NFL Free Agency 2011: 10 Free Agents Everyone Hopes Have Great Seasons
The NFL offseason had some interesting moves, and If the players that were picked up can stay on the field for 16 games—or can live up to the expectations of their signingsthis season will be all the more exciting.
A lot of players switched teams, but I've narrowed the list down to 10 guys that everyone can cheer for. Let's take a look at the players that hope to have an impact on their new teams.
New York Jets: Derrick Mason
Derrick Mason is a solid addition to the New York Jets.
Mason, whom the Baltimore Ravens released after six seasons, is looking to make a splash in 2011. The 37-year-old receiver was still productive for the Ravens last year, catching 61 passes for 802 yards and seven touchdowns.
Mason will play an important role behind Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes as the third-string wideout, and there will even be a few Ravens and Tennessee Titans fans cheering him on.
Although there is not much depth behind the main three guys, with Mason's teammates, Burress and Holmes, the Jets' receiving core will be strong this season.
San Diego Chargers: Bob Sanders and Takeo Spikes
Even though the San Diego Chargers had a very good defense last year, they decided to bring in the veteran leadership of Bob Sanders and Takeo Spikes.
Both Sanders and Spikes are going to start for the Chargers and hopefully make a good defense great.
Sanders had been an amazing playmaker for the Indianapolis Colts, but he hasn't been able to stay on the field. Giving Sanders a one-year deal, the Chargers obviously think he is worth the small risk.
A slightly bigger risk was giving Spikes a three-year deal, because he has also been plagued by injury, but the move was important in bringing unmatched experience at the middle linebacker spot.
The Chargers are a team stacked with talent, and if the two can play 16 games each, the team has to be a favorite to win the AFC West and possibly the AFC.
Seattle Seahawks: Sidney Rice
Sidney Rice has been injured off and on throughout his short career in the NFL, but everyone saw his potential during his 2009 Pro Bowl season.
Now that Rice has found a new home with the Seattle Seahawks, the league is intrigued to see if he can produce alongside Mike Williams and the Seahawks' new quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson (also Rice's teammate in Minnesota). Jackson will have free-agent offensive guard Robert Gallery protecting him, too, but while Gallery is dynamic in run-blocking scenarios, it is up in the air if he will help in pass protection.
Rice is sidelined with a sore shoulder that makes him questionable for the Week 1 game against the San Francisco 49ers (Gallery is also questionable), but hopefully he will be able to get on the field soon.
Seattle Seahawks: Zach Miller
Oakland Raiders fans must have been displeased when they found out tight end Zach Miller would sign with the Seattle Seahawks.
Like his new teammate Sidney Rice, when healthy Miller has been a monster and a favorite target of whoever was under center for the Raiders.
While the Seahawks already have a tight end with good hands in John Carlson, Carlson just hasn't been much of a threat. When Sidney Rice, Mike Williams and Miller are on the field together, the Seahawks have a extremely dangerous trio. If Tarvaris Jackson can get them the ball, the Seahawks' passing game will improve tremendously.
Houstan Texans: Johnathan Joseph
The Houston Texans needed to make a move to improve their defense. So they did.
The Texans picked up Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator and inked cornerback Johnathan Joseph to a deal.
If Joseph can help what was a dismal pass defense, along with an overall defensive improvement, the Texans will have a shot at taking the AFC South.
Atlanta Falcons: Ray Edwards
The Atlanta Falcons hoped to find a pass-rushing defensive end to pair with John Abraham. They netted one in former Minnesota Viking Ray Edwards.
Edwards was brought in so his speed could put more pressure on quarterbacks, especially Falcons' arch-nemesis and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
The Falcons competed to win the NFC South last season; with Edwards signed, they made sure they won't fall behind in a division that has gotten better each year.
Carolina Panthers: Greg Olsen
Just as no one expected Zach Miller to leave the Raiders, not many people saw Greg Olsen leaving the Chicago Bears for the Carolina Panthers.
Although the Panthers other new tight end, Jeremy Shockey, caught Cam Newton's first NFL touchdown pass, Olsen will be Newton's go-to guy.
Olsen had 41 receptions for 404 yards and 5 touchdowns last season with Jay Cutler, a quarterback who looked more for his wide receivers. With Newton's inexperience, expect Olsen's numbers to skyrocket as the young quarterback looks to check down instead of going deep.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nnamdi Asomugha
Nnamdi Asomugha was the biggest free agents of the offseason. He has long been considered one of the few premier cornerbacks in the NFL.
Although Asomugha had many suitors, the Philadelphia Eagles swooped in and picked up the lock-down cornerback.
With Asante Samuel, newly acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha, the Eagles have an unbelievably skilled combination of corners.
Will any quarterback have a great day when they play against the Eagles? Don't bet on it.
Arizona Cardinals: Todd Heap
Todd Heap, the longtime Baltimore Raven, was let go by the team this offseason.
Heap quickly found a home with the Arizona Cardinals, and fans hope he becomes the safety blanket for Kevin Kolb that he was for Joe Flacco.
Heap played in 13 regular season games last year. He grabbed 40 receptions for 599 yards and 5 touchdowns.
While the Ravens decided to go with two younger tight ends, the Cardinals will welcome Heap's experience.