One Free-Agent Decision Every NFL Team Will Come to Regret
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Regrets? We think we have a few.
Not us at Bleacher Report. Instead, we’re talking about NFL business and the choices that teams have to make in terms of keeping and losing players.
Now exactly what are we talking about in terms of decisions and regret?
First, trades are excluded. We’re referring to teams releasing players (making them free agents), clubs not tendering offers to players, franchises opting to go in a different direction and letting an unrestricted free agent walk.
Or even a team bringing back one of its own free agents.
The latter is probably the toughest to really gauge because, sometimes, the offer from another team is far too lucrative to pass up. Then again, allowing that player to enter free agency is sometimes a sign that the club is willing to let him leave.
So here’s a look at all 32 teams and that possible “oops” moment when it came to a personnel decision that may come back to haunt the organization.
And here’s hoping you enjoy reading the piece.
You won’t regret it.
Arizona Cardinals: Releasing SS Adrian Wilson
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It’s amazing to think that a team that opened 4-0 in 2012 would have such an enormous overhaul of its roster.
Of course, when you go 1-11 the remainder of the season, there’s bound to be a change or two…or more.
Still, the release of 12-year veteran safety Adrian Wilson seemed a bit strange after he totaled 54 tackles, 3.0 sacks and an interception and a forced fumble.
Wilson was a five-time Pro Bowler, and it’s safe to say that the Cardinals defense did its best in 2012. Arizona defenders allowed only 32 touchdowns in 16 games last season.
Now Wilson will add a very solid presence to a New England Patriots secondary that certainly could use his help. As for the Cardinals, one can only hope that four-year pro Rashad Johnson will adequately fill the void left by Wilson’s departure.
Atlanta Falcons: Replacing DE John Abraham with DE Osi Umenyiora
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Before everyone gets up in arms, the focus here is on the word “replacing.”
Veteran defensive ends John Abraham and Osi Umenyiora are two of the best when it comes to meeting up with opposing quarterbacks.
A year ago, the Atlanta Falcons managed only 29 sacks, 10 by Abraham. Now he’s out, and Umenyiora (six sacks in 16 games with the New York Giants in 2012) takes over.
The question here is not Umenyiora’s ability, but rather, what kind of help will he be getting? In other words, who else will be consistently rushing the passer for Mike Nolan’s defense in 2013? It should be noted that defensive tackle Vance Walker (3.0) and cornerback Dunta Robinson (1.5) are also no longer with the team, and they contributed to the pass rush as well.
Then again, perhaps the answer lies in one of those 11 draft choices general manager Thomas Dimitroff has at his disposal come later in April.
Baltimore Ravens: Not Re-Signing FS Ed Reed
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There are those who would argue that the release of strong safety Bernard Pollard, the team’s top tackler in 2012, was the bigger loss for the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
But we will see “Reed” between the lines here (pun intended).
Free safety Ed Reed is one of the game’s greatest ball hawks. In 11 NFL seasons, the opportunistic defender has totaled 61 regular-season interceptions, which ranks 10th in league history. And his nine postseason picks are tied for the most in NFL annals.
More importantly, the Ravens lost quite a leader with the retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis. And while outside linebacker Terrell Suggs remains, Reed’s absence is yet another veteran voice that won’t be around the Baltimore locker room.
Buffalo Bills: Not Re-Signing G Andy Levitre
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It seemed like it may have been inevitable, but the loss of a consistent player is still regrettable.
This offseason, the Buffalo Bills appeared to have settled on designating either guard Andy Levitre or free safety Jairus Byrd their franchise player.
Ironically, it was Byrd who got the tag and Levitre who flew the coop—the latter signing a lucrative free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans.
Safe to say, it’s been a rough stretch (and that’s a stretch) for the Bills as of late. And while former starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (also now with the Titans) had his problems with consistency and turnovers the last few seasons, Levitre and the rest of the blockers up front usually afforded him pretty good pass protection.
Add in the fact that the Bills finished sixth in the league in rushing offense in 2012 and we’ll see the effects of his departure sooner rather than later.
Carolina Panthers: Releasing LB James Anderson
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Sometimes, you have to make some very tough decisions as an NFL team. In a salary cap league, balancing performance and pay is simply a reality.
Although he was limited to only a dozen games in 2012, outside linebacker James Anderson tied for third on the Carolina Panthers with 73 tackles.
Of course, when the team’s rookie middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is racking up 164 stops, Anderson’s figures pale a bit in comparison.
This is a Carolina team that appears loaded at the linebacker spot. But staying healthy at the position has been an issue for the club. Just ask former first-round picks Thomas Davis and Jon Beason.
In 2010 and 2011 (and partly because of those aforementioned injuries), Anderson led the Panthers with 130 and 145 tackles, respectively. Now he’ll attempt to rack up big numbers with the Chicago Bears.
Chicago Bears: Not Re-Signing LB Nick Roach
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What? It’s not Brian Urlacher?
Well, in essence it is.
The Chicago Bears have opted not to re-sign their eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker as Urlacher became an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Before that, linebacker Nick Roach, who also became an unrestricted free agent in March, opted to sign with the Oakland Raiders.
In recent years, when Urlacher was not available, Roach was his replacement in the middle. When Urlacher was on the field, Roach could be found at the outside linebacker spot opposite star defender Lance Briggs.
Now with Roach and Urlacher out of the mix, the Bears signed a pair of discarded veterans to fill their spots in the form of James Anderson (Carolina Panthers) and D.J. Williams (Denver Broncos).
Let’s see how much of this unit’s chemistry is affected by those changes.
Cincinnati Bengals: Not Re-Signing OT Andre Smith (yet)
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Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals are on a roll these days.
Yes, the franchise still hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990. But as of late, the team is getting many more opportunities to right that wrong.
The Bengals have been to the playoffs in two straight and three of the last four seasons. As far as the last two years, the team has combined an efficient defense with an improving offense led by quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green.
Part of the Bengals’ improvement has also been the play of an offensive line that features Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth, promising right guard Kevin Zeitler and former first-round tackle Andre Smith.
Granted, the Bengals did allow Dalton to be sacked 46 times last season, a big chunk of that coming late in the season. But according to the fine folks at Pro Football Focus, Smith graded out as the league’s fifth-best tackle in 2012 and allowed only seven sacks a year ago.
Perhaps, it’s just a matter of time before Smith, an unrestricted free agent, signs on the dotted line in Cincinnati. But now would probably be a good time.
Cleveland Browns: Not Re-Signing PK Phil Dawson
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With the re-appearance of the Cleveland Browns in 1999 came a placekicker named Phil Dawson, who finally found a home that year in the league.
While the Browns have yet to re-emerge as an NFL power, Dawson was a steady force for the team. His 305 career field goals have the 14-year veteran on the verge of cracking the league’s Top 20 all-time in that category.
Now Dawson goes from a franchise that has been to the playoffs just once during his tenure with the club to the San Francisco 49ers, a postseason participant each of the last two seasons.
As for the Browns, the lone placekicker on the roster these days is Brandon Bogotay. It’s safe to say that he (or someone else) has some big shoes to fill.
Especially the right one…
Dallas Cowboys: Not Re-Signing OLB Victor Butler
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No, we’re not going down the much-ballyhooed and debated notion that Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys just overpaid for quarterback Tony Romo.
Instead, we’ll focus on the team’s new 4-3 defensive look under coordinator Monte Kiffin and if the Pokes have the right personnel to make it work.
Via free agency, the Cowboys added outside linebacker Justin Durant (Detroit Lions) and safety Will Allen (Pittsburgh Steelers). But they also watched outside linebacker Victor Butler make the rounds and eventually, the defender signed with the New Orleans Saints.
Last season in Dallas, the Butler did do it when called upon, totaling 25 tackles, 3.0 sacks and three forced fumbles. He may be a better fit in the Saints' new 3-4 defense under new coordinator Rob Ryan, who Butler played for the last two seasons in Dallas.
We’ll see if the Cowboys regret not making a better effort (for numerous reasons) of preventing Butler from serving another team.
Denver Broncos: Signing CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
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One game does not make for a season, even if that game is a devastating double-overtime loss in the playoffs.
But the fact remains that the highly ranked Denver Broncos’ defense was taken apart by quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. The 38-35 double-overtime setback marked the most points allowed by the Broncos in a game in 2012.
While veteran cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Rahim Moore had forgettable afternoons that day in Denver, the fact remains that there were more issues with the Denver defense than people thought.
Despite giving up the second-fewest yards in the league and ranking third in the NFL in passing yards allowed (part of that due to 52 sacks, tied for the most in the NFL), Denver did allow 25 touchdown passes in 16 regular-season games.
Now the Broncos add the talented Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie opposite Bailey. But will we see the player who was part of the confusion known as the Philadelphia Eagles the last two seasons or the Pro Bowl performer with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009?
Inquiring minds, as well as head coach John Fox, would like to know.
Detroit Lions: Signing PK David Akers
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Here’s a prediction per se we would be glad to be wrong about.
Last season, then-San Francisco 49ers placekicker David Akers got the year off to a great start, nailing a 63-yard field goal (tying the NFL record) at Lambeau Field in the team’s win over the Green Bay Packers.
But when it was all said and done, the same player who set league marks for field-goal attempts (52) and field goals made (44) in a season in 2011 wound up missing nearly one-third (13) of his 42 tries.
Akers was 4-of-5 on field-goal tries in three postseason games. And that doesn’t include his missed field goal in the Super Bowl which was overturned by a penalty.
The Lions are replacing Jason Hanson, the NFL’s third-leading scorer of all time, with Akers, 14th in league annals in points scored. But we’ll soon find out whether Akers’ confidence took a major hit in 2012.
Green Bay Packers: Releasing SS Charles Woodson
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Few players can boast the overall resume of Charles Woodson.
From Heisman Trophy winner in 1997 to NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 with the Green Bay Packer to Super Bowl XLV champion, the 15-year NFL veteran has enjoyed quite a run.
Woodson’s presence in Green Bay was enormous. And if you thought he was productive during his days with the Oakland Raiders, he was off the charts during his time with the Packers.
In seven seasons with Green Bay, the heady defender totaled 38 interceptions, returning nine for touchdowns, and amassed 11.5 sacks. In his eight previous years with the Oakland Raiders, Woodson totaled 17 interceptions (returning two for scores) and only 5.5 sacks.
It’s just a matter of time before Woodson, who comes off an injury-riddled season, ends up on an NFL roster. And it will be interesting to see if he comes back to haunt the Packers one way or another.
Houston Texans: Releasing WR Kevin Walter
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Yes, the Houston Texans are looking to get a little younger at wide receiver.
And it remains to be seen if second-year pros such as DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin, as well as former undrafted free agents Lestar Jean and Jeff Maehl, can contribute opposite veteran Andre Johnson.
So was it a good idea to let go of Kevin Walter, who totaled at least 40 receptions in each of his last six seasons with the Texans?
Well, not only did Walter sign with the division rival Tennessee Titans, Houston watched pass-catching tight end/turned fullback James Casey leave via free agency for Philadelphia.
That doesn’t give quarterback Matt Schaub a lot of options in terms of receivers. And the veteran signal-caller could use all the help he can get after last year’s late-season swoon.
Indianapolis Colts: Signing OLB Erik Walden
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Congratulations to Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson for 2012.
The team’s executive (aided by the first overall pick in quarterback Andrew Luck) came up big during the draft and helped turn the Indianapolis Colts into a playoff team following a 2-14 season.
Now Grigson will try and duplicate that magic as the Colts have been very busy during free agency, adding tackle strong safety LaRon Landry (New York Jets), nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (San Diego Chargers) and cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona Cardinals) on the defensive side of the ball.
The team also signed outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay Packers) to bolster a pass rush that produced only 32 sacks last season. The Colts have opted not to re-sign Dwight Freeney, the former Pro Bowl defensive end who was out of place at outside linebacker in the team’s 3-4 scheme.
But is Walden the answer? The well-traveled veteran has totaled only 3.0 sacks in each of his last three seasons, all with the Packers. And some would question his ability to play the run (see San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and last year’s playoff loss).
Walden is one of five new faces via free agency on the Colts’ defense. And if Walden and the rest come up as big as Grigson’s draft class of 2012 did on offense, things could get very interesting for this club.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Not Re-Signing FB Greg Jones
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To say it was a pretty rough year for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012 is a massive understatement.
The team won just two games, a franchise worst, scored the third-fewest points in the league, and in terms of total, yards was nearly equally inept on offense (29th) as they were on defense (30th).
Need more proof? Veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew missed the final 10 games of the season and still led the Jaguars with 414 yards rushing.
Speaking of the ground game, fullback Greg Jones has been one of the club’s unheralded players. But he has helped paved the way for the Jacksonville ground game for many years. Now he’ll be the escort for Arian Foster in Houston, making it that much harder for the Jaguars to escape that AFC South basement.
Kansas City Chiefs: Signing CB Sean Smith
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This is actually a very tough call because to date, the Kansas City Chiefs have made a lot of outstanding moves.
But we’ll point out just one aspect of why we’re targeting cornerback Sean Smith, late of the Miami Dolphins.
Last season, Smith enjoyed a pretty solid year, totaling 53 tackles, 12 passes defensed, a pair of interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Ah, those interceptions.
In four seasons in Miami, Smith picked off only five passes. And while interceptions (like sacks) aren’t the beat-all, end-all, they are when you’re looking to improve a Chiefs’ team that totaled only 13 takeaways in 2012, tied for the fewest in the NFL. That total also included only seven interceptions, also tied for the fewest in the league this past season.
Nothing would make Kansas City fans happier than watching Smith total seven interceptions by his lonesome in 2013. But we’ll take a wait-and-see approach.
Miami Dolphins: Not Re-Signing RB Reggie Bush
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It was fascinating to watch running back Reggie Bush the last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
Known for his explosive abilities as a receiver and on special teams, running the football on a high-volume basis was never really Bush’s forte in five seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
That changed with the Miami Dolphins the last two years, as Bush totaled 216 and 227 carries for 1,086 and 986 yards, respectively.
This season, Joe Philbin’s team will go with Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller and could possibly add a running back with one of their 11 selections in April.
But Bush’s big-play presence will certainly be missed one way or another.
Minnesota Vikings: Signing QB Matt Cassel
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The Minnesota Vikings were one of the league’s biggest surprises in 2012, winning 10 games and grabbing a playoff berth after finishing with a combined nine victories from 2010-11.
They also may have surprised some people by signing quarterback Matt Cassel this offseason.
It’s hard to explain what has happened to the one-time New England Patriots performer. In 2010, he helped the Kansas City Chiefs win the AFC West, throwing 27 touchdown passes while turning over the football just eight times that season.
But apparently, you can’t spell “careless” without Cassel as over the last two years, the now former Chiefs performer has played in 18 games and given up the football a combined 30 times.
Now he heads to the Twin Cities, where quarterback Christian Ponder had his issues with interceptions after a great start last season.
This certainly bears some closer watching.
New England Patriots: Not Re-Signing WR Wes Welker
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It’s been quite a run for the New England Patriots.
There have been a dozen consecutive winning seasons by Bill Belichick’s club, dating back to 2001, including five Super Bowl appearances (three of those resulting in championships) as well as 10 AFC East titles.
As of late, the Patriots have been known more for scoring points than capturing those Lombardi Trophies. The team has put 500-plus points on the board in three straight and four of the last six years.
The Patriots, who also released Brandon Lloyd and watched Danny Woodhead leave via free agency (San Diego Chargers), signed three wide receivers this offseason.
All told, Danny Amendola (196), Donald Jones (82) and Michael Jenkins (354) have combined for 632 receptions during their NFL careers
In six seasons with the Patriots from 2007-12, Welker amassed 100 or more catches five times and totaled 672 receptions.
New Orleans Saints: Not Re-Signing OT Jermon Bushrod
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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees can only hope that opposing pass-rushers don’t suddenly come marching into the team’s offensive backfield.
All kidding aside, it takes a lot of work from a lot of people for the prolific passer to put up the numbers like he does. In each of the last two seasons, Brees has thrown for 5,000-plus yards and at least 40 scores.
There was a time when pass protection was a four-letter word for tackle Jermon Bushrod. But the emerging blocker has made big-time strides and wound up being a Pro Bowler each of the last two seasons.
This offseason, Bushrod signed a lucrative contract to join the Chicago Bears. It was the second major hit for the Saints’ offensive line in as many offseasons as former Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago.
We’re about to find out just how major of a hit. And hopefully for Brees, that actually doesn’t prove to be prophetic choice of words.
New York Giants: Allowing WR Victor Cruz to Become a Restricted Free Agent
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Are we sure that the New York Giants will have Pro Bowl wideout Victor Cruz at their disposal in 2013 and beyond?
The odds are indeed likely because teams around the league have foregone the signing of restricted free agents to offer sheets in recent seasons.
Of course, there’s always a chance that some team could make Cruz a big offer that the Giants would refuse to match. In return, Big Blue would receive a first-round pick as compensation. Could a team like the Minnesota Vikings or St. Louis Rams (each with two first-round selections in 2013) be willing to part with one of those picks?
Would another team looking to add a big-play presence to their offense be up to signing Cruz to a big-time offer sheet?
The last day for a team to sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet is April 19. We will soon know indeed.
New York Jets: Signing QB David Garrard
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First things first…
This is not an indictment of veteran quarterback David Garrard, who hasn’t played a regular-season NFL game since 2010 and his days with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But what the addition of Garrard does is put five quarterbacks on the New York Jets roster.
So what exactly does the future hold for four-year starter and former first-round pick Mark Sanchez, who has committed 26 turnovers in each of the last two seasons?
What about Greg McElroy? Tim Tebow? Matt Simms?
With a lot of departures and a new offensive coordinator in Marty Mornhinweg, it’s going to be interesting to see if the Green and White can rebound from its first losing season of the Rex Ryan Era?
At least it won’t be boring…because it never is.
Oakland Raiders: Releasing WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
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Admittedly, the Oakland Raiders have cleaned house this offseason in an attempt to end their current streak of 10 consecutive non-winning seasons.
Gone are a trio of not only former first-round picks but former Top 10 overall selections in safety Michael Huff (2006), linebacker Rolando McClain (2010) and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey—the Raiders’ first pick in 2009.
And it’s Heyward-Bey who was, perhaps, the most surprising. While he had his issues as a rookie when it came to hanging onto passes, he had made steady progress, and in 2011, he totaled career highs in receptions (64) and receiving yards (975). This past season, he totaled 41 catches and a career-best five scores.
Now the Raiders are not only down Heyward-Bey (now with the Indianapolis Colts) but also watched tight end Brandon Myers sign elsewhere (New York Giants).
Those are some big losses for new Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn to deal with.
Philadelphia Eagles: Releasing DL Cullen Jenkins
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With new defensive coordinator Billy Davis in the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia Eagles will be making the switch to the 3-4 defense in 2012.
So why part ways with veteran Cullen Jenkins.
The one-time Green Bay Packers standout has certainly seen his share of action in that alignment. And while these new-look Birds, under head coach Chip Kelly, hope to rebound from a pair of subpar seasons, it may have been fortuitous to keep the experienced defender around.’
To make matter worse, Jenkins (along with fellow former Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson) wound up signing with the division rival New York Giants. So the Birds’ decision to part ways may really come back to haunt the rebuilt Eagles.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Releasing OLB James Harrison
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When it comes to leading the league in total defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers have turned that into an art form.
Mike Tomlin’s team has allowed the fewest yards in the league two straight years and five times in the last nine seasons, dating back to 2004.
But as of late, making the big play on the defensive side of the ball has been an issue. Tomlin’s team has forced just 35 turnovers in its last 32 regular-season contests, dating back to 2011. The Super Bowl XLV-bound Steelers totaled 35 takeaways in 16 games in 2010.
Now this defense will be without outside linebacker James Harrison, who has made a habit of getting to the quarterback and relieving him of his duties when it comes to possessing the football.
We shall see if the Steelers can find (or already have) the right heir apparent.
St. Louis Rams: Not Re-Signing WR Brandon Gibson
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You were expecting Danny Amendola?
Head coach Jeff Fisher did a tremendous job in his first season with the St. Louis Rams, taking a two-win team from 2011 and getting them within a victory of a winning campaign this past season.
Just as importantly, the club proved it could play with the big boys in the suddenly improved NFC West. No team in the division had a better record (4-1-1) when going mano a mano with the San Francisco 49ers (1-0-1), Seattle Seahawks (1-1) and Arizona Cardinals (2-0) in 2012.
But this year’s Rams will gave a totally different look on offense as leading rusher Steven Jackson (Atlanta Falcons) and leading pass-catcher Amendola (New England Patriots) are elsewhere.
And so is wideout Brandon Gibson (Miami Dolphins), who caught 51 passes for 691 yards and a team-high five scores in 2012. In four seasons in St. Louis, Gibson played in 55 games and totaled 174 receptions.
With a young receiving corps in St. Louis, it will be interesting to see if the loss of the more experienced Gibson isn’t felt somewhat.
San Diego Chargers: Not Re-Signing OLB Shaun Phillips
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This one appears to be a bit of a head scratcher.
Then again, the San Diego Chargers have been a bit of enigma these days. Four straight AFC West titles have been followed up by three consecutive non-playoff appearances.
Now, new head coach Mike McCoy and company have spent the offseason giving quarterback Philip Rivers some new blockers up front (for now), while the defense will be missing some familiar names in cornerback Quentin Jammer (unsigned) and Antoine Cason (Arizona Cardinals), nose tackle Antonio Garay (released and signed with New York Jets) and outside linebacker Shaun Phillips.
Last season, that last name mentioned totaled 50 tackles and a team-high 9.5 sacks. Throw in two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries (one returned for a score) and the veteran defender comes off a pretty respectable season.
But Phillips remains unsigned, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be heading back to San Diego. Time will tell if second-year pro Melvin Ingram can adequately fill those shoes.
San Francisco 49ers: Signing DT Glenn Dorsey
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The San Francisco 49ers came up a bit short in their attempt to win a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title. Jim Harbaugh’s team was edged by the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31, back in February in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Despite a late-season slump in 2012, the Niners defense is one of the best in the league. But it took a pair of free-agent hits this offseason with the losses of starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga (Philadelphia Eagles) and two-time Pro Bowl free safety Dashon Goldson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Back to that aforementioned slump, some of that was brought about by the non-presence or hampered ability of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Justin Smith.
Now the Niners have added former first-round pick Glenn Dorsey (Kansas City Chiefs) for some depth behind Smith. In five seasons with the Chiefs, Dorsey rarely looked the part of a fifth overall pick (2008), and last season, he played in only four games before landing on injured reserve.
It will be interesting to see if Harbaugh can light a fire under Dorsey. Don’t bet against it, but the proof will definitely be in the pudding.
Seattle Seahawks: Releasing KR/RB Leon Washington
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Yes, the Seattle Seahawks obtained explosive jack-of-all-trades Percy Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason.
The former first-round pick has emerged as one of the game’s big-play threats as a receiver, runner and a return artist. His resume in four seasons in the Twin Cities reads 280 catches, 20 for scores, as well as nine more touchdowns on runs (four) and kickoff returns (five).
Harvin played in only nine games last season and still led the Vikings with 62 receptions. And the speedster has only played in all 16 contests just once to date.
Leon Washington remains one of the premier punt and kickoff returners in the NFL, and now, he’ll be doing his thing for the New England Patriots.
But one can’t help that retaining Washington would give head coach Pete Carroll a talented insurance policy should Harvin not be available for all 16 games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Not Re-Signing DT Roy Miller
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A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers featured the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL.
And to be fair, the league’s worst pass defense.
Still, the Bucs managed to stop the run with much greater consistency than in 2011, when they were dead last in the NFL in that category.
And defensive tackle Roy Miller was certainly part of that.
Miller will stay in the Sunshine State and now try to help the Jacksonville Jaguars bounce back from a season in which they finished 30th in the NFL against the run.
Time will soon tell just how much head coach Greg Schiano and company will miss the 6’2”, 310-pound defender.
Tennessee Titans: Signing RB Shonn Greene
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Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson has been in the NFL for five seasons and has yet to run for less than 1,000 yards in any of those campaigns.
His career-rushing resume reads 6,888 yards and 44 touchdowns, including that memorable 2009 when he ran for…2,006.
So why add former New York Jets running back Shonn Greene to the mix? Yes, in these days of the two-back system, you certainly need another body.
Then again, Johnson is one of few workhorse runners in the league these days, and at a moment’s notice, can go the distance from anywhere on the field. Just ask the Jets, who saw the speedster run 94 yards for a score last December at Nashville.
It will be interesting to see how many carries Greene actually takes from Johnson. And it will be even more interesting to see if Johnson dips below 4.0 yards per carry for the first time in six seasons.
Washington Redskins: Not Re-Signing LB Lorenzo Alexander
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Gone are the days when the Washington Redskins would provide critics with a laundry list of questionable signings and decisions.
So in some ways, we feel like we’re almost nitpicking here.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, was the NFC special teams representative in the Pro Bowl. He also saw action with the Redskins’ defensive unit, totaling 2.5 sacks—despite not starting a game.
The opportunity to become a full-time starting outside linebacker in Arizona for the one-time defensive tackle was obviously too good to pass up, and the Redskins would have been hard-pressed to keep him.
But we’ll see how this actually affects the team’s kick coverage in 2013, as well as its depth on defense.