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Monday, June 13, 2011
Worst free agents signings

By Calvin Watkins

Brian McIntyre of Football Outsiders compiled a list of the 10 most disappointing free agents in recent times.

He's got a few with some Cowboys ties with cornerback Larry Brown going to Oakland and Alvin Harper signing with Tampa Bay.

It got us thinking about the worst free agent signings in Cowboys history and came up with these five:

5. Eddie George. He was past his prime when the Cowboys signed the running back to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. George was a four-time Pro Bowler, but he didn't play like one the last few years before signing with Dallas. He rushed for just 432 yards with four touchdowns in the 2004 season, which would be his only season with the Cowboys. The Cowboys expected more George at age 31, but it was clear he wasn't the same player who rushed for 1,509 yards in 2000 with the Tennessee Titans.

4. Marco Rivera. The guard inked a five-year $20 million contract and a few weeks after signing the deal injured his back while working out on a treadmill. Rivera offered to give some of the contract back, but it was too late. Rivera played only two seasons. He hurt his back again, in the playoff loss to Seattle in the 2006 seaso,n and needed help to get onto the team plane afterward. Rivera was released after that.

3. Bryant Westbrook. You had to wonder what Jerry Jones was thinking after signing Westbrook to a one-year, $1 million deal. The cornerback struggled in his first game, a loss to the newly formed Houston Texans, and was angry because he was benched by then-coach Dave Campo. The Cowboys cut Westbrook after the Texans game and he signed with Green Bay in the 2002 season, playing in six games. But Westbrook would never play in the league again after that.

2. Tony Banks. This deal didn't cost the Cowboys a ton of money -- he signed a one-year deal worth $500,000 -- but he struggled from the moment he got to training camp. He was expected to be a stopgap until the team could find a franchise quarterback after Troy Aikman retired. But Banks was sent home on August 15, 2001. The Cowboys replaced Banks with Quincy Carter.

1. Mike Vanderjagt. The Cowboys wanted a veteran kicker to help Bill Parcells move this team to the next level for the 2006 season. Vanderjagt signed the largest contract ever for a kicker in franchise history, three years at $5.4 million. Vanderjagt said he was the most accurate kicker in league history -- and he was percentage-wise -- but he struggled in training camp and it carried over into the season. In 10 games, he went 13-for-18 on field goals, 1-for-3 in his last two weeks, including two misses vs. his former team, the Indianapolis Colts. He was let go after 10 games and never played in another NFL game.