2009 Free Agency Review

(Philadelphia, Pa) – Free Agency comes in like a quick storm at 12:01 AM on the first day and it soon slows down about a week later.  With March 4th marking the ending of the first week of Free Agency, I thought it was a good time to take a look back at the initial feeding frenzy around the NFL. 

Remember there is still a long way to go before training camps open in July so teams have plenty of time to reshape their rosters.  But I am a firm believer in using the NFL Draft to build a team.  Having a nucleus of homegrown talent fortified by draft picks builds cohesion, which is essential in building perennial winners.  Too often history has shown too many new free agents is usually not the best way of catching up with the rest of the league.

 Best Signing

St. Louis Rams C/G Jason Brown — The St. Louis Rams signing of versatile center/guard Jason Brown from the Ravens showed that new head coach Steve Spagnuolo was looking for a cornerstone player and he got one.  Coming off a stellar 2008 season, Brown wanted to be paid as if he was one of the NFL’s top centers and he was by the Rams. Brown signed a five-year, $37.5 million (w/ $20 million guaranteed) contract. The Rams beat the Ravens and Eagles to the punch for one of the NFL’s ascending interior lineman, who barely missed out on the Pro Bowl in ’08.  The Rams offensive line got a much-needed boost and often-injured quarterback Marc Bulger should be feeling better.

Honorable Mention:  Cardinals re-signing QB Kurt Warner, Jets signing LB Bart Scott from the Ravens, and Washington Redskins signing DT Albert Haynesworth

Worst Signing

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall – I know that Redskins owner Dan Snyder puts his checkbook where his mouth is, but he went overboard signing inconsistent DeAngelo Hall to a six year, $55 million deal ($23 million guaranteed) when there was really no clamoring for the talkative corner was unnecessary.  If you remember back in November of 2008, Hall who had been traded to the Raiders –signed seven-year, $70 million contract with $24.5 million guaranteed — was released by the Oakland after “he failed to adapt to the Raiders’ man-to-man style of defense.  Hall was regularly beaten and was known to be a malcontent in the locker-room.  Hopefully the Redskins get more out of him than $8 million ($7 million signing bonus and $1 million in base salary) for eight games that the Raiders got.

Winners

Denver Broncos – New head coach Josh McDaniels is going about building his team in free agency as the Broncos signed 8 players and counting.  Among the top-level players relocating to the Rockies were S Brian Dawkins (Eagles), RB Correll Buckhalter (Philadelphia), RB JJ Arrington (Arizona), RB LaMont Jordan (Patriots), WR Jabbar Gaffney (New England), S Renaldo Hill (Miami), LS Lonie Paxton (New England), DT Darrell Reid (Indianapolis), CB Andre Goodman (Miami), DT Ronald Fields (San Francisco) and LB Andra Davis (Browns).  I like the signing of Dawkins, as he will bring leadership to a young team and coach.  Now McDaniels will need to soothe quarterback Jay Cutler’s ego as his star learned he was almost out of town for Matt Cassel.

Kansas City Chiefs — The Chiefs boosted their roster by adding 2008 wonder quarterback Matt Cassel for the value price of a 2nd round pick going to New England.  Chiefs new GM Scott Pioli knew that the Chiefs needed a signal-caller, so he called his old buddy Bill Belichick and got the Patriots “franchised” quarterback.  Cassel should work well with young receiver Dwayne Bowe plus boost the spirits of malcontent tight end Tony Gonzalez.  The Chiefs also brought in veteran LB Mike Vrabel (traded for a conditional pick) to teach the “Patriot” way to a young locker-room.

New York Jets — New head coach Rex Ryan waited in the driveway of prized linebacker Bart Scott to get a deal done.  Ryan knew Scott well from their days with the Ravens and now Scott, who was six years younger than veteran LB Ray Lewis, will bring his swagger to the Big Apple.  Scott was also joined by another former Ravens teammate, safety Jim Leonhard.  The hard working Leonhard replace injured starter Dawan Landry well in Baltimore and did a great job returning kicks.  Leonhard will join existing Jets starter Kerry Rhodes to form a tough combo for Ryan’s new attacking defense. The Jets also acquired CB Lito Sheppard from the Eagles for a 5th Rd pick and he should be rejuvenated playing next to Pro Bowl corner Darrell Revis.

New York Giants – Proving you can never have enough defense, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin brought in more disruptors.  The G-Men signed Cowboys DE Chris Canty, Seahawks DT Rocky Bernard and Falcons LB Michael Boley to go with Umenyiora, Tuck, Kiwanuka, Robbins and rest of the gang.

Losers

Baltimore Ravens – Got leader LB Ray Lewis back and signed veteran center Matt Birk, but they have a lot of holes to fill with the loss of Scott, Brown, and Leonhard.  Also I am not sure if corner Dominique Foxworth is physical enough to replace departed corner Chris McAllister.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Entered free agency with the most under the cap in the NFL ($41 Million under) and visions of signing Albert Haynesworth, but all they have to show for it so far is RB Derrick Ward (NY Giants) and K Mike Nugent (Jets).  They also spent a lot on signing underachievers QB Luke McCown, WR Michael Clayton, and DT Ryan Simms.  It will be real interesting to see how franchised WR Antonio Bryant and recently traded for TE Kellen Winslow (Browns) get along.

Philadelphia Eagles – The Birds have let go of too many quality veterans this off-season in RB Correll Buckhalter, S Brian Dawkins, and OT Tra Thomas when the younger players at their positions may not be ready to step up.  However I did like signing veteran right tackle Stacy Andrews (right guard Shawn Andrews’ older bro) to replace broken-down warrior Jon Runyan.

 Best Available 

1. QB Byron Leftwich – This big (6’6) passer has the arm and smarts to still be a starter in the NFL.  If he doesn’t receive a good offer soon look for him to go back to being a backup in Pittsburgh.

2. OT Tra Thomas – Even at age 34, Thomas still is a quality left tackle in the NFL.  He only allowed 2 sacks in 2008 and this former Pro Bowl player is an excellent pass blocker.

3. DE Demetric Evans — A versatile two-way end, who can rush the passer and hold his ground on running plays.

4. LB Kevin Burnett – Came on strong for Dallas at the end of the 2008 season.  Very good in the nickel and on special teams plus can get after the quarterback on blitzes.

5. FB Leonard Weaver – Great hands, Solid Blocker, and is good in short yardage.  Probably would still be in Seattle if Mike Holmgren stuck around.

Others: OT Mark Tauscher QB Chris Simms, RB Kevin Jones, WR Ronald Curry, DT Igor Olshansky, S Sean Jones,

Hoping for a Chance in Training Camp

WR Terrell Owens, S Mike Brown, LB Willie McGinest, QB JT O’Sullivan, QB Jeff Garcia, RB Ahmad Green, TE Darnell Dinkins, LB Mike Peterson, CB Adam Jones, CB Duane Starks, S Lawyer Milloy, and K John Kasay

Status of 2009 Notable Free Agents

 Quarterbacks

Kyle Boller, UFA Baltimore Ravens  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

**Matt Cassel, UFA New England Patriots (Traded to Chiefs for a 2nd Rounder, #34)

Kerry Collins, UFA Tennessee Titans  (Re-Signed w/ Titans)

Jeff Garcia, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Rex Grossman, UFA Chicago Bears  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Byron Leftwich, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

J.P. Losman, UFA Buffalo Bills  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dan Orlovsky, UFA Detroit Lions (Signed w/ Texans)

JT O’Sullivan, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Chris Simms, UFA Tennessee Titans  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Kurt Warner, UFA Arizona Cardinals  (Re-Signed w/ Cardinals)

Running Backs

J.J. Arrington, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Signed w/ Broncos)

Tatum Bell, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Cedric Benson, UFA Cincinnati Bengals  (Re-Signed w/ Bengals)

Correll Buckhalter, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Signed w/ Broncos)

Warrick Dunn, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

DeShaun Foster, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Ahmad Green, UFA Houston Texans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Brandon Jacobs, UFA New York Giants (Re-Signed w/ Giants)

Edgerrin James, UFA Arizona Cardinals  (expected to be released)

Rudi Johnson, UFA Detroit Lions (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Kevin Jones, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3)

LaMont Jordan, UFA New England Patriots (Signed w/ Broncos)

Deuce McAllister, UFA New Orleans Saints (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Chris Perry, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dominic Rhodes, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Unsigned as of 3/3)

**Darren Sproles, UFA San Diego Chargers (Franchised)

Fred Taylor, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Signed w/ Patriots)

Derrick Ward, UFA New York Giants  (Signed w/ Buccaneers)

Fullbacks

Heath Evans, UFA New England Patriots  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Lorenzo Neal, UFA Baltimore Ravens  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Tony Richardson, UFA New York Jets  (Re-Signed w/ Jets)

Leonard Weaver, UFA Seattle Seahawks  (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Wide Receivers

Miles Austin, RFA Dallas Cowboys  (Tendered by Cowboys)

Hank Baskett, RFA Philadelphia Eagles (Tendered by Eagles)

Drew Bennett, UFA St. Louis Rams (Unsigned as of 3/3)

**Antonio Bryant, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Franchised)

Michael Clayton, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (Re-Signed w/ Bucs)

Ronald Curry, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jabar Gaffney, UFA New England Patriots (Signed w/ Broncos)

Joey Galloway, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Marvin Harrison, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Devery Henderson, UFA New Orleans Saints (Re-Signed w/ Saints)

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Signed w/ Seahawks)

Michael Jenkins, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Bryant Johnson, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Signed w/ Lions)  

Brandon Jones, UFA Tennessee Titans (Signed w/ SF 49ers) 

Brandon Lloyd, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dane Looker, UFA St. Louis Rams (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Justin McCareins, UFA Tennessee Titans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Shaun McDonald, UFA Detroit Lions (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Lance Moore, RFA New Orleans Saints (Tendered by Saints)

Terrell Owens, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jerry Porter, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Amani Toomer, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Javon Walker, UFA Oakland Raiders (Re-Signed w/ Raiders)

Nate Washington, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Signed w/ Titans)  

Reggie Williams, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Tight Ends

Mark Bruener, UFA Houston Texans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Dominique Byrd, RFA St. Louis Rams (Tendered by Rams)

Desmond Clark, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

Tony Curtis, RFA Dallas Cowboys (Tendered by Cowboys)

Owen Daniels, UFA Houston Texans (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Darnell Dinkins, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Bubba Franks, UFA New York Jets (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jeff King, RFA Carolina Panthers (Tendered by Panthers)

Jim Kleinsasser, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Re-Signed w/ Vikings) 

Ben Patrick, RFA Arizona Cardinals (Tendered by Cardinals)

Leonard Pope, RFA Arizona Cardinals (Tendered by Cardinals)

**Bo Scaife, UFA Tennessee Titans (Franchised)

L.J. Smith, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Jerramy Stevens, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

Daniel Wilcox, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

Offensive Line

OT Stacy Andrews, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Signed w/ Eagles)

OT Khalif Barnes, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)

C Matt Birk, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Signed w/ Ravens) 

C Jason Brown, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Signed w/ Rams)  

C/G Nick Cole, RFA Philadelphia Eagles (Tendered by Eagles)

OT Marc Colombo, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

OT Willie Colon, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Tendered – 1st Rd by Steelers) 

OG Jahri Evans, RFA New Orleans Saints (Tendered by Saints)

OT George Foster, UFA Detroit Lions (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

C Melvin Fowler, UFA Buffalo Bills (Unsigned as of 3/3)  

OG Pete Kendall, UFA Washington Redskins (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

OG Richie Incognito, RFA St. Louis Rams (Tendered low by Rams) 

OG Seth McKinney, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

OT Jon Runyan, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

C Jeff Saturday, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Re-Signed w/ Colts) 

OT Marvel Smith, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

**OT Max Starks, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Franchised)

OT Jon Stinchcomb, UFA New Orleans Saints (Re-Signed w/ Saints) 

OT Mark Tauscher, UFA Green Bay Packers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

OT Tra Thomas, UFA Philadelphia Eagles  (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

C Ben Wilkerson, UFA Atlanta Falcons  (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Defensive Line

Victor Adeyanju, RFA St. Louis Rams (Tendered low by Rams)

Rocky Bernard, UFA Seattle Seahawks (Signed w/ Giants)

Bertrand Berry, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

Demetric Evans, UFA Washington Redskins (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

Chris Canty, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Signed w/ Giants)

Tommie Harris, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

Albert Haynesworth, UFA Tennessee Titans (Signed w/ Redskins)    

Tank Johnson, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Stanley McClover, RFA Carolina Panthers (Tendered by Panthers)

Jerome McDougle, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Igor Olshansky, UFA San Diego Chargers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**Julius Peppers, UFA Carolina Panthers (Franchised) 

Kenny Peterson, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

DeWayne Robertson, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Antonio Smith, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Signed w/ Texans)

**Terrell Suggs, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Franchised) 

Jason Taylor, UFA Washington Redskins (Unsigned as of 3/3)

John Thornton, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Gabe Watson, RFA Arizona Cardinals (Tendered by Cardinals) 

Linebackers

Eric Barton, UFA New York Jets (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Monty Beisel, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

Michael Boley, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Signed w/ Giants)

Keith Brooking, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Signed w/ Cowboys)

Derrick Brooks, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**Karlos Dansby, UFA Arizona Cardinals (Franchised)

Andra Davis, UFA Cleveland Browns (Signed w/ Broncos)

Kalimba Edwards, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

James Farrior, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

Tyjuan Hagler, UFA Indianapolis Colts (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

**Leroy Hill, UFA Seattle Seahawks (Franchised)

Napoleon Harrison, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Larry Izzo, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3)       

D.D. Lewis, UFA Seattle Seahawks (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Ray Lewis, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Re-Signed w/ Ravens)

Willie McGinest, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Quentin Moses, ERFA Miami Dolphins (Tendered by Dolphins)

Mike Peterson, UFA Jacksonville Jaguars (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Junior Seau, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

Bart Scott, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Signed by Jets) 

Zach Thomas, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)       

Jonathan Vilma, UFA New Orleans Saints (Re-Signed w/ Saints)

Nate Webster, UFA Denver Broncos (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

Cornerbacks

CB Phillip Buchanon, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

CB/KR Chris Carr, UFA Tennessee Titans (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Cortland Finnegan, RFA Tennessee Titans (Tendered High by Titans) 

CB Domonique Foxworth, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Signed w/ Ravens)

CB Chris Gamble, UFA Carolina Panthers  (Re-Signed w/ Panthers)

CB Andre’ Goodman, UFA Miami Dolphins (Signed w/ Broncos)

CB Charles Gordon, RFA Minnesota Vikings  (Tendered by Vikings)

CB Jabari Greer, UFA Buffalo Bills (Signed w/ Saints) 

CB DeAngelo Hall, UFA Washington Redskins (Re-Signed w/ Redskins)

CB Joselio Hanson, RFA Philadelphia Eagles (Re-Signed w/ Eagles)

CB Corey Ivy, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

CB Eric King, UFA Tennessee Titans  (Signed w/ Lions)

CB Ty Law, UFA New York Jets (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Bryant McFadden, UFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

CB R.W. McQuarters, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)   

CB Justin Miller, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)     

CB Deltha O’Neil, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**CB Dunta Robinson, UFA Houston Texans (Franchised)

CB/KR Allen Rossum, UFA San Francisco 49ers (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

CB Duane Starks, UFA Oakland Raiders (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

Safeties

FS Mike Adams, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Will Allen, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)  

**FS Oshiomogho “O.J” Atogwe, UFA St Louis Rams (Franchised)

SS Atari Bigby, RFA Green Bay Packers (Tendered by Packers) 

SS Mike Brown, UFA Chicago Bears (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Brian Dawkins, UFA Philadelphia Eagles (Signed w/ Broncos)

SS Rodney Harrison, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Renaldo Hill, UFA Miami Dolphins (Signed w/ Broncos) 

SS Sean Jones, UFA Cleveland Browns (Unsigned as of 3/3)

SS Dawan Landry, RFA Baltimore Ravens (Tendered by Ravens)

SS/KR Jim Leonhard, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Signed w/ Jets)

FS Anthony Madison, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Tendered by Steelers)

SS Jon McGraw, UFA Kansas City Chiefs (Unsigned as of 3/3)

SS Lawyer Milloy, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

SS Jermaine Phillips, UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Unsigned as of 3/3)

SS James Sanders, UFA New England Patriots (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

SS Darren Sharper, UFA Minnesota Vikings (Unsigned as of 3/3) 

FS Anthony Smith, RFA Pittsburgh Steelers (Tendered by Steelers)

SS Roy Williams, UFA Dallas Cowboys (Unsigned as of 3/3)

FS Eugene Wilson, UFA Houston Texans (Re-Signed w/ Texans)

FS Gibril Wilson, UFA Oakland Raiders (Signed w/ Dolphins)

Kickers and Punters

PK John Carney, UFA New York Giants (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

PK Robbie Gould, UFA Chicago Bears  (Re-Signed w/ Bears)

**PK Shayne Graham, UFA Cincinnati Bengals (Franchised)

P Craig Hentrich, UFA Tennessee Titans (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

PK John Kasay, UFA Carolina Panthers (Unsigned as of 3/3)    

**P Michael Koenen, UFA Atlanta Falcons (Franchised)

P Sam Koch, RFA Baltimore Ravens (Tendered by Ravens)

PK Mike Nugent, UFA New York Jets (Signed w/ Buccaneers)

PK Matt Stover, UFA Baltimore Ravens (Unsigned as of 3/3)      

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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