March 18, 2012

Early NFL Free Agency Winners and Losers

By - Kris Fletcher

Although proclaiming winners and losers this early in the free agency period is like trying to project the final score of a game after only one quarter, several teams have clearly made big splashes with multiple acquisitions over the first week.

Meanwhile, other clubs haven't been quite so lucky.

Here's a look at some of the early winners and losers in the annual free agent frenzy.


1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - After a 10-win campaign in 2010, the Buccaneers fell to 4-12 last season, costing head coach Raheem Morris his job. In response to their sub-par year, the organization has been very aggressive in free agency. They signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks, cornerback Eric Wright and backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky. The smart move was getting more resources for starting QB Josh Freeman. Nicks will help keep the pocket clean with his blocking, and Jackson gives Freeman a much needed big downfield target.

Photo by: Getty Images
2. St. Louis Rams - The Rams have added cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive end Kendall Langford and offensive lineman Scott Wells. All of St. Louis' signings are among the best available in free agency. Langford in particular is one of the better underrated pick ups thus far. And of course, there's also the blockbuster of a trade the Rams made with the Washington Redskins. By moving down four spots in the draft, St. Louis picked up two future first round choices as well as an additional second round pick this season. In short, that's three more potential impact players in the next 25 months that they didn't have before.

3. Washington Redskins - I know, I know. The Redskins gave up a lot to the Rams in order to move up in the draft, but they've also made some solid additions to this point in free agency. Washington went 2-for-3 in upgrading the receiving corps, adding Pierre Garcon as a downfield threat and Josh Morgan as a possession receiver. They tried to get Eddie Royal, but the San Diego Chargers landed him. Still, that gives coach Mike Shanahan the option of keeping Santana Moss and using him in the slot. The team also added hard-hitting safety Brandon Meriweather, which should definitely help in the secondary.


1. Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins are the clear losers to this point in free agency, because for some reason, nobody wants to go there. Initially, they were thought to be the front-runners in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, but they've already been informed they're out. So in the last two years, Miami has failed to bring in coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jeff Fisher, and now Manning. Plan B at quarterback was Matt Flynn, but he just signed with the Seattle Seahawks. The team also traded away Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall for virtually nothing. Have fun going 4-12 fellas.

2. New Orleans Saints - For starters, the $14.4 million franchise tag number given to QB Drew Brees certainly handcuffed the team's efforts of trying to re-sign all of their top free agents. They kept wideout Marques Colston, but lost receiver Robert Meachem and the aforementioned Carl Nicks. Now, New Orleans awaits a big draft choice penalty for the pay-for-hit controversy. They could possibly lose a high pick in the upcoming draft, and their 2013 first-rounder isn't safe either. Ouch.

3. Arizona Cardinals - Much like the Dolphins, Arizona makes the list primarily due to who they weren't able to bring in, as opposed to who they've lost. The team put on a full-court press to land Peyton Manning, but unlike the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos, they had a time limit. Friday was the deadline regarding whether to keep or cut quarterback Kevin Kolb, and because they had yet to reel in Manning, the Cardinals decided to pay Kolb's $7 million roster bonus instead of releasing him. Now they're stuck hoping he plays better than last season. Uhh, yeah, good luck with that.

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