NFL Player Moves: The 5 Best Acquisitions of Week 1
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
NFL general managers are moving at breakneck speed to get their rosters in order and the player movement of the past few days has been nothing short of fascinating.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been the most aggressive team thus far, filling huge holes on their defense with two of the top free agents on the market and making one of the first major trades of the offseason.
There are plenty of other shoes to drop in the coming days, but there's already been enough action to see that several teams are going to feature vastly different looks once the season gets underway next month.
Here's a look at five of the most significant acquisitions of the NFL's first week of operation since the end of the lockout.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Eagles defense had been regarded as one of the league's best when the late Jim Johnson was its coordinator, but last season opposing teams were able to expose its shortcomings with great frequency.
After days of rumors that had ex-Raider Nnamdi Asomugha linked to teams such as the Jets, 49ers, Texans and Cowboys, out of nowhere came the Eagles to land the best free agent in the 2011 class.
Arguably the best defensive back in the game, Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie—acquired in the Kevin Kolb trade with Arizona—suddenly give the Eagles two strong shutdown corners, makeing it much harder for opposing offenses to go vertical. If Asante Samuel stays, the Eagles will have one of the best nickel packages in the league.
The arrival of Asomugha also considerably strengthens the Eagles' pass rush, which was also bolstered last week by the signings of Jason Babin from Tennessee and Cullen Jenkins from Green Bay.
The NFC East have quickly found themselves in catch-up mode with the Eagles—already one big winner in the crazy 2011 offseason.
Plaxico Burress, New York Jets
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Talk about a headline grabber. After spending Friday with the Giants and Saturday with the Steelers, the betting was that Plaxico Burress would sign with one of his former teams. Then the Jets made their move.
Having walked away from the Asomugha bidding, the Jets were still in spending mode, and without even having had a sit-down with the wide receiver, the Jets made Burress a guaranteed one-year deal and he took it.
While Burress will have some rust to shake off after two years in prison on an unregistered weapons-possession charge, he is an upgrade over Braylon Edwards at receiver opposite Santonio Holmes, who re-signed with the team last week.
With Holmes, Burress and Jerricho Cotchery in the fold, Mark Sanchez now has a troika of receivers in place to take a step up as an NFL quarterback and lead the Jets to a Super Bowl run.
Albert Haynesworth, New England Patriots
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
With the acquisitions of defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, coach Bill Belichick has sent a message that he’s going to do what it takes to field the best football team he can—even if it means taking on players whose conduct on and off the field has, shall we say, sometimes led them astray.
Twice a Pro Bowler with the Tennessee Titans, Haynesworth has been called the most dominant defensive lineman in the game.
But last season, in the second of a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins, Haynesworth began to question how he was being used in the team’s 3-4 scheme and openly criticized the coaching staff. He was later suspended for the season by head coach Mike Shanahan.
A motivated Haynesworth alongside Vince Wilfork in the middle of the Patriot defensive line will make running the football a chore for opposing offenses. But Haynesworth comes with much baggage amid the allegation he quit on his Washington teammates.
As good as he is, he’s going to have to win the respect of New England’s coaches and players if he’s to have the chance to regain his Pro Bowl form.
Chad Ochocinco, New England Patriots
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Chad Ochocinco is a showboat and can sometimes go off the rails; but no one can argue he's a gamer.
He remains a productive pass catcher and a superior athletic specimen, and the opportunity to catch from Tom Brady figures to bring out the best in the receiver.
Coach Bill Belichick was ready to take a chance on Randy Moss after the talented wideout spent two forgettable years in Oakland. Moss responded by catching 36 touchdowns in his first two years with the Pats before being dealt away after the fourth game of the 2010 season.
If Ochocinco can approximate Moss-like numbers, fellow wideout Wes Welker stays healthy and second-year tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski continue their development, Brady will have quite an arsenal to choose from as the Patriots make yet another run at a Super Bowl title.
Ray Edwards, Atlanta Falcons
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Falcons are a team on the rise in 2011 and with the addition of rookie receiver Julio Jones to an already potent offense, they will put up plenty of points.
A major area of deficiency for Atlanta has been the pass rush. The team averaged less than two sacks a game last season, with John Abraham accounting for 13 of the team's 31 total sacks. That wasn't going to cut it this year.
Their first target was Carolina's Charles Johnson, who came off the board in a hurry when the Panthers re-signed him. At $30 million—$11 million of it guaranteed—Edwards is a great pickup who will make it harder on the opposition to concentrate as much on Abraham.
Edwards has 16.5 sacks in the past two seasons, and at 26, he is entering his prime. He could be a difference-maker for a Falcon team that believes it has the goods to go all the way.