Time to pause for a brief moment and have a look back at what’s transpired in this free agency free-for-all through the eyes of the Pro Football Focus analysis team.
Collecting a few of the best and brightest in the building (insert joke here), I’ve asked for some quick responses to five burning questions. (Note – for what it’s worth, some were answered prior to Nnamdi’s decision.)
1. Of the players that have agreed to terms with new teams, fit-wise, which has you scratching your head most?
Neil: Purely fit-wise I’m not sure there’s too much that’s suspect but I must admit I’m still not sure how the Redskins will use Barry Cofield. He’s an excellent player who loves to stay on the field but if they think he translates to NT will they end up with a similar amount of egg on their face as the Dolphins did when they messed around trying Randy Starks at the position?
Sam: I like Barry Cofield, and I like the moves the Redskins have made, but together I don’t see it as the best match in the world. He has the ability to make it work, but asking him to 2-gap all day would be a waste.
Khaled: The Barry Cofield deal still surprises me. I imagine by cutting Kemoeatu and bringing in Bowen that means they’ll be switching from more two to one gap. But it’s a gamble if Cofield can make the transition, and something I’ll be keeping a close eye on.
Nathan: For me it would be Darren Sproles going to New Orleans. It felt like they were set after trading Bush with Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory. I know Sproles is pretty good at catching the ball out of the backfield, but so is Thomas. With the Falcons trying to win now, I thought the Saints could better spend their money.
2. Going in the other direction, which addition is the biggest immediate problem-solver?
Neil: It must be Johnathan Joseph to Houston. Excellent player, decent deal, big, big need.
Sam: Take your pick. The Eagles had struggled at corner and now have Aso, DRC and Samuel there – ouch! I also really like the Texans upgrading in the secondary with Jonathan Joseph and Danieal Manning so long as they use Manning deep not in the box.
Khaled: Has Aubrayo Franklin signed with the Chiefs? If and when that gets done it’s going to be the one. Outside of that, the Texans made two moves that took them a giant leap closer to the playoffs. Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph both have something to prove, but are both extremely talented.
Nathan: The Patriots getting Albert Haynesworth gives them a pass rush they’ve missed over the last two years. Pairing him up with Vince Wilfork gives them a great run stopping line as well. If Belichick can work his magic, he could be one of the best linemen in the league again for a Super Bowl contender.
3. With a large chunk of the battle being keeping your own guys, which successful re-signing has been the most important so far?
Neil: Charles Johnson staying with Carolina. Yes, it’s a huge deal but it was a statement of intent to get a player I thought was the number one in all Free Agency back. It signalled a wave of positive resigning for the Panthers and set the tone for a team that had to show they were to be reckoned with.
Sam: The Panthers needed to keep Charles Johnson and they did. They also spent a lot of their cap room locking up DeAngelo Williams and their LBs. They retained the core of good players they had on that roster.
Khaled: Charles Johnson. Boring I know, but he was my number two ranked player and the Panthers couldn’t afford to lose him. They paid more than I imagined, but he’s an elite defensive end.
Nathan: Marshal Yanda coming back to Baltimore is big for them after losing a number of players. Flacco is significantly better when there is no pressure on him, and Yanda does a good job keeping Flacco clean. He is also a great run blocker.
4. In this flurry of mixing and matching of players and teams, which player are you most interested to see in their new environment?
Neil: Sorry to be boring but it’s Albert in New England. I just love watching him play and seeing how the always interesting Patriots use him with Vince Wilfork will be fascinating.
Sam: Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice. Rice because he’s been a major injury question mark, but when healthy is one of the league’s best WRs. Jackson because I think he can be better than most do, but he goes to Seattle where he’s still being led by OC Darrell Bevell, who I have zero confidence in as a QB mentor. Jackson also struggles reading a defense and is very conservative with the football, he doesn’t like letting go of it without knowing how it’ll work out. Part of what makes a WR like Rice great is his work on balls that you don’t know when you throw them up there.
Khaled: I want to see Paul Posluszny back in a 4-3. It gets the best out of him so that intrigues me. I’m really looking forward to seeing Sidney Rice in Seattle. I have a feeling that Brett Favre’s great 2009 had a lot to do with Rice, and I wonder if he can have a similar impact on Tarvaris Jackson (who I assume starts).
Nathan: Back to the Patriots, I’ve liked Chad Ochocinco and the fun he brings to the game. The Ochocinco/TO combo didn’t live up to the hype, but I’d like to see him relevant again.
5. Quickly … Like better? Sidney Rice in Seattle or Chad Ochocinco in New England? Paul Posluszny in Jacksonville or Takeo Spikes in San Diego? Quintin Mikell in St. Louis or Danieal Manning in Houston?
Neil: A, Chad in New England (I’d rather have Rice straight up but with Brady vs. a bunch of non-descripts it’s a no-brainer). B, Takeo in San Diego (He’s just a better player now although Pos may be a more sensible long term option). C, In a close run thing I’ll take Mikell in St. Louis – both are great fits but I think Mikell has the leadership ability to make a promising unit excellent.
Sam: Rice over Ocho. Better player when healthy now. Takeo over Pos. Takeo is my new LB hero after the missed tackle study. 4 MTs in 3 seasons is nuts. Mikell over Manning. I was interested to see the contract numbers for Mikell. It wasn’t the bargain I figured it might be, but it’s still a great move.
Khaled: Easy. Rice every day, Posluszny because of longevity, and Manning because of team need.
Nathan: Rice-younger and better. Spikes-fits more of a need. Manning-Anything that helps their secondary is good.