Around the NFL

Free agents who will be paid too much

Free agency is just around the corner. We've already broken down our Top 99 free agents, now it's time to start predicting the madness. Up first: free agents who will be paid too much.

Doug Martin, running back

The bowling ball running back had an extraordinarily productive 2015 season, popping off for 1,402 yards and carrying the Tampa Bay offense as the unit broke in a rookie quarterback. However, he's 27 years old with two lost seasons on his resume. Martin is hoping to hit on a contract in the $8 million per year range, which would put him with the likes of Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy. Running backs have proven to be a replacement-level position, not worth spending DeMarco Murray-type money on. The bevy of teams with mounds of cap space to spend could lead someone to shell out that kind of cash for a running back with an injury-riddled history. It's the type of deal teams regret when running backs hit 30. --Kevin Patra

Greg Hardy, defensive end

Any money is too much money for Greg Hardy. Based on his production and play in 2015, Hardy would be a top-five overall free agent. Based on the impact he had on the Cowboys and Panthers before him, he shouldn't be signed at all. Hardy brings up a great question: What type of team do you want to be? Any squad that signs Hardy risks him being a huge distraction and ultimately makes a huge negative deposit in the karma bank. -- Gregg Rosenthal

Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick had one hell of a season last year after being reunited with former head coach and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. The Jets can try to play hardball, offering Fitzpatrick a chance to hit the market and see what his true value is, but both sides know that, statistically, Fitzpatrick will likely not have a better season elsewhere in 2016. The Jets are the perfect fit. So what happens next? The Jets need Fitzpatrick badly. He is the bridge to Bryce Petty, or whichever quarterback comes next, and he had one of the most prolific quarterbacking seasons in team history last year. One best guess at the combine was a two- or three-year deal in the neighborhood of $20-32 million, with a decent chunk of it guaranteed. Is that too much for one of the best seasons the team has ever gotten out of a quarterback? You decide. -- Conor Orr

Mohamed Sanu, wide receiver

Confession: In times of personal strife and great doubt, I turn to the Around The NFLTop 99 Free Agents list. But I find no peace when I inspect the wide receiver market. Marvin Jones (No. 39) is the highest-ranked wideout, a nice enough player with room to grow. Get paid, young man. I have more concerns with Jones' Cincy teammate, Mohamed Sanu. The former Rutgers star had his moments in four seasons with Andy Dalton, but he can disappear for stretches, is prone to drops and is best suited in his current role as the third or fourth option. If you pay him to be more than that, you're asking for trouble. -- Dan Hanzus

Bruce Irvin, linebacker

Free agents coming out of Seattle are bound to be over-celebrated and overpaid. Byron Maxwell shattered the open market last season, only to struggle for much of the year as one the league's most disappointing cornerbacks in Philly. Cover men and pass rushers are regularly overpaid in free agency, leaving Bruce Irvin to earn more than he can deliver elsewhere for a front seven missing Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. -- Marc Sessler

Malik Jackson, defensive lineman

If you go back and watch the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl 50, you will see that Jackson was nearly as dominant as Von Miller. With so many teams hoarding salary-cap space, word around the campfire is that Jackson will land quarterback money in the $13-15 million per year range. Is that a fair price for a player who has never posted more than six sacks in a season? -- Chris Wesseling

Brock Osweiler, quarterback

The number of quarterbacks on this list should tell you all you need to know about the importance of the position. With a dearth of quality signal-callers hitting free agency and no sure thing in the draft, Osweiler and his counterparts are set to cash in. For as much as the Broncos praise Osweiler's qualities, the 25-year-old has only seven starts to his name. While he played a key role in getting the Broncos to the playoffs, much of his game film lacked pop (he also got replaced by a marginally effective Peyton Manning in a pivotal spot).

If people are fretting over paying the likes of Kirk Cousins (25 starts), why not Brock? Is a player with a grand total of 2,126 passing yards worth Carson Palmer/Andy Dalton money at $16 million per year? There is paying for potential, and then there is overpaying for need. Given the market, someone --- likely the Broncos -- will overpay to win the right of seeing if Osweiler is worth the hype. --Kevin Patra

Eric Weddle, safety

Let us be clear: NFL players can never really be overpaid. Compared to other sports, some of which include fully guaranteed multi-year contracts, this league is a grind and every dollar is earned. This exercise is more about players who will make more on the open market than others, but might not provide the same consistency and quality of production. With that in mind, names like safety Eric Weddle will come up again and again. Weddle recently turned 31 and will probably be looking for a multi-year deal in free agency.

One source familiar with negotiations at the position at last week's scouting combine guessed that teams will try to sign him to a similar deal Antonio Cromartie inked with the Jets last year (four years, $32 million) only with a higher up front guarantee and base salary. The deal was easy to back out of after Year 1, and Cromartie was cut clean after a ho-hum season. The Jets saved every bit of the $8 million they were set to pay him in 2016. The pay-as-you-go model isn't bad for someone like Weddle, who was still highly competitive at the position last year, but could understandably be reaching a decline point in his career. Weddle played in 13 games last year, though the Chargers might have kept him out longer than they needed to. He finished with 53 tackles -- his lowest number since his rookie year -- no interceptions and six passes defensed. -- Conor Orr

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