When the New Orleans Saints released long-time star Joe Horn, I knew he would find a home someplace else. However, I didn’t realize there would be a team out there stupid enough to pay him like he’s still an elite receiver.
The 35-year-old Horn reportedly will receive a 4-year, $19 million contract from the Atlanta Falcons, including $7.5 million in guaranteed money over the first two years of the agreement. Considering the deal comes from a team that is only about $9 million under the NFL salary cap, it really makes no sense.
I can see what the Falcons are trying to do. Even though they have had a solid running game the past couple of years, their passing game has been mediocre at best. New Head Coach Bobby Petrino has pledged to throw the ball more, so they obviously need to upgrade their receiving corps.
Horn will bring experience to the team and should be a leader. However, at this point in his career, he is no longer a guy who can come in and drastically improve your team. His last pro bowl appearance was 2004 when he had 94 catches for 1,399 yards and 11 touchdowns. Over the two years since that season he’s averaged 43 catches for 667 yards and 2 touchdowns. During that time, he also missed nine games because of injuries. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have signed him, just not at salary they are giving him.
What really makes this signing puzzling is the number of receivers who are still available as free agents.
Horn’s former teammate, Donte Stallworth outperformed Horn the last time they played together, catching 21 more passes and scoring 6 more touchdowns in 2005. Like Horn, he tends to be injury prone. But, he is much younger and faster.
Former St. Louis Rams standout Kevin Curtis is also still available despite beliefs he would be signed quickly. He doesn’t have starting experience but, at 28, has much more upside than what Horn has.
Former Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills starter Eric Moulds is also still available. Like Horn, the 33-year-old is past his prime. But, unlike Horn, he has only missed 2 starts in the past three seasons.
Even Brandon Stokley, who spent most of last season on injured reserve for the Colts would be a better option and would have been much more affordable.
As far as free agent signings are concerned, I’m going to have to pencil this one in as one of the worst for the year. The Falcons may be thinking they are getting the best of their division rivals by signing one of their players but I think the Saints will be the ones benefiting most from this deal.