After watching the latest Monday Night Flopball between the Giants and the Vikings, it became brutally clear the NFL as a whole has a serious problem with Waiver Wire addiction.
Every year, injuries force their way onto an NFL roster and as soon they do, league GM’s are as predictable as Pavlov’s Dog. It’s pathetic! There is a perfectly good reason many of these players sit unsigned or released from former teams: they aren’t good enough or there is something wrong with them. Case and point – Josh Freeman.
After a promising start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4 years into his NFL, Freeman made some bad career choices and found himself a free agent. With rumors of being in the NFL’s substance abuse program, not showing up for the team picture and showing up late for team meetings, Josh’s days were numbered not only with the Bucs but in the NFL as well. He went from hero to zero.
Enter the Minnesota Vikings‘….problems. Unreliable Christian Ponder and just as bad Matt Cassel soil the sheets and all of a sudden the Vikings are looking for a guy to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson 100 times a game. This sounds like a recurring theme in Minny. Well, if you watched the game at Metlife Stadium, the only numbers Freeman was consistantly hitting were the yard markers on the field.
This isn’t necessarily the best example of a bad free agent pickup but it isn’t the worst. Teams look for literally ANYONE to fill a spot that’s vacant. It sure doesn’t hurt the player’s chances if he started somewhere else recently. The problem is, how do you expect to all of a sudden turn your team around with an underperforming or questionable player at best? The band aid method is used far too often and it gives the NFL a black eye on the field. Its almost as bad as replacement referees, almost.
The man you see above turned in an amazing season with Cleveland in 2011 and EA Sports along with fan voting, rewarded him with the cover of Madden 12; definitely no easy feat. Since then, he has been less than Madden-esque. Starting his career as a relative unknown in Denver, Peyton Hillis skyrocketed up the charts in 2011 for the Cleveland Browns. Virtually unstoppable, he made the Browns worth watching again, and that is pretty much the only reason.
His stats began to drop in 2012 and to start the next season, Hillis was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Not being able hold a starting job, Hillis wasn’t re-signed. This season he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and again released. Recently, Hillis was picked up by the New York Giants and if you follow the NFL, you know there isn’t much perceived value there.
Apparently, drafting skill positions is harder than it looks. Teams constantly are picking up failed experiment after failed experiment to hold their team over until a star comes back or worse, to hopefully turn their teams around. Peyton Hillis is not that player. Josh Freeman is not that player. Brandon Stokley is not that player. And for whatever reason, Tim Tebow isn’t that player either. But that’s a whole other riddle wrapped in a riddle.
There has to be a breaking point where GM’s will finally realize, “we need to start developing guys from within a lot better than we are or we will be going to a cupboard that never is stocked properly”. Its an epidemic in both the REAL NFL and fantasy football alike.
In real life, players are just as easily add/dropped as they are in fantasy. There is no commitment factor for GM’s. If the guy stinks, we don’t have to keep him! The endless roulette of garbage keeps hope for nobodies on practice squads across America.
In fantasy football, as soon as a player isn’t performing for his GM, he can drop him and add a new guy quicker than it takes Albert Haynesworth to get to the line of scrimmage. The acceptable thing here is: its fantasy. No one cares outside of the group of guys playing in that league if Josh Freeman is on a roster one minute and sitting on the waiver wire waiting for the next schmuck to pick him up. In the NFL, these same decisions are made and every NFL team should be ashamed.
Week in and week out someone will get hurt and some washed up bum will get a second chance at fame…and probably a third and fourth after he fails to impress his newest coach.
The only way to stop this vicious cycle is for teams to STOP signing these guys. Promote from within like any good company does. Why waste your time on a guy you barely know? Your 4th string QB or RB might be the answer, and get this: You’re already paying him!
Will this trend change? Will the NFL learn from its mistakes? In short; no. Like a pretty girl at a nightclub with more issues than Reader’s Digest, there will be some guy that hasn’t dated her yet, and so the cycle goes again.
Maybe the NFL salary cap needs to be restructured so this mess stops happening every week, I don’t know. What we do know is that we can look forward to seeing someone’s trash in the starting lineup on another roster next Sunday.
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All pictures courtesy of Google Images.