People think of free agency as a way NFL teams get better. Every year, pundits guesstimate cap space, veterans restructure their contracts and the media asks every free-agent-to-be if he'll give a "hometown discount." Fans and media earmark every dollar left under the cap as one to be spent plundering other teams' rosters for new talent.
Every new arrival, though, means a departure.
When a veteran player switches teams, he can leave a huge hole in his wake. Teams that haven't prepared for the departure could be left in the lurch. Teams that don't have the cap space or draft picks to replace the veteran could be left taking a big step down—or praying an unheralded player takes a big step up.
For each of the following players now counting his signing-bonus money in a new city, his old team will scramble to replace him—or suffer all season long instead.