2011 NFL Free Agency: The Biggest Transactions of the Week

Carl RagsdaleCorrespondent IIIJuly 28, 2011

2011 NFL Free Agency: The Biggest Transactions of the Week

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    Now that the NFL has a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, the free agency period has finally begun. With the shortened offseason, teams are having to scramble to put their teams together before the first preseason games begin.

    While the crown jewel of this year's free agent class, defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha, has yet to sign with a team, there have still been plenty of big names changing teams.

    This is a list of the 10 biggest moves of the free agency period so far.

Carson Palmer's "Retirement" from the Cincinnati Bengals

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    Earlier in the offseason, Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback Carson Palmer demanded that the Bengals trade him, threatening to retire if they did not.

    Bengals' owner Mike Brown, when asked about the situation earlier this week, said the following:

    "I honestly like Carson Palmer. He was a splendid player for us. He is a good person. I wish him well, and he has retired. That is his choice.

    "I'm not expecting him to be back. Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment. He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment, we aren't going to reward him for doing it."

    Palmer made two Pro Bowls and the Bengals made the playoffs twice during his tenure with the team.

    If Palmer holds true to what he said, then second-round draft pick Andy Dalton might have to start from day one unless the Bengals pursue a veteran quarterback.

Matt Hasselbeck Joins the Tennessee Titans

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    Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck reportedly signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Tennessee Titans.

    Hasselbeck is a three time Pro Bowler and led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl appearance in which they lost to the Steelers.

    His departure from Seattle leaves both the Titans and Seahawks with interesting quarterback situations.

    The Tennessee Titans drafted Jake Locker in the first round of this year's draft. How the Titans handle Locker will go a long way to determining Hasselbeck's role with the team. The most likely scenario is that Hasselbeck is the opening day starter and a mentor for Locker until the team feels that Locker is ready to become the starter.

    In Hasselbeck's absence, the Seahawks now have to decide who their new starting quarterback will be. They have signed former Vikings' starter Tarvaris Jackson and they already have Charlie Whitehurst. While Seattle is looking to become a run-first team, having a legitimate starting quarterback is no longer optional in today's NFL, and Seattle needs to hope that one of those two players is the answer if they want to repeat as NFC West champions.

Albert Haynesworth Traded to New England Patriots

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    The Patriots and Redskins have recently agreed to a deal that sends disgruntled defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to the Patriots for a 2013 fifth-round draft pick.

    After what happened last year, Haynesworth's departure from the Redskins is not at all surprising. However, the trade to New England was quite the surprise, since the Patriots' base defense is the 3-4. Of course, the Redskins' switch to a 3-4 defense last offseason was part of the reason that Haynesworth was disgruntled.

    For the Patriots, this is a very intriguing move. Haynesworth's physical talent is absolutely undeniable, although his work ethic has been suspect at times. With the right coaches, veterans and a competitive team around him, Haynesworth could really shine if he decides that he wants to. Look at what happened with Randy Moss in 2007.

    However, unless Haynesworth accepts playing in a 3-4, he will likely only play in certain packages instead of being an every-down player.

    The Patriots gave up very little to get him, which makes the deal even better for them.

Sidney Rice Joins Seattle Seahawks

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    Former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice agreed to a five-year, $41 million deal with the Seahawks recently.

    Rice had a breakout year in 2009 when he had 1,312 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. Injuries kept Rice off the field for most of 2010.

    This move reunites Rice with Tarvaris Jackson, who also signed with Seattle. The chemistry between those two players should help both get even better. Seattle also gains a very good playmaker to add to their receiving corps.

    However, there is some risk involved in this move. Apart from his great 2009 season, Rice's career high in receiving yards is 396 yards. Rice still has to prove that 2009 was not a one-year wonder.

    Despite that risk, Rice should be successful and give Seattle another piece to add to their post- Hasselbeck rebuilding project.

Jason Babin Joins Philadelphia Eagles

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    Jason Babin, one of the league's more underrated free agents, agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. The details of the agreement have not been released.

    Babin, who is now in his second stint with the Eagles, had 12.5 sacks en route to a Pro Bowl year last season with the Tennessee Titans.

    Babin adds another pass rusher to the Eagles defensive end rotation to join Trent Cole, Juqua Parker, Brandon Graham and Daryl Tapp, making the Eagles one of the deepest defensive lines in the league.

    Also, Babin is reunited with Jim Washburn, who was his defensive line coach in Tennessee and now is on the Philadelphia coaching staff.

Steve Breaston Joins Kansas City Chiefs

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    Former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston recently agreed to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs. Details of the agreement were not made public.

    Breaston, like Jason Babin, is one of the most underrated players in this year's free agent class. Breaston has had at least 700 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons as a backup to Larry Fitzgerald, including a 1,000-yard season in 2008.

    This move gives the Chiefs a legitimate No. 2 receiver to take pressure off of Dwayne Bowe. Also, Chiefs' head coach Todd Haley is familiar with Breaston since he was the Cardinals' offensive coordinator for part of Breaston's career.

New York Jets Keeping Santonio Holmes

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    New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes agreed to a five-year, $50 million contract that will keep him with the Jets.

    Holmes has had at least 700 receiving yards every year that he has been in the league and was a key part of the Jets' offense last year. Holmes was also the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII in which he caught the game winning touchdown.

    Having Holmes back will help young quarterback Mark Sanchez improve in his third year in the league.

    However, this signing also makes it unclear as to whether the Jets will re-sign fellow receiver Braylon Edwards and defensive back Antonio Cromartie, who are both free agents.

Reggie Bush Traded to Miami Dolphins

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    The New Orleans Saints traded Reggie Bush to the Miami Dolphins in an effort to free up some cap space. What Miami gave up in the trade has not been made public.

    While Bush is not the superstar he was made out to be when he was drafted by the Saints, he is a very capable situational running back, and he is also effective as a slot receiver and a punt returner.

    The Dolphins get the benefit of a versatile, explosive playmaker. However, Bush can be very inconsistent and hasn't played in all 16 games since his rookie year. His durability has also prevented him from being an every down back.  

    While the Saints will miss Bush's versatility, they still have more than enough playmakers who can pick up the slack in their offense and will be fine without him.

Panthers Keeping DeAngelo Williams and Charles Johnson

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    The Carolina Panthers have agreed to re-sign their top two free agents.

    Running back DeAngelo Williams only played six games last year due to injury. However, he had two consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons prior to that, including 2008 where he had 1,515 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns.

    Keeping Williams along with fellow running back Jonathan Stewart should give Carolina a solid running game to take pressure off rookie quarterback Cam Newton.

    Defensive end Charles Johnson had a breakout year last year starting in place of Julius Peppers, who left for Chicago last offseason. Johnson had 11.5 sacks last season.

    Williams agreed to a five-year, $43 million deal to stay in Carolina.

    Johnson's agreement is for six years and $72 million.

Donovan McNabb Traded to Minnesota Vikings

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    The Washington Redskins agreed to trade quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2012 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional 2013 draft pick.

    The Redskins getting rid of McNabb is not at all surprising given the disastrous season that McNabb had. Last season, McNabb posted one of the worst statistical years of his career and was famously benched for Rex Grossman at the end of the season.

    At this point, it is unclear how much of McNabb's struggles were because of his decline and how much was because the Redskins were awful all around last year. However, this gives McNabb a fresh start with Minnesota to prove that last year was a fluke.

    The Minnesota quarterback situation is interesting since the Vikings drafted quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round this April. Even if McNabb does not get the starting job, he can be a mentor for Ponder for at least a year.

    The Redskins enter the season with John Beck and Rex Grossman competing for the starting job. Do I even need to tell you what's wrong with that picture?