NFL Free Agency 2011: 5 Moves That Didn't Make Sense
Saying that the 2011 free agency period was a frenzy would be an understatement equivalent to "The Beatles were good," "Arizona is hot," or "this is a very long opening sentence to a slideshow."
Either way, every team had plenty of time to prepare due to the lockout. However, when the doors opened, and the free agency extravaganza began, more than a few teams didn't make the most of their opportunity.
Some teams wouldn't open their checkbooks, some brought in questionable "talent," and some balked at signing their targets and missed out dearly.
We don't know for sure just how much these errors will affect these teams, but for now, we can examine the little sense they make in the short term.
New York Giants: Allowing Steve Smith to Sign with the Philadelphia Eagles
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After having a great 2011 draft, and no room left in the salary cap, we could sense a shakeup to the New York Giants' roster coming. The most notable change, however, was losing reliable slot-receiver Steve Smith to the rivaled Philadelphia Eagles.
Smith is coming off microfracture surgery in his knee, and the Giants were hesitant to sign him with his health in question.
But when he signed with the Eagles for a manageable one-year contract with only $2 million guaranteed, it came into question why the Giants could not match such a reasonable offer. Completely healthy or not, the mere roster presence of the team's record holder for catches in a single season is a good thing to have.
Conflicting medical reports made the situation all the more convoluted, as the Giants told Smith he would likely have to begin the season on their PUP (physically unable to play) list. As it stands now, Eagles' doctors have cleared Smith to play, and he is practicing with the team.
It's not that the Giants offense will be unable to survive without Smith, but it certainly isn't better in his absence. And now that he walked away from a resolvable situation to play for a team he once mocked, the Giants can now only hope Smith won't be the famed "one that got away."
Seattle Seahawks: Signing Tarvaris Jackson
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The Seahawks can't possibly not know what they're getting with Tarvaris Jackson. He has started 20 games, played in 36 and has hardly wowed anyone during his time under center.
It's perfectly understandable for a team to not anoint a franchise quarterback if they aren't in love with any that are handily available for pursuing. Maybe they didn't like Kevin Kolb. Maybe they weren't enamored with a weak rookie class of quarterbacks like other teams and the press were. That's very reasonable.
But why sign and start Jackson? Charlie Whitehurst probably isn't the long-term answer, but doesn't he deserve a bigger sample size for assessment?
It's not a matter of how Whitehurst compares to Jackson, it's a matter of assessing what you have at the position. That is a vital aspect of rebuilding, and the Seahawks, despite a pseudo-division title last year, are rebuilding.
The only way this signing makes sense is if Jackson is No. 2 on the depth chart. In the meantime, give the kid a chance.
New York Jets: Whiffing on the Nnamdi Asomugha Sweepstakes
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Signing a marquee name at a high price is a tedious task. Careful planning and proper management of cap space are musts if a team is ready to unload dozens of millions of dollars on just one player.
The Jets made their interest in signing Nnamdi Asomugha no secret. They wanted the two best corners in the NFL (rank them at your own risk) in their secondary, and that was that.
But we know how this story ends. The Jets not only didn't land Asomugha, they parted ways with several key role players in the effort to get him. Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith and Drew Coleman are just three of the casualties that got the axe from general manager Mike Tannenbaum and company.
As a result, the Jets had to scrounge for the remaining scraps in the free-agent market, and would be hard-pressed to say their roster is in better shape than a season ago.
A very good team still dresses for Rex Ryan, but the 2011 season could end up being a harsh lesson to be learned from putting all your eggs in one basket.
Chicago Bears: Signing Roy Williams
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It's astounding how much a high draft status and one great season can extend the life of a wide receiver.
Roy Williams has been given a third chance in the NFL, now notching a spot on the Chicago Bears' roster. Whether or not he actually earned a vital role in Mike Martz's offense is still in question, despite previous success in his system.
For years, the Bears have lacked a true premier wideout and have done little to address the void. They are fortunate enough to have a promising speedster in Johnny Knox, but they have little else beyond that.
The fact the Bears cheaply aimed to complement Knox with a veteran who teeters between the "has-been" and "never-was" statuses further shows their lack of commitment to fill the position.
The Bears once had a need at defensive end and landed Julius Peppers. They had a need at quarterback and traded to nab Jay Cutler. These are not players who had cheap price tags.
The Bears will spend money if they feel they have to, but the wide receiver position has never elicited enough of their concern.
My take is that it's perhaps time to open the wallet again in Chicago. Seeing Williams stink up the bench may be just the motivation they need in order to do so.
Carolina Panthers: Signing Derek Anderson
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Usually when you have a roster of young quarterbacks, it helps to have that one veteran presence to guide them.
But former teammate John Skelton says that Derek Anderson is not a guide. And if this is a passing pocket, Anderson doesn't have presence either.
Since his Pro Bowl season in 2007, Anderson has endured a dreadful string of seasons, which has ultimately left him buried in the depth chart of last year's worst NFL team.
Carolina has not been shy about spending money this offseason, so why not pay just a little more to grab someone who is more likely to accept the role as Cam Newton's mentor?