OK, so we’ve all been feverishly hitting F5 on our NFL news source of personal preference for the past week to see who is going where, and if our home team went crazy and decided to bring in T.O. Here’s a bit of context put to the bigger signings.
I’ll spoil the ending a bit to say that none of these acquisitions puts anybody over the hump. Sorry, Chiefs fans! I know you all had visions of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami dancing in your heads in light of the Cassel trade...
Albert Haynesworth to Redskins
The single most foolish free-agent acquisition I’ve ever witnessed. Naturally, it could only be accomplished by a fool as large as Dan Snyder. I’ll grant that he rakes in the bucks on the business end of things. On the field, though, his expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars in signing bonuses to big-name players got him only two playoff victories since 1999.
So what does Snyder get for his $100 million, $41 million of which is guaranteed? He gets a guy who was considered a bust until his contract came up two years ago. Haynesworth hasn’t recorded more than 52 tackles in a season and notched a mere 24 sacks in seven years. His rookie year is the only season where he didn’t miss multiple games. Haynesworth does have 14 sacks in the last two years, which is a good indication of his high level of talent when properly motivated. What exactly will motivate him when he’s taking a guaranteed $41 mil to the bank, though?
The first time anyone thought of Haynesworth in any context besides first-round bust was in 2006, when he was suspended five games for stomping on Andre Gurode’s face. That incident worked out pretty well for him, in retrospect. His career arc has been straight upwards since he came back from his suspension after that incident. I guess there really is no such thing as bad publicity.
Matt Cassel to Chiefs
A second round pick for a top-10 quarterback? Sweet Christmas! Scott Pioli earned his millions with that deal. The Chiefs have the third overall pick in this year’s draft, and the Cassel deal allows them to avoid a painful decision on either Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez.
Could Cassel be a Scott Mitchell-esque one-year wonder? Absolutely. The Chiefs’ porous offensive line isn’t going to give him the luxury of time in the pocket, but by the same token, they will be playing from behind often. Pioli knows you need a good quarterback to win in the NFL, and after seeing Cassel up close, he obviously felt that Cassel has all the tools to succeed. Coach Todd Haley runs an offense similar to New England’s, so Cassel should hit the ground running.
Brian Dawkins to Broncos
The Broncos gave Dawkins a lot of money to basically come in and be a locker room leader. All well and good, but who will he lead? The only Denver defensive players worth a pretty girl’s smile are cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker D.J. Williams. The cupboard is absolutely bare otherwise. The Dawkins signing is a nice story, but it only does a little to plug the team’s myriad holes.
Sage Rosenfels to Vikings
After two seasons of trying, the Vikings got their man. Rosenfels certainly represents an upgrade over Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson, but it’s hardly the kind of acquisition that fires up the fan base. Rosenfels has played in only 32 games in an eight-year career. He was okay for the Texans in 2008, even though he did single-handedly lose the Colts game. Will he get the Vikings over the hump? Probably not, but he’ll definitely help Bernard Berrian’s fantasy numbers.
Lito Sheppard to Jets
With Ty Law fast approaching his 90th birthday, the Jets really needed to bring in some warm bodies for secondary depth. For those five or six games when Sheppard isn’t hurt, he’ll form a respectable cornerback tandem with Darrelle Revis.
Bart Scott to Jets
What do Adalius Thomas and Ed Hartwell have in common with Bart Scott? They both parlayed playing next to Ray Lewis into monster free-agent contracts. Of course, neither player lived up to his contract. Scott is surrounded by a talented LB corps, including David Harris, Calvin Pace, and *ahem* Vernon Gholston, so it’s possible this may actually work out.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh to Seattle
Considering that Seattle was picking fans out of the stands to play WR last year, bringing in Housh to stabilize the position can only help. He’s the perfect possession receiver for their West Coast offense. Nevertheless, Housh benefited greatly playing across from Chad Johnson, and he won’t have anyone in Seattle to take the heat off of him. In fantasy terms, this move downgrades him to a borderline WR2/WR3.
As Pittsburgh’s No. 3 WR, Washington had stats (40 catches, 631 yards, three TDs) just slightly inferior to Tennessee’s top WR, Justin Gage (34 catches, 651 yards, six TDs). Not sure what the Titans have against productive wideouts, but they haven’t had one catch for more that 750 yards since 2004. Washington’s skills, such as they are, will keep that streak alive.
Jon Kitna to Cowboys
Kitna is definitely an upgrade at backup QB. Of course, Bernie Lomax would be an upgrade over the clinically deceased Brad Johnson. Should Tony Romo experience any physical ailments related to girlfriend Jessica Simpson’s newly-enhanced physique, Kitna should be able come in and perform better than Johnson. If that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, it’s not.
Chris Canty to Giants
The Giants are ridiculously loaded on their defensive line, with eight or nine guys that could probably find a starting gig in the League. Canty can help out at either tackle or end, so now the unit is that much more formidable, and at the expense of divisional rivals Dallas. This acquisition gives the Giants the flexibility to trade a (slightly) lesser defensive lineman to address needs at other positions. The old crystal ball predicts an Anquan Boldin trade in the near future...
Stacy Andrews to Eagles
If Andrews’ knee is healed up – a big if, as he just had microfracture surgery – he’s an upgrade over aging tackle Jon Runyan. His other job will be to calm down brother and fellow Eagles lineman Shawn Andrews, who has been professionally diagnosed as “koo koo for Cocoa Puffs.”
Derrick Ward to Tampa Bay
Ward parlayed two years of running through defenses softened up by Brandon Jacobs into a four-year, $17 million contract with the Bucs. He’s an upgrade over Warrick Dunn, but it’s hard to tell what he brings to the table. Ward did rush for over 1,000 yards last year, but 215 of that came in one game. And again, he was facing defenses battered into an unrecognizable pulp by Jacobs.
Matt Birk to Ravens
Huge upgrade for the Ravens over center Jason Brown, who inexplicably got a big deal from St. Louis. Birk is a six-time Pro-Bowler and twice All-Pro. Now if the Ravens can just upgrade at WR, they become serious contenders for a championship. Joe Flacco must be living right.
Laveranues Coles to Bengals
I’m not as down on this move as some. Coles can be erratic, but he’s a consistent visitor to the end zone. When teamed up with Chad Johnson, Coles gives the Bengals a double shot of deep speed. If Carson Palmer gets healthy and Cedric Benson continues with his career turnaround, Cincinnati could have a very potent offense in 2009.
Mike Gilbert is a staff writer at RotoExperts.com and co-host of “Sports Smack” on Blog Talk Radio every Friday from 7-8 p.m. ET. You can reach Mike at email@example.com or follow on Twitter: @Rotoboom.