In Honor of Ed Reed: The Worst Free-Agent Signings in Houston Sports History
|He was more famous before coming to Houston|
The Texans were in desperate need of a running back who could carry a heavy load, help take some pressure off of the passing game and provide some legitimacy to Gary Kubiak's offense. He was heavily recommended by offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who had been Green's head coach at Green Bay. So Green signed a four-year, $23 million deal, with between $6 million and $7 million of the contract guaranteed.
Green ended up being the offensive version of Ed Reed, injured for most his play, clashing with general manager Rick Smith and playing just 14 games in his two seasons with the team. The end of his tenure was ugly, as was Reed's, and many, many fans (and team management) thought that Reed was faking his injury issues.
Rick Barry is one of the greatest players ever to hit the NBA court, having led teams in the NBA and the ABA to the championships. But he was on the downside of his career when he signed a big free agent contract with the Rockets for the 1978-79 season. Barry, a shooting forward with a beautiful jump shot, found himself playing more point forward since his role clashed with that of team legend Rudy Tomjanovich. He lasted one more season, retiring after a 1979-1980 season that found him spending more and more time on the bench.
The worst part of the Barry signing, what puts him on this list, is that at the time, the NBA awarded compensation to teams that lost their players as free agents. So as compensation for losing Barry to the Rockets, the Golden State Warriors received Rockets point guard John Lucas. The Rockets struggled for years to find a point guard after losing Lucas, and Barry as point forward was just not the same thing
Drayton McLane wanted to make a big splash after purchasing the Astros, so he decided to go big in the free agent market. He made two signings, former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek and former Cleveland Indian/Cincinnati Red/Texas Longhorn pitcher Greg Swindell. Swindell's deal was for four years and $17.5 million, and Swindell just wasn't good, going 30-54 over his four years, finishing up in the bullpen and never coming close to living up to the contract.
McLane swore off big-name free agents for a while after that, not going deep into the market again until after the team moved to Minute Maid Park. And Swindell continued pitching for many years, floating from club to club in a bullpen role, and being a key contributor the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks' World Series championship.
HONORABLE MENTION: Carlos Lee, Kazuo Matsui, Woody Williams, Doug Drabek, Jeremy Lin