5 NFL Free Agent Risks Teams Will Be Glad They Took
In an offseason that was crammed into a span of two weeks, teams around the NFL were forced to make decisions on whether or not to take chances on proven yet risky free agents.
Some of these moves could very well prove to be low risk, high reward, daring moves.
While others may blow up in the face of the team that went out on a limb for a free-agent addition.
Starting with Ricky Williams, here are some of the free-agent risks that may pay dividends in 2011.
Ricky Williams to the Ravens
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Ricky Williams continues to defy the critics and football logic by remaining a productive running back after 13 years in the league, minus the sabbatical he took to "find himself."
All the marijuana and spirituality jokes aside, Williams has proven to be a reliable back while sharing the load with Ronnie Brown in Miami.
In Baltimore, Ray Rice looked to have worn down towards the end of 2010.
Williams could help lessen the load for Rice and provide a veteran presence.
Braylon Edwards to the 49ers
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If the San Francisco 49ers can ever settle on a competent, steady quarterback, the addition of Braylon Edwards at wide receiver could pay huge dividends.
Edwards runs the risk of falling prey to the inner demons that got him shipped out of Cleveland and got him into trouble in New York.
However, on a one-year deal, Edwards won't cost the 49ers much in the way of cap space in the future.
On the positive side, Edwards would take the pressure off of Michael Crabtree, who was highly touted coming out of Texas Tech but has failed to live up to expectations.
Ronnie Brown to the Eagles
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The Philadelphia Eagles have added free agent after free agent this offseason, but the one no one seems to talk about is running back Ronnie Brown.
Brown, the main man in the Miami backfield for six seasons, is gladly accepting of a role as backup to Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.
Brown's injury history would be of greater concern if he was asked to carry the load for the Eagles on the ground.
However, in a pass happy Philadelphia offensive scheme, Brown will be asked more so to catch the ball out of the backfield than lineup in an I-formation.
Brown is a great complement to McCoy, bringing a stronger, more physical running style to the table.
Plaxico Burress to the Jets
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Burress is not as high risk of a signing as Vick's was at the onset.
Burress, at this point, is a role player, who will be called upon in situations such as a red-zone passing down.
In 2009, Vick was only thought of as a rehabilitation project, Philadelphia was supposed to be his halfway house before moving on to another NFL home.
However, that all changed a year later when he showed that the old Michael Vick, the football player, was back at full strength plus a few new skills.
Burress isn't going to be the impact player on par with that of Vick's redemption, but he has the chance to make his mark in the league once again as a reliable target that quarterbacks will keep aiming for in key situations.
Donovan McNabb to the Vikings
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Now this is not technically a free-agent signing, but the impact is felt the same way.
The addition of quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings is a move that was made a year too late.
McNabb's reputation has been dragged through the mud enough over the years that a clean break was needed once again.
In Philadelphia, his time had come and gone, there was no question about that. A changing of the guard was sorely needed in order for the franchise to form a new identity.
In Washington, it was a match made in hell.
McNabb is not one to accept criticism of his play, his work ethic or his manhood.
All three came under fire in D.C. by head coach Mike Shanahan. The pairing of McNabb and the controlling Shanahan was clearly never going to work out for either side.
Minnesota is where McNabb deserves to be. The familiarity factor that made the Vikings a likely destination from a trade via Philadelphia still remains in head coach Leslie Frazier.
Hopefully, McNabb and Frazier can form a relationship much like the quarterback did with Andy Reid in Philadelphia.