Wednesday, March 18, 2009
2009 NFL Free Agency: Winners and Losers
The 2009 NFL Free agency period is starting to come to an end as most of the bigger named talent has been signed and there are only just a few players out there looking for teams to play with and either waiting for a call or looking at retirement. While there was a lot of money thrown around in this year’s free agency period, some teams, teams that threw out the most money didn’t do as well as some might think. Others, those teams that only selected a few players out of the free agent pool without breaking the bank, may have done better than those that spent nearly all they had to acquire some of the talent that was available.
The following is a look at the four best teams in free agency and the four worst teams in free agency so far during this free agent period.
1. New York Giants-The New York Giants had a mission going into free agency and that was to shore up what ended up being a weak point last season and that was their defensive line. With some questions on the defensive line (thanks to some injury problems) getting some help there was absolutely necessary and they went out and took care of it. Their free agent signings there, to include defensive end Chris Canty (formerly of Dallas), defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (formerly of Seattle) as well as defensive end Lee Vickers (formerly of Baltimore). The linebacker position was also shored up a bit thanks to the signing of outside linebacker Michel Boley (formerly of Atlanta). However, they did lose a few players including running back Derrick Ward (who went to Tampa Bay) along with safety James Butler (who went to the St. Louis Rams). Overall, getting help on defense was a great move and if these players end up filling some of the holes that they have it could be one of the better group of free agent acquisitions in the NFL this season.
2. Kansas City Chiefs-Everyone should have known that with former New England Patriots general manager Scott Pioli at the helm the Chiefs would be making some moves in free agency and sure enough, they made enough to at least make their team competitive during the 2009 season. Their biggest acquisition, quarterback Matt Cassel (from the Patriots) should not only compete for the starting job but win it and help take this team and their offense to another level. The acquisition of linebacker Mike Vrabel (formerly of the Patriots) will provide them some veteran leadership on defense which is what they desperately need. Those two players alone will greatly help this team out next season and should help them win more games.
3. New York Jets-Not only has the hiring of Rex Ryan helped this team out a lot but the acquisition of some key defensive players will give the Jets a big boost and get them closer to making the playoffs which is a possibility for this team now. Getting linebacker Bart Scott (from the Baltimore Ravens) will help out a lot in giving them a player who understands Ryan’s defense after having played in it for the past several seasons. The Jets also re-signed Jay Feely to help compete for the quarterback position which is now open thanks to the retirement of Brett Favre. With a new system and a strong defense in the works, this could be a team to watch next season and a team that could be even better (on defense) in 2009.
4. Seattle Seahawks-Seattle still has a lot to do but getting some help at the wide receiver position (thanks to the acquisition of T.J. Houshmandzadeh from the Cincinnati Bengals) and also got a little help on defense thanks to the signing of former Green Bay Packer defensive tackle Colin Cole. They also helped out their tight end position by getting former Detroit Lions tight end John Owens. They will need to do some work in the 2009 NFL Draft but they appear to be on the right track for fixing what was broke in 2008 and looking much better in 2009.
5. Houston Texans-The Texans are a team that is just a few pieces away from being one of the better teams in the NFL and if they wanted to move forward in 2009, they had to do something positive in free agency. So, they did. They signed Dan Orlovsky (former backup quarterback of the Detroit Lions) to help back up Matt Schaub following the trade of Sage Rosenfels to the Minnesota Vikings. They also signed former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Antonio Smith and he could give them a big boost on defense. Cutting some of their dead weight, i.e. Ahman Green, will help open up more opportunities for Steve Slayton and may also allow them to draft someone to help spell Slayton from time to time. The Texans are a team that is posed to move on to bigger and better things and they are certainly looking like a team that’s ready to make a run for the playoffs.
1. Chicago Bears-The Bears have done very little in free agency except sign former Carolina Panther offensive tackle/guard Frank Omiyale and former New Orleans Saint free safety Josh Bullocks. They did resign running back Kevin Jones who figures to be in their plans at running back next season to help spell Matt Forte and this was a good move. But with needs at the quarterback and wide receiver position being the most troubling and most glaring, the Bears have done nothing to remedy those problems in free agency and will go into the 2009 NFL season with a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball.
2. Tennessee Titans-Just losing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (to the Washington Redskins) is enough to put them on this list. However, the Titan’s also get a “failing” grade for allowing Chris Simms to walk and for their signing of Nate Washington who will probably be a less than stellar signing. The Titans should have done more to get a big name wide receiver and make sure that their defense was properly shored up after the loss of their best defensive player but they have done nothing to do that. Unless they have a spectacular draft, this team will take a tumble in 2009.
3. Green Bay Packers-Having to switch to a 3-4 defense should have prompted the Packers to be a little more active in free agency but the followed their norm and pretty much stayed out of the market and will now look to the draft to fill their needs. The only player that they have signed during the free agency period was free safety Anthony Smith (formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers) and he doesn’t help them out that much in the switch on defense. Green Bay needed to be active and they weren’t so they have easily taken a step back before the draft next month.
4. Washington Redskins-Sure, they got the biggest fish in free agency but they also paid a ton for him. They also paid a lot for cornerback DeAngelo Hall, much more than he was worth. The Redskins didn’t do much else to help shore up their team and once again went through free agency on a big spending spree and will probably watch these investments fail to pay the dividends that the Redskins thought that they would when the signed them.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars-The Jaguars are a team in need of help in several different areas but they really haven’t gotten themselves too much out of this year’s free agent crop and have probably lost much more than they have gained. Losing Khalif Barnes (to the Oakland Raiders) doesn’t help and neither does losing Fred Taylor (to the Patriots) even though Taylor was old and Maurice Jones Drew appears to be handling things quite well. They needed to do a lot more in free agency to help shore up the weak points on their team (especially on the offensive line) and they just didn’t do it. This team won’t be that great (again) in 2009.
By Bryan Dietzler