signing Harris should temper its expectations.

Jason Babin, defensive end

Interest in Babin is high after he posted a career-best 12.5 sacks on a bad Tennessee defense. His production finally matched the expectations that followed him into the league as a 2004 first-round pick of the Texans.

Even though it's tempting to expect Babin to duplicate that kind of production going forward, his history suggests otherwise. When also considering his limitations as a run defender and age (31), teams have to make sure Babin is the right fit before committing big dollars.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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