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Buyer beware: Results vary on big-name defensive FAs

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Whether Mario Williams cares to admit it or not, there will be plenty of pressure on him to become the new face of the Buffalo Bills' defense.

Of course, Williams isn't the first notable defensive player to face expectations after signing a deal that could put his distant grandchildren through law school.

In some cases, the player remains productive, or even improves. In others, the scenery change seems to act as sports kryptonite. Here's a quick refresher on the fickle nature of signing big-time defensive stars.

The Good

Reggie White - White was known as the Minister of Defense, but for the purposes of this list, he's the Godfather of the Modern Free Agent. White left the Philadelphia Eagles to sign with the Green Bay Packers in 1993, and didn't miss a beat, tallying 13 sacks in his first season at Lambeau. He was also the emotional leader of the Packers, and had three sacks in the Green Bay's Super Bowl XXXI win over the New England Patriots.

Johnathan Joseph - While Nmandi Asomugha was perceived to be the crown jewel of defensive free agents last season, it turned out he wasn't even the best available player at his own position. That title belonged to Joseph, who signed a five-year, $48.75 million deal with the Houston Texans, and promptly became the main reason the Texans went from 32nd to second in pass defense.

Jason Babin - After bouncing around the first few years of his NFL career, Babin registered 12.5 sacks in a walk year with the Tennessee Titans, then parlayed that production into a five-year deal worth approximately $28 million to reunite with the Eagles. It was a risk for Philly, since Babin had only had one great season to his name at that point. Babin rewarded their gamble, however, piling up 18 sacks in 2011.

The Bad

Jevon Kearse - If the Eagles hit big on Babin, they missed in equal measure on Kearse, who was signed to an eight-year, $65 million deal in 2004, the biggest in history for a defensive player at the time. Though Kearse had similar production in his first year with Philadelphia compared to his final season with the Titans, he was no longer "The Freak" that terrorized QBs. His numbers eventually dropped off a cliff and he was discarded four years into the deal.

Larry Brown - Beware of the Super Bowl star. Larry Brown picked off Neil O'Donnell twice in Super Bowl XXX (that O'Donnell was the QB should have been a tip-off itself), and the Raiders rewarded him with a five-year, $12.5 million deal to be their new shutdown cornerback. Unfortunately, Brown couldn't stay on the field, finishing with one interception in two years before Al Davis showed him the door.

Adalius Thomas - Thomas is a prime example of how quickly things can change in the NFL. Coming off an All-Pro season with the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots signed Thomas to a five-year, $35 million deal in 2006. The move was supposed to make the Pats stronger while weakening an enemy, but Thomas never approached the same production under Bill Belichick and was cut when he clashed with management. His career was over at 32.

The Ugly

Albert Haynesworth - If White is the Godfather of Modern Free Agency, then Haynesworth is the The Wicked Stepfather. The Washington Redskins gave Haynesworth a record seven-year, $100 million deal, which included $41 million guaranteed. What they got was a slug on the field and menace in the locker room. How bad did it get? Haynesworth was suspended by two different Redskins head coaches before the team mercifully managed to trade him before the start of the 2011 season. Haynesworth is now less a player and more a sobering cautionary tale.

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