The blueprint for success in the NFL is well-known by now. You are not going to be a consistently successful team by remaking your roster in free agency every season.
It just doesn't work.
Instead, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers have laid the foundation for how to do it right. They build via the draft and supplement with cautious free-agent signing. The San Francisco 49ers have taken to this idea and are better off for it.
With that said, there are going to be teams that attempt to buck the system and overpay for certain players on the free-agent market. In this, they attempt to hit lightning in the bottle and it rarely works.
There are a tremendous amount of teams that have a sleuth of salary-cap room heading into free agency. Teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers, who have ample room, are not going to buy into this fad. Instead, they will be extremely selective in who they bring in via free agency.
The same cannot be said for the following teams.
Their recent trade with the St. Louis Rams furthers the idea that the Redskins are going to hit the free-agent market big time again this season. They have nearly $50 million in salary-cap room and will probably use most of that during free agency.
I fully expect Vincent Jackson to be one of the Redskins' top targets despite the fact that he isn't a top-five wide receiver in the NFL right now. This is a player who has never caught 70 passes in a season and caused some major distractions for the San Diego Chargers in his seven seasons with the team. He also had the benefit of playing with Philip Rivers, who is one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league.
It is going to be an entirely new game going to the Redskins, who are going to have a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III running the show. Just not sure that Jackson is going to be worth the $13 million to $15 million that he is going to demand.
Washington is also going to look for upgrades at safety, linebacker and along the offensive line. You have to remember that most of their free-agent acquisitions in the Daniel Snyder era have turned to crap once they hit the capital city.
Kansas City Chiefs
This is a team that hasn't really hit the free-agent market a lot over the last few seasons. Kansas City has focused more on building through the draft, but that hasn't really gotten them anywhere in recent seasons. Now they have the cap money and plan to use it in order to gain an upper leg in the mediocre AFC West.
The first player who comes to mind is Peyton Manning, who they are said to be showing some interest in. I have a hard time saying that he is a player a team is going to "overspend" on—after all, he has been one of the greatest modern quarterbacks over the course of the last decade. You still have to wonder whether or not he is going to be able to come back healthy after a myriad of neck surgeries.
The Chiefs also have a lot of money invested in Matt Cassel; about $22 million over the course of the next three seasons. Of course, they could release the marginal starting quarterback and not take a dramatic cap hit in doing so.
Kansas City has a lot of stars on both sides of the ball—they really don't need to add that flashy player. Instead, this is a team that should focus on filling some gaps in free agency with players who don't have tremendous name recognition.
I am not sure that is what's going to happen.
Breaking: According to Yahoo! Sports, the Kansas City Chiefs have already offered Peyton Manning a contract.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They had the salary-cap room last season, but decided against using it to improve a team that was surprisingly successful in 2010. The MO of the Buccaneers franchise was clear: build through the draft.
Well, that strategy backfired worse than a 1972 Ford Pinto, as the Buccaneers regressed a great deal during the 2011 season. In the end, this cost Raheem Morris his job and may force them to rethink the avoid-free-agency strategy.
They have a tremendous amount of holes to fill on this roster. Tampa Bay is in need of a true No. 1 wide receiver, some help along the defensive line, capable linebackers and more help in the secondary. In short, they are far from being considered serious contenders in the NFC South.
Does it make sense to attempt to find quick fixes in free agency? Well, that depends on what the quick fixes would be. Veteran players on their last legs wouldn't seem to make sense for this young team, and neither would "one-year wonders," who haven't proven it over the long haul.
I wouldn't be opposed to Tampa Bay going all in with a player like Mario Williams or DeSean Jackson, the latter via trade. With that said, I can envision a scenario in which this team overpays for some recently hyped free agent like Vincent Jackson or Carlos Rogers. That wouldn't make much sense to me.