The first two weeks of NFL free agency saw every NFL team work hard to sign free agents. We learned that NFL General Managers really only need about 10 days to sign all the free agents they think they'll need as opposed to an entire summer.
With each team signing a player that holds value to them, the NFL should see the parity it saw last season. Though there were some bad signings (why would you sign a 28-year-old running back to a 5-year deal, Carolina Panthers?), each team had its best signing.
Here are the best free agent signings by each and every NFL team.
The Miami Dolphins were pretty active in free agency, and when the dust settled, they managed to sign Kevin Burnett and Marc Colombo, while Reggie Bush was acquired via trade from the New Orleans Saints.
The best signing? Marc Colombo, a stud offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys from 2007 to 2010.
While Colombo won't be an immediate starter, he adds depth to a Miami Dolphins' offensive line that proved to be nothing without Jake Long. Adding Mike Pouncey and Colombo to the mix provides Miami with a ton of help for Chad Henne and new Dolphin running backs Bush and Daniel Thomas.
Colombo is going to directly compete with Vernon Carey, but should he do well enough, it's not hard to say he won't be starting alongside Carey, Long, and Pouncey.
The New England Patriots had only two major signings: Matt Light and Logan Mankins.
Both signings were merely for retention of the current core, but they were important nonetheless. More important, though, was the re-signing of Matt Light.
There's no doubt that Mankins is the better offensive lineman—Light let up 10 sacks last season as Tom Brady's left tackle, so it only makes sense to declare Mankins superior.
However, Matt Light signed a two-year, $12 million deal, with $7 million of it guaranteed. He's not locked up long-term, but he is 33 years old. Logan Mankins was given a franchise tag for $10 million, meaning the Patriots are paying him almost double while only guaranteeing he'll be back for this year only.
Light comes cheaper, and his contract is a bit more secure. He provides the same amount of vigor that Mankins does, and he's still one of the elite left tackles in the game.
The New York Jets may have lost Braylon Edwards and acquired Plaxico Burress, but Santonio Holmes had always been the Jets' biggest concern.
Holmes proved to be exactly what the Jets had asked for—Holmes hauled in 52 catches and got into the end zone six times last season, behind his 746 yards for an average of 14 yards per catch. Though those aren't his best numbers, they're still really good considering he played behind second-year man Mark Sanchez and alongside Braylon Edwards and tight end Dustin Keller.
Holmes, though a loud-mouth, is vital to the Jets' success—he provides a young, veteran presence to a young team. He's come up in clutch situations constantly, which makes up for Mark Sanchez's knack to get rattled easy.
The Buffalo Bills were relatively quiet, considering they're the Buffalo Bills and need a hell of a lot of improvement.
However, Tyler Thigpen is not a terrible signing. Thigpen hasn't proved much in his NFL career so far, but has shown flashes of brilliance, thanks to his scrambling skills and ability to throw down-field when necessary.
Thigpen is a versatile QB, and could be used in some obscure formation for the Bills. Though Ryan Fitzpatrick is the favorite in the Bills' QB depth chart, Thigpen can give him a run for his money.
Normally, when a team's best free agent signing is a 34-year-old running back who was in and out of the league early in his career thanks to his love for marijuana, it's a really bad sign.
Fortunately for the Baltimore Ravens, Ricky Williams is still a pretty good signing.
Ray Rice proved to be an elite back last season and he's still really young. He can run between the tackles and has a ton of room to grow and get better at running straight up the middle. For now, he can't shoulder the entire ball-carrying load, though.
In comes pound-and-ground running back Ricky Williams.
Williams is a perfect compliment to Ray Rice—Ricky runs straight up the middle without fear and he's not one to lose track of the ball once inside enemy territory. He'll get you a few yards per carry and will tire out the opposing defense. It's a harmonious signing, considering that's what the Baltimore Ravens like to do on offense.
LaMarr Woodley's an animal. There's no way around it.
The Pittsburgh Steelers may love Troy Polamalu, they may be enamored with James Harrison and his brash attitude on and off the field, but no player anchors the Steelers' defense the way LaMarr Woodely does.
Woodley could have gotten more money elsewhere, too. However, he's a die-hard Steeler, so he signed a six-year $61.5 million deal that's front-loaded to help the Pittsburgh Steelers structure more cap-friendly contracts.
LaMarr Woodley is easily one of the Steelers' best players, and when he decides to sign and structure together a deal to help the Steelers rather than seek more money elsewhere, it's a win for Pittsburgh.
It's hard to justify why Brandon Jackson—who was an absolute lazy-head with the Green Bay Packers—is a great signing for the Cleveland Browns.
However, if your memory serves you correctly, Brandon Jackson never had a legit shot at getting more reps, save for his 2010 season, where he only averaged 11 carries per game.
Jackson is still relatively young, too. He's only 25 and has enough athleticism to compete against backup running backs on the Cleveland Browns' roster.
Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals saw a stark drop-off from their 2009 season which saw them earn a playoff berth and win the AFC North, one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.
After some pretty crumby defense, the Bengals went and got Nate Clements, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers.
Nate Clements was a nuisance for opposing offenses with San Francisco in 2010. He proved to be a solid cover guy and was practically everywhere, forcing three fumbles, three picks, and accumulating 72 tackles.
Clements won't anchor the Bengals' much maligned defense, but he'll help them greatly.
Johnathan Joseph was quite the animal with the Cincinnati Bengals as a cornerback. In his past two seasons, he grabbed nine picks, ran two back for touchdowns, and defended 28 passes.
The Houston Texans desperately needed help in their secondary—they ranked as one of the worst passing defenses in the league in 2010, and Joseph should work well with defensive coordinator Wade Philips to improve on that by a ton.
The Texans need Joseph to keep from forcing quarterback Matt Schaub and wide-out Andre Johnson from shouldering the load and winning shoot-outs.
The Tennessee Titans were kind of without a quarterback now that Vince Young is bench warming with the Philadelphia Eagles.
But after their signing of Matt Hasselbeck, this could be the steal of the 2011 free agency class.
Hasselbeck under-achieved with the Seattle Seahawks after 2007. However, it should be noted that the Seahawks' organization didn't do that great of a job bringing in talent to surround their franchise QB.
The Tennessee Titans have enough talent on the offensive end to allow Hasselbeck to play the role of game manger—Chris Johnson is still one of the best backs in the league, and Kenny Britt is quickly becoming a fine receiver with the Titans. Hasselbeck can defer to Johnson all day and checkdown to Britt whenever possible.
Hasselbeck should be the Titans' savior in 2011, as well as the mentor for 2011 draftee Jake Long.
The Jacksonville Jaguars ranked near the bottom in rushing and passing yards allowed in 2010. Adding Buffalo Bills' Paul Posluszny should help that.
Posluszny was a Pro Bowler for two seasons straight in 2009 and 2010. He was the only reason the Bills won games, and anchored whatever defense the Bills had.
Last year, Posluszny accumulated 103 yards and 48 assists, nearly 20 tackles better than his 2009 campaign. He's only 26, too, so he's only going to get better and the Jags' defense should follow right along.
Tommie Harris was acquired from the Chicago Bears by the Indianapolis Colts. Harris was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Bears, and clogged up offensive lines like no lineman the Bears had during his time in Chicago.
This is exactly what the Indianapolis Colts need.
Harris' stats don't tell you anything—he's an interior defensive lineman who can occupy multiple offensive lineman at once. He takes up a ton of space and attention from inside tackles, leaving defensive ends on an island with outside tackles.
Last year, Bears' defensive ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije ended up with eight sacks each, thanks to Tommie Harris.
The Colts will instead have Dwight Freeney and Roberth Mathis—far more explosive defensive ends—benefiting from the Harris signing, meaning the Colts' defense should finally be of service to Indianapolis.
The Kansas City Chiefs had the league's number one rushing offense thanks to Jamaal Charles and an offensive line that was surprisingly dominant in 2010.
Add one of the best blocking full-backs in the NFL today, and you have one of the most dangerous rushing offenses the game has today.
Le'Ron McClain did an awesome job running ahead of Ray Rice last season and he was a surprisingly decent runner when called upon, running straight up the middle for hard yardage. Jamaal Charles is going to benefit greatly from the move, but McClain will be effective at taking the ball off of Charles' hands every once in a while.
The Denver Broncos were a terrible team in every aspect last season, save for their passing game, which was the only reason the Broncos won a couple of games in the first place.
The Broncos' running game was especially impotent, and they ranked dead last in rushing yards. Adding Willis McGahee is their best option.
Willis McGahee hasn't had a decent season since 2009, and he's already 30 years old. There's no telling how many miles McGahee has left, but there isn't much of a risk that the Broncos take.
McGahee is going to provide, at the very least, mentor-ship for some of the Broncos' current backs.
At the very best, McGahee has a decent season as a backup running back.
The San Diego Chargers' new linebacker Takeo Spikes may not be the best new player the Chargers signed (that title goes to Bob Sanders), but he's definitely the most important.
Spikes is going to add the toughness and leadership the Chargers needed over the past two or three seasons. He isn't an amazing linebacker, but he's a solid inside backer that stop runs effectively (something the Chargers couldn't do to save their lives last season, despite their bloated stats) and gets his team going.
Spikes is smart enough to work inside any defense, but with the talent that's surrounding him, he'll have an easier time producing at a high level.
The Oakland Raiders lost Zach Miller, which forced those crazy (and probably drunken) Raider fans into a (drunken) frenzy.
Kevin Boss isn't a consolation prize, though, guys.
Boss was a Pro Bowl tight-end with the New York Giants last year, and he proved to be an ample replacement for Jeremy Shockey in New York. In comparison to Miller, Boss is a better pass-blocker and has a better vertical reach, which will compensate for Jason Campbell's flighty accuracy.
Though Miller's a favorite in Oakland, Kevin Boss is an upgrade at tight end.
The Washington Redskins have blown away their fans by not blowing away their fans.
Surprisingly, Dan Snyder isn't dumping $100 million on Randy Moss (though, it's probably because the other owners will give him a death stare, since he's kind of made them look stupid across this whole CBA mess, just because of his really ridiculous signings).
The Redskins have been kind of quiet, going after solid talent rather than big names who were let go by their teams for a reason. Barry Cofield is one of those solid, talented players.
Cofield is a solid inside defensive lineman who had a huge impact on the New York Giants' defensive line. The Giants were adamant about re-signing him, but instead, he signed with the divisional rival Redskins.
Cofield isn't going to get you a ton of sacks. Instead, he's going to occupy a lot of attention from the opposing offensive line. He's quick and athletic enough to get through and cause a lot of problems for the opponents' run game, too.
The New York Giants haven't gotten anyone in free agency, but they retained some key parts to try and make another playoff push.
Ahmad Bradshaw is probably the biggest retention for the Giants. Bradshaw was flirting with the Miami Dolphins at first, but Giants' fans are thrilled that Bradshaw is re-signing.
That's because Bradshaw is 25, healthy, and an absolute rushing animal—he ran for eight touchdowns last year, in addition to racking up 1200 yards in just under 280 carries. He anchored the Giants' potent run game, so it only makes sense that New York retain his services.
The Philadelphia Eagles' best free agent signing is kind of obvious—the signing of Nnamdi Asomugha prompted media nuts (do I count as one?) to proclaim the Eagles as Super Bowl favorites. It even prompted clinically insane quarterback, Vince Young, to call Philly the "Dream Team" of the NFL.
Though these are very Bill Walton-like hyperboles, Nnamdi Asomugha was definitely the best player on the 2011 free agent market. He's a shutdown corner that's comparable in effectiveness to Darelle Revis.
The Eagles now boast a secondary headed by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, with a defensive line revamped by Super Bowl stud, Cullen Jenkins.
Asomugha is going to be of huge help to the Eagles' ailing pass defense, which hurt the Eagles' offensive game greatly, especially in their playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The Dallas Cowboys have not made a ton of noise in free agency thus far, disappointing 'Boys fans across the nation.
However, Abram Elam is Dallas' silver lining.
Elam is a solid safety who proved to be of great importance to the Cleveland Browns in 2010. He grabbed two picks as the starting safety and managed to force and recover two fumbles. He won't blow too many coverages, so long as the Cowboys plan on getting some help at cornerback.
Under normal circumstances, adding Marion Barber as a legitimate option at running back would be a bad idea.
However, the Chicago Bears signed him under circumstances that require little risk on their part.
The Bears signed Marion Barber, ex-Cowboys' running back, to a small, one-year deal. Barber's going to have to prove himself.
Last season, Barber had a poor outing, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. On the bright side, he had four touchdowns on just 113 carries. Goal-line scoring is something the Bears had major issues with, and if Barber can get things going, he'll fill a gaping hole in the Bears' offense.
Green Bay Packers' fans are quietly eating themselves up inside.
That's because the Packers have made no real free agent moves while the rest of the league is scrambling. It's also because James Jones was re-signed, too.
James Jones became frustrating last season with his instant case of the butterfingers. He dropped numerous, key passes that were floated into his arms by Aaron Rodgers.
However, this signing is still a good one, and it's still very important.
It's doubtful that the Packers were going to make any moves and it's not as if there were wide-outs worth tracking down. James Jones was the safe bet, and he already knows how the Packers' offensive scheme works. He easily had his best career as a pro in 2010, so it only makes sense that the Packers let him develop further (he's only 27).
The Minnesota Vikings lost wide-out Sidney Rice to the Seattle Seahawks, so to compensate, they signed former Falcons' wide-out Michael Jenkins
Jenkins isn't as good as Rice is, but he is definitely worth signing. Jenkins managed to grab 41 catches, for over 500 yards, while also getting to the end zone twice.
This move is made more for preparation to win now with veteran QB Donovan McNabb than anything else. McNabb can make a decent receiver out of pretty much anyone, and Jenkins was already a decent receiver to begin with.
There's no telling how well Jenkins will do, but he won't be thrown into a situation where he'll have to carry a huge load—Percy Harvin is still the Vikings' first option at wide-out and Adrian Peterson will have his fair share of runs.
The Detroit Lions just keep adding to their defense.
The Lions signed former Tennessee Titan linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and that could be huge, as subtle of a move as it was.
Tulloch played remarkably well for the Titans in 2010, piling 111 tackles to go along with six pass deflections and an interception. He didn't anchor the Titans' defense, but he was a huge part of it.
The Lions could use more help at linebacker, even with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley anchoring the defensive front. Tulloch is going to provide more run support, which means the Lions' defense could catapult Detroit into contender status.
Normally, I'd give you a spiel on how much I hate Darren Sproles; how I think he's one of the most over-rated running backs in the NFL, and how his agility has helped him run for negative yards over and over again.
Not this time, though.
The New Orleans Saints can properly utilize Sproles the way the Chargers couldn't—Sproles should never be carrying the ball often, and splitting runs would be terrible. Rather, Sproles is an awesome option for screens. His quickness and agility will allow him to run between (and, uh, underneath) blocks and break out for huge yardage. Drew Brees specialized in setting up Reggie Bush for similar plays, and huge game-breakers is what Sean Peyton loves.
Sproles will get more receptions than carries, but he'll do what he does best—use his agility in a scattered field ahead of him.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were surprisingly good last season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The Bucs managed to retain a key piece to that in Quincy Black.
Last season, Black managed to accumulate 61 tackles in just 14 games before his season ended due to injury. He forced and recovered a fumble last year to go along with his lone interception.
The Bucs defense lacked on defending the run game, and losing Black could hurt their run defense further. He isn't anchoring the Tampa Bay defense, but he's having his part in helping it.
The Carolina Panthers held onto some of their own and reached out into the free agency pool to nab other key players.
Don't laugh at me, but Derek Anderson has to be the most significant.
I'll admit, Derek Anderson is not a funny guy. I like to make jokes at his expense, but he never laughs, 'cause nothing's funny to him. I see Panthers' fans frustration when Carolina went and signed Anderson. How can you have a guy on your team who thinks nothing is funny?
All lame Derek Anderson jokes aside, he could be a big part of the Panthers' resurgence. Though he's been pretty crappy ever since his 2008 season with the Cleveland Browns, he's never been put into a situation where he'll have ample talent around him. Sure, the Panthers are pretty bad, but DeAngelo Williams (who, though he's pretty good, is way, way over-paid) and Steve Smith may be able to help him along. Add the fact that the Panthers' offensive coordinator is the same coordinator he had in his Pro Bowl season with the Browns, and he could have a hand in bringing Carolina back to prominence.
At the very worst, he'll give Cam Newton more time to develop on the sideline.
The Atlanta Falcons had one of the best seasons in franchise history last season—their smart offensive play and run defense helped lift them to a 13-3 record.
Their biggest flaw? The passing game, which managed to rank 22nd in yards allowed through the air.
Ray Edwards would fill a huge hole with the Falcons. He was a constant threat to the opposing offensive lines last season, and managed eight sacks in just 14 games. As a Viking, he's proved to have better growth each year, and he's only 26 now, so there's more room to grow.
If Edwards can continue his growth with a budding defense, this would have been a total steal for Atlanta.
The Seattle Seahawks have been busy all season, but the biggest name they managed to ink was also the best signing they've had so far.
Sidney Rice is one of the better young receivers on the market, and he's proven a lot in his time with the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks don't yet have a decent quarterback to throw to Rice, but Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Portis (an undrafted free agent) have strong enough arms to get it to Rice on the run.
Add that both quarterbacks are suited to play in West Coast offenses, and Rice could have a hell of a year with the Seahawks.
Though the Seahawks won't be Super Bowl contenders (unless Marshawn Lynch shocks us all...again), they'll be contenders for the NFC West with Rice as their top receiver and Mike Williams as their second option.
(Although, we all know it requires only entry into any competitive football league to compete in the NFC West.)
The Arizona Cardinals need a lot of help, and a decent O-line is something they lack greatly.
Daryn Colledge should anchor the Cardinals' offensive line, which will now protect Kevin Kolb rather than Derek Anderson (who is not a funny guy).
Colledge played extremely well with the Packers in 2010, helping a passing game which always had the entire afternoon to throw. The Cardinals may not become immediate contenders, but they'll be right up there in their weak division.
The St. Louis Rams desperately needed a wide-out for Sam Bradford to throw to, especially after Bradford had one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback in recent memory.
Mike Sims-Walker is exactly what Bradford needs.
Sims-Walker is an explosive receiver who can stretch defenses greatly because of his speed. He has awesome hands and knows how to get past corners and safeties. He's decent at running correct routes and knowing where coverage is. Bradford should have fun playing alongside Sims-Walker.
The San Francisco 49ers made the best move they could at wide-out.
Not a lot of players liked the prospect of playing in San Francisco, especially with Alex Smith returning as the Niners' QB. However, with Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore still in the mix, the Niners would become deadly if Braylon Edwards can stay out of trouble.
Edwards proved to be a hell of an asset for the New York Jets last season and had quite a few teams pining for his services after opening his doors for offers.
Alex Smith finally has some stability in the offensive coordinator position thanks to Jim Harbaugh's signing, and he's been improving (somehow) over the past two seasons, so adding Edwards should make the Niners a deeper team.