With the first weekend of NFL free agency in the books, let's take a look at which teams got better, and which teams didn't improve as much. Now to the weekend grades...
Here are some teams that improved their team this weekend:
The Browns prevented both Jamal Lewis and Derek Anderson from hitting the free agency markets by re-signing them. This was a good move, as both Lewis and Anderson were great last season. Lewis ran for 1,304 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Anderson tossed 29 touchdowns while maintaining an 82.5 rating.
The Browns also greatly improved their run defense by signing defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. Both of these men are great space-eaters, but aren't superstars. These pickups will allow the rest of the Browns defense to focus on other issues.
In another move, the Browns picked up former Patriot Donte Stallworth. This provides quarterback Derek Anderson with another reliable target with great after-catch ability. Now Anderson has Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, and Stallworth to throw to.
The only negative part of Cleveland's free agency period so far is their lack of draft picks. Browns' GM Phil Savage has only one pick remaining for the 2008 NFL draft, as he traded or lost four others.
These additions could prove to be the difference between a 10-win team and a team to beat in 2008.
The Vikings' secondary improved immensely when they signed Madieu Williams. Although they lost much of their precious salary cap, it was worth it. The Vikings were simply awful defending the pass last year, and Williams will greatly improve this.
Minnesota took a hit when they allowed fullback Tony Richardson to walk away and didn't make up for it when they signed Thomas Tapeh. Tapeh simply won't be as effective as Richardson was. Running back Adrian Peterson's yards may suffer because of this.
The Vikings also signed the second best receiver available in Bernard Berrian. Although Berrian lacks the aggression needed to be a top-tier receiver, he is still a legitimate deep threat and will help Tarvaris Jackson progress as a quarterback.
The Vikings barely missed the playoffs last year, and if they draft a solid defensive end they should be able to make that big step in 2008.
The most talked about acquisition for the Eagles is obviously Asante Samuel, who had more than half the number of interceptions the entire Eagles squad had in 2007. Samuel has the ability to turn a game around and will change an already good secondary to an outstanding one.
Another pick-up that went largely unnoticed was the Eagles' signing of defensive end Chris Clemons. Clemons had eight sacks with the Raiders last year and, at 27, is on the brink of a breakout year.
Look for the Eagles to return to being a threat in the NFC with their large defensive improvements.
Despite the loss of Ernest Wilford, the Jaguars have still managed to improve their team so far this offseason. They signed wide receiver Jerry Porter in a controversial move because of the problems he created when he was with Oakland. Jacksonville also traded for the speedy Troy Williamson earlier this offseason.
The Jaguars got a good deal for Williamson, as he is bursting with potential, but Jacksonville has to help him find his hands before they can tap into his future success. Porter, despite his age, caught six touchdowns in 2007 and can still affect the outcome of a game.
Another great pick-up of Jacksonville's was the second best cornerback available, Drayton Florence. Florence, only 28, had two picks last year with the Chargers. He was overshadowed by Antonio Cromartie and didn't get all the playtime he deserved.
The Jaguars also signed former Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon to back up David Garrard. While the loss of Wilford won't go unnoticed, the Jaguars are still improving their team.
There were also numerous teams that didn't do so hot this last weekend. Here are their grades...
The Bears did manage to re-sign Lance Briggs. If it weren't for that, I would have given them an outright F.
Chicago lost Bernard Berrian and Mushin Muhammed, whose presence will be deeply missed by Rex Grossman (or whoever the current ball-slinger happens to be). Grossman, who is now practically alone since the Brian Griese trade, will have to heavily rely upon his tight ends to provide targets for him.
The Bears are depending on Devin Hester's ability to catch passes, which he didn't do very well last year. Either the Bears need to get another play-maker for a receiver or they'll lose the majority of their games next year.
If you think your weekend was bad, compare it to Robert Kraft's weekend.
The Patriot's awful weekend started with the departure of cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Randall Gay, which was expected, but still hurts New England's old defense. Cornerback Eugene Wilson and outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin are also expected to leave.
The Patriots also lost Donte Stallworth, which hurts their after-catch yardage.
The good news is that the Patriot's managed to convince Tedy Bruschi to return for one more year and re-signed Randy Moss for three more years. While Bruschi is an extreme veteran, he is still capable of roaming the field, looking for blood. The return of Moss is obviously a good thing for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Another key loss was Jaber Gaffney. He wasn't used very much in the Patriots' offensive scheme, but he still managed to snag five touchdowns.
Although it almost hurts to say it, the Patriots may be looking at a rebuilding period. I hate to call it that because I know Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick will always manage to find a way to stay competitive.
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