Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NFL Free Agency Day 1 Review

I've seen far too much of this. GO AWAY ROY! YOU SUCK!
Day 1 of the long awaited free agency period is in the books and there's already quite a bit to digest. Maybe the extended time away from football skewed my memory, but I had completely forgotten that NFL people were nearly as dumb as NBA people (not quite...nobody is that dumb...except the NCAA). Welcome back football!

As always, there's plenty to criticize...and nobody is more excited about that than me! Think of it this way; if panic moves and bad contracts are rays of sun, then I'm the giant solar panel that draws power from those rays of sun...and believe me, I'm completely charged up at the moment! The ironic thing is that I don't usually get too into the whole free agent frenzy. Historically, it's been extraordinarily overrated and it's proven to be a more efficient way to sink your team rather than build it. The difference, of course, is the lengthy lockout. Piling on all this free agent talk is like throwing a stack of celery at a starving vegan! I CAN'T HELP MYSELF! I NEED!

Even as I write this, more and more news is coming out. At the end of free agency, I'll do a large scale wrap-up, but for now we'll focus on briefly reviewing what happened the day before (more specifically, what happened up until I started writing this). Here's a quick recap of what went down in Day 1:


You'll have to excuse me, I'm a bit excited about this. First, Dallas decided to release the perennially overrated and criminally overpaid Leonard Davis (Yay!). Then, Dallas decided to pull the plug on Marion Barber's (painfully slow) run as a Cowboy (YAY!) And finally...and I do mean FINALLY...Dallas decided to cut ties with The Most Hated Man in Texas, Roy Williams (YAY!!! YAY!!! YAY!!!). In releasing these three turds, Dallas saved approximately $300 million in cap room for the upcoming season...OK fine, it was actually $15.7 million. For Cowboy fans, it seems like $300 million!

As if those moves weren't enough, the Cowboys pulled one final coup and swiftly locked up LT Doug Free to a surprisingly reasonable contract. Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas points out that Free's 4YR $32MIL ($17MIL guaranteed) is an extremely reasonable contract, especially given the contracts of other good LT's. Just last year, Jason Peters signed a 6YR $60.7MIL contract with Philly! Free may not have quite the cachet of a Jason Peters, but he's much better than people realize. While Dallas' line was beyond bad last year, Free was certainly not to blame after having a stellar season protecting Romo/Kitna/McGee/Guy Off Street's blind side. Even better, Free is only 27 and has just 32 starts under his belt. All in all, a great day to be a Cowboy fan. Now if we could only release Marc Colombo...

LB Nick Barnett cut by Packers

This move came as no surprise given the Packers cap situation and their other options at linebacker. Barnett has missed 19 games over the past three seasons and has been passed on the depth chart by both A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. More importantly to GB, cutting Barnett gives them a cap savings of around $4MIL. Despite the injuries, Barnett is only 30 and has been extremely productive when healthy. He has experience in both the 4/3 and 3/4, so I'm sure there will be a solid market for him. Tampa Bay needs to spend and might need a replacement for Barrett Ruud.

C Shaun O'Hara and G Rich Seubert cut by New York Giants

The Giants find themselves in a precarious situation given their cap situation and it looks like they're clearing room to bring back Ahmad Bradshaw. However, while releasing the two veteran linemen saves them around $5MIL, it makes them painfully thin up front. O'Hara missed 10 games last season, but has started 97 games over the past 7 seasons and is still one of the best centers in the NFL. Seubert has only missed 2 starts in the past 4 seasons and capably filled in for O'Hara last season. I understand wanting to clear some cap space, but this doesn't seem like the best way to do it. After all, what's the point in bringing a RB back if there are no holes to run through? It'll be interesting to see if they attempt to bring one or both back on smaller contracts.

QB Tarvaris Jackson signs with Seattle

Wow. Just wow. At this point, all I can do is scratch my head because I'm not sure what Seattle is doing or if they have any sort of plan in place. Just last year, they gave up a high round pick to land Charlie Whitehurst, and now they're ditching him? For Tarvaris Jackson? I'm sure Seattle has reasoned that they're getting a young QB with significant upside, but Jackson's now 28 years old and will be entering his 6th NFL season. Haven't we gotten past this "potential" thing yet? Yes, I know Hasselbeck has been bad the past three seasons, and I know Jackson actually played well a few years ago, but don't try to sell me on this being a wash. Jackson sucks and Seattle is going to lose...a lot. Then again, maybe they're gearing up for a run at Andrew Luck!

Carolina unloads a truck full of money onto Charles Johnson's driveway

6YR $72MIL with about $32MIL guaranteed. Holy crap! Nobody had even heard of this guy until last year! In all honesty, I'm not sure what to make of this. Johnson was pretty effective as a situational pass rusher in '08 and '09 before breaking out with 62 tackls, 31 hurries, and 11.5 sacks last season. He's only 25 years old and Carolina desperately needs to build around youth...but man that seems like a lot of money. I know Carolina needed to spend quite about this offseason to reach the salary cap floor, so maybe they frontloaded this or something. Or maybe they just grossly overspent. Heck, even Johnson was "blown away" at the offer! "Could you have turned that down?" Johnson said of the contract with a laugh.

OL Marshall Yanda re-signs with Baltimore

Of course, Baltimore had to literally release every single player on their roster for this signing to go down. All of them.

WR Santana Moss re-signs with Washington

Somehow, I didn't realize Moss had 93 catches last year. I mean, yeah, he was literally the only receiver on the roster, but 93 catches with Corpse McNabb and Rex Grossman at QB isn't too shabby. Only $6MIL of his 3YR deal is guaranteed, so this is a pretty good deal for Washington.

S Quintin Mikell signs with St. Louis

Pretty solid recovery by the Rams after losing long time starter O.J. Atogwe to Washington. Mikell has been extremely durable and productive, making him quite possibly the most sought after safety on the market. The Rams were a middle of the road defensive team last season, and Mikell represents a solid upgrade, especially in run support.

WR DeSean Jackson hints that he might hold out...same with RB Chris Johnson

I totally forgot about contract holdouts! Fun! Seriously though, these guys are making about $1.5MIL apiece. I know fans will rise up in anger about the "greed" of these players and how they signed a contract and they should stick with it, but that's silly and you know it. People, get off your pedestal and join us back here in the real world! Everyone wants to earn what they feel they deserve, and professional athletes are no different. Both Jackson and Johnson are studs and they should be paid as such. And really, what does honoring a contract have anything to do with it? Owners cut players all the time! Why doesn't it work the other way? Johnson could blow out his knee the first day of camp and leave tons of money on the table...I don't blame either of them.

LB Paul Posluszny signs with Jacksonville

I'm not sure of the exact details of the contract, but my guess is that the 6 year pact is pretty lucrative. I know Poz is a good player, but I hate this deal for Jacksonville. I don't have any stats to back up this theory, but I feel like LB's are sorta like RB's. Doesn't it seem like good LB's, especially MLB's, randomly pop up all the time. Also, doesn't it seem like system often dictates the success of a MLB? Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'll gladly admit that I haven't watched a lot of Buffalo games, but I never hear people talk about Poz as an impact player. His lack of Pro Bowl/All-Pro nods confirms that to a degree. Sorry Jacksonville fan (there's only one), this could end up being a disaster.

LB Takeo Spikes signs with San Diego

Holy crap! I thought Spikes died five years ago! Sorry, the 49ers are so irrelevant that it's easy to lose track of who's on their team. Much to my surprise, however, Spikes has been fairly productive the last four years. He's 58 years old (34), so it's hard to tell when he will fall off the cliff, but adding old, injury-prone veterans like Spikes and Bob Sanders seems like a great move for San Diego.

CB Ike Taylor re-signs with Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh basically never screws up, so Taylor must obviously have plenty left in the tank. I'll go ahead and assume this was a good decision.

Pittsburgh signs Dr. Phil to babysit James Harrison

Just kidding! Not a bad idea though...

Alex Smith re-signs with San Francisco

Don't listen to all the radio morons out there...this was a good decision. On my way in to work this morning, Mike and Mike were killing San Fran for not bringing in Matt Hasselbeck. Hey guys, you know this isn't 2005, right? Smith receives a lot of media scrutiny for being a former #1 overall pick, but that doesn't mean he's a bad QB. In fact, he's pretty much average. Not good, not bad...just average. Hasselbeck, on the other hand, has posted well below average DVOA's the past three seasons and his 34-44 TD/INT ratio is far worse than Smith's 32-22. And this doesn't even take into account the fact that Smith has changed OC's every freaking season! So no, Hasselbeck is NOT a better option than Smith. At 8 years younger and far more mobile, Smith is a significantly better player than Matt Hasselbeck at this point and he gives San Fran a legit chance to win the division.

Matt Hasselbeck signs with Tennessee

Just as his brother Tim predicted. Again, I'm not wild about Hasselbeck at this point in his career, but at least Tennessee has a plan in place. Presumably, Hasselbeck will be the starter for the next couple of years while he mentors Jake Locker. Personally, I hate Locker and I think their plan is stupid, but at least they have one...unlike Seattle.

Plaxico Burress and Giants prepare to talk


Vikings and Redskins begin McNabb negotiations

By the time I finish this post, the deal will probably be done. Oh well. It is what it is. At this point, it appears as if two 6th round picks will get it done. Two 6th rounders...for Donovan McNabb. Wow. This pairing has been inevitable for some time, and I have to admit, I'm coming around on it. Like Tennessee, it's clear that Minnesota has a plan in place and while Orton may be the better QB right now, acquiring him doesn't make sense long term. After all, they didn't take Ponder in the first round to let him rot for five years. McNabb is much cheaper, and will allow the Vikings to ease Ponder into the job sooner rather than later. Beyond that, there's still a possibility that McNabb has something left in the tank. The lack of offensive talent in Washington can't be ignored. How much of that caused McNabb's struggles remains to be seen, but it was only two years ago that McNabb threw 22 TD's and had a QB rating over 90. Perhaps he has one or two more good years left in him. If so, this could end up being the steal of free agency. If not, then you probably finish with the same record you would have if Ponder had started.

Sidney Rice bidding war begins between Minnesota and Seattle

If you were Sidney Rice, would you willingly subject yourself to another season of Tarvaris Jackson? Does that even make sense? I guess Rice must really need some cash!

Mike Brown re-iterates his stance on Carson Palmer...No trade!

SO DUMB! This situation confuses me beyond belief...on both sides. For Palmer, I don't understand why he's come to this point. At first, I took his side since Cincinnati is such a dysfunctional franchise, but I've changed my tune a bit. Here's the thing. When you sign a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, don't you kinda know what you're getting? But now, you're surprised at how stupid the organization is? Please. For Brown, I don't know what he thinks he's gaining by taking this hard line stance. You've already drafted his replacement! You're negotiating with veteran QB's to bridge the gap! Just move on! This Bengal team badly needs help, and Palmer can still fetch a fair price from one of several QB needy teams. You don't think Pete Carroll would gladly ship over a kings ransom for his former QB? You don't think Miami would be thrilled to land Palmer? How about San Francisco or Arizona? With those spots closing fast, Brown needs to move quickly...alas, he's too stupid. What a waste.

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