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NFL Free Agency: Early Winners and Losers

We’re only five days into free agency, but already there has been tons of action.

The lack of a new CBA has had no effect on the opening wave of free agency.

Players were quickly scooped up by teams right after midnight of this past Friday.

There has been many surprises thus far, but the one that sticks out the most is the frugal approach taken by the Washington Redskins.

In an uncapped year many expected the Redskins to throw big money at the top free agents, but rather they have kept a low profile and have not signed any new free agents and actually cut a handful of overpriced veterans.

Perhaps the new regime in Washington may work out after all.

Anyway, here is a look at the top winners and losers of free agency thus far:

Winners

Detroit Lions

It’s not often you hear Lions and winners together, but I have to give the Lions some props for what they’ve done so far.  Sure they overpaid for Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burelson, but that’s the only way they were going to come to Detroit.  When you have been as bad as the Lions have been you need to overspend once in a while.

They also added defensive tackle Corey Williams via trade from Cleveland and corner Chris Houston via trade from Atlanta, both at low prices.  With Vanden Bosch and Williams, the Lions suddenly have a good defensive line and if they add Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy it will be even better.

Burelson may not be an elite reciever, but he is a good number two target.  He’s certainly better than Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt.  His presence will also benefit Calvin Johnson as he won’t be getting double and triple teamed nearly as much.

Chicago Bears

While I’m not in love with all the moves the Bears made it’s hard to say the Bears aren’t a much better football team than they were last week at this time.

With no draft picks in the first two rounds the Bears had to make a splash in free agency.  Also add in the fact that this is a make or break year from the coaching staff and front office and it’s hard to fault the Bears.

Joe Flacco Continue reading

NFL Free Agency Preview

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Today marks the eve of NFL free agency.

Usually, the first day of free agency is a frenzy with countless players changing teams.

However, this year will be quieter than those of years past.

The reason being the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement.

This requires players to have six years of service in the league in order to be a unrestricted free agent instead of the usual three or four.

The result is that around 200 players that would have been unrestricted free agents are now restricted free agents, which has left the free agency rather bare.

Still, there are some big names on the market and without a salary cap there will be teams willing to pay top dollar.

Top Unrestricted Free Agents:

Julius Peppers, DE

The prize of this year’s free agent class, Peppers will command a huge contract on the open market.  Though his effort can be questioned at times, there is no denying his ability to get the opposing quarterback (81 sacks in 8 years).

Signs with: Bears

Karlos Dansby, LB

After being franchised two years in a row, Dansby was too rich for Arizona’s blood and should have no problem landing a big pay day in free agency.  He is versatile enough to play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

Signs with: Dolphins

Dunta Robinson, CB

Robinson’s production has never quite matched his talent, but as the top corner in an ultra thin corner market the man will overpaid.  I wouldn’t give $20 million guaranteed to a corner that didn’t have an interception last season.

Signs with: Redskins

Thomas Jones, RB

Jones ran for over 1,400 yards last season and has five 1,000 yard seasons in a row, yet he was released by the Jets in order to clear the way for Shonn Greene.  The key number with Jones is 32, his age before the start of next season. Continue reading

Return of the Poison Pill?

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The free agency class this year will be rather bare compared to that of season’s past.

This is because of 2010 being an uncapped year, which requires that players need six years of service instead of four to qualify for unrestricted free agency.

This has prevented players such as Brandon Marshall, DeMeco Ryans, Braylon Edwards, Elvis Dumervil, Shawne Merriman, and a host of other players from being unrestricted free agents.

With few big name free agents on the market teams will have to get creative to fill their needs.

This brings up the possibility of the poison pill being brought back.

Back in 2006 the Minnesota Vikings signed Steve Hutchinson to a seven year $49 contract with $16 guaranteed.  While that seems fair, they also included a clause that would have guaranteed his entire contract if he was the highest paid lineman on his team.  At that time, the Seahawks had Walter Jones, whose salary was higher and thus could not sign Hutchinson without guaranteeing his entire contract.

The Seahawks file a grievance, but the arbitrator ruled in favor of the Vikings.

The Seahawks got back at the Vikings by signing Nate Burelson to an offer sheet including a stipulation that would have guaranteed his entire contract if he played five or more games in the state of Minnesota in one season.

Now, since that off season no team has attempted to sign someone with a poison pill included, but that may change very soon.

If some team tries to get cute and offers a low tender to one of their restricted free agents don’t be surprised if a team employs the poison pill to ensure they sign him.

Even if they are tendered with a first and third rounder, some team may be willing to pay the price.  It wouldn’t be out of the question to see a team like Miami, Baltimore, or any receiver needy team go after a wide receiver like Marshall, Vincent Jackson, or Miles Austin.

Remember it was not even two years ago when the Cowboys traded a first, third, and sixth round pick for Roy Williams and these receivers are actually established number one targets.

Top 5 Worst Off Season Moves

Yesterday I looked at the best acquisitions of the NFL off season which you can see here.  Today I’m looking at the worst moves that teams made in the off season.

5. Redskins resign DeAngelo Hall to 6yrs $54million contractDeAngelo Hall
The Redskins signed Hall to a monster contract that includes $24 million of guaranteed money after signing him during the season.  This is the second monster contract in the past two off seasons.  He signed a 7yrs $72 million contract with Oakland last year but was cut after only eight games.   If Al Davis cut him after only eight games after giving him that kind of you have to know something is wrong.

After signing Hall the Redskins then cut veteran corner Shaun Springs because they couldn’t afford both of them.  While Springs may be olden that Hall he is still the better cover corner of the two but instead of making the better football decision the Redskins went with the flash and flare of Hall.  The Redskins are Hall’s third team and in five seasons.  He was run out of both Atlanta and Oakland and we could soon be adding Washington to the list.

Continue reading

Top 5 NFL Off-Season Acquisitions

T.J. Houshmandzadeh The NFL off-season is filled with countless trades and free agent pickups with some good and some bad.  Today I’ll take a look at the best moves of the off season.

5. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seattle Seahawks, 5yrs $40 million
The Seahawks were decimated by injuries last year especially at the wide receiver position.  Every receiver they were putting in got hurt and they were forced to sign receivers off the street in the middle of the season.  Their leading receiver was Bobby Engram who caught only 47 passes for 489 yards.

Over the past five seasons Houshmandzadeh has averaged 89 receptions and over 100 yards.  Housh will give the Seahawks a true number one receiver which they have been lacking for years.  In his time in Cincinnati Housh improved every year and eventually became a better receiver than his teammate Chad Johnson  who got much more media attention.  Seattle runs a west coast offense which features a lot of short quick passes which should fit Housh well being a possession receiver.  With a healthy Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback and Housh at wide receiver Seattle could make a return to the playoff where they were only two years ago.
Continue reading