7 NFL Teams That Didn't Get What They Needed in Free Agency
There are few things more frustrating as an NFL fan than when your team has a litany of needs, but sits idly during the free-agency period.
The free-agency period usually happens about six weeks after the Super Bowl, and it marks the first time teams can really address their needs. It provides an opportunity to either add that superstar they are looking for or to fill numerous holes on the roster.
Most of all, when a team is active in free agency, it shows the fanbase that unless they were the Super Bowl champions from the year before, they weren't satisfied with their season and are looking to improve.
While teams like the Broncos, Bills and Buccaneers were making huge splashes in the free-agent market this year, here's a look at seven teams that had obvious needs that weren't addressed through free agency.
New York Jets
Coming into this offseason, the New York Jets had major needs at right tackle and safety, and they were hurting for a solid pass-rusher.
Of the three, only safety was addressed via free agency.
It's not likely that Heyer or Willis will supplant Hunter, but if either is productive, they could usher Vladimir Ducasse out the door.
The Jets have lacked a significant pass-rusher during Rex Ryan's tenure as head coach, and yet another year has passed without the need being addressed through free agency. The team added Quinton Coples during the draft, but didn't sign a single new player along the defensive line or in its linebacking corps.
The Jets better hope that Aaron Maybin improves his all-around game or that Coples turns out to be a stud. Otherwise, it will be another season of watching Calvin Pace get absorbed by linemen as he attempts to get to the quarterback on his own.
Grubbs was the anchor on a line that is getting old fast, and the Ravens did next to nothing in free agency to find a replacement. Grubbs signed with the Saints in mid-March, and it took three months before the Ravens finally signed a potential replacement in Bobbie Williams.
Williams, though, is far from an adequate replacement for Grubbs. He is 36 years old and coming off a broken ankle that caused him to miss the end of the 2011 season and the Bengals' playoff run.
The Ravens are talented enough that they should get by with the patchwork line they currently have, but if they hope to remain one of the top teams in the NFL, they have to do a better job addressing the holes that will be forthcoming on the line over the next two seasons.
The problem with the Oakland Raiders' free-agency plans in 2012 is that they are more of an issue of circumstance rather than ineptitude.
The problem dates back to mid-March when the team had to shed nearly $22 million just to get under the salary cap. Simply put, there was basically no way for the Raiders to drop so much money in player salary and replace those gone with players of equal value.
As it stood at the end of February, the Raiders had the highest "top 51" salary figure of anyone in the NFL by a long shot.
The end result was the jettisoning of players like Stanford Routt, John Henderson, Cooper Carlisle, Hiram Eugene and Chris Johnson to start. From there, the team also lost Kamerion Wimbley, Jason Campbell, Michael Bush and Chaz Schilens.
As a result, the Raiders found themselves with a severe lack of depth on their roster.
They did not have the means to address that situation in free agency, as they couldn't sign impact players and had to settle for generally anonymous players like Kevin Haslam, Ron Bartell and Philip Wheeler.
In 2011, the Miami Dolphins were a mediocre team with a below-average offense.
They shouldn't be faulted for wanting to make changes to their offense, but the way they went about executing those changes does raise some questions.
But before the quarterback situation was addressed, the team traded Brandon Marshall, punching a large hole in an already subpar offense.
While Dolphins fans may have had high hopes for the team with a number of top skill position players available through free agency, the team instead added David Garrard and Legedu Naanee at quarterback and wide receiver, respectively.
The Dolphins at least drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill and took a chance on a couple of late-round receivers, so they attempted to use the draft to bolster positions that weren't adequately addressed in free agency.
We'll just have to wait and see if it works.
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line was beyond awful in 2011. It ranked 31st overall in sacks allowed and 27th in hits allowed on its quarterback.
How did the Cardinals address this issue in free agency?
By re-signing two of their own offensive linemen who were part of the problem in 2011.
The only offensive lineman they added through free agency was Adam Snyder, who was a hazard to Alex Smith's health last season in San Francisco.
Luckily for whomever is under center for the Cards in 2012, the team spent three of its seven draft choices on offensive linemen.
With Schaub expected to make a full recovery from his Lisfranc injury, Texans fans were expecting the franchise to return to the top of the AFC in 2012.
Before the mass exodus, the Texans had a strong need for a wide receiver to complement Andre Johnson or take his spot if he went down with an injury. The fact that they didn't sign a defensive end, wide receiver or offensive tackle in free agency is downright baffling.
Green Bay Packers
One of the more shocking developments of the 2011 NFL season was the historically abysmal defense played by the Green Bay Packers.
After ranking as one of the best defenses in the NFL the previous season, the Packers were struck with injuries and poor play on the defensive side of the ball in 2011. Despite having one of the best offenses in recent memory, the team wasn't able to overcome the defensive ineptitude and fell short of their Super Bowl aspirations.
It was a situation that the Packers were going to have to obviously address in the offseason, as the team was in dire need of help at safety, defensive end and cornerback. They needed some pass-rushers desperately as well.
To the Packers' credit, they took an aggressive approach in the draft when they spent their first six picks on defensive players.
There really isn't a need to panic in Green Bay, as the defense can't play any worse than it did in 2011. If the unit can even improve just enough to move into the middle of the pack, it will take a ton of pressure off the offense.
If the Packers hit on a few of their draft picks, it will help significantly. However, because they didn't address this need through free agency, the success of their draft picks is even more essential.