As the NFL’s regular season nears its halfway point, now is an ideal time to reflect on some of the offseason moves that have helped shape the 2018 campaign.
A number of deals are paying off early, yet there are other teams that may already be regretting shelling out big bucks on a marquee free agent.
Here are five teams likely suffering from buyer’s remorse:
Malcolm Butler, Titans
Contract: 5 years, $61.2M; $30M guaranteed
Stats: 31 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Butler has been the most burnable corner in football through six weeks.
The former Super Bowl hero has given up a league-high 480 yards to opposing receivers and been burned for five touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.
Perhaps more concerning, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel believes Butler’s issues are centered around his technique, not his effort.
Butler is PFF’s 75th-ranked cornerback. He signed the fifth-richest free-agent contract of the offseason.
Sam Bradford, Cardinals
Contract: 1 year, $20M; $15M guaranteed
Stats: 50-for-80, 400 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 6 sacks, 2 fumbles lost
The Arizona Cardinals have, at this point, paid Bradford $15 million in guaranteed money for three weeks of service. After three consecutive losses to open the season, the veteran quarterback was dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart.
He’s been made inactive for every game since Week 3, likely so the team can avoid paying the per-game active bonuses in his contract.
Bradford’s time in Arizona was expected to be short after the team traded up to draft Josh Rosen at No. 10 overall. But who knew the sun would set so quickly in the desert?
Bradford is already on his fourth team in nine seasons and there’s no reason to believe the Cardinals will pick up the 2019 option on his contract.
Jimmy Graham, Packers
Contract: 3 years, $30M; $11M guaranteed
Stats: 27 receptions, 349 yards, 1 TD
Graham has been a necessary target for Aaron Rodgers, considering the injuries to the Green Bay Packers’ receiving corps. Still, he’s fallen short of expectations.
He recorded his first 100-yard game Monday night, a contest in which he trailed only Davante Adams (16) in targets (9).
However, through six games, he’s the 29th-most targeted receiver (45), yet he’s hauled in little more than half of those passes (27).
It was presumed Graham would assume the role of red-zone target, but he has just one such touchdown, a 3-yard score versus the Buffalo Bills in Week 3.
Anthony Hitchens, Chiefs
Contract: 5 years, $45M; $25M guaranteed
Stats: 60 tackles
The Hitchens signing was an odd one from the beginning. The Kansas City Chiefs handed him the 10th-richest deal of the spring despite the inside linebacker never being named to a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team.
He ranks third in the league in tackles and is on pace to set a new career high within the next two weeks, but the gaudy numbers mask his ineffectiveness stopping the run and in pass defense. Playing in a new defense, Hitchens has appeared hesitant and slow. He’s proven to be a sore spot on the league’s last-place defense.
Hitchens is currently the third-lowest-graded linebacker by PFF.
For a player being paid more than Bobby Wagner and Dont’a Hightower, much more is expected.
Case Keenum, Broncos
Contract: 2 years, $36M; $25M guaranteed
Stats: 147-for-233, 1,687 yards, 7 TDs, 8 INTs, 15 sacks
The Denver Broncos are a disappointing 2-5, and while all of the blame for the slow start does not lie with Keenum, his performances have left much to be desired.
The free-agent signee led Denver to an opening-week victory, then proceeded to throw one pick and zero touchdowns in each of the following three contests. He’s thrown the second-fewest touchdown passes of any quarterback that has started every game this season and shares the lead in interceptions.
Denver ranks 25th in the league in scoring and red-zone scoring. Despite boasting a strong receiving corps, Keenum has failed to foster a connection with anyone beyond Emmanuel Sanders.
The Broncos opted to pursue Keenum rather than enter the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes this summer. Cousins is on pace to set all kinds of Minnesota Vikings passing records in his first season with the team, while Keenum is a threat to be benched in favor of backup Chad Kelly.