Around the NFL

Which free agents will be paid too much?

Free agency is fool's gold more often than most fans want to admit. We all get excited about shiny, new signings while suffering from collective amnesia.

History tells us that the majority of the big names on our Top 101 free agents list will get overpaid. Players usually get to free agency for a reason, and it's hard to find the right fit in the right scheme for the right money.

Here's a list of players the Around The NFL crew believes will get overpaid this year:

Pernell McPhee

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn't let the great ones get away. McPhee reminds us a lot of Adalius Thomas, Arthur Jones, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Jarrett Johnson and Bart Scott. They were all excellent Ravens defenders who played their best football in Baltimore. McPhee is versatile and intriguing, but he was a part-time player throughout his Ravens run. Even in his breakout 2014 season, McPhee played under 600 snaps. He's a fine pass rusher, but not every team will know how to use him. *-- Gregg Rosenthal *

Ndamukong Suh

First, I am in no way opposed to anyone getting paid. Now that we have that out of the way, I think whatever amount of money wrangles in Ndamukong Suh will be too much. The NFL has created a system in which top-heavy salary caps often fail. Positional spending balance is necessary to ensure a harmonious locker room and a roster that maintains a competitive fire. All that aside, Suh will likely be looking at something in the neighborhood of J.J. Watt's $51.8 million guaranteed. Is he a true face of a franchise like Richard Sherman might be? Can he rally a fan base like Watt, or Cam Newton? All of these factors come into consideration when factoring a player's salary at this caliber. And it might be difficult for Suh to deliver. -- Conor Orr

Torrey Smith

Smith is a very good player. He'll likely get paid like a great one. Receivers with speed often get overpaid when they hit the open market -- see Mike Wallace -- because they possess a very specific skill-set that front offices desire but struggle to attain. Smith is a good No. 2 or No. 1B receiver. He isn't disruptive enough on a consistent basis to be ranked with the top No. 1 wideouts. However, he might get paid like one of them soon. -- Kevin Patra

Byron Maxwell

As free agency's top-billed cornerback, Maxwell is bound to break the bank. Reports out of the NFL Scouting Combine suggested that the former Seahawks cover man wants $10 million annually. We tabbed Maxwell on a recent podcast as a potential free-agent disappointment if teams hope to make him their No. 1 corner. He thrived in a Seattle secondary stocked with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, but there is little proof he can do it alone for a less-talented team. Maxwell has told his teammates he's heading to Philadelphia, NFL Media's Albert Breer confirmed Sunday.-- Marc Sessler

Michael Crabtree

Crabtree was coming off the best stretch of his career, registering six of eight games with at least 90 yards to close out the 2012 season. Since tearing his Achilles' tendon in May of 2013, Crabtree has reached that 90-yard mark just twice in 24 games. Rumored to be battling yet another foot injury, Crabtree was among the NFL's slowest and most drop-prone starting wideouts. Similar to Hakeem Nicks a year ago, it takes a leap of faith to sign Crabtree with visions of a return to pre-injury form. -- Chris Wesseling

Nick Fairley

Fairley appeared to turn a corner last season, slimming down with the help of a personal trainer and putting up the best stretch of play in his enigmatic career before a Week 8 knee injury ended his season. Fairley just turned 27 and has all the potential in the world (teammate Ndamukong Suh has said Fairley has more raw talent than him). But any interested team has to be wary of Fairley's issues with inconsistent play and conditioning cropping up again after signing a fat second contract. Do you want to be the GM gambling that Fairley finally "gets it"? -- Dan Hanzus

Orlando Franklin

No one gets overpaid in free agency quite like the solid interior guard in a thin market. Like a lot of offensive players, Franklin has looked better while playing with Peyton Manning. *-- Gregg Rosenthal *

Torrey Smith

I love Torrey Smith for any offense, but unfortunately we live in a world in which a team's perception of a player financially directly correlates with fan expectation. Basically, someone is going to pay a good deal of money to get Smith because his breakneck speed opens up offenses. But, if he has a production equivalent of a Mike Wallace -- again, not Mike's fault he was expected to produce at a certain level -- then we might end up painting his deal with broad strokes and saying it was too much for a player like Smith. Make sense? -- Conor Orr

Terrance Knighton

You "win" free agency by signing guys like Knighton to a two-year, $4.5 million contract like John Elway did two years ago. You lose by signing Knighton -- a player with up-and-down motivation in his career -- to his next megadeal. * -- Gregg Rosenthal *

Jeremy Maclin

DeSean Jackson obliterated his career highs in receptions and receiving yards as Chip Kelly's "X" receiver in 2013. Once Jackson was discarded, Maclin assumed the "X" spot, promptly shattering his own career highs in 2014. In both cases, the numbers were inflated by Kelly's system. Maclin is one of the NFL's best No. 2 receivers, but he has never been reliable enough to be classified as a true No. 1. Because he's too often in the trainer's room, it took him six years to surpass 1,000 yards in a season. That said, he's sure to be recruited by Chiefs coach Andy Reid (his former coach) and Colts general manager Ryan Grigson (Eagles director of player personnel when Maclin was drafted) if he hits the open market. Buyer beware. -- Chris Wesseling

Buster Skrine

Reports indicate that Skrine could earn between $5.5 million and $7 million per year on the open market. Those figures could put Skrine in the Sean Smith-Dominique Rogers-Cromartie range. The 5-foot-9 Skrine had the luxury of playing alongside Joe Haden and still struggled at times. Pro Football Focus ranked him their 82nd corner out of 108 in 2014. Skrine is a solid No. 2 corner, but if a team pays him No. 1 money this year they will quickly regret it. -- Kevin Patra

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down all the franchise tags and discusses where Ndamukong Suh will land. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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