Love/Hate NFL Free Agent Signings
By: Dylan Elder – Editor-in-Chief.
Needless to say, it has been quite the whirlwind of signings since 4pm ET on March 11th. More than a billion dollars has been thrown at Free Agents across the league, which is a testament to the popularity of the NFL and the eagerness to “win now” from the majority of clubs.
However, winning the offseason has absolutely no correlation towards winning actual NFL games. Remember the Miami Dolphins (Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Brian Hartline) last year? How about the Bills (Mario Williams, Mark Anderson) the year before? Even the Philadelphia Eagles “Dream Team” (Nnamdi Asomougha, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Vince Young) in 2011?
None of those teams made the playoffs the following year after making title-wave sized splashes once Free Agency opened. Buyer beware.
Love: Patriots Sign Darrelle Revis – 2 years, $32 million (really just 1 year, $12 million)
Only Bill Belichick could accomplish his goal of not overpaying for Aqib Talib (a ridiculous contract, but more on that later) and upgrade the position in the process. Despite being used improperly in Tampa Bay, Revis still graded out as the top corner in all of football last season according to Pro Football Focus. It’s not often that a player of his caliber becomes available, and when it happens, the good teams take advantage. Belichick will use Revis the same way he used Talib, by moving him around and completely taking away an opponents best option. The Patriots are notorious for taking away what the opponent does best, and Revis only allows them to expand/improve on their game plans.
Hate: Dolphins Sign Branden Albert – 5 years, $47.5 million ($25 million guaranteed)
It’s no secret that Miami needed to upgrade their offensive line, but was Branden Albert really the right man for the job? Consider this, when Andy Reid joined the Chiefs last year, Albert constantly butted heads with the coach and refused to switch tackle positions to make room for rookie Eric Fisher. In a vacuum, that’s not a huge deal. However, it is cause for concern. I would most definitely not overpay a guy with a bad attitude, especially when I can get (better, more talented) tackles Jared Veldheer or Eugene Monroe for $10 Million less.
Love/Hate: Broncos Sign Aqib Talib – 5 years, $57 million ($26 million guaranteed)
This move was a complete shock to the NFL world when news broke Tuesday night, and I love this signing for the Broncos in the short term. John Elway knows that Peyton Manning only has a year or two left in him and Denver is going all in to win a Super Bowl now. Talib dramatically upgrades their secondary and will be a key piece of the Broncos’ team this season… until he gets hurt in the AFC championship game. And that has been the problem with Talib over the course of his career: he’s not reliable. You know by now that the former Patriots CB bowed out in consecutive AFC Championship games because of injury (not to mention the several games he missed in the regular season in 2013). Not only that, but when he was with the Buccaneers, Talib failed numerous drug tests and was a complete and unreliable head-case. So while this move helps the Broncos in the short term, the likelihood of another mishap by Talib in the future is way too high to justify giving him $26 million guaranteed.
Love: Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign Alteraun Verner, Michael Johnson, and Josh McCown
The biggest headline that the Bucs have made so far this offseason was releasing All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis. But the reality is that cutting the star corner was an inevitable formality, not an unexpected surprise. New head coach Lovie Smith runs a “Tampa 2” defense that is built around zone coverage in the secondary. Playing Revis in that system shows utter ignorance of his abilities as a lockdown man-to-man corner, especially when you would have to pay him $16 million. So what do the Buccaneers do? They go get guys that fit their system. At 4 years, $26 million, Alteraun Verner looks like a total steal compared to what Aqib Talib got, and he fits the “Tampa 2” system like a glove. Michael Johnson, 11 sacks in 2012, injects a much needed pass rush into the Bucs’ defense and should help young DE’s (Adrian Clayborn, Da’Quan Bowers) learn the game a little bit better. And finally, the Josh McCown signing is a great move that’s low risk yet could yield a massive reward. If McCown plays like he did last year, the Buccaneers’ playoff chances improve exponentially.
Hate: Minnesota Vikings sign Everson Griffin (5 years, $42.5 million) and Linval Joseph (5 years, $31.5 million)
What are the Vikings trying to do here? I understand retaining home grown talent (Griffin) but to completely overpay? I don’t get it. Tying up upwards of seventy-million dollars over 10 years to just two slightly above average defensive lineman isn’t a recipe for success in the National Football League. And I don’t think the Minnesota defensive line will be better than it was last year. They are going to lose Jared Allen and Kevin Williams soon and even though Linval Joseph is younger, he’s not an upgrade.