DeAngelo Williams, RB
If one thing can be said about free agency it is this. Better to keep what you've got than to hope you can get better. The player who knows your playbook is already in a better position to help you.
In the first few days of free agency NFL teams have swept up some big name free agents. Many of these big names stayed with the club they played for this past season.
We're going to go through the most important that have signed.
It should be noted that the best way to build a winning football team is through the draft and in step retaining those drafted players. Props go to these clubs for rewarding the hard work put in by their stars.
Charles Johnson, DE
Johnson received the most lucrative deal of the off-season so far, inking $72 million over 6 years. His performance on a team that fell upon hard times last year was admirable. What makes him even more intriguing is that he was successful without the presence of Julius Peppers to draw double teams.
Johnson will have a lot to live up to in 2011, you don't make that kind of money to be eye candy.
The Panthers may have overpaid a little here. This kind of money going to Peppers would have made more sense. But I am sure the defense will continue to benefit with Johnson and hopefully he can continue to produce at a high level.
Doug Free, LT
Tony Romo is smiling somewhere. The Cowboys may have cut his #3 receiver and his hard pounding running back but they did sign the man charged with protecting his blind side.
Free will make $32 million over 4 years with his new contract. The Cowboys wasted little time doing everything they could to guarantee he would stay in Dallas.
Free quieted critics last year by having a solid season and will look to justify the confidence placed in him by this new deal.
One of the big question marks going into the draft was about the offensive line. With Free staying and 1st round pick Tyron Smith coming in the Cowboys are sure to be effective offensively in 2011.
Santana Moss, WR
This is a true sign of loyalty on behalf of Moss. The Redskins are trading away their only legitimate quarterback, Donovan McNabb, so his numbers can't be great without a real passer in Washington.
Despite reported interest by other teams, namely Chicago, Moss agreed to a 3-year deal worth $15 million.
Moss is starting to get older and this could be his last multi-year deal before he starts the one-and-done trend that old receivers go through. As a football fan I truly hope things work out for him.
Washington has one of the most respected and loyal athletes in the game. His leadership in the receiver corp will be invaluable.
Eric Weddle, S
Here is one for you to puzzle over. I am a big fan of Weddle and he has done a great job in San Diego. However, he is no Ed Reed and to pay him $40 million over the next 5 years seems a bit of a stretch.
And here we all thought the Chargers were penny pinchers.
Weddle is a top notch safety with talent enough to earn his cash, just didn't expect it to be so much. San Diego will expect a lot out of this young man now.
Other teams reported interest in Weddle. His age, 26, makes him a valuable starter for the long term. And his production, though not worth forty large is undeniable. Shrewd business by San Diego.
Santonio Holmes, WR
Holmes found his perfect fit in New York, and a slight pay cut wasn't going to stop him from signing on for the long haul. At slightly below $10 million a year for the next 5 years it's not like he'll be sleeping in a box anyway.
The Jets are attracting some big names and Holmes is just the start. Drafted originally by Pittsburgh the Jets invested in him through trade and weren't going to lose on that investment by letting him get away.
For the sake of young QB Mark Sanchez this might be the best move of the off-season by New York. Holmes makes the offense better. My favorite signing so far.
DeAngelo Williams, RB
The Panthers have done the best this off-season so far at retaining their own players. The running game was the one area of strength last season on their weak team.
In an effort to rebuild and contend they managed to also keep the strength of the team and the leadership in tact.
Williams helps rookie QB Cam Newton greatly. Providing a young QB with a quality running game and an experienced blocker and check down receiver is huge.
Williams was adamant about staying in Carolina. I think it is amusing that his 5-year $43 million dollar deal is only slightly more than a certain safety just made, perhaps there was a hometown discount involved.
Marshal Yanda, OL
Yanda was one of the top priorities for Baltimore this off-season and they wasted little time making sure he stayed a Raven.
Yanda is a valuable part of an offensive line charged with protecting Joe Flacco and opening holes for Ray Rice. Staying strong in the trenches is also particularly necessary when you play the Steelers twice a year.
Yanda will make $32 million over the course of his 5-year deal.
Quincy Black, LB
The young Bucs wanted to make sure they didn't lose their drafted prospects and rewarded the growth of linebacker standout Black with a 5-year $29 million dollar deal.
The Bucs plan to build a team from the ground up requires them to retain players and Black was a big piece to that plan.
Other teams inquired about his services but in the end he remains a Buc.
Ike Taylor, CB
There was speculation for some time that the Steelers were ready to part ways with Taylor.
The typical way of business around Pittsburgh is to wrap up players before they have the option to test the market. But Taylor didn't test the market long before signing a 4-year deal to stay a Steeler.
Taylor isn't the young player he once was but his presence on the defense is undeniable and re-singing him was a priority.