NFL Free Agency: Winners and Losers of the 2011 Offseason
This year is certainly one to remember.
Certain teams have fully reconstructed their rosters for the good, and others for the worse.
Needless to say, this offseason has had the biggest free-agency hype in years.
Many teams have gone out of their way to sign or re-sign players in order to make them at the top of the league.
To the contrary, many teams have failed to make a move or re-sign valuable players.
With many moves still to be completed, the offseason is far from over.
Let's take a look at the winners and losers of the 2011 offseason.
The Bengals are set to see yet another horrible season. They’ve seen Chad Ochocinco become a Patriot and won’t be bringing back Terrell Owens. The Bengals have also lost a top CB in Johnathan Joseph to the Houston Texans. Cedric Benson was the only notable re-signing, and they should be thankful for that. They’ll also be rolling with rookie QB Andy Dalton while refusing to trade away Carson Palmer (who will probably just retire). The Bengals could very well end up as the worst team in in the NFL this season.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have been quiet thus far, other than re-signing Ray McDonald and spending $5 million on bringing Alex Smith back. They are cutting Nate Clements, who has been disappointing since signing a huge contract, but the loss hurts the secondary unless a capable replacement is brought in. Frank Gore held out for a bit, which complicates things with team chemistry, and Michael Crabtree has been placed on the PUP list.
The Ravens had to address free agents on their offensive line and they did immediately by re-signing Marshal Yanda. Cuts, though, to some valuable performers over the years will hurt them in the short term. They had to let go of Derrick Mason, Willis McGahee and Todd Heap. Jared Gaither also has signed with the Raiders. Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach was brought in, but that's it. If they want to return to the playoffs, they'll need to make more of an attempt to sign some names.
With the salary cap in place, the Cowboys had to make some cuts, even just to re-sign a few of their players. They had to spend $8 million a year on tackle Doug Free; that meant letting go of Marion Barber, Roy Williams and Leonard Davis. The team does not have the cap space to make the big signings fans wanted in Nnamdi Asomugha, and even if they did, they failed big time to capitalize on it.
Philadelphia should be absolutely thrilled about their offseason acquisitions so far. The Eagles were able to trade their backup QB, Kevin Kolb, for a starting CB and second-round pick in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC isn’t coming off a spectacular season but he’s only 25 and brings big-play ability and speed. They were also able to sign surprise Pro Bowler Jason Babin who emerged as an explosive pass rusher last season for the Titans. Bringing in Vince Young as the backup is good security for if/when Michael Vick gets injured, considering he can run the offense in a similar fashion. The Eagles also brought in the hottest name in the free-agency pool, Nnamdi Asomugha. On top of that, they also signed Cullen Jenkins. Having the problem they currently do, with having too many good cornerbacks, is a problem any team would love to have. Wow is all we can say.
Latest news is Cam Newton will have Steve Smith as a target. The Panthers have decided to spend lots of money and that extends even to a kicker. More importantly, they are keeping their best players around. They have re-signed Charles Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, James Anderson, Thomas Davis, and Jon Beason. Carolina kind of overspent on an aging kicker, but Olindo Mare is still one of the best in the league. The Panthers also picked up a big receiving target by trading for Bears TE Greg Olsen and only having to give up a third-round pick. Hmm, maybe the Panthers will be good again?
New England Patriots
Though they have been distractions for various reasons for their respective teams, the Patriots get two players who, on the field, can still *potentially* produce in exchange for some late-round picks. Chad Ochocinco adds to a group of possession receivers and tight ends who will make it increasingly difficult for defenses to cover the whole field. Albert Haynesworth can still collapse the pocket and help to stuff the run under the coaching of Bill Belichick.
On the rise:
The Minnesota and Houston Texans get an honorable mention. The Vikings have brought in Donovan McNabb and gave him another target in Michael Jenkins. The Houston Texans also brought in Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning; two names to bring that defense to the top in 2011.