Winners and Losers NFL FA

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It’s that wonderful yet terrible of the year where there isn’t any football but also a great time because NFL free agency is upon us. For some teams it’s the dividing line between breaking into the playoffs or make the major push for the Super Bowl or for teams just looking to retool. We’re going to take a look at some of the early winners and losers in NFL free agency, to see who has enough to make the push for the big game.


Matthew Stafford and the Detroit’s Lion Offense

Long has the Lions offense been looking for feature RB, they thought they had drafted on in Javid Best when they traded back into the 1st round with the Vikings for him. Best had good numbers in college, his best season coming in 2008 with 1580 yards and 15 TDs. But as luck would have it, Best struggled with concussions in his so far brief career in the NFL, suffering two last season and then placed on the IR with post concussion symptoms. The Lions drafted Kevin Smith in the 2008 draft from UCF, but he also fizzled and faded after 3 years in Detroit. Last season the Lions thought they might had found an option in Mikel Leshoure, but his best game came in Week 1 against the Titans where he put up 100 yards and a TD, following that game he didn’t top the 100 yard mark again, but he did put 3 TD’s up against the Jaguars. Now though in NFL Free Agency, the Lions might have found their answer in Reggie Bush. Bush was thought to be a shoo in as the number one pick in the draft when he came into the NFL in 2006 draft, but the Houston Texans surprised everyone and decided to take Mario Williams over Bush, allowing the New Orleans Saints to draft Bush. Bush though in 4 seasons with the Saints didn’t live up to his 2nd overall pick value only running for 1940 yards, 17 TDs and 13 fumbles. After leaving New Orleans though, Bush revitalized his career with the Miami Dolphins, running for 2072 yards and 12 TDs, and one of the most positive things going for him too is that he has only rushed 967 times in his WHOLE career so his legs are relatively fresh. Bush also has a knack for being able to catch the ball out of the backfield, which is something that will appeal to Stafford and the Lions, as they LOVE to throw the football including to their RBs. Lastly now that the Lions have a legitimate threat in the backfield it takes pressure off of Stafford to throw the ball every play, which is crucial due to the fact that Stafford has a history of injuries and the Lions need to be able to take pressure off of him so he isn’t constantly an injury risk.

Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos knew fair well that the clock was ticking when they signed Peyton Manning last season, it was a huge gamble but it paid off dividends for them as they made it to the playoffs and potentially could have made it to the Super Bowl if it weren’t for two plays, but John Elway and company weren’t going to sit and dwell on the past, only look to the future and see what they could do to correct their mistakes and make it to the Super Bowl this season. First of all, the Broncos made sure to franchise tag their Pro Bowl offensive tackle Ryan Clady with hopes of hammering a long term deal out to help continue protect Manning in the passing game, after that they decided they wanted to upgraded the offensive line further and signed OG Louis Vasquez to replace Manny Ramirez on the offensive line and the move kills two birds with one stone since Vasquez was a Pro Bowl guard for division rival San Diego Chargers. Also the Broncos signed Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, who two seasons ago was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles to a monster contract but turned out to be a huge bust and a part of the so-called “Dream Team”. DRC before signing with the Eagles played for the Arizona Cardinals where he had a nice career but it all fell apart in Philly. Now is the time for him to retool himself and learn from one of the best that’s played the game in Champ Bailey. DRC was brought in on a one year “prove it” deal for him that is a low risk high reward deal for him, and is a great pick up for a team looking to make a run at the Super Bowl. Lastly the biggest signing possibly in NFL free agency and not in terms of money was Denver signing Wes Welker. Welker long standing has been a very critical part of the Patriots offense and Tom Brady’s number one target in the passing game, Welker has only had one season in New England with less than 100+ receptions and less than a 1000+ yards, so when the Patriots didn’t resign Welker you can imagine Brady’s reaction. I understand that Brady has Gronk and Aaron Hernandez but nothing will replace Welker, but on the other hand Manning has to be thrilled. Manning was the one who has brought around the evolution of the white slot receiver with Brandon Stokely, so Welker will be a welcome addition to Manning and the Denver receiving corps. This move by the Broncos is only going to add fuel to the fire with the Manning/Brady rivalry.

San Francisco 49er’s Offense

San Francisco’s offense last season wasn’t bad under Alex Smith leading them but it wasn’t also anything special to write home about but when Smith went down with a concussion, Colin Kapernick stepped up and led this offense to the next level. One issue the 49er’s tried to fix in the off season last season was finding a #2 WR, they signed Mario Williams and Randy Moss, and already had Kyle Williams on their roster so they thought they had what they needed to fill the need, but M Williams couldn’t stay healthy dealing with injuries all season, Moss wasn’t the same player he was earlier in his career and K Williams tore his ACL. The 49er’s made due with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, with Frank Gore leading the rushing attack, but when Kapernick took over at QB, he and Davis didn’t seem to click, Davis only had 24 receptions for 315 yards and 2 TDs in 10 games including the playoffs with Kapernick at the helm, but with Smith throwing to him he had 29 grabs for 487 yards and 4 TDs, with most of Davis’s numbers with Kapernick coming in the final two playoff games. So the 49er’s front office knew something needed to be done to give their new superstar QB another target for him to throw to and found a trading partner in the Baltimore Ravens. How many times do people expect to see two teams that competed against each other in the biggest game of their seasons then decided to trade a player to one for a draft pick to the other, well that’s what happened when the 49er’s traded for Anquan Boldin for a whopping 6th round pick! Yes that’s right a 6thr round pick, and people thought the Brandon Marshall trade last season was bad; Boldin had 87 receptions for 1301 yards and 8 TDs last season including the playoffs. This is the sort of target that the 49er’s need for Kapernick to thrive in the NFL and hopefully with the addition of Boldin maybe he can help tutor A.J Jenkins so that Jenkins can fill Boldin’s void in a couple of years.

Seattle Seahawks

Remember when just a couple of years ago, the NFC West was the laughing stock of the NFL and people were like thank god my team doesn’t play in that division? Well it seems as if it’s just the opposite now, the NFC West might be the cream of the crop in terms of overall talent at least in 2 of the teams in the division. Seattle decided to start just reworking their whole organization and no one knew what they were thinking, they hired Pete Carroll away from USC even though people felt he partly did it because USC was about to become under some heat from the NCAA for recruiting violations. They started drafting very odd, odd picks: James Carpenter an offensive tackle who coasted on physical size in college and was questionable as a high second round pick let alone a 1st round pick, and then Bruce Irvin a guy from West Virginia that was seen as a tweener that was also a horribly questionably pick. Irvin only goes on to be highly considered hard look for defensive rookie of the year, racking up 17 tackles and 8 sacks as a rookie. All this was over looked though because of a pick made in the 3rd round for a QB named Russell Wilson, the small mobile QB from Wisconsin. Seattle’s QB situation was a mess, Matt Hasselbeck started for them in 2010 was followed by Tavaris Jackson who had a decent season throwing for 3091 yards, 14 TDs but 13 Ints, so the front office didn’t see him as the long term answer at QB, so in the 2011 off season Seattle’s front office decided to chase a QB in free agency and traded for Matt Flynn, Green Bay’s back up QB who only had started 2 games due to the fact he was backing Aaron Rodgers up, but in his first NFL start he threw for 251 yards, 3 TDs and a Int, but lost a fumble at the end of the game that cost the Packers the game, but still the seed was planted. In 2011, again Flynn got called on by Green Bay for the start and didn’t fail to shine by throwing for a whopping 480 yards, 6 TDs and a Int, so the legend was born and somebody was going to want him that needed a starting QB. Seattle decided to give him a 3 year deal in the off season with the thought he would come in and lead their team to victory, but in the 3rd round, the Seahawks decided to bring in Wilson to back up Flynn, but he impressed the coaching staff in the off season and training camp and lead the Seahawks into the post season this past season and won offensive rookie of the year. Russell would throw for 3690 yards, 29 TDs and 11 Ints with a 64.1% completion percentage in his first season including the playoffs, and he ran for 489 yards and 4 TDs, showing he can be a complete QB for this Seahawks teams, but yet all these awesome stats, who was he throwing to? Seattle’s leading receiver was Sidney Rice with 748 yards and 7 TDs followed by Golden Tate who had 688 yards and 7 TDs, but still your two leading WR’s only have a total of 1436 yards and 14 TDs, I understand that Seattle’s game plan isn’t to throw the ball 60 times a game, when you have Marshawn Lynch and beast mode, but still if you behind in a game it’s nice for your QB to know he has a legitimate #1 WR to throw to. Now enter Sidney Rice’s former teammate, Percy Harvin; Harvin had been playing for the Minnesota Vikings the last four seasons in the league, and not utilized as well as he thought he could be, part of the problem playing on the same team as Adrian Peterson. Harvin though is the kind of player that can do it all, catch the ball, run the end around, and return punts and kick offs, making him a dangerous weapon on the football field, but he was very unhappy in Minnesota complaining he wasn’t considered special enough in Minnesota and wanted a new contract that Minnesota wasn’t willing to give him. Seattle was more than willing to give him the contract he demands and is happy to do it seeing him as the piece that’s going to take them over the top and possibly to the Super Bowl. Also on top of Bruce Irvin, the Seahawks relied on Chris Clemmons to help rush the QB, as he had 40 tackles, 3 forced fumbles and 11.5 sacks, but he tore his ACL in the playoff against his former team the Washington Redskins, but Seattle saw the need to replace him, Jason Jones and Red Bryant so they decided bring in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, both players who were thought to command major dollars on the FA market, yet Seattle was able to sign Avril to a 2 year 9 million dollar deal and Bennett to a 1 year 5 million dollar deal, both grabs for Seattle.


Indianapolis Colts

Last year the Colts found themselves in unknown territory they had not been in for a very very long time, who was going to lead this team at QB? Peyton Manning had been let go due to a lingering neck issue that had held him out of the whole season, so the Colts decided it was time to move on, but luckily for them they had the first pick in the draft and decided to select Andrew Luck, who turned out to be a great pick and it looks like he could take over the Colts and lead them for seasons to come. So the Colts don’t have any issues at the QB position but they do have plenty of holes and plenty of cap space, so of course as some people believe they decided to throw money at their holes and see if they can’t make a deeper run into the playoffs. There is one common theme it seemed like with all the free agents the Colts signed was injury issues, offensively the Colts signed Gosder Cherilus an offensive tackle who played well last season, but some could argue that’s because he was playing for a contract year and he was healthy, and we’ll see if he can stay healthy now he got paid. On defense things get a little strange, they decide to throw a lot of money at two defensive lineman who have been back ups for all of their careers are now getting money that makes them look like their going to be a solid piece of their defensive line rotation. Ricky Jean-Francois who part of the San Francisco 49er’s defensive line rotation but nothing special (Francois was a 7th round pick and 49er’s replace him with Glenn Dorsey a top 5 pick), Jim Irsay (Colts owner) decides to give him a 4 year 22 million dollar contract to a guy who has 49 tackles, a forced fumble and only 3 sacks in 5 years! They also signed Lawrence Sidbury to a contract, not sure how much this one was since details haven’t been released but he also is a player who in 4 seasons has only racked up 17 tackles and 5 sacks. At LB, they signed Erik Walden to a 4 year 16 million dollar contract a guy who struggled and ultimately couldn’t hold the starting OLB position in GB on the other side of Clay Matthews, and the Colts are hoping he can replace Dwight Freeny for them. In the secondary, the Colts needed help and got it by resigning Darius Butler a guy who had resurrect his career in Indy so he’s coming back on a new two year contract, then they signed Greg Toler who was a good CB in Arizona but couldn’t stay healthy so we’ll see if he can in Indy, and there’s LaRon Landry. Landry is a great safety in run support and isn’t terrible in pass protection and played all 16 games last season for the Jets, but the two seasons before that had missed 15 games in the two previous seasons, so it’s a risk but the Colts don’t care giving him a 4 year 24 million dollar contract but the real kicker was that he’s going to get 14 million guaranteed! Just ridiculous that he’s going to make that much money and he technically doesn’t have to play.

Miami Dolphins

It’s no mystery that Miami has struggled since Dan Marino retired a Dolphin in 1999 since then people like Jay Fiedler, Damon Huard, Brian Griese, A.J Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Dante Culpepper, Cleo Lemon, John Beck, Trent Green, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and Matt Moore, but finally in 2012 the Dolphins partly out of desperation decided to draft WR turned QB Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M. Tannehill didn’t have a terrible season for a rookie, throwing for 3294 yards, 12 TDs and 13 Ints with a 76.1 completion percentage. Like the Seattle Seahawks, who was Tannehill throwing the ball to though, how about names like: Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, or Anthony Fasano? Hartline had 253 of his 1083 yards come in a single game and oh yeah his ONLY TD! So Miami decided they were tried of being burned by people not coming to their team whether it was Peyton Manning or Jim Harbaugh, so they decided they were getting Mike Wallace, the WR from Pittsburgh no matter what and guess what they got him; for a price, how about 5 years 60 million with 11 million dollar signing bonus and he’s going to make 37.85 million in the first 3 seasons! That is absurd for a guy who rather complain that his former team, the Steelers, wouldn’t offer him what he considered enough money, and a guy who has great straight line speed, but does he have the greatest hands or does he run crisp routes, NO! So Miami is partly paying Wallace due to the fact that they feel like they got a guy they wanted and didn’t get spurned by him, even though this one might not be worth the money, but you got him Miami. Miami also decided to sign Dannelle Ellerbe, who just came off a Super Bowl championship with the Ravens, where he played a decent role with them, but not worth the 5 years 35 million that the Dolphins apparently decided he was worth, coming off a 92 tackle and 2 FF season, which is decent numbers but not worth what he’s being paid by the Dolphins at all. Also joining Miami’s LB corp, the Dolphins added Phillip Wheeler from the Raiders, who is coming off his best season in the pro’s a season that saw him rack up 109 tackles and 2 FFs, his contract is a 5 year, 26 million dollar contract which is more reasonable than Ellerbe’s is. Also the Dolphins decided to try and shire up the WR corps some more signing Brandon Gibson to a 3 year contract, which is a little head scratching due to the fact that Gibson has only topped 100 yards receiving in a game once in 54 games, so the Dolphins must think they can turn him around with the addition of Mike Wallace on the roster.

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