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Insider

10 buyer-beware NFL free agents

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Redskins and Cousins break off contract talks (2:08)

The NFL Insiders crew explains the ramifications of the end of contract negotiations between the Redskins and QB Kirk Cousins and how this will affect Cousins' future with the team. (2:08)

Free agency provides NFL teams with an opportunity to dramatically improve the roster, but it comes with the potential pitfall of committing big money to players who will never justify the price.

At this stage, teams still have to decide who will receive the franchise tag, so several of the biggest potential free agents will almost certainly not hit the open market.

So let's look at some players who may prove to be fool's gold in the chase for free-agent prizes.

Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami Dolphins

Vernon was dominant for much of the season, and legitimately elite, but when compared to his career baseline, it represents an alarming outlier in a contract season. He recorded 81 total pressures this season, 33 more than he had in any other year of his career. In addition, a breakdown of his season shows the bulk of his dominance coming in a 10-game stretch to finish the year. He showed the ability to be one of the best edge defenders in football, but teams face the prospect of handing him a contract commensurate with that ability when it represents just 10 of the 46 games he has started over his career.