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NFL Denver Broncos

5 Overrated Free Agents the Denver Broncos Should Avoid At All Costs

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5 Overrated Free Agents the Denver Broncos Should Avoid At All Costs

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There are overpaid free agents every year in the NFL. It's an annual rite that teams will break the bank by overpaying for veterans in an effort to attempt to improve their teams. More often than not, big-name free agents who are signed to big deals rarely amount in championship success.

Take for example, a guy like Mike Wallace. Wallace made a name for himself at receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, establishing himself as the most dangerous deep threat in the league. He parlayed that success into signing a five-year, $60 million deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2013. What did this signing result in for the Dolphins? The team went from 7-9 to 8-8 in 2013. The offense did not improve at all as a unit with the signing, and Wallace had just 930 receiving yards in his first year with the team. He will be have a salary cap hit of $17.5 million in 2014, the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.

Although there are exceptions such as theDenver Broncos' signing of quarterback Peyton Manning two years ago, luring veteran free agents to big deals based upon their market value ends up biting a team more than it helps them. The Broncos have key needs at the following positions: cornerback, defensive end, safety, wide receiver and running back. Considering how the Broncos ended their season against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, the team will have to make smart decisions in how they invest their money in players who will be playing key roles for the team in its effort to win a Lombardi Trophy.

Here are five overrated free agents the Broncos should avoid at all costs.

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5. RB Ben Tate

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The Denver Broncos might have a void at running back this offseason with Knowshon Moreno a free agent. With RB Ronnie Hillman in the doghouse, playing just 10 games and being inactive for Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos may feel the need to add a veteran runner through free agency.

RB Ben Tate of the Houston Texans established himself as one of the best backup running backs during his three-season tenure in Houston. Tate ran for 5.4 yards per carry and 942 yards while backing up Arian Foster in his rookie season in 2011. When you look at his stats overall in 2013, he ran for a solid 4.3 yards per carry after replacing Foster in the starting lineup due to Foster's season-ending injury.

However, when you look at when Tate actually did become a starter, you see that Tate's production was very underwhelming. The Texans running back started seven games and in five of those starts he gained no more than 72 rushing yards. In fact, in six of those seven starts he had zero touchdowns. Rushing for four touchdowns all season long, three of those came in Week 15 against the New England Patriots.

The Broncos are better off adding a runner through the draft to complement Montee Ball rather than a veteran such as Tate.

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4. WR James Jones

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones is a quality receiver. Playing with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a stacked receiving supporting cast, Jones shined as a slot receiver in early on in his career before becoming a starter the past two seasons. In 2012 he had 14 touchdown catches, the best mark in the NFL.

Here's the thing—though Jones is a quality receiver, the Broncos should not add him. If Eric Decker leaves through free agency and there is a void at the No. 2 receiver position, the Broncos would be wise to add a young receiver through the draft such as Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews or a veteran free agent to a bargain deal. With Peyton Manning as the quarterback of the team, any receiver that is plugged into the system will have a good year. You could honestly re-sign Andre Caldwell, have him play the No. 2 and he'd be good enough for the Broncos to have as much success record-wise as they did last year.

Jones is 30-years-old, and this will be the last time he has a chance to make big money on the free market. Just two seasons removed from leading the league in touchdown catches, Jones will get a good deal on the free market.

He just doesn't fit what's in the best interest for the Broncos at the moment.

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3. FS Malcolm Jenkins

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The Denver Broncos need safety help. With starting FS Mike Adams a free agent, along with backup Michael Huff, the Broncos have question marks on the backside of their defensive backfield. Rahim Moore missed the last half of the regular season and the entire postseason recovering from a rare leg injury.

The Broncos are apparently interested in Detroit Lions FS Louis Delmas. They should stick with that route and avoid New Orleans Saints FS Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins finished 65th out of 85 qualifying safeties in Pro Football Focus' 2013 positional rankings. This was following a 2012 season in which he finished last in the league.

Teams will look at Jenkins and see that he has started on a Super Bowl-winning team and the fact that he's been with a top-tier team for all five seasons of his career. Because of his experience on a winning team, combined with the fact he's just 26-years-old with prototypical size and speed for a safety, teams will pay Jenkins good money to start on their defense.

Despite all of the talent of a top safety, Jenkins isn't a top safety—he's a below-average one.

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2. RB LeGarrette Blount

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Again, the Denver Broncos may have a major need at running back with starting RB Knowshon Moreno a free agent this offseason.

This means teams like the Broncos will be looking at free agent LeGarrette Blount's end to the season with the New England Patriots and be willing to overpay for a guy who will have minimal to zero impact for his new team. Blount was on-and-off starter for the Patriots in 2013, reviving his career in the process by rushing for 772 yards on five yards per carry. But it was Blount's end to the season that raised his stock.

In Week 17 and the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the fourth-year runner ran for 355 yards and six touchdowns combined in those two games.

At just 27-years-old with minimal wear-and-tear on his body (579 career carries), there will be a team out there that will give Blount a multiyear contract. The Broncos should not be one of those teams.

This is a classic example of another player whose potential has been maximized by head coach Bill Belichick. Blount had one truly good season in the NFL as a starting back in 2010, and he has never been a full-time starting back in the NFL. This is a guy who lost his job to Doug Martin after a disappointing 2011 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Blount may be the most overrated free agent player at his position.

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1. DE Jared Allen

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Defensive end will be a point of emphasis for the team as starting DE Shaun Phillips and DE Robert Ayers are free agents.

With Phillips the only true threat to sack the quarterback for the Broncos much of last season, the Broncos will be looking for a pass-rushing specialist either through free agency, or the draft.

Minnesota Vikings DE Jared Allen has made a name for himself as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. In fact, one could argue he was the best pass rusher in the NFL during a five-year span from 2007-2011, sacking the quarterback 77.5 times.

However, according to Pro Football Focus' ranking of 4-3 defensive ends, Allen ranked 34th out of 54 players ranked.

The veteran defensive end will still sack the quarterback and boost his sack totals in 2014, but overspending for veteran defensive ends through free agency have never amounted in Lombardi Trophies. The Chicago Bears gave a lot of money to Julius Peppers and the Buffalo Bills broke the bank with Mario Williams. It hasn't resulted in much success for either team.

The Broncos should avoid Allen at all costs, because he will get paid more than he should based upon his name and resume.