2010 Free Agency - March Madness?
Written by Mark Mitchell on 03/09/2010
"It's the most wonderful time of the year." Just the words conjure up thoughts of opening gifts on Christmas day, and as I heard one ESPN analyst put it, Free Agency is just as much fun as Christmas day if you are an NFL fan. Only two days in, and several teams have made some big moves, some are looking, and some are being smart and re-signing their own. LT is no longer a charger, something that will take the entire NFL world years of getting used to. Most of us can't imagine Tomlinson running in anything other than powder blue and a tinted visor. Strange days indeed.
Both owners and players are leery of the up coming un-capped year. NFL owners are worried of over paying, and NFL players are worried about under earning. Surprisingly the two teams that have been the quietest so far are the two teams that everyone expected to go nuts. Jerruh Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, and Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins have been eerily silent, while others have simply dived into the deep end of the pool.
Follow DBI during the off season as we will update the moves taking place throughout the entire off season.
Chicago Bears: I had a hard time deciding who made the bigger moves in the NFC north, or the NFL thus far as far as that goes, but I had to give it to the Bears to this point. Some say Peppers isn't what he used to be, and that maybe the Bears shot a little over the bow on this one, but I say not. Julius Peppers was by far the best free agent to be had, and the Bears think so as well signing him to a six year deal worth a possible $91.5 million, with a history making $47 million of that guaranteed. He will instantly shore up an already solid defensive front. With Urlacher hopefully healthy and back in the mix, and Briggs signed for the next few years, throw in Tommie Harris, and you have a defense that will no doubt have opposing offensive coordinators swallowing antacids by the handfuls.
Defense secured, the Bears also helped with much needed depth at running back with Chester Taylor signing a 4 year $12.5 million contract as well. This I think is what I liked about the Bears the most in free agency. Chester Taylor is a first string back on just about any NFL team, but he is a great role player as proven with his years in Minnesota running with Adrian Peterson. Forte was all the bears had really, and they now have breathing room with Taylor on the depth chart. I've always loved to watch Chester Taylor play football because he is so versatile coming out of the backfield. I really like this signing by the Bears, and besides he's already used to running around in a back field with a guy named Adrian Peterson. Throw in Brandon Manumaleuna and the Bears are already much improved on offense. Manumaleuna will be a great addition as a blocking tight end to help open up holes for the new look backfield.
Detroit Lions: Do we really think that the Lions can sign people and get better? Well every crap team that has gotten better over the years had to start somewhere right? The Lions came out on the opening bell of free agency swinging both fists signing Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams and Nate Burleson. Vanden Bosch and Burleson may be on the aging side, but they are still a great addition to a team that really can't go anywhere but up right? Burleson still has game along with speed and will be a nice compliment to Calvin Johnson and another veteran receiver for young QB Matthew Stafford to work with.
As for Vanden Bosch and Williams, this will strengthen a weak defensive line. Vanden Bosch has been a solid starter for the Titans, and now with Williams moving back inside where he belongs (as opposed to being moved to a DE in a 3-4 with Cleveland) that could prove to be a strong duo that instantly upgrades a big area of concern for the Lions. The Corey Williams signing probably doesn't knock the Lions out of the running for Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh either. Should they grab one or the other, that Lions DL will be a massive upgrade on the 2009 version.
Baltimore Ravens: Anquan Boldin was a HUGE need for the Ravens and everyone knew it. After hearing rumors that Terrell Owens might be headed back to the team he shunned to eventually land with the Eagles, the Ravens silenced those rumors by acquiring who may be one of the most talented wide receivers in the league. This is a win win for everyone involved. It was no secret that Boldin has been disgruntled in Arizona for the past two seasons, and that the Ravens have been a solid receiver away from being a really good offensive team. The Cardinals get a 2010 third and fourth round pick, while Joe Flacco gets a stellar receiver to improve his stats and confidence. Baltimore is now able to look beyond a WR in round 1 and address other areas of concern.
Cleveland Browns: Finally they sign the best guy on their entire roster, and it's about time. Josh Cribbs was practically the only offense the Browns had for the past two seasons. His contract has been a hot topic for a couple of years now, but now both he and the Browns can sleep a little easier knowing he's locked up for the next three years at a cool $20 million with $7.5 of it guaranteed. Nice job Cleveland, signing Cribbs was a must. You may have had complete anarchy had you not?
In addition to re-signing Cribbs, Mike Holmgren has also brought in Scott Fujita (details not yet released) and also signed veteran 49ers offensive lineman Tony Pashos for 3 years and $10 million.
New York Giants: After being talked about for several days, the New York Giants have indeed acquired the services of former Arizonal Cardinals DB Antrell Rolle. Making him one of the highest paid safeties in the league, the G-men have shelled out a whopping $37 million with $15 guaranteed on a five year deal. If Phillips is able to return at 100 % the Giants will be more than stable at the safety position, a black eye for the 2009 version.
New York Jets: With loads of both on field and off field issues the Jets have taken a chance on DB Antonio Cromartie formerly of the San Diego Chargers. Cromartie who flourished under then defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has since regressed into an average corner back at best. Hopefully under the influence of Rex Ryan, Cromartie can regain the form that brought him the fame under Wade Phillips. Playing opposite Revis Island is going to mean Cromartie gets picked on. Even so that'll put the Jets out of the running for a CB in round 1.
Miami Dolphins: After 6 solid seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, and having cut All Pro Joey Porter, the Dolphins sacked Karlos Dansby with a five-year deal worth $43 million, including $22 million guaranteed. Dansby will give some instant veteran leadership and hard hitting football to an otherwise soft defensive front.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have reportedly struck a deal with Dunta Robinson. Although details have not yet been released, Robinson will be a Falcon in 2010... and the buyers list for first round CBs just had Atlanta's scratched off. And Houston added.
Other teams keeping things in house and re-signing their own players:
New England Patriots: The Patriots did the right thing after some talk they may not, and signed Vince Wilfork to a five year deal woth $40 million.
Indianapolis Colts: After a few days of keeping the fans in Limbo the Colts anteed up and re-signed veteran middle linebacker and team leader and Captain Gary Brackett to a five year $33 million dollar deal, and they also released long time back up quarter back Jim Sorgi.
Philadelphia Eagles: Long time linebacker Will Witherspoon was released, and fullback Leonard Weaver was retained for a reported $11 million dollar contract extension.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers have reached a deal with let tackle Chad Cliffton for 3 years and $20 million. Let's hope he plays up to that contract. Packers o-line was a sore spot for them in 2009, and all but needed an overhaul. Maybe a new deal will kick start a new way of thinking, and more important a new found production out of their offensive line in 2010.
Denver Broncos: No major signings really, but they have chosen to keep several guys in house. J.J. Arrington, after sitting out most of 2009 with a knee injury (and was in fact released), will be brought back for at least camp in 2010. Also lineman Russ Hochstein and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd will be retained.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags have signed veteran defensive lineman Aaron Kampman formerly of the Green Bay Packers. Kampman had 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble for the Packers in 2009. He's much better suited to the 4-3 and should dramatically improve the Jags woeful pass rush. This could affect the first round as the Jags are often linked with a pass rushing DE with the #11 pick. Hard to see them going that way now.
Pittsburgh Steelers: A surprising free agency player in that the Steelers very rarely do much other than try to keep their own guys. They smartly signed NT Casey Hampton before he could land on an open market with a barrage of newly converted 3-4 Defenses looking for a NT. In the last 48 hours they've also done their usual trick and managed to re-sign S Ryan Clark to a long term deal. They're also bringing back at least one other former player, but this one's been away a while. Antwaan Randle-El. They'e in talks with ILB Larry Foote too. In addition they've picked up S Will Allen and WR Arnaz Battle. Randle-El, Battle and Allen should help shore up one of the worst special teams coverage units in the league. This is about as active as the Steelers have ever got this early in free agency season but none of the guys they picked up makes much difference to their draft plans. Re-signing Clark reduces their need for a Safety a little but their depth is so poor there they could still use their first round pick on a guy like Earl Thomas.
In other NFL free agency news, Jake Delhomme was released by the Carolina Panthers, Antwan Randle El was a casualty in Washington, as was Fred Smoot, and Justin Fargas has been released by the Oakland Raiders. David Carr has signed with the San Francisco 49ers and former Philly backup QB A.J. Feeley has signed with the St. Louis Rams.
Last Edited: 03/08/2010