NFL Free-Agent Signings: Players Who Will Thrive with New Teams

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

March 14, 2013; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker talks to the media during a press conference held at the teams training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Teams diving into the free-agent market understand they are taking a risk. In most cases, front offices are forced to pay an inflated price in order to land the players necessary to fill holes on the roster. The success rate on those deals is marginal.

However, that doesn't stop teams from taking some chances every offseason with hopes the pieces added to the mix will result in a postseason appearance and potentially a Super Bowl.

If the right decisions are made, the signings definitely improve a team's chances.

Knowing that, let's analyze some players who landed with new teams and should be able to live up to their new contracts. There's no doubt that all three are expected to have a major impact next season.

All contract numbers courtesy of Rotoworld.


Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions

The Lions immediately emerged as a perfect fit for Bush. The team's high-powered passing game featuring Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson didn't have a dynamic running back to help keep defenses honest while also making plays out of the backfield.

Now it does.

Bush showed over the past two seasons with the Miami Dolphins that's he capable of being more than a situational player and parlayed that into a four-year deal from Detroit. He should step right into a starting role.

Mikel Leshoure will likely continue to receive some touches, especially in short-yardage situations. But when the Lions are attempting to open things up, which happens quite often given their defensive woes, Bush will be a go-to option and should excel.


Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

There are plenty of receivers who never get to play with a quarterback on the same level as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. After all, they are two of the best to ever play the position. Welker is now fortunate enough to get to play alongside both after signing in Denver.

Amazingly, he should have even more space to operate with the Broncos. Teams will be forced to respect the dynamic combination of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside, which means very few double-teams for Welker.

Also, Manning's arm strength is no longer what it was during his prime. He doesn't mind taking the checkdown option when the defense continues to give it to him. It should lead to plenty of high-volume games for the new Broncos wideout.


Dannell Ellerbe, Miami Dolphins

Ellerbe didn't get nearly the amount of credit he deserved for the Baltimore Ravens' championship run. While it's not a surprise given the other stars on the defense, most notably Ed Reed and now-retired Ray Lewis, his production (32 playoff tackles and an INT) warranted a big deal.

He got it from the Dolphins (five years, $35 million) and now gets a chance to prove himself outside the shadow of Baltimore's star defenders. There's no reason to believe he won't be up to the task in the middle of Miami's defense.

The Dolphins ranked in the middle of the pack against the run last season. The addition of Ellerbe should push that toward the top 10 and, with some draft improvements in the secondary, they will have the foundation for a much-improved defense.