With free agency ending and the draft coming up, I found myself with many comments I wanted to express, but not many I felt I could write a whole article about. So I decided to just have my top 10 post-free agency observations in one article.
1. The San Francisco 49ers will win the NFC West in 2010.
The Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams are in full rebuilding mode (again), and the Arizona Cardinals lost far too many elite players. The 49ers are improving, and should be able to pull off a minimum 9-7 record, which should be enough to win the division.
2. Julius Peppers was a smart pick-up by the Bears, but they still have a way to go before they are contenders.
The Bears were smart for pursuing Julius Peppers. Peppers is a great defensive end and will help a very weak Chicago pass rush. Fine. But people need to stop anointing them a playoff team. There is still one man who has to play better, and I think we all know who that is.
Improved defense or not, the Bears will go nowhere if Jay Cutler throws 20-plus interceptions again. Unless he improves, the Bears will not go the playoffs, Peppers or no Peppers.
3. The Dolphins have to really shake things up at wide receiver.
And I mean really shake things up. Ted Ginn, Jr. and Greg Camarillo are just not good enough to start for any team in the league. Ginn drops every other ball, and Camarillo, while he has good hands, struggles to get open. Davone Bess is a good slot receiver, but nothing more. The Dolphins need to draft a wide receiver with an early pick, at least by the third round.
Pursuing a free agent along with this draft pick wouldn’t be a bad idea either. The best option left on the market may be an all-but-forgotten man: Plaxico Burress.
Rumor has it he may get out of prison this summer, and after being beaten into shape over the preseason, he would be an upgrade over any wide receiver currently on the Dolphins' roster.
Even if Burress isn't released, the Dolphins should think about signing some other free agents, maybe Musin Muhammad or Kelley Washington. Neither would become No. 1 receivers, but both would be able to improve the passing game.
It seems teams have finally realized that Terrell Owens is more trouble then he's worth. Besides his locker room issues, there is the more concrete decline in his production. After the draft, he will get a job somewhere, but wherever he shows up, don't expect much. Terrell Owens is done.
5. The Giants will contend next year.
They may not necessarily make the playoffs, but they will at least be in the running, and I think they will at least secure a wildcard.
The Giants finished 8-8 last season, but before injuries and incompetent safeties took their toll, New York was playing as good as anyone in the NFL. Their offense finished eighth in the league, and their defense dealt with some serious injuries. With the return of Kenny Philips and Justin Tuck, and the addition of Antrel Rolle, the Giants defense should improve sufficiently to make them into playoff contenders yet again.
6. The Browns got away with a big time steal by getting Seneca Wallace for a seventh round pick.
Seneca Wallace isn't great and probably isn't much more than a back-up, but still, a seventh rounder? He is one of the better back-ups in the league, and that’s more than a player taken in the seventh round will probably be. He can step in and win a game and that's more then I think a quarterback taken in the seventh round will probably ever be able to do.
While we're on the subject of Browns' quarterbacks, I for one think the Browns made a big mistake by trading Brady Quinn. He has never had nearly a good enough supporting cast to prove himself, and I don't think Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace are upgrades.
In Minnesota, Tomlinson would be the undisputed No. 2 option behind Adrian Peterson, and he could be assured of a role as a third-down back, something Peterson is not very good at.
In New York though, Tomlinson's chances of contributing are much slimmer. He just doesn't seem to have a niche to fill. Third down back? Leon Washington is already one of the best in the biz. Goal line back? Perhaps, but probably not. Greene is not big, but he runs tough enough to not need much help in that department. Every down back? There's a reason San Diego cut him.
Tomlinson will probably find himself fighting for the No. 2 spot with Leon Washington.
This is also a bad move if LaDainian Tomlinson ever wants that championship. The Jets are a good team, but the Vikings are a lot closer to the Super Bowl.
8. The Redskins are obviously focusing on their offensive line this offseason, but expect the defensive line to be tinkered with, too.
The Skins are switching to a 3-4 defense and this, mixed with the departure of starting defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, means the Redskins have to get a few new players to play on the line, if not to start, at least for added depth. The Redskins have already signed Maake Kemoeatu and do not be surprised if they use a draft pick on a defensive lineman and sign a free agent or two.
9. Seriously, what is up with people hating on Thomas Jones?
The man rushes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, but still, like every offseason it seems, people are saying he is officially done.
Please. He is a good running back, and he never seems to get the respect he deserves.
He ran tough all of the regular season last year, and while he slowed down a bit in the playoffs, 331 carries will do that to you. Splitting time with Jamaal Charles in Kansas City should keep Jones fresh for the whole season, and expect another big year from him.
10. While we're talking about people who get more criticism then they deserve, people really need to stop whining about Brett Farve not being "clutch."
He made one bad throw while out of the pocket with bad legs and the New Orleans defense bearing down on him. But without Farve, the Vikings aren't in that position in the first place. Peyton Manning made an even worse throw in the Super Bowl, but he is not getting nearly the abuse that Farve is. People really need to calm down and realize that, despite his bad throw, Farve is a great, elite quarterback.