Sunday, August 07, 2011

2011 NFL Free Agent signings

Soooo, part of having a blog is to actually, you know, write on it from time to time. As I've pointed out in previous posts the blog was really starting to drag, especially with the lockout in place and with other stuff to do it became a back seat issue. But I think I'm starting to get over that hump a little now. Free agency has seen a lot of movement and I'm starting to get excited again as the football season close in once more.

With that said, I'm going to have a quick look at some of the free agent signings etc that have taken place so far. This is not a comprehensive list, just some of the ones that more caught my attention. We'll do it alphabetically by city so we end up starting with Arizona;

Arizona Cardinals
Tight End, Jeff King -- previously of the Panthers, King isn't a huge name or anything, but he has a pretty safe pair of hands so I like this pick up,
Linebacker, Stewart Bradley -- formerly of the Eagles, Bradley I think is a nice addition to a linebacking that suffered a lot last year after some of the departures of its key members from 2009 through free agency and retirement.
Tight End, Todd Heap -- Ahhh! Previously of the Ravens, I have a lot of respect for Todd Heap. I'm actually a little surprised the Ravens let him go (though they have young tight ends from the 2010 draft) because Heap is still a great tight end. He may be getting a little old and yeah, he's not as fast as someone like Vernon Davis or even a Dallas Clark, but he has a lot left to give back to his team and that's a real plus for the Cardinals.

Atlanta Falcons
Defensive End, Ray Edwards -- From the Vikings, this is a great signing. That defensive line was looking dangerous last year and Edwards just makes that more so the case this season. He wasn't getting much press in Minnesota thanks to the presence of Jared Allen on the opposite end of the line, but now Edwards has the opportunity to make a name for himself. A five year year deal worth as much as $30 million isn't all that bad either, especially when only $11 million is guaranteed.

Baltimore Ravens
-- Have barely stirred and nothing to write home about.

Buffalo Bills
Quarterback, Tyler Thigpen -- I really like Ryan Fitzpatrick and I presume the Bills do the same, so I can't see Thigpen getting into the team week 1. Thigpen is just a year younger than the 28 year old Fitzpatrick so it's not like they're laying the ground work for the future either, which is why I'm a little surprised about how excited people seem to be getting over Thigpen.
Linebacker, Nick Barnett -- This I can see better. Barnett is a veteran with a Super Bowl ring who I think can help this team as much away from the field as on it. Though I still think the Bills are worse off without Posluszny.
Wide Receiver, Brad Smith -- Now this is a little better. I think Smith is an interesting candidate when thrown into Wildcat/Single Wing formations, predominantly for his speed and because he can actually thrown, so he's more likely to make people respect the possibility of a pass. That speed I mentioned could be a real asset for the Bills in receiver mood, but I haven't seen enough of his actual route running, pass catching ability to comment on that. Might not be the super hit a lot of people think he will be.

Carolina Panthers
Tight End, Greg Olson -- I was worried about Carolina because they lost most of their tight ends to free agency but this more than makes up for it. I'm not sure if Chicago realises just how much they've let go by letting Olson get snapped up elsewhere. This will help Cam Newton. In general though it was who the Panthers resigned among their own current crop that was probably more important (DeAngelo Williams, Charles Johnson).

Chicago Bears
Wide Receiver, Roy Williams -- I know Williams has drawn a lot of criticism. But as with all things in sport you need to look under the surface to find the answers. Much of that criticism has to do with his status as a first round pick coupled with the Cowboys over paying to get him. None of that should detract from the fact that Williams is actually a good player. For a free agent he can offer a team a lot, and he certainly walks into Chicago and immediately becomes the number one guy. I'm sorry, but that's just a fact.
Wide Receiver, Sam Hurd -- Joining Williams is his other Cowboys team mate, Sam Hurd. I happen to be a bit of a Hurd fan. I know that seems silly because he doesn't catch many passes, but I think Hurd is more a victim of his environment, where he's been surrounded by great receivers, or at least receivers who attract more attention than he does. It's the same problem that Patrick Crayton had. And I think Hurd walks into Chicago and becomes the immediate legit number 2. As you can see, I don't really have a lot of respect for the Bears previous receiver corps.

Cincinnati Bengals
Quarterback, Bruce Gradkowski -- This is the only one that really jumped out at me. I happen to like Gradkowski. Is he the saviour of the Bengals? Erm, no probably not. Will he be better than Carson Palmer? That's debatable. But I do think it was a good idea to pick up Gradkowski and at least give the Bengals the choice of which way to go with their quarterback situation this season.

Cleveland Browns
Running Back, Brandon Jackson -- Formerly of the Packers, I like this signing. This gives the Browns a bit of depth, alongside Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty. Jackson wasn't a bad running back, he just played for the Packers who, let's face it, aren't exactly a huge running team.

Dallas Cowboys
-- Nothing really of note. It was more about the players that they re-signed, like Marcus Spears, Doug Free and Terrence Newman.

Denver Broncos
Defensive Tackle, Ty Warren -- I'm a little surprised just how much money the Broncos parted with for Warren. $10 million over two years? Alright, so only about a quarter of that is guaranteed but I'd be interested to know what the performance based bonuses were. Not sure if he's going to pay back the love they've given him.
Tight End, Donte Rosario -- I have a soft spot for the former Panthers trio Rosario, Barnidge and King (I know Barnidge is staying). They soldiered on unappreciated while Steve Smith took all the headlines so it's more of a case of me wanting Rosario to do well than anything else. I think he will.
Running Back, Willis McGahee -- I still can't believe the Ravens let him go? McGahee is a quality back in my estimation, who along with Le'Ron McClain helped to take the load off of Ray Rice. Still, what's done is done and the Broncos have snapped themselves up a good back. Looking at their roster, McGahee may become a key player in their offense.

Detroit Lions
-- Again, the biggest signings they made were mostly resigning their own guys etc.

Green Bay Packers
-- Ditto the above

Houston Texans
Cornerback, Jonathan Joseph -- If there was one thing that the Texans needed to fix and needed to fix badly, it was their secondary. Joseph marks a hug step in the right direction for Gary Kubiaks side. Joseph is an above average corner with pretty good instincts and pretty good hands. I've said it before and I'll say it again; if the Texans O can repeat its previous excellent performances then that D only needs to get a little bit better. The combination of this signing along with a pretty good draft could help the Texans make the playoffs this year.

Indianapolis Colts
Defensive Tackle, Tommie Harris -- Interesting choice if I'm honest. Harris's sack tally has progressively declined as his career has worn on. Not sure what the Colts hope to get out of him and barring a sudden turn around in performance, I think the Colts will regret this signing. I'm surprised frankly, I thought they'd make more on an effort on to improve the defensive side of the team.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Safety, Dawan Landry -- Landry had a great 2009, at least by his normal standards, but 2010 was a bit of a let down. He got in plenty of tackles put didn't really have much of an impact beyond that. People are criticising the Ravens for letting him go but honestly I think they have better, younger options up their sleeve. I think the Jaguars might have been duped here.
Linebacker, Clint Session -- The Jaguars have forked out nearly $6 million a year (if all bonuses are met) for session, which I find quite laughable. No way would I pay Clint Session anywhere near that. Yes, he has done some good work for the Colts, but I emphasise the words "some" and "good". As opposed to "lots of" and "great". If I was a Jaguars fan, I'd be cringing at this signing. Really cringing hard.
Linebacker, Paul Poslusnzy -- The Session deal was big but the Posluszny deal is even bigger. I'm pretty stunned at just how much they paid him but actually I think Posluszny is good. He'll probably have difficulty living up to the high price tag but that's the Jaguars dumb fault. He's still a good player and more to the point, I think he has room for growth. We've only seen the start of this guy, trust me.

Kansas City Chiefs
Fullback, Le'Ron McClain -- As espoused earlier, I like McClain and I don't think he gets anywhere near the credit he deserves for what he did with the Ravens. In a league where fullbacks are falling out of favour, McClain is possibly one of the last of a dying breed. He should make a great lead blocker for Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, giving the Chiefs a bit of punch in their running game. Hopefully he'll get the chance to carry more than he did in Baltimore.
Wide Receiver, Steve Breaston -- Ever since the magic of Kurt Warner was revived out on the desert, Breaston has thrived. He may not be the big, deep shot type of guy that will rack up the touchdowns, but then the Chiefs don't need that. They have Dwayne Bowe to fill that role. Breaston should make a great number two compliment.

Miami Dolphins
Running Back, Reggie Bush -- Ok, so this was a trade but its worth mentioning. Bush has put up some nice numbers considering his limited use, courtesy mainly of the expansive and high powered Saints offense. He's also shown in his time that he's not really much a utility back and to be honest I'd rather have Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Failing that, I'd still rather have someone else than Reggie Bush.
Quarterback, Matt Moore -- Tyler Thigpen replacement. This practically like for like, except I think Moore is a little younger. I'm sure Dolphins fans are hanging off their seats to watch him play. Or that might just be everyone waiting to rush to the bathroom to throw up. Or to hit twitter and complain that their team hasn't traded the world for Kyle Orton.
Linebacker, Kevin Burnett -- Now we're talking. Four years, $10 million guaranteed is not a lot for a player like Burnett. Really came into his own last season with six sacks and demonstrated his ability to play in space against the pass. Combine this with the likes of Koa Misi, Cameron Wake and Karlos Dansby, and the Dolphins have a solid linebacking corps in place for 2011.

Minnesota Vikings
-- Nothing really of note. I think I've already covered the McNabb deal.

New England Patriots
Wide Receiver, Chad Ochocinco -- I've already covered the whole Albert Haynesworth deal, so now it's just a case of addressing Chad. My, my, Bill Belichick is really going for it this year. First Haynesworth and now this? He's certainly not afraid to take on players with big egos and try to make gold out of shit. But maybe I'm being too hard on Chad. Fun fact; in the last 9 seasons, Chad has topped 1000+ yards seven times. He only really falls short of this number when he misses a few games through injury or suspension. But other than that, Chad is actually a much, much better receiver than people give him credit for. The genius of Belichick surfacing maybe?

New Orleans Saints
Running Back, Darren Sproles -- Sproles is an interesting proposition because his playing style is very similar to that of the outgoing Reggie Bush. Except he's cheaper (4 years/$14 million) and he can actually block. Other than that though, the Saints have basically grabbed the same type of player. It'll be interesting to see what Sean Payton has up his sleeve for Sproles (must avoid any jokes about pain killers).
Defensive Tackle, Aubrayo Franklin -- I love Aubrayo Franklin, because he somehow manages every season to dodge the award for most over rated player, which usually ends up going to Brian Urlacher. It should go to Franklin. He's previously been franchised, but god knows why. As a 49ers fan I can confidently tell you that watching Franklin requires you not to blink, because if you do then you may just miss the once in a season moment when he actually does something useful.

New York Giants
Tight End, Ben Patrick -- I'm going to throw some love out there for Ben Patrick. I like tight ends (that just sounded wrong) and Ben Patrick I think is a young player with a lot of potential to take on more of a load in the passing game than he did in Arizona. Still, I think if I was the Giants I would rather spend to bring back Kevin Boss, but there you go. Come to think of it, why hasn't Kevin Boss signed with anyone?

New York Jets
Wide Receiver, Plaxico Burress -- Blimey. Rex Ryan was scraping the barrel looking for a Braylon Edwards replacement. One year deal, $3 million. I guess that there isn't a huge amount that can go wrong with this and if it does, it matters little. It'll be interesting to see how much Burress has lost in his time in prison.

Oakland Raiders
-- Seriously, I'm not wasting time talking about Trent Edwards. No, I won't do it.

Philadelphia Eagles
Tight End, Donald Lee -- I did a post about the Eagles the other day, but since then they've been even more busy. Starting with Tight End Donald Lee who has slipped under the radar somewhat. Is he a breakout tight end who's going to tear the field to pieces? Erm, probably not if I'm honest. But he is a good player and he deserves his chance with the Eagles "Dream Team". He's a solid blocker and pass catcher.
Defensive Tackle, Anthony Hargrove -- Could be a bit hit and miss, but given the state of the Eagles interior line in recent years, the combination of Hargrove and Cullen Jenkins could change that. The Dream Team hype is looking more and more well founded with each passing day.
Running Back, Ronnie Brown -- Wow! Brown has undeniable talent and may indeed be one of the more under rated backs in the league. Forget the wildcat, Brown is a good back even in your standard set up. We saw last season just how much of an advantage it is to the Eagles running game to have a quarterback like Vick around, so maybe Ronnie Brown is in for a big season?

Pittsburgh Steelers
-- Pretty much all just resigns. Unless you want to talk about John Gilmore from the Buccaneers?

San Diego Chargers
-- Mostly just resigns.

San Francisco 49ers
Cornerback, Carlos Rogers -- The 49ers D has some things going in its favour. But cornerbacks are probably not one of them. They're still not. I mean this is it? With all the corners on offer, this is what we got? Shit.
Wide Receiver, Braylon Edwards -- Yay? The sad fact is that Edwards walks on to this 49ers team and he's automatically the number one guy. Only one 1000+ yard season out of seven. We could have got Chad Ochocinco!!

Seattle Scumbags
Wide Receiver, Sidney Rice -- You have to hand it to Seattle, they're not afraid to throw their cash about when they absolutely have to (cough* c'mon Jed *cough). As has been the case with bringing in Sidney Rice, which instantly expands their passing attack. This is a great move by Seattle and could reap big dividends.
Quaterback, Tarvaris Jackson -- Ok, so maybe I spoke to soon. If the shambles in Minnesota didn't prove the point then nothing will. Brad Childress gave Jackson every chance to succeed and he didn't, even with a great receiving corps and Adrian Peterson on his side. Good luck Scumbags.
Defensive Lineman, Alan Branch -- Hmmm, I'm a little undecided. Maybe the Seahawks were after inside information on the Cardinals D? Ok, I'm joking, but there is a question to be asked here. Branch is ok, but hardly jumps out as a big signing. I'm not sure as he's really worth $8 million over two seasons.
Tight End, Zach Miller -- This is much better. I almost feel sorry for Seahawks fans in a way, because the team has taken some big steps in the right direction by acquiring quality players in Miller and Sidney Rice. It's just a shame they don't have a quality player throwing them the ball.

St. Louis Rams
Running Back, Jerious Norwood -- I can dig this signing, mainly on the principal that it gives Steven Jackson a chance to have a break every now and then, instead of being flogged to death as he was previously. Norwood is a capable back who has had the chance to learn under Michael Turner.
Cornerback, Al Harris -- Beating the grave for another season, Al Harris brings experience to the Rams defense. Lots of experience (36). Will he be able to capture his old form for one last hurrah with a team that has a good shout at winning the NFC West championship this year? I'm not sure, but Harris is a significant upgrade. That probably says more about the Rams secondary though than it does about Al Harris.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
-- Boring. Almost entirely resigns.

Tennessee Titans
Quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck -- Hasselbeck gets a fair amount of stick, but honestly he's a lot better than anything the Titans have seen in years. He's better than anything that the Seahawks have left behind or have brought in to fill the gap. Frankly he's one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, although I'm sure there will be people willing to dispute that. If you're a Titans fan though, I suggest you start smiling, even if it's only forced. Hasselbeck has the ability to take this offense to a level it hasn't achieved in years. He may just provide the sufficient degree of accuracy and consistency that this team needs to take some of the heat off of Chris Johnson.

Washington Redskins
Running back, Tim Hightower -- The Redskins haven't exactly been shy about spending this year. Hightower though came in a trade so that helps the bank balance a little. He's not a bad back. I'm not sure what the Redskins are hoping he will do, but setting the world alight probably isn't one of them.
Defensive End, Stephen Bowers -- Formerly of the Cowboys. Now be truthful, hands up if you knew who he was? No only keep your hand up if you can explain to me why the Redskins would pay him over $25 million across 5 years, with $12 million guaranteed? For what, 5.5 career sacks and 72 combined tackles over a 5 year career? Fucking Redskins, always good for a laugh.
Defensive Tackle, Barry Cofield -- Formerly of the Giants. Now this, this I can understand! Cofield equals a good defensive tackle. But still only got the same guaranteed money as Bowers? What? You're shitting me! At least his overall contract works out at about a half million dollars more per season. And yeah, I do legitimately like Cofield and think this was a good signing.
Cornerback, Josh Wilson -- For three years @ $6 million guaranteed and potentially $13 million overall, Wilson is not bad. Is he the answer to the Redskins prayers? ... No. But he is a step in the right direction and was much cheaper than some corners and by the general standard of the Redskins with their track record in free agency, this is pretty good.

Right, that's it. 32 teams done. Yeah there's probably been some deals done even as a type this but, frankly, fuck that. Go to Which actually brings up a good point. Last year I poured a lot of time into this blog and only at the end realised that much of it was kind of wasted.

For example, if you're a big enough football fan to read this blog, chances are you already use the TV and Internet to find out scores, watch games and highlights etc, and don't need me to do recaps. Comments, maybe. Opinions, maybe. Highlighting those unsung defensive heroes who get no love from the networks, maybe. But not scores or game recaps.

So that's where I'm headed this year, more towards opinion pieces etc and away from the stuff you could just get elsewhere. Not now though. It's 2:12 am, Sunday, here in England. I got up at 5:30 am, Saturday. I need sleep. Night, night.

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