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Tag:NFL Free Agency Winners Losers
Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Eye on Football's free agency winners and losers



Posted by Will Brinson

Free agency isn't done yet (you can follow the latest updates at our 2011 NFL Free Agency Tracker) but wow, what a freaking week that initial run was, huh?

We saw big names sign big contracts in surprising places, we saw various players value drop tremendously and we saw the Carolina Panthers spend eleventy billion dollars*. Well, a full week in, it's about time for some knee-jerk winner/loser reactions, yes?

WINNERS
Philadelphia Eagles: There's no way around it -- the Eagles are the biggest winner in free agency. The last-second signing of the biggest free agent cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha, guarantees that, especially when coupled with their ability to pawn off backup Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick and then pick up Vince Young to replace him. Also, they signed everyone else available. Or that's what it feels like.

Carolina Panthers: Well, maybe "Charles Johnson/DeAngelo Williams" is a better way of putting it, because they got straight paid. So did Thomas Davis, by the by. But in general, the Panthers stepped up in a big way by bringing back a ton of their players and convincing Steve Smith to hang around and kick off the Cam Newton Era. (Yes, it warrants mentioning that Newton's reduced contract is how they're able to afford all these guys.) Even if they don't win their division -- and it's unlikely they will -- they're still reinvigorating a fanbase that was pretty complacent after last year.

Rams/Lions: Everyone who roots for these teams keeps asking why they're not spending money, and that's exactly why they're winners -- they recognized that now's not the time to go out and blow up the plan by spending a pile of cash on a big-name free agent. Both teams landed quality guys (Eric Wright for Detroit, Harvey Dahl for the Rams, to name a pair) and I'd add the Buccaneers in here but anyone who spends $19 million on a punter isn't winning.

Houston Texans: The fact that Houston was able to pick up front-seven defensive help in the draft (J.J Watt) and then swoop in on Johnathan Joseph is huge. Even more impressive? That they realized when it was time to cut bait on chasing Nnamdi and nab Joseph, therefore giving them a top-flight cornerback and a serious chance to compete and/or win the AFC South.

Roger Goodell/DeMaurice Smith: After teetering on the brink of becoming the two most-hated men in a world that features no football, Goodell and Smith rallied their troops, repaired their relationship and got a deal done that will provide labor peace for the next decade. As a result, traffic, interest and excitement for football picked up right where it left off after an amazing 2010 season. They really should just pair up for a US presidential run in 2012.

LOSERS
Rookie quarterbacks: Christian Ponder and Jake Locker were supposed to be starters coming out of the gate. Um, not so much -- it sure looks like they're going to be sitting behind Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck during 2011. The only two rooks who have serious shots at taking early snaps are Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, and that's only because they are actually the best quarterbacks on their team.

Oakland Raiders: It would be one thing if they just lost Nnamdi. But they also lost tight end Zach Miller, who had previously been franchised. Topping it all off? They lost Miller because they shelled out $48 million for Kamerion Wimbley. Every time you think things are changing in Oak-town, they stay the same. /Googles "Weekend at Bernie's" clips

Linebackers: Well, linebackers not named Paul Posluszny, anyway. Poz is a nice addition to the Jaguars but I'm not entirely sure they should have given him $7 million a year over six years with $15 million guaranteed, especially with other available talent on the market. That available talent -- Nick Burnett, Stephen Tulloch and Manny Lawson, most notably -- ended up getting one-year deals as a result of the market swing after the Jags' overpaid.

New York Jets: The Jets made a lot of moves and nearly grabbed Nnamdi, but losing him isn't why they're on this side of the list. They're here because they paid a lot for Santonio Holmes and still saw the overall quality of their receiving corps drop drastically. In addition, they had to give $32 million to Antonio Cromartie in order to shore up the other side of their secondary. They'll probably end up going to the AFC Championship Game (again) and we'll hear plenty of Super Bowl guarantees, but this is an offense that could struggle in 2011.

Miami Dolphins: The Fins made a splash by trading for Reggie Bush, but, um, yeah, about that quarterback situation. When was the last time you heard fans chanting for Kyle Orton? Things are going to get ugly before they get pretty in South Beach, and if their chances at landing someone who can compete for the starting QB gig went so poorly that Brett Favre has to come in, well, you don't need me telling you whether they won or lost.

* Approximate. OK, I made that number up but either way, the Panthers dropped a lot of coin.

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