Assessing Week 1 of 2010 NFL Free Agency

Last night, I posted my thoughts on some of the moves made on Wednesday across the National Football League. You can check them out here if you happened to miss them. Let's take a step back now and look at some of the other transactions made leading up to Wednesday's action during the first week of NFL Free Agency.

Day 1 Moves (Friday March 5th)

Moves I Liked:

  • Good move by Indianapolis to re-up linebacker Gary Brackett to a 5-year deal that should keep him in a Colts uniform until he retires. Brackett is by no means a monster, but he's a great glue guy, a sure tackler and knows the defensive system the Colts like to run as well as anybody on their roster. The deal was a big one - $33 million with $12 upfront in the form of a signing bonus - but it wasn't a prohibitively massive contract.
  • Green Bay makes a move to ensure its offensive line is no worse than it was in 2009 by re-signing tackle Chad Clifton to a 3-year deal. Clifton was apparently not too far from working out a deal with the Washington Redskins. Clifton has started 63 of the past 64 games for Green Bay and has been with the team since 2000. The deal is worth $20 million, with $12 of that guaranteed. Seems like a lot of scratch for a guy who's made just one Pro Bowl '07), but you know what you're going to get from Clifton. Good character guy, durable as can be, and much better than one might think if you just look at Aaron Rodgers' sack totals the past two years. 
  • Detroit gets a bit tougher and more experienced on the defensive line by signing Kyle Vanden Bosch. KVB may be a bit long in the tooth at 31 years of age, and his production has declined substantially in recent years, but the deal is only worth $26 million over 4 years, with $10 million due to him in year number one. The Lions won't be too heavily invested after the first year, meaning they can reassess his value down the road. For now though, the move makes the Lions more formidable now without having to break the bank. He'll join Cory Williams in the new look Lions defensive line. Now, what to do about that shoddy secondary??

Moves I Disliked:

  • Talk about desperation time in the Windy City. Julius Peppers for 6 years and $42 million in guaranteed money? For a guy that takes plays off? For a guy that has never once played in a cold weather climate? I don't like it at all. Then paying Chester Taylor $12.5 million over 4 years at the age of 31? What exactly is he going to do that some undrafted free agent or late round draft pick can't do playing behind Matt Forte

Day 2 Moves (Saturday March 6th)

Moves I Liked:

  • None really, though I suppose it was important for the New England Patriots to work something out long term with NT Vince Wilfork. I thought they paid him too much in guaranteed money though ($25 million). Risky proposition for a guy who could very easily go from dominant to out of shape and overweight.

Moves I Disliked:

  • I guess the Atlanta Falcons haven't learned their lesson when it comes to overpaying for cornerbacks. First it was D'Angelo Hall several years back, now it's former Texans CB Dunta Robinson, who inked a 6-year $57 million dollar deal on Saturday. Robinson's a good player, don't get me wrong. And he's durable. But he's not that special of a talent. I suppose there's a high premium placed on pass defense in the NFC South with Drew Brees and the Saints hitting their stride, but I have a hard time being pleased about this one if I'm a Falcons faithful.

 

Day 3 Moves (Sunday March 7th)

Moves I Liked:

  • Great move by the Jacksonville Jaguars signing former Green Bay Packers DL Aaron Kampan. The deal was reasonable (4 years, $26 million, $11 guaranteed) for a guy who's only missed one game since 2004. He's racked up 48 sacks in that span. Jacksonville had an amazingly paltry total of just 14 sacks in '09. Kampman should help elevate that number considerably.

Moves I Disliked:

  • None, as it wasn't a very active day for obvious reasons. Though I will say that I don't think adding Scott Fujita and Tony Pashos makes Cleveland all that much more formidable. Both are nice players and good people. But I think Pashos is in particular was made to look better than he really is by Brees' ability to get rid of the ball quickly. Will Pashos be able to provide enough time for whichever unproven signal caller is under center in Cleveland next year? 

 

Day 4 Moves (Monday March 8th)

Moves I Liked:

  • Defensive tackle Fred Robbins may be set to turn 33 years old later this month, but his production has remained quite steady in recent years while a member of the New York Giants. His numbers dipped last year, but that may be a product of the Giants working in a new defensive scheme, and of course, it's never easy to come off of microfracture surgery. But Robbins is healthy now and he'll be reunited with former defensive coach Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis. The Rams signed Robbins to an incentive laden 3-year deal that could be worth as much as $12 million. It's a nice gamble for a team that sorely needed to add bodies this offseason.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles locked down restricted free agent wide receiver Jason Avant to a 5-year deal that could be worth as much as $18 million. $8 mil is guaranteed, but that's not huge money considering the length of the deal and the fact that Avant's production has climbed slowly but surely each and every year since entering the league in 2006. Finally, the Eagles seem to have a set corps of playmakers locked down for the forseeable future. Desean Jackson, Jeremy Macklin, Avant, and TE Brent Celek should make Philly one of the more formidable offenses in the NFC next year.

Moves I Disliked:

  • Not too thrilled about either the Will Allen or the Arnez Battle signings by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday. More on them from me sometime soon, but they seem a bit hard to comprehend considering the moves made by the organization the following day - those being re-signing Ryan Clark and bringing back Antwaan Randle El to the Burgh after a three year hiatus following Super Bowl XL. I will say though now that I like Allen's potential to have an impact much, much more than Battle's. I don't see how he gets out of camp whereas I could very easily see Allen playing an important role as a nickel back.
  • Kansas City wastes their time and money on journeyman WR Chris Chambers. I'm not sure of the terms but I'm sure it's not a huge contract. Still, I see no use in bringing back a guy with a limited ceiling like Chambers at this point in his career, not to mention at this point in the KC rebuilding process. 

 

Day 4 Moves (Tuesday March 9th)

Moves I Liked:

  • Really liked Denver's acquisition of DT Jamal Williams. The former Charger hole clogger was given a 3-year $16 million dollar deal, $8 million of which is guaranteed. Williams may be 34 years of age during the 2010 season, but he'll still give the Broncos so much needed beef up front next year and in 2011. Denver was simply overwhelmed in the trenches last year and that eventually took its toll down the stretch. Nice move by Denver, as they finally get a little bit of toughness on defense.
  • Ryan Clark's return to Pittsburgh. Like I said in the case of bringing back Casey Hampton, I think keeping Clark around in 2010 and 2011 is a wise move as the team tries to make a run back to the Super Bowl. Doing so with an unproven young S would have been much, much tougher to accomplish.

Moves I Disliked:

  • Back to Kansas City. This time for commentary on the signing of veteran running back Thomas Jones to a 2-year $5 million dollar deal. He'll split carries presumably with 2009 breakthrough 'back Jamal Charles. This is why I don't like the move at all - Charles is an absolute stud. As good as Chris Johnson was in Tennessee last year, Charles was arguably better. He just didn't get his chance to shine until the Chiefs finally ditched trouble maker Larry Johnson. I understand the need to rotate in two RBs in today's game, but I can already see it - KC is going to limit Charles' effectiveness by sluffing off too many carries to Jones. That's going to hurt their explosiveness on offense, something they can't exactly afford to do considering their playmakers on the outside.
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