10 Teams That Took a Huge Step Backward in Free Agency
Several teams chased after Manning but couldn't convince him to join their club. There have been others who have let star players walk or have made egregious moves within the market.
Many of the top free agents got plucked within the first couple days, but the free agency market still has plenty of valuable additions available for those who are keeping a keen eye.
But who are the teams that have taken huge steps backwards due to wrong moves or not acting?
The Seattle Seahawks signed a quarterback this offseason. Yes, Matt Flynn should likely be an upgrade from Tarvaris Jackson, but how much so?
Seattle made this list for two reasons: Flynn and rejection.
Flynn was a nice pickup but for all we know he's the next Kevin Kolb of the NFC West. The rejection comes into play when members of the Seahawks reportedly flew into Denver to hijack talks between the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Instead of sweeping him off back to the great Northwest, Seattle got turned down.
They probably asked Manning if it hurt when he fell from heaven or if he was exhausted since he'd been running through their mind all week. We can only hope he showed off his renewed arm strength by pegging them with footballs like he does with little kids.
The Houston Texans are shedding excess cap space and quality players like a rattlesnake sheds its own skin. Texas analogies aside, Houston's perception as one of the most complete teams in the league has quickly diminished in less than two months from the end of the 2011 season.
Just listen to the free agents (and this doesn't include DeMeco Ryans' trade) who they've let test the market. Mario Williams, Neil Rackers, Derrick Ward, Quintin Demps, Jason Allen and Matt Turk have all been allowed to fish for new contracts elsewhere.
We all know where Williams landed, and the other have been making their rounds. Houston's air tight cap space has influenced these decisions but will cost them quality depth and talent in several positions.
One bright note thus far has been the five-year deal that was met in the beginning of March with stud running back Arian Foster.
Where do you begin with the seemingly endless incompetence of the Miami Dolphins?
Just when they looked to show signs of life and performed as one of the more dangerous teams in the second half of the season, they trade away their Pro Bowl MVP wide receiver.
Although that doesn't necessarily have anything to do directly with free agency, it should be a reminder of just how out of touch this franchise has become with the modern way of business in the NFL. You must have playmakers.
For all the downtrodden Dolphins fans, think about this: Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher, Matt Flynn, Alex Smith and Peyton Manning all passed on opportunities to live in 70 degree weather in mid-January.
According to former players turned pundits, the question you should be asking is, "Who wants to go up there and play?"
Miami has been shunned by players and coaches alike and has officially become the barren wasteland of the NFL. Another failed offseason of attempts to reel in big names to South Beach.
The Oakland Raiders are in the midst of a transition period as a franchise. They're not necessarily rebuilding, but after Al Davis' passing and Hue Jackson going all "I'm pissed at my team" at the end of the season, it was time for Oakland to move on.
Dennis Allen has since taken over and has moved at a moderate pace to put in his own personal touches. The Raiders have signed CB Pat Lee and G Mike Brisiel from the free agency market.
Some of you may be trying to figure out who Lee and Brisiel are, but we don't need to get into all that. The point is that's not what they need.
For starters, they need to bring back Michael Bush and invest in their two-headed backfield.You definitely won't beat Peyton Manning—even an 85 percent healthy Manning—nor Philip Rivers in a shootout twice a year.
Along those same lines, it would also behoove them to rack up some guys on the defensive side of the ball. Denver's new quarterback can actually throw more than 10 completions a game.
A lot more.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had quite the unusual offseason. It was kick started by losing on the first play in overtime to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, and has continued into free agency.
Hines Ward was released from the team prior to the free agency window opening up, which set the mood for an abnormal offseason in Western Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh officially declared 17 of their players as free agents and have not chosen to re-sign a single one. The Steelers may be waiting to replenish their roster in the draft, but the time is now for them to win.
They're one of the older teams in the league and showed in 2011 that they may be a couple pieces away from winning it all.
Not to mention, there's rumors circulating that Mike Wallace could be on his way out if the right offer comes in.
The Cleveland Browns have quietly made some moves this offseason. However, none of them will have the Dog Pound drooling over the possibilities of what could lie in their future.
Cleveland remains head and shoulders behind the rest of their division. Although they've signed or re-signed six different free agents, none of them are worthy of the back pages, let alone a headline.
Oniel Cousins, Phil Dawson, Juqua Parker, Dimitri Patterson, Alex Smith and Frostee Rucker make up the six pack of free agents. However, in a division with three playoff teams from 2011, they'll need to do some serious work before and during the draft.
New York Giants
The New York Giants will be defending Super Bowl champs in 2012—until they're eliminated from playoff contention. The problem is that if you were to ask any sensible Giants fan prior to their hot streak if they needed to improve various spots on their roster, most would say yes.
New York's secondary and linebacking corps need help. There remain top inside linebackers available in free agency but rather than bite the Giants have let their own test the market, including their defensive backs.
Aaron Ross may not have been the best player in their secondary, but unless they can find a suitable replacement, New York will have a tough time replacing him. Ross' departure could be the first of several for different Giants free agents.
The entire state of Tennessee volunteered to throw in their own plea for their long lost son to return. Yet, it was not enough for Peyton Manning to end his career in a state that he calls home.
The Tennessee Titans were like the girl who poured out her heart and soul only to get a, "Sorry, I like you, but not like that" response.
Tennessee had a realistic chance of courting Mario Williams but were too engulfed in trying to court Manning back to his second home. Going all out for Manning and losing the chance to bring in a top defensive end in the process adds salt to the wounds for the Titans.
Alright, so Peyton Manning wasn't a free agent this offseason. But he was the figure head and unmistakable image of the Indianapolis Colts' plans and how several teams conducted their free agency.
The Colts have entered full-blown rebuilding mode, and they have erased any doubt if you didn't believe it midway through the 2011 season that the writing was on the wall. The most unprofessional owner in the league and definitely the most obnoxious twitter connoisseur, Jim Irsay, did what needed to be done.
Indianapolis has several key cogs to their recent success in the unrestricted free agency market. Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Jacob Tamme and Pierre Garcon will all be wearing different uniforms in 2012.
The Colts are doing what's best for the franchise long-term, but they're still losing a ton of talent in the process due to free agency.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots made a tremendous move by getting Tom Brady a legit go-to threat on the outside in Brandon Lloyd. Love the move. Defenses should be worried about stopping that combo starting the minute he signed.
However, the Pats have huge needs on defense. Yes, there's a young, core group in place on the defensive side of the ball, but some positions just do not have quality talent.
Bill Belichick usually makes his moves in the draft but given the unprecedented free agency market that has carried over from last offseason, he should roll the dice on some defensive players. Last time I checked there were 31 other teams that didn't need to play a wide receiver in their secondary.
Justin Sparks is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for up-to-date NFL news and opinions.
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