As has become our daily ritual, the analysts got together and got to have their say on what they liked, and what they didn’t.
That’s right; it’s Five Question, Five Analysts!
What was your favorite move of the day?
Ben: It’s hard not to like the Bills move for Mario Williams. Yes they overpaid but after all of the effort they put in they simply had to get him. Both for the effort they put in, costing them their chance at any other free agents, and because of the effect Williams will have on the defense, this signing is a game changer in both Buffalo and the AFC East.
Khaled: I liked two moves the Cowboys made, remembering how Brodney Pool excelled in Rob Ryan’s defense in Cleveland in 2009 and knowing just how good Dan Connor is coming downhill. I’d lean towards the Pool move as I think he can be an every down defender.
Nathan: I liked Mike Adams joining the Broncos. They have an excellent run defense, but don’t have all the pieces in the pass game. Adams has been successful in coverage before, and should easily be able to crack the starting lineup and make an impact.
Neil: The Mario Williams signing is a major coup for Buffalo but that’s a tad obvious. I know Kevin Boss didn’t do well in Oakland but I think he’s an excellent all-round tight end and is well worth another shot particularly as the Chiefs also have Tony Moeaki. Sure in the “what have you done for me lately” world of the NFL it’s a gamble but I’ve seen far worse.
Sam: Juqua Parker to the Browns was a great move. Cleveland need pass-rush, and while Parker clearly isn’t a long-term solution (especially given it’s a one-year deal), he is still a consistent pass-rusher. Parker is one of those guys I have a sneaking suspicion could look a lot better now that he’s away from the Eagles and getting more opportunities, though obviously that takes a bit of a knock now he’s headed to Cleveland! Seriously though, they’ve added some interesting players to their D-line and it could just work.
What move did you really not like?
Ben: Levi Brown closed out the year well last season but seriously, five years? There have been suggestions Brown could move back to right tackle but whichever spot he plays this has every chance of being a catastrophic move. He’s either going to protect Kevin Kolb/Peyton Manning’s blindside for the next five years or they will have an utterly disastrous right side of Adam Snyder and Levi Brown. Ouch.
Khaled: If the Miami Dolphins end up paying Artis Hicks $2m for one year of work they’ve made a huge error.
Nathan: I didn’t like the Patriots adding Steve Gregory. Their secondary was questionable at best in 2011, but so was Gregory’s play. This move is only a slight improvement if anything.
Neil: The Redskins are at it again. Not satisfied with seeing Brandon Meriweather stink things up for the Patriots (I don’t know how many times we told people that the 2010 Pro Bowl berth was a travesty) our friends in the front office at Washington had another opportunity to see his worth in safety sparse Chicago. Granted he wasn’t as dreadful as in New England but there was nothing to make you believe he’d come good. As Darin Gantt tweeted on hearing the news, “apparently the Redskins are funding the Garcon contract with money saved on film”.
Sam: The Titans were said to be going after O-linemen in an attempt to woo Peyton Manning. In response, the Cardinals locked up Adam Snyder for five years at RG and then re-signed Levi Brown, reportedly to play RT. If I was selecting a potentially All-Pro worst side of an offensive line, I’m not sure I could do much better than that combination. You really do have to wonder if the Arizona personnel people are watching tape at all.
What team were the big winners?
Ben: The Buffalo Bills. They got their marquee free agent, they got their game changer and now they get to turn their focus to other needs.
Khaled: It’s not always the big moves. The Cowboys made two shrewd moves as they find players who can contribute without the risk associated with giving guys big money. They’re having a very nice free agency and yesterday was as good a day as any.
Nathan: The Buffalo Bills for securing Mario Williams. If they hadn’t it would’ve been very embarrassing after keeping him in Buffalo for so long. Now they have the potential to be one of the best pass rushing teams in the league.
Neil: It’s got to be Buffalo….. They not only got a great player and our #2 ranked Free Agent but made themselves relevant to a whole host of other players for reasons beyond money.
Sam: New Orleans. They signed Ben Grubbs to replace Carl Nicks, and while Grubbs isn’t the player Nicks is, he came considerably cheaper and isn’t nearly the drop off that will have any effect on that offense.
What team were the big losers?
Ben: The Arizona Cardinals. To willingly make your team worse through free agency is quite an interesting tactic but that is what they have done in pairing up Adam Snyder and Levi Brown, assuming he does in fact switch back to the right side. You couldn’t do worse if you were trying.
Khaled: I don’t think any team lost massively today. The biggest losers were the collection of inside linebackers on the market. In what is becoming a yearly event, they’re realizing the NFL doesn’t value them nearly as much as they value themselves.
Nathan: No one is really coming to mind as a huge loser. I guess I’ll go with the Seattle Seahawks for losing out to Steve Hutchinson to the Titans as well as bringing back Michael Robinson to run block even though he was one of the worst fullbacks at doing that last year.
Neil: All the other teams in the AFC East took a knock as a result of the Mario Williams deal.
Sam: I’ll go with the Arizona Cardinals as well. They’ve carefully selected two of the worst linemen in football to be the starting side of their right line, and they wonder why they can’t get production from the QB spot.
What would your approach to free agency be if you were one of the following AFC franchises. Jaguars (Ben), Chargers (Sam), Browns (Neil), Dolphins (Nathan) and Colts (Khaled)?
Ben: His 2011 season was impressive but at the eventual cost of Laurent Robinson I don’t see why he is the first receiver you try to bring in. It was a competitive market for the free agent wide receivers but Jacksonville have the most pressing need to help out their quarterback with new receivers and they settled for a guy who struggled to stay on the field. I think Chad Henne was a very smart pick up for them at quarterback which they can play in whichever manner they see fit. Be it an “open” competition or an actually open competition they have brought in someone who can challenge Blaine Gabbert in camp or pick up the pieces if Gabbert doesn’t pick up the pace. Jeremy Mincey was a solid re-signing and my next port of call would be to go back into the wide receiver pool. Yes the draft still remains but the Jags need a complete overhaul here to help out Blaine Gabbert and a player like Jerricho Cotchery would be an excellent veteran pick up to provide a known quantity for the Jags’ passing game.
Khaled: The problem is giving my head coach the type of players he wants. To run that hybrid scheme, with both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? It won’t work. So I’d be actively looking to get something back for Freeney, and would have made a strong push for Jarret Johnson. I do like the pickup of Cory Redding, but that wouldn’t be the end of my work inside. I’d look at a guy like Aubrayo Franklin to play the zero technique and think you could get Antonio Garay to be a poor man’s Haloti Ngata. Essentially I’d retool that defense in a big way with undervalued guys. Ideally I’d bring in some offensive talent and execute a Pete Carroll style mass overhaul of the roster, but would settle for just getting in some guys up front who could make the defense work.
Nathan: I don’t feel like the Dolphins would have the talent to win the Super Bowl just by adding Peyton Manning, so I would stay out of that. With how big of a cap hit Brandon Marshall brings, I would have traded him too, and I also would not overpay either Kendall Langford or Paul Soliai. That would give more than enough cap space for Matt Flynn and to add a high profile wide receiver. If the market ended up as it did, I would even go after Mike Wallace. Throw in Anthony Collins to play right tackle and Geoff Schwartz to play guard and you’ve got yourself an offense. While that leaves a few holes on defense, that is what the draft and the added draft picks are for.
Neil: My problem with the Browns is a lack of real “difference makers” on both sides of the ball. They’re a solid enough team but other than the two Joe’s; Haden and Thomas, they have very few people even close to an All-Pro calibre. I think they need a few more players like that as all the Frostee Rucker, Oniel Cousins, Alex Smith and Juqua Parker signings in the world won’t get it done. If Mario was out of reach how about a Brandon Lloyd or John Abraham? Either do that or do nothing but don’t tinker round the edges by signing the Dimitri Patterson’s of the league.
Sam: I’m not sure I’d have done a whole lot different to what they have done. Job one would have been to lock down Jared Gaither, and while they exposed him to the open market, they did get him locked down eventually to a 4-year extension. Nick Hardwick was less of a priority, but a good guy to get tied down as well. I like the Meachem contract figures, because he’s talented and won’t be expected to have to carry the load in San Diego as their main weapon. There are some defensive linemen on the market that could add to their rotation and improve a weakness on the team and I’d be bringing those guys in for visits to kick the tires.