Friday, March 15, 2013
|This was literally Dan Snyder every Free Agency period from 1999-2009.|
Free agency was not created so that teams could find the few missing links to making their roster complete. It is an institution created to force teams to bid for player's services, thus driving up the price of player's salaries. There are many problems with the idea of signing some other player's role players and stars. The obvious being that too much money can poison a player's work ethic (see: every NBA free agent.) Also, for as much as we debate over system quarterbacks, and the system of the coach, we never seem to take into account whether or not a potential signee would fit into that teams system. Some stars may only be a role player in another teams system, while a role player's deficiencies may be severely exposed in a different system.
So knowing what we know now about free agency, I present with an extremely grim outlooks for the winners of free agency.
The one team I will actually laud in this column. Although I have issue with the Mike Wallace signing, it certainly makes sense. Mike Wallace will have the safeties deep on most plays, which will make Davone Bess and Brian Hartline more open more often. The issue here is that Mike Wallace is prone to distraction and is not a complete wide receiver. The 2nd issue is not a glaring problem, as he was brought in to run those deep routes he is famous for, the issue is the whole being prone to distraction thing. As a Saints fan, I don't want us signing distracted guys. New Orleans is too fun for rich people, and after signing a 60 million dollar contract, Mike Wallace qualifies as rich. And Miami is probably more fun than New Orleans. The coaching staff is going to have to keep the reins on him in order to reap rewards on their investment. I'm trying to like the Danell Ellerbee signing, but that Ravens defense is a unique system, and if he were to leave, I would only be totally comfortable with him signing with the Jets or Colts, where former Raven's DCs are running the show (Rex Ryan and Chuck Pagano.) The other thing that can tank the Dolphins is fan expectation. Remember that Tom Brady is still in this division, and we are entering year 2 of the Tannehill era. Also considering they have made one playoff appearance since 2001, fans should view an 8-8 or 9-7 record as a giant coup for them.
Indianapolis Colts/Philadelphia Eagles
The Colts and Eagles were two teams I mentioned last week as being flush with over 30 million dollars of cap space, but they didn't go out and write out several blank checks. They mimicked each others strategy of going out and slightly overpaying for glue guys who will hopefully bolster their rosters with much needed depth. With the Eagles we are seeing a direct contrast to two years ago when they went out and signed the top player at several positions in an attempt to create a "Dream Team." **Side Bar- I declared one of my gymnastics teams a dream team before their season began, and we haven't won a single meet. So guys if you don't learn anything from Vince Young, learn it from me: declaring Dream Team is a bad idea. Every time. Seriously, don't do it.** The Colts signed RT Gosder Cherilus to a 5 year, 34 million dollar deal, but all the other contracts were mid level ones for mid level players, signing Packers LB Erik Walden, Patriots G Donald Thomas, and Arizona CB Greg Toler. Indy's biggest weaknesses were offensive line and defensive backfield, so the Colts made some low risk-high reward signings.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have used free agency to completely make over their defense. On the line, they signed Connor Barwin from Houston, and Issac Sopagoa from San Francisco. Both are high motor players, and Barwin comes from a fierce Houston defensive line, although as Houston lets more of these guys go and just plugs in the next man up, we have to wonder how much of their success is tied to Wade Phillips. In the defensive backfield, they added Lombardi winner Cary Williams and former Ram Bradley Fletcher at the corners, while they signed Kenny Phillips from the Giants and Patrick Chung from the Patriots to play safety. While I like Fletcher and Williams at the corner, they are going to have to play lights out if Chung and Phillips continue their tradition of getting beat deep routinely.
If there was a stock ticker for NFL teams that was based off of fan reaction, the Ravens would be deep in the red. Since signing Joe Flacco to a record setting contract, they have lost Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk, Paul Kruger, Danell Ellerbee, Ray Lewis, Cary Williams, and possibly Ed Reed as well. That is 1/3 of a championship starting line up. But this isn't some fire sale money grab by the owner, it is a look into the mind of the modern day NFL GM. Rather than overpaying these guys to stick around, GM Ozzie Newsome is doing his due diligence scouting out players to draft and take the departed player's roster spots at a fraction of the cost. I'm sure the coaching staff has guys ready to move into starting jobs that few people even know about yet. So before we bury the Ravens, lets at least give them a fair shot to defend their crown.
After spending years and years (and years and years) trying to build a viable offense, the Browns have used Free Agency '13 to bolster their defensive line. They signed Desmond Bryant from the Raiders, who is a gargantuan and should help shore up the porous Brown's rush defense. They also signed LB Paul Kruger to a way-too-megadeal, giving full time player money to a part time player. Right now he figures to only be a rush linebacker in the 3-4, but if he can get double digit sacks, he will be worth the full time money he got (5 years, 40 million.) They also made a smart system signing, acquiring Quentin Groves, who played in DC Ray Horton's 3-4 in Arizona.
The Chiefs have totally redone their QB situation, going from Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn in 2012 to Alex Smith and Chase Daniel in 2013. Alex Smith with that Chiefs roster is worth 5 games to me, so if every one else can step up with Andy Reid in town, the Chiefs could be a surprise contender come the fall. Chase Daniel has spent 5 years learning from Drew Brees and Sean Payton and will now get to learn from Andy Reid. Though Daniel is an unknown commodity, I think he would be serviceable should Alex Smith suffer some sort of injury. He definitely won't give Alex Smith the same push that Colin Kaepernick gave him, and we shouldn't see Alex Smith playing scared or looking over his shoulder.
On the open market, Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb, and Ryan Fitzpatrick are looking for jobs. Cassel and Kolb should land somewhere, as either a back up or as the veteran giving the young gun in town some competition (see: Minnesota, Tennessee, and Jacksonville.) I'm less optimistic about Ryan Fitzpatrick, because if you flame out in Cincinnati and in Buffalo, there isn't much hope left for you. However, just because it's back ups on the free agent market, that doesn't mean a starter isn't on the trade market. If you are Jacksonville, or Arizona, or even Cleveland, you have got to at least inquire about what it would take to get Matt Flynn from Seattle, or Ryan Mallet from the Patriots. Cleveland isn't in total no mans land, as I think Chudzinski can still salvage Brandon Weeden, but Jacksonville and Arizona have extremely untenable QB situations, and bringing in a veteran would be much better than drafting one of the rookies in this year's draft class.
San Francisco and Seattle are in extreme arms race mode. They had dueling trades right before free agency started, with Seattle nabbing Percy Harvin and San Fran acquiring Anquan Boldin. Seattle then bolstered its already effective pass rush by signing Cliff Avril. Now I'm hearing that San Francisco is the leading favorite to sign not only Nnamdi Asomugha...but also Charles Woodson!! NFC Super Bowl hopefuls in New York, Dallas, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Atlanta cannot be please about what is going on in the NFC West.
And this isn't really a rumor, just my funny quip I would like to share with you all. Peyton Manning must have reclined in his La-Z-Boy after signing Wes Welker, and took a sweet sip of whatever his drink of choice is. Tom Brady took a pay cut, while Peyton Manning cashed in on a 100 million dollar deal post neck surgery, and his team went out and signed Brady's favorite target the past five years in Wes Welker. There is no doubt in my mind as Peyton sipped his beverage he just laughed to himself and said "Tom Brady...what a sucker."
Next week: I go sentimental again, as I rejoice the end of my gymnastics season, complete with personal stories. Also, I will talk about the first days of March Madness so you guys will have something interesting to read. And as always, my Twitter handle is @nflopsandobs