2012 NFL Free Agency: 7 Teams That Have Made the Biggest Mistakes so Far

Ryan Alfieri@Ryan_AlfieriCorrespondent IIIMarch 30, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agency: 7 Teams That Have Made the Biggest Mistakes so Far

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    It is a season of optimistic in the NFL. Every trade and draft pick is bound for success, and fans are convinced that this is the year their teams take the next step to make a play for the Super Bowl. 

    In reality, we will never know how these player acquisitions will work out until the games are actually played, but we do know that some teams have made massive errors without even knowing it. 

    Here are the teams that will regret some of the decisions they have made over the past few weeks. 

New York Jets

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    Biggest Mistake: Trading for Tim Tebow

    In all honesty, the Jets have actually made a lot of solid moves, bringing in LaRon Landry and Chaz Schilens while finding creative ways to get more cap room. Best of all, they were able to extend stud nose tackle Sione Pouha. 

    We won't know exactly what will become of the Tebow fiasco until the fall, but for now, it has been nothing but a huge distraction for the organization. For once, the Jets seemed to be calming the demeanor and just focusing on improving the team, but this Tebow trade just screams of wanting attention. 

    If this trade blows up in the Jets' face, someone is going to have to pay for it. In a huge year for Tannenbaum and Ryan, this is quite a massive risk to take on. 

    Who knows; maybe this whole fiasco may work out. But even if it does, is it really worth all of the baggage that comes along with it?

Houston Texans

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    Biggest Mistake: Cutting Eric Winston

    Simply put, the Texans are just a lot worse now than they were a month ago. They release the best right tackle in football simply because he could not pass a physical due to an ankle injury that would be perfectly fine in a few weeks time. They traded their defensive leader in DeMeco Ryans. Underrated guard Mike Briesel left for Oakland. 

    Of course, Mario Williams choose to continue his career in Buffalo.

    The thing is, the Texans were so reliant on their dominant offensive line last season that breaking it up would mean the team may have to take on a different philosophy this season.

    The Texans went into this offseason knowing they would lose some players, but to me, cutting Eric Winston was a massive error on their part, even if it did give them a bit more cap room. Right tackles are not easy to find these days, and the Texans had the best one in football. 

    Even if they were not comfortable with his health, wouldn't they at least try to find a team that was interested and trade him for a few draft picks?

Miami Dolphins

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    Biggest Mistake: Trading Brandon Marshall

    The Dolphins seems to have less of an idea of what they are doing with every transaction they make. They appear to go into a rebuilding process by trading star receiver Brandon Marshall, but then they turn around and give their aging nose tackle and extension to play a new position.

    The organization continues to woo big names like Peyton Manning and Jeff Fisher, but one by one, they are turned down, and the organizational structure is often cited as the primary reason. They could not even lure Matt Flynn, even with his former offensive coordinator as his head coach.

    The Dolphins actually had a little momentum coming off a strong end to their disappointing season, but their offseason failures have them staring mediocrity in the face once again. 

Baltimore Ravens

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    Biggest Mistake: Not retaining Ben Grubbs

    The Ravens went into this offseason knowing they were going to lose a few good players, but they made it their top priority to get a deal done with Ben Grubbs. They let a lot of good players like Jarrett Johnson walk away to give them room to get this deal done, but Grubbs wound up finding a new home in New Orleans. 

    They had a chance to rectify the situation by stealing Evan Mathis from the Eagles, but they were unable to do so. All of a sudden, the Ravens find themselves with a massive hole at guard to go along with their new holes on defense. 

    On top of that, Ray Rice is still waiting for a long-term deal, and Flacco is due for an extension. 

    The Ravens sure have a lot of work to do between now and the start of the season if they want to get back to the AFC title game. 

Tennessee Titans

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    Biggest Mistake: Going after Peyton Manning Instead of Mario Williams

    Initially, the Titans had a solid plan in free agency: They were going to make up for the loss of Cortland Finnegan by going after prized defensive end Mario Williams. Instead, Bud Adams decided to forgo the strategy and put all the chips in the Peyton Manning pot.

    I can't fault them for going after Manning, but to me, Mario Williams was a much more realistic option and would have put the Titans defense on an elite level. At best, they had a 33 percent chance of landing Manning; if they were in the mix for Williams, I would have liked their odds of recruiting against the Bills.

    There is also the fact that they had no interest in keeping Cortland Finnegan and Jason Jones, two very solid defensive players.

    They were at least able to get Kamerion Wimbley as a consolation prize, but it looks like they did a lot of work to just get back to square one.  

Carolina Panthers

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    Biggest Mistake: Signing Mike Tolbert

    Not much was expected out of the Panthers in free agency, as they did not have a ton of cap room to work with.

    However, they did have enough room to sign a few run-of-the-mill defensive tackles to shore up the middle of their defense. Instead, they turned around and gave what little dollars they had to the one position that did not need anymore help: running back. 

    Not only did they give DeAngelo Williams a boatload of money last year for a sub-par season in return, but they already have Johnathan Stewart on the roster. The third back, Mike Goodson, is a decent player in his own right. 

    Tolbert is a nice player and all, but I just don't see the value. After giving Williams way too much money last year, you would think they would learn their lesson. 

Cleveland Browns

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    Biggest Mistake: Not trading up for RGIII

    The Browns really had a chance to turn their franchise around by trading up with the Rams. They had more resources than the Redskins with two first-round picks, including the fourth-overall pick. The could have easily offered far more to the Rams and landed Griffin. 

    However, the fact of the matter is, the Browns are just not willing to do what it takes to win. At some point, you need to roll the dice on a big trade or signing. You can bring in all of the solid ex-Eagles you want, but that will only keep the Browns in an infinite loop of mediocrity. 

    Holmgren is now in year three of his regime. Most franchises can make a lot of progress in the just three years, often less. In the first two years, I understood the slow-building youth movement. But time is running out, and the Browns missed out on a chance to completely change the outlook of the franchise for the next decade. 

    Perhaps Matt Miller was on to something after all.