Movers & Shakers
With free agency starting early Friday morning, many moves were made fast. This week Action-Reaction takes a look at the teams which were Movers and the teams that were Shakers. I am also joined by my good friend BSchwartz who is examining the teams that were not movers or shakers. Now, I'll give you a little definition right here. A mover is a team that made one or two big signings and possibly some smaller signings, while a shaker is a team that made multiple big moves and spent (or blew) a lot of cash on their acquisitions.
I would also like to thank BSchwartz for doing the anti-movers and anti-shakers.
The Eagles acted quickly, signing former New England Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel to a six-year, $57 million contract on the first day of free agency. The contract has $20 million in guaranteed money and $32 million in the first three years of the contract. The acquisition of the 27-year old Samuel triggers change in the Eagles secondary, as Lito Sheppard has been implicated in trade rumors, most prominently for Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona or to New England for the #7 draft pick. The other Eagles corner, Sheldon Brown, could be moved to safety, providing help to the aging Brian Dawkins.
Philadelphia has also reached an agreement with 26-year old defensive end Chris Clemons, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. In 2007, Clemons tied for the lead on the Raiders for sacks with a career-high eight. The Eagles hope that Clemons can team with Trent Cole and also replace the recently-cut Jevon Kearse.
The Eagles have also been linked to Randy Moss, although there does not seem to be enough cap room for both Samuel and Moss.
Yet another rumor has the Eagles pursuing Javon Walker, although I do not see Andy Reid taking a risk on an injured cancer. Yes, I am still bitter over his exit from Green Bay.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers built on last year's defensive free agency splurge, signing former Bengals defensive end Justin Smith to a six-year, $45 million deal. Smith recorded 43.5 sacks in his seven years with Cincinnati. Smith cancelled trips to Minnesota and Jacksonville after receiving a helicopter tour of San Francisco. Smith had at least five sacks in his first six seasons with the Bengals before recording only two last year. Smith was the No. 4 overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Missouri.
CBSSports.com's Clark Judge writes that this is a horrible move for the 49ers.
The 49ers also signed former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Allen Rossum and former St. Louis Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce. Neither of those moves seems to have that much of an effect on the 49ers, as Rossum mostly saw action as a special teams player last season and Bruce has seen his numbers decline in recent years.
New York Jets
The Jets have been active this offseason, first trading linebacker Jonathon Vilma to New Orleans and then acquiring Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. I have read that Jenkins may not be the best option for Eric Mangini's 3-4 defense, but he will provide some meat up front to help the Jets linebackers.
The Jets made one of the biggest splashes in free agency so far, signing former Steelers guard Alan Faneca to a record five-year, $40 million contract. The deal has the most guaranteed money and the highest average per year given to an offensive lineman. Faneca will start on the Jets offensive line between former first-round picks D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. This seems like a good match for the Jets and Faneca, but Die Hard Steel's Neal Coolong says that the honeymoon period in New York will be short lived.
The Jets are not done yet wither. NFL.com's Adam Schefter has linked the Jets to Detroit Lions free agent Damien Woody, who was coached by Mangini in New England. The Jets are also interested in former Arizona linebacker Calvin Pace who visited Miami Saturday.
St. Louis Rams
With the retirement of longtime kicker Jeff Wilkins, the Rams acted quickly, signing Josh Brown away from the division rival Seattle Seahawks to a five-year deal. The deal is rumored to have a $4 million signing bonus attached to it, unheard of for a kicker.
Minnesota bolstered both sides of its passing game, signing Bernard Berrian and Madieu Williams. Berrian comes to Minnesota from Chicago where he played four seasons. The Vikings priority this offseason was providing more receiving targets for young quarterback Tarvaris Jackson who threw only nine touchdown passes in 2007. The Vikings signed Berrian to a six-year, $42 million contract, with $16 million guaranteed. In my book, that is overpaying a bit.
On the other side, the Vikings signed Williams away from the Bengals with a deal worth $33 million over six years, while signing fullback Thomas Tapeh to a five-year, $6 million contract. The Williams signing will help replace free agent Dwight Smith while Tapeh will provide some blocking for running backs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.
Cleveland has probably made THE biggest splashes in free agency this year. The club kept quarterback Derek Anderson in front of Brady Quinn by signing him to a three-year deal worth around $24 million. That is a far cry from the six-year, $65 million contract Anderson wanted, but for a 24-year old, it seems like it could work. Anderson was the surprise of last season with 34 touchdown passes, although he was inconsistent, throwing 27 interceptions.
The Browns bolstered their defense by acquiring two top defensive tackles in Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. Apparently, Rogers-to-Cincy was a done-deal that fell through, allowing the Browns to swoop in and snatch Rogers from Detroit for cornerback Leigh Bodden and a third-round pick in the April draft. Williams was from the Green Bay Packers for a third-round pick in the draft as well. Rogers will have an impact immediately, while it remains to be seen if Williams will be able to repeat last year's performance. As League of Shadows likes to say, he could be the next Cletidus Hunt.
What seems to be the biggest acquisition for the Browns however is the acquisition of Donte Stallworth from New England. Stallworth will team with Braylon Edwards who is coming off of a breakout season in which he caught 16 touchdown passes. Stallworth was signed to a seven-year contract worth $35 million. In my opinion, seven years is a little too much for Stallworth given his durability issues and the fact that he has not had one of "those" seasons where everything has gone right. However, he will take pressure off of Edwards and is just another weapon, complementing Kellen Winslow and Jamal Lewis.
The Bills are second behind the Browns in the splash zone for 2008 free agency. Their biggest move came Saturday when they acquired Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud for draft picks. The Bills also signed former NY Giants linebacker Kawika Mitchell and former Minnesota defensive tackle Spencer Johnson to five-year contracts. Buffalo also released longtime defensive tackle Larry Triplett.
The Bills look poised to make a run at the AFC East division crown, given the inactivity of New England, or at least a Wild-Card berth. According to agent Joel Segal, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Bryant Johnson is scheduled to visit Buffalo Sunday along with Titans tight end Ben Troupe. The Bills could be contenders next year folks. Or they could be pretenders.
Oakland has been an interesting case this free agency. Fact is, none of their moves make that much sense, but they are still throwing the money around. The Raiders boosted their defense, signing former New York Giants safety Gibril Wilson to a six-year, $39 million contract. In the last four years, Wilson has averaged 6.9 tackles per game, tops in the NFL for safeties. Wilson has started since 2004, his rookie season, and is expected to contribute to a sluggish Oakland D immediately. Wilson replaces Stuart Schweigart and Hiram Eugene at free safety, and puts the talk of moving Michael Huff to free safety to rest.
The Raiders made one of the most eyebrow-raising moves this offseason, signing defensive tackle Tommy Kelly to a seven-year deal worth upwards of $50 million, with over $18 million guaranteed. That is without mentioning Kelly is coming off of reconstructive knee surgery. Kelly was undrafted out of Mississippi State in 2004, but has earned high praise from Oakland teammates such as Warren Sapp. Kelly is versatile enough to play either inside or outside, which could help relieve some of the pain of losing Chris Clemons.
The Raiders placed the franchise tag on corner Nnamdi Asomugha, paying him $9.465 million in 2008. The Raiders were also able to re-sign running back Justin Fargas to a three-year, $12 million contract before he hit free agency. However, Al Davis could not retain Clemons, wide receiver Jerry Porter, or backup quarterback Josh McCown.
The Bill Parcells purge continues in South Beach. The Miami Herald is reporting that the Dolphins and defensive end Jason Taylor are on the verge of parting ways, following suit of longtime friend and teammate Zach Thomas, ending an era in Miami.
Parcells has made some key additions to the Dolphins, boosting their chances for a better 2008. The addition of Reggie Torbor boosts the linebacking corps that lost Thomas to the Cowboys. Torbor signed a four-year deal with Miami after winning the Super Bowl with the Giants last season. The Dolphins added another linebacker in Charlie Anderson, who most recently played for Houston. Former Titans defensive tackle Randy Starks and former 49ers guard Justin Smiley were both signed to five-year contracts by the Dolphins. And this was just the second day of free agency.
On the first day of free agency, Parcells signed former Raiders and Cardinals quarterback Josh McCown to a two-year deal where he will try to become 13th starting quarterback in Miami since the retirement of Dan Marino. The lone holdover of last season's quarterback carousel is second-year pro John Beck who saw action in his rookie campaign last season. The Dolphins released Cleo Lemon and Trent Green, both of whom were utterly disappointing in 2007.
Miami acquired Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jason Ferguson and their sixth-round pick in the 2008 Draft for the Dolphins 2008 and 2009 sixth-round selections. Parcells signed former Cowboys draftee Sean Ryan to a one-year deal. Ryan has nine catches for 90 yards in his career, which includes a stint with the New York Jets. Finally, the Dolphins signed former Jaguars wide receiver Ernest Wilford to a four-year contract after he had a career season in which he caught 45 passes for 518 yards and three touchdowns. I would not expect Miami to be done yet either.
Now, it's BSchwartz's turn…
First off I want to thank DJ for having me as a guest spot in this blog. My goal here was to find a few teams that have been picked apart as well as a few that are sitting back and watching the first few days of free agency.
My first teams are the ones that have sat back and watched as their top talent takes off to bigger and better things.
New England Patriots
The team that led the way last year in the Free Agency period seems to be the biggest loser thus far in 2008. Asante Samuel's departure was a given, but still will leave a hole in the secondary. The good news for New England is that Asante was more or less a system DB, he made his name by sitting in the Pat's system and using Safeties to trap WR's. The bad news, Asante will fit in PERFECTLY in Philly using Dawkins to help him out and will prove to stay at the top of his game.
Then there is the Randy Moss saga. Everyone felt that Moss was happy in New England and would easily stay there. Well they forgot that Moss is also happy with loads of zeros on his pay checks. Remember this guy played for Oakland on purpose. Even if Moss returns it will cost New England as well as upsetting some guys that took pay cuts to stay. Add to all of that Stallworth's signing to Cleveland means that the great WR's that the Pats had a year ago may just be Wes Welker come next season.
The Bengals thought that they landed Shaun Rogers. For a second it seemed like they may be making a move to improve their pitiful defense. But then the Browns swooped in and took Rogers, and while the Bengals were busy with that their top 2 defensive players headed out of town.
Justin Smith and Madieu Williams may have both gotten a little more than they were worth, but at the same time who does that leave on the Bengals D? They need to do something quick.
Last year the Giants lost Tiki and as a result won a Super Bowl, so I'm guessing they are going with that "Less is More" strategy again this year. Thus far the Giants have locked up their kicking crew, Jeff Feagles who is what 87 years old? And Lawrence Tynes who was a bad Brett Favre pass away from being known as the guy that kicked the knuckle ball that landed about 35 yards wide and 20 yards short of winning a game.
As far as players taking off? Although they have a Manning at QB this team achieved the greatest honor in the NFL because of their defense. That defense will have to be without Kawika Mitchell and Gibril Wilson next year. I also wouldn't hold my breath on Michael Strahan coming back for another year either.
So we are what 2 days into free agency? So when I was asked to name the teams that were sitting back and doing nothing, well I guess these guys will be there for now. Time will tell if these guys stay here.
My very own Denver Broncos HAVE to lead this list. While this team is criticized every year for overspending on risky free agents and not planning too much for the future they are now being criticized for the opposite.
Denver started out as the first team to reach a deal for Shaun Rogers and have ended up re-signing John Engelberger as their biggest name thus far. They also let the loud mouthed sorry knee having Javon Walker walk away (or should I say limp? If you can't tell I'm a bit bitter with how that worked out).
The silver lining for the blue and orange is that not only has John Lynch decided to come back but he will be back at a discounted price to allow the team to get some young talent. It would seem that this franchise has learned their lesson, but then again if there is another #84 on the Broncos by the end of the week with "MOSS" above that number don't be shocked.
The Falcons made the first news of free agency this year. They just couldn't wait to dump as many players as they could. Letting Rod Coleman, Byron Leftwich, and Alge Crumpler go as well as a few more.
So that would mean that Atlanta is going to come out guns blazing right? Well….. They re-signed Chris Redman, yeah they guy that was selling insurance during last year's free agency period.
My advice to Atlanta, don't cut the guys you have unless you know you can get someone, ANYONE to replace them.
The Chiefs put off losing star DE Jared Allen by one season with the dreaded Franchise Tag. And since then the only guy they have gotten to take an offer is punter Dustin Colquitt. WOO HOO! This brings me to a question a friend of mine posed a while back. If you know your team is going to be bad do you put more focus on getting a good punter?
Either way KC needs to focus on something, sure Larry Johnson should be a bit more productive than he was a year ago, but that isn't going to cut it. Your team was awful last year and you are doing nothing to change that.
While there may be a few other teams that could fit the "Sit back" group, some teams really have no need to go out and bid for guys. As for the fans of teams on either of these lists, remember last year people felt the Giants didn't make enough moves to get over the hump and that the Rams and 49ers made all the right moves. So take it for what it is.
If you read all of this, you deserve a gold star.