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ESPN names two Eagles players as top five worst free agent signings in the NFL

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Back in March, ESPN's Mike Sando wrote a column about how Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray were two of the top 10 worst contract signings. Maxwell ranked as the second worst and Murray was the sixth worst. Now that we've had the benefit to see how this NFL season has played out, Sando released a new piece featuring the top five best and worst free agent signings. To no surprise, the Eagles' signing of Maxwell and Murray made the list, and not in a good way (via In$ider).

Byron Maxwell

Contractual carnage: The Eagles gave Maxwell a six-year deal with $25 million fully guaranteed.

Production: Maxwell has picked off two passes while starting every game, but he ranks 75th among cornerbacks in PFF grading.

Lasting lesson: If you're going to pay top dollar for a player, make sure he fits your scheme or can make a quick transition. Maxwell succeeded in Seattle as a 2011 sixth-round pick because he fit the playing style Pete Carroll was implementing at the time, and there was time to develop him. The Eagles teach different techniques, placing a hurdle before Maxwell in his assimilation. Maxwell's PFF coverage grades have improved lately. There's still time for him to provide return on investment for the long term. Until that happens, it's looking like the Eagles made an expensive mistake.

It hasn't been all bad with Maxwell. It's clear he hasn't been the shutdown player the Eagles paid for, but he's had some good games. Unfortunately for the Eagles he's also had some bad ones and now he's hurt.

DeMarco Murray

4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Contractual carnage: Murray's five-year, $40 million deal carried $18 million in full guarantees. The Eagles would incur significant salary-cap charges if they released or traded Murray in the next year.

Production: Murray ranks 44th out of 46 qualifying rushers in yards per carry. He ranks 26th in rushing yardage.

Lasting lesson: The usual warnings about spending big for free-agent running backs could apply here. Scheme fit should not be a consideration when the man responsible for signing Murray is the same man responsible for designing the offense. Whatever the case, the Eagles are paying big money for a running back who has not produced.

This one is really bad. Murray is essentially Philadelphia's third string running back now. The Eagles paid all this money for a guy who is giving them nothing. As Sando notes, the warning signs were there, too. Murray was coming off a big workload. And not only that, but it doesn't seem like Murray is the best "culture" fit either.

Running back is a fungible position to a certain extent. The Eagles could have drafted someone. Or they could have made a savvy signing like the Steelers made with DeAngelo Williams, who ranks as the No. 2 best value on Sando's list. The former Panthers running back signed for $4 million over two years and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

Funny enough, a former Eagles player made the list as a top value. Can you guess who? Probably not, because it's Kurt Coleman!

Contractual value: Coleman is playing on a two-year deal worth $2.8 million, with only $600,000 guaranteed.

Production: Coleman has picked off seven passes while adding toughness to Carolina's secondary. He ranks seventh in PFF grading for safeties behind Harrison Smith, Eric Berry, Malcolm Jenkins, Reshad Jones, Morgan Burnett and Earl Thomas.

Lasting lesson: Familiarity can be key in free agency. Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was with Philadelphia when the Eagles drafted Coleman in 2010. That gave McDermott a good feel for how Coleman could fit in Carolina. Coleman's versatility -- he has played both safety spots -- further increased the margin for error associated with this signing.

Chip Kelly's struggles in free agency have not only hurt the Eagles for this season. The money spent could potentially hinder Philadelphia's ability to re-sign their own players and/or bring in more talent through free agency. Though, maybe it's good that Kelly won't have so much money to spend again.

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