After only two weeks, search parties are being assembled in multiple cities throughout the NFL.
One by one, players who either received staggering contracts before the season or were part of a high-profile trades have disappeared.
Maybe not literally, but figuratively, through performances that so far have fallen far short of their elite billing.
Topping the list is Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who received the fattest contract in free agency and who the Buffalo Bills are due to face later this afternoon.
The following is a breakdown of players who cashed in big but, based on early returns, are coming up small:
Pay: $114 million over six years, $59.9 million guaranteed.
Payoff: Three tackles, no sacks.
Problems: Dolphins’ defense has done nothing special in the team’s 1-1 start … According to a report in the Miami Herald after last Sunday’s loss against Jacksonville, Suh was freelancing on plays rather than following his assignments, something coach Joe Philbin denies … Camera caught him jawing on the sidelines with Philbin during season-opening victory against Washington … Not the same player without standout linemates he had in Detroit, Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah.
Player: DeMarco Murray, running back, Philadelphia Eagles.
Pay: $40 million over five years, $21 million guaranteed.
Payoff: 21 rushing attempts for 11 yards and a touchdown; nine receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Problems: Eagles’ offense is not suited to Murray’s straight-ahead, power-oriented running style … His offensive line is dreadful, a far cry from the dominant blockers he had in front of him in Dallas … Defensive shortcomings created a 17-point halftime deficit that reduced his opportunities to carry the ball in the season-opener against Atlanta and a 13-point deficit after three quarters that again forced the Eagles to get away from the run in last Sunday’s loss against the Cowboys … Given that Murray only has 30 touches for 75 yards in two games, coach Chip Kelly still must figure out more ways to get him involved in the offense … Hamstring injury won’t help matters.
Player: Jimmy Graham, tight end, Seattle Seahawks (traded from New Orleans Saints).
Pay: In summer of 2014, Saints signed him to four-year, $40-million contract, $20.9 million guaranteed.
Payoff: Seven receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Problems: After catching six passes for 51 yards and a score in the Seahawks’ season-opening loss against St. Louis, Graham was held to only one reception for 11 yards in their defeat at Green Bay … Reportedly unhappy with his role in the Seahawks’ offense, although he denies that publicly. This is his ominous comment on the subject: “This team runs the ball, simple as that. We’re not slinging the ball 60 times a game. And if we are, then that means we’re in trouble. I’m just going to keep doing what’s asked of me.” … Seahawks are 0-2 and hardly resembling their status as a popular pick to win the Super Bowl.
Player: Jeremy Maclin, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs.
Pay: $55 million, five years, $22.5 million guaranteed.
Payoff: Nine receptions for 109 yards and no touchdowns.
Problems: Although his current pace would give him 72 catches for the season – the second-highest total of his career – the fact he hasn’t scored is notable because no Chiefs receiver has scored a touchdown since 2013 … Signed primarily to help elevate the performance of Alex Smith, but receivers don’t make quarterback better; it’s the other way around. And Smith doesn’t have the arm or the dynamic skills to get optimum production from a game-breakers such as Maclin.
Player: Byron Maxwell, cornerback, Eagles.
Pay: $63 million over six years, $25.5 million guaranteed.
Payoff: According to Scout.com, Maxwell has had 19 passes thrown in his direction and allowed 15 completions for 240 yards and two touchdowns, and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 … Most of the damage was done by Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones in the Eagles’ season-opening loss.
Problems: Maxwell didn’t exactly ingratiate himself with the Eagle faithful when a camera captured him laughing about Jones’ dominance in a post-game interview … Former Seahawk says he is shrugging off criticism, but could be a big part of the reason this team implodes.
Player: LeSean McCoy, running back, Buffalo Bills (traded from Eagles, but signed new contract with Bills).
Pay: $40.05 million over five years, $15.75 guaranteed (including $13.125 signing bonus).
Payoff: 32 rushing attempts for 130 yards and no touchdowns; six receptions for 73 yards and no touchdowns.
Problems: With opponents crowding the line of scrimmage to dare Tyrod Taylor to beat them with his passing arm, Bills have yet to get their running game in gear. That challenge will continue until Taylor proves he can throw as well as he runs … Slowed by a nagging hamstring injury suffered in training camp, although he ran more effectively in last Sunday’s loss against the Patriots than in the season-opener against Indianapolis … Needs more help from his offensive line, especially rookie right guard John Miller.
Don’t be surprised if …
… The Patriots’ victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars isn’t quite as lopsided as pretty much the entire world thinks it will be. Through the years, the Jaguars have had a knack for either winning or playing tight games against the defending Super Bowl champions. I’m not seeing an upset here, but just a slightly more competitive game than expected.
… The Browns go back to Johnny Manziel as their quarterback as soon as today but no later than next week’s game at San Diego. Coach Mike Pettine dismissed the hot-hand theory after Manziel’s winning effort against Tennessee last week and went back to Josh McCown, who was sitting out with a concussion. McCown is probably a safer choice because he’ll probably manage the game better, but the rest of the team clearly felt a spark from Manziel as did the fans. They want that back.
… Rob Gronkowski breaks the NFL single-season record for touchdown catches that Randy Moss set in 2007 with 23. To do it, the Patriots’ tight end basically just needs to stay healthy – which, given his history, is much easier said than done – because no one is going to cover him well enough to prevent the 20 TD receptions he must make over the next 14 weeks to get the record.
… The Dallas Cowboys fall off the proverbial cliff. They’re 2-0, but it’s hard to see the roll continuing with Brandon Weeden at quarterback in place of injured Tony Romo and Dez Bryant also out of the lineup with an injury. The Cowboys added veteran insurance by trading for former Bills backup Matt Cassel, and don’t be surprised if he plays sooner rather than later.
… Joe Flacco snaps his three-game losing streak against the Bengals at Baltimore. His desperation to do that is exceeded only by the Ravens’ desperation to avoid opening the season 0-3, something they’ve never done.
… Colin Kaepernick has another strong performance for the 49ers against Arizona. His nine touchdown passes against the Cardinals are more than he has against any other opponent, and he’s 4-1 against them. In recent years, Kaepernick and other running quarterbacks have given the Cardinals fits.