2010 NFL Free Agency: Grading the Top 10 Signings (So Far)
With NFL free agency in full swing, I thought I'd throw out a mini report card on the 10 biggest signings.
I'm only taking into consideration players that switched teams, because I look at players resigning with their teams as never having really been a free agent. Plus, it's easier to grade a signing when the player skips to another team.
In reverse order...
No. 10 - Kyle Vanden Bosch - DE - Detroit Lions
He is 31 years old and coming off a slow season, but with the Lions needing help in just about every facet of the game, this signing isn't all that bad.
He isn't going to get you the 12 sacks he once did, but he can still provide pressure on the quarterback.
After Julius Peppers, the free agent class of defenisve ends runs slim, so this signing gets a little better seeing as how they didn't have much to choose from to start with.
If he can stay healthy, he is an automatic upgrade on run plays and pass plays over the garbage platter the Lions served up at defensive end for the 2009 season.
No. 9 - Aaron Kampman - DE - Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville had 14 sacks last season.
That's in 16 games.
That should be enough said, but Kampman has injury issues and hasn't been the same, dominant pass rusher that he once was.
Still, though, this move is a definite uprgade for the Jags, and even if he plays the same position as Derrick Harvey and is coming off a torn ACL in November, it's still a good enough move to be considered a good signing considering the available defensive ends.
No. 8 - Tony Pashos - OT - Cleveland Browns
Pashos could become a bigger "steal" if he can stay healthy. He ended last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, but has proven himself durable in his career, so it's obvious that he is at full strength and should remain there.
Pashos is known for his run blocking, and with Jerome Harrison "breaking through" last season, it becomes apparent that the Browns are going to go with a power running game starting next season.
No. 7 - Chester Taylor - RB - Chicago Bears
Taylor is one of the best third down backs in the NFL right now. He has great hands, and can break big plays on any given touch.
The Bears running attack (if you could consider it an attack) needed a transformation. Matt Forte is showing himself not to be able to handle feature back status, so an upgrade at backup was necessary.
Heck, I could see Chester Taylor taking the starting spot from Forte with a good camp and preseason.
At its worst, Taylor is going to help the passing game on third downs, giving Cutler a great outlet to work with.
The only reason this signing isn't higher on the list is because the one thing Matt Forte has done well is catch the ball, so it wouldn't seem that the Bears needed another pass catching running back.
But, Taylor is also an accomplished lead back, having rushed for over 1,200 yards in his lone season as featured back.
Grade: Solid B
No. 6 - Antonio Bryant - WR - Cincinnati Bengals
He may have come off a slow season, but honestly who wouldn't have playing for that JV Bucs team.
With the Bengals needing a homerun threat to solidify their passing game, they couldn't have went after a better (available) wide receiver.
There aren't many other options available on the free agent market, so the Bengals came out with the jewel of the bunch by signing Bryant.
He will help stretch the field for Carson Palmer and will be a great complimentary wideout to Ochocinco. Watch out for those two to have great seasons together.
Grade: Solid B/Weak B+
No. 5 - Thomas Jones - RB - Kansas City Chiefs
The only reason I have Thomas Jones above Chester Taylor is because I like the signing for the Chiefs better than I do the Taylor signing for the Bears.
With Jamaal Charles looking more and more like a star running back, Thomas Jones could be the perfect complimentary back for that team. Also some insurance in case Charles' end to last season was some sort of mirage.
At his age, Jones has proved himself a worthy back, but started to show some decline towards the end of last season, which makes him the perfect candidate for the back end of a running back by committee. And, that is saying something, because he is still a good player.
I believe he will be used mostly in short yardage terms next season, and to spell Charles for about 10 touches a game.
Grade: Solid B/Weak B+
No. 4 - Karlos Dansby - LB - Miami Dolphins
Dansby is fast and does great work in coverage, which is a valuable tool for a linebacker to have these days with tight ends becoming more athletic, and defensive coordinators asking more out of their linebackers in the passing game.
I like Dansby, but I just don't think he has what it takes to be a star in the NFL. I think he has benefitted from playing in a vastly inferior league and now that he is moving to the AFC East, some of his weaknesses might be highlighted more.
I still think it's a good signing for the Dolphins, seeing as how they need to fill out their linebacking corps. That defense is a work in progress, but with the Cardinals closing shop, he really had no choice but to move on and hope for a better situation elsewhere.
No. 3 - Antrel Rolle - S - New York Giants
He has had tackling issues and reads plays wrong too often to be a great safety.
But, he has great range, speed, and ball skills to make up for his weaknesses.
The Giants definitely needed to upgrade their roster at the safety position, and with Antrel Rolle being the best available, you can't disregard this signing. They needed to do it.
If Kenny Phillips can get healthy fast, he and Rolle could form a fantastic tandem at the safety position. The Giants gave up too many touchdowns in the passing game last season, and Rolle has fashioned himself a force when the ball is in his hands.
He will definitely make some big plays for the Giants defense. He might give up some big plays, but I have a feeling he'll make more than he'll give up.
No. 2 - Dunta Robinson - CB - Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons sucked at pass coverage in 2009. That is a given.
Dunta Robinson will automatically come in and help shore up some of the holes they allowed to open up on just about every pass play.
Dunta isn't your interception magnet you'd like to have at corner, but he has good man-to-man coverage skills to go along with great range.
I don't think he is a game-changing corner, but he is the best the Falcons could do in a weak offseason for cornerbacks.
Grade: B+, A- if he outperforms what is expected of him
No. 1 - Julius Peppers - DE - Chicago Bears
The Bears needed help rushing the quarterback.
They got that help with Julius Peppers arriving.
He averages over 10 sacks per season, and has 25 over his last two seasons, so if he just stays even with his output, the Bears will be very happy with his production.
The one question surrounding him is whether or not he has the desire to succeed past what he is capable of. In Carolina, it would seem that he would take plays off, games off, and even entire seasons off. So, hopefully the Bears can keep him happy by winning some games and get the best he has to offer.
Even if he doesn't play well, this is a move the Bears absolutely had to make. Their defense used to be their staple and they need to get that swagger back if they are going to be a winning franchise.
Grade: Solid A
Honorable Mention for Most Puzzling Signing
Why not just resign Thomas Jones?
Some people are saying that the money might be "right" in the LT situation, but Thomas Jones signed a 2 year/$5 million deal. It is reported that LT got near the same exact deal. Even if the LT deal is incentive laden and they can walk away after this season, wouldn't it still make sense to sign Jones and give yourself a better chance at winning?
Why sign a deal basically saying you are hoping the player gets hurt so you can wash your hands of the deal? Everybody knows that he's not going to perform to his old capabilities, so it's not as if they are expecting him to come out and take over for Shonn Greene. They weren't even expecting that from Thomas Jones.
Perhaps there are some behind the scenes factors playing into this decision.