NFL: Winners and Losers of 2011 Free Agency
As the third week of the preseason winds down, we are beginning to see teams take shape.
Many teams in the offseason made some big moves, some of which are looking to greatly improve their football team, while other teams made some questionable moves that could negatively impact their chances at a successful run this season.
This article lists the five winners and five losers of free agency 2011.
Winner: Houston Texans
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Grabbing Johnathan Joseph might be the only big move that the Texans made in free agency, but it is a move that they had to make.
Although they missed out on Nnamdi Asomugha, they got the second-best cornerback available to add to a defense to needed to be upgraded from last year.
The acquisition of Joseph topped off a great offseason for the Texans defensively, drafting future defensive stars in J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed and signing Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator.
Loser: San Francisco 49ers
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Offensively, the 49ers may have upgraded by bringing in Braylon Edwards at wide receiver but took a huge hit defensively, as they let Nate Clements and Takeo Spikes go to other teams.
The 49ers are already a struggling team on both sides of the ball, and while they are certainly rebuilding, losing two big defensive players does not bode well for their 2011 hopes.
Winner: Carolina Panthers
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The Panthers may be coming off a horrible 2-14 season, but they made some strides in free agency.
After drafting Cam Newton as the quarterback of the future, they added tight ends Greg Olson and Jeremy Shockey. They were also able to resign their star receiver Steve Smith, who was looking for a ticket out of Carolina.
Through free agency and the draft, the Panthers got a little better, and certainly not any worse on either side of the ball, which is certainly a good sign for a team that needs to rebound from last year.
Loser: Miami Dolphins
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The Dolphins did get Reggie Bush in the offseason, which is certainly a great addition.
However, they lost both of their runningbacks from last year in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. They also failed to get Kyle Orton via trade despite a strong effort to do so.
The Dolphins certainly have some solid pieces to build on but have a struggling quarterback, a struggling coach, and now, a questionable running game.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
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After a horrible 2010 season where the Cardinals struggled to find a quarterback to follow Kurt Warner, the Cardinals finally found what they see as a long-term replacement in Kevin Kolb.
The acquisition of Kolb makes the Cardinals' offseason already a big win, as they have the franchise quarterback that was absent last year.
The Cardinals also brought in Todd Heap at tight end, who should be another versatile weapon for Kolb in addition to Larry Fitzgerald.
Loser: Seattle Seahawks
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Arizona's division rival had almost the opposite happen to them in the offseason: instead of gaining a franchise quarterback, they lost theirs, as Matthew Hasselbeck found his way to Tennessee, leaving Seattle to sign Tarvaris Jackson to compete with Charlie Whitehurst.
Tarvaris Jackson struggled on a Minnesota team that had a dynamic offense and plenty of weapons around him.
Therefore, it is highly questionable that he will be able to succeed in Seattle, where the running game isn't what it was in Minnesota with Adrian Peterson and with a group of young but inexperienced offensive linemen.
Jackson has already struggled so far in the preseason, leaving Pete Carroll to consider going with Charlie Whitehurst.
A quarterback competition that has not resolved itself yet does not bode very well for the Seahawks next year.
Winner: New England Patriots
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The Patriots certainly made some questionable decisions by signing Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, but both players have a great shot at contributing at a high level as long as they work hard to perform at that level.
Haynesworth is certainly a risk because of his work ethic issues in Washington, but the Patriots were able to get him at a very low price. Given the talent that he has, it was a solid acquisition.
Even if things don't work out with Haynesworth, it won't cost New England much. Additionally, they were able to steal Shaun Ellis from the Jets, so they have upgraded that defensive line even if Haynesworth doesn't work out.
The Patriots have certainly made some risks in the season, but they have the potential to be very highly reward at a low cost.
Loser: Chicago Bears
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The Bears may have had the worst offensive line in football last year, and after losing Olin Kreutz, that line may have gotten worse.
While the Bears' defense has proven to be one of the best in the league, the offense is consistently left with question marks, starting with the offensive line, but also including a weak receiving corps.
The receiving corp hasn't improved much with the acquisition of Roy Williams from Dallas, who struggled with the Cowboys with his constant, frustrating drops.
The Bears didn't get a lot better offensively, especially after losing their veteran center in Kreutz. If that offensive line cannot get it together in 2011, and if the passing game continues to underwhelm, the Bears will have a long year.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
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This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
In one offseason, the Eagles brought in one of the best corners in the game in Nnamdi Asomugha, a couple of great defensive players in Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins and more weapons for Michael Vick in Ronnie Brown and Steve Smith.
Although I'm not completely sold that this Eagles team is a "dream team," they certainly went all out in free agency this year and are set up to have a great season.
Loser: New York Giants
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While their division rival went crazy in free agency, the Giants not only did very little, but they lost key players as well, losing receiving threats in Steve Smith and Kevin Boss and failing to compensate for this by losing out on Plaxico Burress.
The Giants also had to deal with nearly losing their best defensive player in Osi Umenyiora, and although they did not lose him, his discontent signaled tension that may be arising in the locker room, as head coach Tom Coughlin seems to be starting to lose his team.
The Giants have the misfortune of being in a tough division, with one team that made huge moves in free agency to improve themselves, which may make it very difficult for the Giants to make a run at the division, especially with the difficulties they've encountered this year in the preseason already.