Free agency is a great way to add that final piece to the puzzle for your team. But when a free agent signs with a new team, it means his old team now has lost a piece of their puzzle.
The reality of free agency is that it hurts teams as much as it helps them. Teams with a lot of free agents stand to lose a good chunk of their talent if too many expiring contracts tax their salary cap limits. Decisions must be made and some players have to go.
Here is a look at some NFL teams who could lose a lot if free agency goes badly for them.
The Jets have seven free agents this year, including Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Brad Smith.
The Jets could lose the bulk of their receivers in the space of a few days if they are not able to sign any of these guys.
The Jets have indicated they want to keep Holmes and Edwards, but Smith is an unknown.
The Chargers have Darren Sproles, Mike Tolbert, Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee and a few other guys on their free agent list this season.
Jackson already has the franchise tag, so it becomes a numbers game for the offense. The Chargers have to decide who is worth paying and who can be replaced by someone cheaper.
There are no easy decisions there, but that is why the front office guys are paid the big bucks.
DeAngelo Williams, Matt Moore, Ryan Kalil and Charles Johnson are all on the Panthers free agent list among several other names.
The Panthers placed a bunch of RFA Tags on several of their players before the CBA expired last week, but no one knows if those tags will mean anything once a new deal is signed.
The Panthers are a rebuilding team and they have the bad luck this year of having almost all of their good players up for new contracts.
The Panthers will do what they can to keep who they can, but if the grass is greener somewhere else, and there is opportunity to leave, some of these free agents may decide to practice their craft elsewhere.
The Giants have several key free agents this offseason whose departure could cause the team to completely re-evaluate their offseason plans.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith, Mathias Kiwanuka and Kevin Boss all need new contracts. That is three key parts of the offense and a good defensive end.
The Giants have to decide if Bradshaw is worth signing to a long-term contract or if they will stick with Brandon Jacobs and get some youth in the backfield as depth.
Eli Manning is going to want to keep Steve Smith and Kevin Boss while Kiwanuka's value will be determined by Tom Coughlin and the front office.
The Dolphins have both top running backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in free agency, as well as Patrick Cobbs.
That is almost the entire backfield.
In addition, both Tyler Thigpen and Chad Pennington are free agents, but their value at this point is questionable. Still, they know the system and Pennington is good when he is healthy.
Which is never.
Richie Incognito and Tony McDaniel also are up for contracts, meaning the Dolphins could lose a valuable offensive lineman and defensive end in addition to having to rebuild the quarterback and running back positions.
It is going to be an interesting offseason for the Dolphins.
When you look at the Vikings, you have to remember Brett Favre technically is a free agent.
Now that I have ruined your day, the Vikings also have Sidney Rice, Ray Edwards and several members of their defense up for new contracts.
Rice's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, already has said Rice will test the market. The team has tagged Chad Greenway and can only wait for a new CBA to be signed before they get their house in order.
No, do not expect them to re-sign Tarvaris Jackson.
The Packers have two wide receivers in Donald Driver and James Jones up for new contracts, and the Packers tendered Jones.
The tender may be a non-issue under a new CBA, but Jones says he wants to be a starter, which is difficult for the Packers to do if Driver stays and keeps the starting job along with Greg Jennings.
Running back Brandon Jackson also is a free agent, but the Packers now have to weigh his value along with Ryan Grant and James Starks.
The Jaguars have a mandate to make the playoffs this year, or Jack Del Rio will be looking for a new job.
With that in mind, keeping Marcedes Lewis has to be the Jaguars top priority once business resumes.
In addition, top receiver Mike Sims-Walker also is up for a new contract as is Justin Durant, Sean Considine and Kirk Morrison.
While the Jaguars do not have a ton of free agents this year, the few they have mainly are key players.
Haloti Ngata signed his free agent tender, but that still leaves everyone else on the team who was assigned a tender, including the assistant janitor.
Marc Bulder, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Donte Stallworth, Jared Gaither, backup center David Hale and Dawan Landry lead the names on the Ravens free agent list.
The Ravens have one of the best front offices in the league, so you can bet Ozzie Newsome will be able to sift through his mound of contract paperwork and come up with the right mix.
Still, even with the Ngata signing, the Ravens still have a lot of talent hanging out, waiting for a new CBA.
Like the Ravens, the Saints assigned a whole bunch of free agent tenders that may be meaningless under a new collective bargaining agreement.
But with Darren Sharper, Roman Harper, Scott Shanle, Clint Ingram, Remi Ayodele, Jonathan Goodwin and Jermon Bushrod potentially leaving, the Saints roster could have a whole new look to it in 2011.