NFL Free Agents 2011: 10 Free-Agent Signings You Would Only See in "Madden"
The owners ratified a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that would put an end to the lockout and open the doors for 2011 free agency in the NFL. Unfortunately, the players have not voted on the issue, and so the lockout remains intact.
Once it ends, one of the shortest offseasons in the NFL’s history will officially begin and a free-agent frenzy will soon follow. There is not much time to sign players with the preseason commencing in less than a month.
Thus, you will see some exciting moves in the coming weeks in preparation for the upcoming season.
Worst-case scenario, the lockout continues, and the only way to watch our favorite teams play is by picking up a controller and sliding Madden into our game consoles.
Many of us like to build fantasy teams with Pro Bowlers anchoring each position on the depth chart so that we can enjoy endless rushing touchdowns from Chris Johnson and passing milestones with Tom Brady.
Madden is a place where people can make All-Star teams and take a break from the complexities of salary caps, CBAs and revenue sharing. Only in a video game can you have Peyton Manning, Andre Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald on the same team.
There is a fine line between video games and reality. A line that separates what is possible from what is just a fantasy.
So without further ado, here are the 10 free-agent signings you would only see in Madden.
10. LaMarr Woodley to Chicago Bears
Championship-contending Bears teams have been predicated on swarming defense. The team has always been defensive minded, especially as of recently with guys like Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher getting after the quarterback.
Peppers had a strong showing in 2010 as he made his sixth Pro Browl since entering the league in 2002. Urlacher in the middle and Briggs on the outside make up a great linebacking duo, but Woodley would take Chicago’s defense to that next level.
At 26 years old, Woodley is in his prime and would add his playoff experience to a Bears team that wants to get back to the Super Bowl.
I don’t know how realistic it would be, but Woodley and his 10 sacks would certainly increase the Bears rating in Madden.
9. Sidney Rice to Green Bay Packers
Brett Favre dared to do the unthinkable when he signed with long-time rivals the Minnesota Vikings. After decades at Lambeau Field, Favre sided with the enemy just to pad his stats late in his career, and the fans still haven’t forgiven him for it.
The move was a shocking one, like something out of a video game.
If Sidney Rice decides to do the reverse of what Favre did and sign with Green Bay, it would also be a surprise. Rice is extremely fast, has good hands and has made a name for himself so far in his first four seasons as a professional. The only thing that has slowed him down has been injuries.
Rice had a standout 2009 season recording 1,312 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He can be a No. 1 receiver on any team so long as he stays healthy.
If you add him to the Packers offense with Aaron Rodgers feeding him the ball, who knows how much more damage the Packers quarterback can cause with another weapon like Rice at the receiver position.
8. Tamba Hali to Pittsburgh Steelers
Defense and Pittsburgh are two things that just go together. The Steelers have traditionally been a dominant defense from their glory years of the Steel Curtain to their recent success under Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin.
Heinz Field is home to some of the biggest defensive names in the league with players like Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. The team finished second in total defense a season ago giving up just 14.5 points per game and recording an impressive 48 sacks.
Tamba Hali to Pittsburgh would simply be unfair. Hali led the AFC with 14.5 sacks last season and made his first Pro Bowl after having a breakout season.
The Steelers do not need much help on defense. They especially do not need help getting to the quarterback. But a defense with Hali, Polamalu, Harrison and Woodley would be something of an All-Star team in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately, it’s probably too good to be true.
7. Cullen Jenkins to New York Giants
The New York Giants set a record last season knocking out six quarterbacks. Tony Romo, Shaun Hill, Jay Cutler, Todd Collins, Tavaris Jackson, and Matt Moore all fell victim to the relentless pass rush of the Giants which devastated offensive lines across the league a season ago.
The Giants had one of the most impressive defensive lines with the likes of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, Barry Cofield, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard.
Could you imagine if Cullen Jenkins joined this talented group of defenders?
One of Green Bay’s biggest heroes on route to the team’s 2010 championship, Jenkins was a beast. He had success sacking the quarterback and stopping the run despite drawing double-teams from offenses.
It would be absolutely crazy having to block this guy in addition to the players previously mentioned. The Giants pride themselves on defense and a move for Jenkins would be a blockbuster acquisition that would certainly allow the team to do more on the defensive side of the ball.
Quarterbacks beware if Jenkins becomes a Giant!
6. Ahmad Bradshaw to New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are a good offense. That might just be the biggest understatement of the year. Drew Brees has created one of the best west coast offenses in the league, using his running backs in the passing game regularly.
The Saints won a Super Bowl without having a dominant running game. As a result, they drafted former Heisman winner Mark Ingram out of Alabama. Ingram is a power back who uses his big frame to truck defenders and break free for extra yardage.
He is just the type of running back New Orleans can use in order to have regular success running the ball.
It would be highly unlikely but really interesting if the Saints signed Ahmad Bradshaw to complement Ingram’s game. Bradshaw could recreate the Earth, wind and fire running game that he was a part of in the New York Giants Super Bowl-winning season.
Ingram would pound the defense, get them tired, and that would spell success for the speedy Ahmad Bradshaw who has proven how good he can be.
A good running game would only open things up for Drew Brees in the passing game, making New Orleans a juggernaut offense.
5. DeAngelo Williams to Indianapolis Colts
Just imagine if Peyton Manning had a decent running game.
He has literally carried the entire offense on his back without getting any consistent contributions from Joseph Addai or any other running back for that matter.
Manning never had the luxury of handing the ball off and getting to work with a second-and-short. DeAngelo Williams would totally change the offense for the Indianapolis Colts and definitely for the better.
He would make them a two-dimensional team, which is something that has not been the case for a long time.
Williams would keep defenses honest, cause teams to stack the box, and open things up for Peyton Manning in the passing game.
Manning would reap the benefits of having a dynamic running back like Williams on his team as would the Colts defense which would get a lot more rest on the sideline with a running game that would eat some clock.
Such an acquisition for Indianapolis would be huge but not very realistic because of all the money that is tied to Manning and Reggie Wayne.
4. Antonio Cromartie to Dallas Cowboys
Last year’s Cowboys defense was supposed to be a formidable one. Many thought DeMarcus Ware on the line and Terence Newman in the secondary along with some other talented players would make Dallas a top-10 defense.
They actually wound up finishing the 10th worst defense in the NFL, allowing 243 passing yards per game and 27 points per game.
Antonio Cromartie to Dallas would bring some much needed help to the Cowboys secondary and add a star name to the team that wears a star on its helmet.
But it just doesn’t seem like a place where Cromartie will end up this coming season.
However, the Cowboys were looking closely at Prince Amukamara in the draft so it might now be totally out of the question for America’s Team to think big and sign the 2007 Pro Bowler.
One thing we have learned over the years is that you cannot count out Jerry Jones.
3. Braylon Edwards to New England Patriots
It is unbelievable what Tom Brady has done in New England with the receiving core he has been given. It seems as though he can win with anyone playing wide receiver.
Excluding Wes Welker, the Patriots do not have many household names at the position.
Brady has continued to shine with guys like Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, and Alge Crumpler. He even had two rookie tight ends last year, but that didn’t stop him one bit from having quite possibly his best season ever.
Last season’s MVP saw a disinterested but nonetheless talented Randy Moss get traded away midseason only to make Belichick’s offense run more effectively. Needless to say, the Patriots head coach doesn’t like distractions like Moss in the locker room.
That is what would make a Braylon Edwards move to New England very unrealistic. Edwards has had discipline problems in the past but there is no question that he can catch the ball.
Who knows how many touchdowns and yards Brady would throw for if he had Edwards on his team . It would give him a legitimate down-field threat and add to the already dominant passing game of New England.
To top it all off, Edwards signing with a team that he emphatically celebrated against in the playoffs last year would only happen in Madden.
I’m not sure that Brady and the Patriots have forgotten his infamous back flip in Foxborough following that thrilling AFC Divisional Playoff game won by the Jets.
2. Santonio Holmes to Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the speediest and most explosive offenses in the NFL. Michael Vick is a dynamic quarterback who can eat off chunks of yardage on scrambles and tear apart the secondary with his rocket arm and pinpoint accuracy.
The scary part is that Vick isn’t the only dangerous player on the Eagles offense that opposing defenses fear. Philadelphia has one of the fastest wide receivers in the league in DeSean Jackson, another speedy receiver in Jeremy Maclin and the agile running back LeSean McCoy .
It is already extremely difficult to run stride for stride with these speed burners, just imagine Santonio Holmes lining up at the wide receiver position for Philadelphia.
It would be a nightmare for cornerbacks and safeties to deal with, making the Eagles the best offense in the NFL.
Vick’s team doesn’t need much more help on offense. We have heard the name Plaxico Burress linked with Philadelphia, but Holmes to the Eagles would only happen in Madden.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha to New York Jets
While it’s not totally out of the question that the Jets sign Nnamdi Asomugha, it seems pretty unlikely that New York could afford signing another one of the league’s top cornerbacks.
A dream duo of Revis and Asomugha would sell lots of jerseys and provide the Jets with the best cornerback combo the league has ever seen.
One can only imagine what both would do against receiving cores throughout the league. One can also imagine what Rex Ryan would draw up on defense if he had Asomugha and Revis at his disposal.
The Jets would be able to play man coverage for virtually the entire game and send more blitzes without having to worry about a breakdown in coverage down the field.
Asomugha would own an island alongside Revis, bring about some friendly competition between the two cornerbacks, and ultimately take the Jets to the Super Bowl considering how badly the defense performed in the AFC Championship game last season versus the Steelers.
But save yourself some time and stop dreaming about it. Asomugha to Gang Green would only happen in a video game.