NFL Free Agency 2012: Looking at the Winners and Losers of the NFL Offseason
You may have heard that in the NFL, there is no offseason.
Moves are being made in the NFL world at all times, and this year's free-agency period has been one of the most exciting yet chaotic times that the league has ever seen.
Brandon Marshall has relocated from South Beach to the Windy City while Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks joined a young but talented Buccaneers squad.
There has yet to be a dull moment since the 2011 season ended, and a number of deals and free agents are still out there.
Here is a look at the winners and losers of the NFL offseason so far.
Denver Broncos: Winners
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The Denver Broncos struck gold when they persuaded Peyton Manning to come to The Mile-High City.
The quarterback's presence alone has brought talks of a Super Bowl championship, and it has allowed the team to add a number of other key free agents.
The Broncos added Peyton's Super Bowl 44 nemesis Tracy Porter to bolster an aging secondary, and the team also re-signed linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
Denver has also made of number of moves on the offensive side of the ball, including the signings of tight ends Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme and the signing of former Bengals receiver Andre Caldwell.
The Broncos have had a great offseason thus far, and the team will look to take this momentum into the draft in late April.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winners
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have improved their roster immensely this offseason.
The team added a dynamic target for Josh Freeman in Vincent Jackson, while also adding stud guard Carl Nicks.
These two moves alone should spark a Buccaneers offense that struggled mightily last season because both players are two of the best at their respective positions.
The Bucs also acquired cornerback Eric Wright who was a key component in the stingy Browns pass defense last season.
Tampa Bay spent a ton of money this offseason, but these were moves that had to be made to insert a spark in a fan base that desperately needs it.
Chicago Bears: Winners
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The Chicago Bears have finally provided Jay Cutler with a stud wide receiver.
The Bears traded two third-round picks to the Miami Dolphins for Brandon Marshall, which reunites a duo that was spectacular during its time in Denver.
The Bears were able to retain Matt Forte with the franchise tag, and they were also able to add a running back who may be able to start for a number of teams around the league in Michael Bush.
Chicago looks poised to make a serious run at a Super Bowl title, and they certainly have the pieces to do it.
St. Louis Rams: Winners
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The culture is quickly changing in St. Louis under the leadership of new head coach Jeff Fisher.
The Rams have signed a number of veteran free agents which includes cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive lineman Kendall Langford, center Scott Wells and wide receiver Steve Smith.
The team also acquired a plethora of draft picks for this year and the following years to come after they moved back a few spots in this year's draft.
The Rams are still missing a few pieces and they are not quite ready to compete for the NFC West title, but this was the best offseason that this franchise has witnessed in a number of years.
San Francisco 49ers: Winners
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The San Francisco 49ers have put themselves in a position to once again compete for a Super Bowl championship.
The team was able to re-sign wide receiver Ted Ginn and quarterback Alex Smith, and they were also able to dramatically improve the offense with the free-agent acquisitions of wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.
The team re-signed stud cornerback Carlos Rogers, who was a key piece in the success of the defense last season.
Overall, the 49ers did a great job of keeping and building on a team that is ready to take the next step.
Buffalo Bills: Winners
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The Buffalo Bills went from arguably having the league's worst pass rush to potentially having one of the best in a matter of days, but it certainly did not come at a cheap price.
The Bills lured Mario Williams to Buffalo after they offered the NFL's best defensive free agent a monster six-year, $100 million contract.
The Bills struck a deal to retain playmaking wide receiver Stevie Johnson long-term, and the team was landed defensive end Mark Anderson, who contributed 10 sacks to the Patriots defense last season.
The Bills showed early last season that they have the potential to be a force, and these signings will only make them better.
Miami Dolphins: Losers
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The Miami Dolphins are by far the biggest losers of the 2012 offseason.
The team struck out on quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith, which forced them to sign former Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.
The team also traded its best offensive weapon Brandon Marshall to the Bears for two third-round picks, which is an extremely cheap price for one of the league's top receivers.
The Dolphins easily went from being a potential Super Bowl contender to arguably the worst team in the AFC East.
Cleveland Browns: Losers
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The Browns lost Peyton Hillis to free agency, and the team made no moves to improve an offense that lacks playmakers at almost every position.
Cleveland has one of the league's most underrated defenses, but the team will have no chance to compete unless they strike gold with a few offensive weapons in the draft.
The Browns own the fourth and 22nd overall picks, which should translate into playmakers Trent Richardson and Kendall Wright.
New Orleans Saints: Losers
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The Saints have angered Drew Brees, lost a majority of their coaching staff and front office to suspensions and allowed a number key players to sign with other teams in free agency.
So far, so bad to say the least.
Drew Brees is angry because the team franchised him, which prevented New Orleans from re-signing guard Carl Nicks. Nicks was the anchor on the offensive line, and he is arguably the best interior lineman in the league.
The Saints were able to retain Marques Colston and they did add linebacker Curtis Lofton, but the Bountygate scandal is going to prove to be too much and it will weigh this team down all season.
Oakland Raiders: Losers
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The Oakland Raiders were sellers instead of buyers this offseason, as the team had to remove $22 million of payroll to get even with the salary cap before free agency started.
Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, Cooper Carlisle, John Henderson, Hiram Eugene and Kamerion Wimbley were the big name players that Oakland was forced to part with this offseason.
The Raiders also failed to re-sign backup running back Michael Bush, which is a huge loss considering how well he played in place of the injured Darren McFadden.
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Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys were able to do a lot with limited cap space. The team sign prized free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr and then provided some quality quarterback depth with the signing of Kyle Orton.
Kansas City Chiefs: The biggest move of the Chiefs' offseason was the tagging of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. The team signed Stanford Routt to take Brandon Carr's starting position, and the team provided some running back depth with Peyton Hillis, tight end depth in Kevin Boss and quarterback insurance with Brady Quinn.
New England Patriots: The Patriots upgraded their wide receiving corps with the additions of Brandon Lloyd and Anthony Gonzalez to go along with the re-signings of Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco. Guard Robert Gallery, defensive end Trevor Scott, safety Steve Gregory and tight end Daniel Fells were a few of the other additions to come to New England.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals were not able to sign quarterback Peyton Manning, which forced the team to pay Kevin Kolb his $7 million roster bonus. The Cardinals did nothing to improve their roster while the other teams in their division did so.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans missed out on quarterback Peyton Manning, and they also lost two key members from the 2011 team in cornerback Cortland Finnegan and defensive lineman Jason Jones.