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Jeff Ireland’s Miami Dolphins are Offseason Champions

March 15, 2013 1 comment

I’m taking an in-depth look at what teams can specifically accomplish in free agency, starting with the highly active Miami Dolphins.

Miami Dolphins Offseason Additions:

LB Ellerbe 28 Baltimore 9 7.0 1.0 Miami
S Clemons 28 Miami 14 11.1 5.1 Miami
TE Keller 29 NY Jets 18 12.1 6.2 Miami
LB Wheeler 29 Oakland 14 9.2 3.3 Miami
WR Wallace 27 Pittsburgh 28 24.9 19.0 Miami
WR Gibson 26 St. Louis 12 12.9 6.9 Miami

The Dolphins are probably not done after frontloading the majority of their multi-year contracts.  Wallace, Ellerbe, and Wheeler all got five year deals while Brandon Gibson signed for three years.  Chris Clemons re-signed with Miami for two years.  Keller has the second-highest cap value for 2013 after Mike Wallace, because he’s a one year stopgap.  The Dolphins also re-signed QB Matt Moore for two years, although he’s not likely to see the second year of that contract with a cap value of almost $6 million in 2014 unless he’s the starter.

The Dolphins spent a lot of money, and most of the contracts are highly leveraged, meaning that the player has a lot more job security after year one than with the average free agent contract.  None of the players signed by the Dolphins will be 30 before the end of the 2013-14 NFL playoffs, so the downside risk of these deals isn’t really relevant to a discussion of the 2013 Miami Dolphins.  From 2014 on, the Dolphins will likely struggle to manage the cap.  Whether or not GM Jeff Ireland will be responsible for the cap problems he is creating this week depends on how well the 2013 Dolphins play.

Miami Dolphins Offseason Losses + Unsigned Players:

CB Smith 26 Miami 20 20.3 14.3 Kansas City
T Long 28 Miami 24 19.1 13.1
RB Bush 28 Miami 21 16.7 10.7 Detroit
LB Burnett 31 Miami 28 14.3 8.3
TE Fasano 29 Miami 16 10.6 4.7 Kansas City
LB Dansby 32 Miami 26 10.5 4.5
S Amaya 25 Miami 2 4.9 -1.1
TE Mastrud 26 Miami 3 4.6 -1.4
CB McCann 26 Miami 3 4.6 -1.4
DT McDaniel 28 Miami 6 4.6 -1.4
WR Naanee 30 Miami 9 3.9 -2.1
WR Moore 26 Miami 2 3.7 -2.3
OLB Trusnik 29 Miami 6 3.2 -2.7
QB Garrard 35 Miami 25 2.5 -3.5 NY Jets
WR Gaffney 33 Miami 15 2.4 -3.6
T Garner 28 Miami 3 2.2 -3.8
RB Slaton 27 Miami 1 1.7 -4.2
T Brown 27 Miami 1 1.7 -4.3
T Murtha 28 Miami 2 1.4 -4.6
CB Wade 29 Miami 3 0.9 -5.0
S Culver 30 Miami 4 0.5 -5.5
OLB Alama-Francis 29 Miami 1 -0.6 -6.5
G Steinbach 33 Miami 5 -2.8 -8.8
G Hicks 35 Miami 5 -5.5 -11.5

Most of Miami’s expiring contracts represent nothing more than roster fodder, as you see so many negative numbers (representing below average value) in that right-most column.  But the Dolphins made the decisions to release veterans Dansby and Burnett to create room for Ellerbe and Wheeler this season.  That’s not guaranteed to work out in the Dolphins favor.  They’re getting younger, but Dansby is still very much an impact player in this league, and while the Dolphins are likely skeptical about his health going forward, it’s easy to see the roster taking a step back at the linebacker position next season.

When analyzing the Dolphins moves, the fact that two of their signings necessitated cuts of quality veterans at the same position means that we’ve stripped down about half of the “activity” of the Dolphins to merely re-arraigning their own deck chairs.  The moves of substance have occurred at the wide receiver position, where they’ve added Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson.  As of the time of this blog, the Dolphins are still in the mix to retain their star left tackle, Jake Long.  But they’ve already lost their top running back, Reggie Bush, their top corner for a second straight offseason Sean Smith (following Vontae Davis), and lost TE Anthony Fasano, which prompted them to be involved for Dustin Keller at a higher cap number.

While the Dolphins set out to improve the depth and quality of their receivers, they might actually be less dangerous on offense without Bush and Fasano.  Mike Wallace gives them the type of receiver talent you cannot just replace (if you are the Steelers, that is), but he’s also not the kind of number one receiver that Vincent Jackson was last year.  He’s more of a wealthy man’s DeSean Jackson.  In past seasons, the Dolphins offense was inconsistent with the more versatile Bush and Fasano.  Wallace is not going to do anything to help the consistency.  That’s on the shoulders of Ryan Tannehill.

Overall, the receivers are unquestionably improved for the Dolphins, who suffered no losses of note at the position, managing to maintain their top two receivers from last year, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess.  Adding Brandon Gibson creates some additional upside at the position in three receiver sets.  But the money the Dolphins have tied up in their receivers is only sustainable over the next three seasons, while Ryan Tannehill is relatively affordable.  And despite the salary structure, it’s Tannehill who will be chiefly responsible for ensuring offensive efficiency and consistency in 2013, not Hartline or Wallace.

The bigger issue in my eyes (outside of Jake Long) is the glaring weakness the Dolphins have created for themselves on the edges of their defense.  As strong as the front seven has been in recent years, you can’t be so weak on the edges in the modern NFL.  It’s just too easy to isolate those players, and so the Dolphins brought in Falcons CB Brent Grimes for a visit.  Grimes is still a quality player in the NFL, but he isn’t Sean Smith at this point.  And while the Dolphins have two second rounders after trading Vontae Davis to the Colts last year, it’s going to mean at least one of them will be spent that the CB position — the first rounder may as well.  The other pick might need to be used in order to replace Bush (or Long) because the Dolphins are opening holes as quickly as they are plugging them.

The good news is that the story is far from finished in regards to this offseason, as an all in Dolphins team will be very dangerous in the AFC this year.  The problem is that the story so far is that the Dolphins have created a looming cap issue in the future without making their team more dangerous in the present to date.  The Dolphins can get a lot better really quickly now if they use the trade market, additional free agent moves, and the draft to grab value for the rest of the offseason.  But if the Dolphins cut off their activity at this point, all they’ve really done is shake up the roster, throw a ton of cash around, and not really improve.

2013 NFL Free Agency Complete Listing

This is a self produced list of all available free agents in anticipation of the start of the league year in a couple of hours.  The players are ranked by Approximate value above replacement, which takes Approximate value (available at pro-football-reference.com) as a three year moving average, and adjusts/penalizes for the age of the player.

The goal of scaling to a replacement level is to provide a very visual (and extremely age-dependent) picture of players who are likely to receive offers (above replacement = positive AVAR) and those who are unlikely to receive offers (below replacement = negative AVAR).

The system is 100% objective with no manual adjustments, so it has spit out some quirky results (such as Rey Maualuga being the highest rated Bengal over Andre Smith), but it’s designed to overall capture the way NFL prospects are valued by NFL teams, not to be a personal rankings list for myself.  Players are separated by team, but sorted by AVAR.

Enjoy!  I will try to keep this list updated as results roll in.

<last update: Wednesday, March 27, 1:20 PM EDT> (Most recent transaction update: Saints sign OLB Victor Butler)

All NFL Free Agents 2013
Pos. Last Name Age Current Team AV Rate AVAR AVAA Signed w/Team
CB Cason 27 San Diego 18 16.3 10.4 Arizona
CB Powers 26 Indianapolis 12 12.9 6.9 Arizona
DE Shaughnessy 27 Oakland 12 11.1 5.2 Arizona
LB Brinkley 28 Minnesota 7 5.4 -0.6 Arizona
OLB Alexander 30 Washington 11 5.3 -0.7 Arizona
QB Stanton 29 Indianapolis 4 1.7 -4.2 Arizona
RB Mendenhall 26 Pittsburgh 17 17.5 11.5 Arizona
S Johnson 27 Arizona 8 7.7 1.8 Arizona
S Amaya 25 Miami 2 4.9 -1.1 Arizona
S Bell 35 NY Jets 21 0.9 -5.1 Arizona
WR Cribbs 30 Cleveland 8 3.2 -2.8 Arizona
DE Umenyiora 32 NY Giants 18 5.9 0.0 Atlanta
G Reynolds 26 Atlanta 7 8.3 2.3 Atlanta
RB Jackson 30 St. Louis 23 13.5 7.5 Atlanta
S Moore 28 Atlanta 19 15.1 9.1 Atlanta
T Baker 28 Atlanta 19 15.1 9.1 Atlanta
TE Gonzalez 37 Atlanta 33 -0.1 -6.1 Atlanta
CB Johnson 34 Baltimore 4 -4.7 -10.6 Baltimore
DE Dumervil 30 Denver 22 12.9 6.9 Baltimore
DT Canty 31 NY Giants 17 7.4 1.4 Baltimore
DT Spears 30 Dallas 9 3.9 -2.1 Baltimore
S Huff 30 Oakland 20 11.5 5.5 Baltimore
S Ihedigbo 30 Baltimore 7 2.5 -3.5 Baltimore
CB McKelvin 28 Buffalo 13 10.3 4.3 Buffalo
LB Lawson 29 Cincinnati 19 12.9 6.9 Buffalo
CB Munnerlyn 25 Carolina 14 16.6 10.7 Carolina
CB Moore 26 Chicago 6 7.4 1.4 Carolina
CB Florence 33 Detroit 13 1.3 -4.7 Carolina
DT Edwards 32 Carolina 17 5.4 -0.5 Carolina
LB Blackburn 30 NY Giants 10 4.6 -1.4 Carolina
QB Anderson 30 Carolina 0 -2.3 -8.3 Carolina
S Mitchell 26 Oakland 6 7.4 1.4 Carolina
TE Hartsock 33 Carolina 5 -2.8 -8.8 Carolina
WR Ginn 28 San Francisco 7 5.4 -0.6 Carolina
CB Hayden 30 Chicago 9 3.9 -2.1 Chicago
CB Bowman 29 Chicago 4 1.7 -4.2 Chicago
DE McBride 28 New Orleans 6 4.6 -1.4 Chicago
DT Collins 26 Chicago 3 4.6 -1.4 Chicago
LB Anderson 30 Carolina 19 10.8 4.8 Chicago
LB Williams 31 Denver 14 5.5 -0.5 Chicago
S Zbikowski 28 Indianapolis 8 6.2 0.2 Chicago
T Bushrod 29 New Orleans 30 21.1 15.2 Chicago
T Scott 31 Chicago 10 3.0 -3.0 Chicago
TE Bennett 26 NY Giants 17 17.5 11.5 Chicago
CB Jones 30 Cincinnati 9 3.9 -2.1 Cincinnati
DE Geathers 30 Cincinnati 21 12.2 6.2 Cincinnati
DE Gilberry 29 Cincinnati 9 5.4 -0.5 Cincinnati
LB Maualuga 27 Cincinnati 22 19.7 13.8 Cincinnati
OLB Maybin 25 NY Jets 4 6.8 0.9 Cincinnati
T Roland 30 Cincinnati 6 1.8 -4.2 Cincinnati
WR Tate 26 Cincinnati 11 12.0 6.0 Cincinnati
CB Owens 27 Atlanta 5 5.1 -0.8 Cleveland
DE Kruger 27 Baltimore 7 6.8 0.9 Cleveland
DT Bryant 28 Oakland 11 8.6 2.6 Cleveland
OLB Groves 29 Arizona 13 8.4 2.5 Cleveland
TE Davis 28 Chicago 8 6.2 0.2 Cleveland
TE Barnidge 28 Carolina 3 2.2 -3.8 Cleveland
LB Durant 28 Detroit 16 12.7 6.7 Dallas
LB Sims 29 Dallas 12 7.7 1.8 Dallas
S Allen 31 Pittsburgh 6 0.5 -5.5 Dallas
CB Rodgers-Cromartie 27 Philadelphia 12 11.1 5.2 Denver
DT Knighton 27 Jacksonville 15 13.7 7.8 Denver
DT Vickerson 30 Denver 14 7.3 1.3 Denver
G Vasquez 26 San Diego 19 19.4 13.4 Denver
LB Bradley 30 Arizona 7 2.5 -3.5 Denver
S Bruton 26 Denver 4 5.6 -0.4 Denver
WR Welker 32 New England 43 20.3 14.4 Denver
C Gandy 31 Detroit 3 -1.4 -7.4 Detroit
CB Houston 29 Detroit 18 12.1 6.2 Detroit
DT Jones 27 Seattle 15 13.7 7.8 Detroit
RB Bush 28 Miami 21 16.7 10.7 Detroit
S Quin 27 Houston 19 17.2 11.3 Detroit
S Delmas 26 Detroit 14 14.8 8.8 Detroit
WR Osgood 33 Detroit 1 -4.9 -10.9 Detroit
DT Jolly 30 Green Bay 0 -2.3 -8.3 Green Bay
LB Francois 28 Green Bay 4 3.0 -3.0 Green Bay
OLB Jones 27 Green Bay 9 8.6 2.7 Green Bay
CB McCain 27 Houston 6 6.0 0.1 Houston
FB Jones 31 Jacksonville 3 -1.4 -7.4 Houston
S Reed 35 Baltimore 36 4.9 -1.1 Houston
CB Butler 27 Indianapolis 7 6.8 0.9 Indianapolis
CB Toler 28 Arizona 7 5.4 -0.6 Indianapolis
DE Sidbury 27 Atlanta 3 3.4 -2.5 Indianapolis
DT Jean-Francois 27 San Francisco 4 4.2 -1.7 Indianapolis
G Thomas 28 New England 6 4.6 -1.4 Indianapolis
NT Franklin 33 San Diego 15 2.4 -3.6 Indianapolis
OLB Walden 28 Green Bay 14 11.1 5.1 Indianapolis
QB Hasselbeck 38 Tennessee 26 -4.7 -10.7 Indianapolis
S Landry 29 NY Jets 16 10.6 4.7 Indianapolis
T Cherilus 29 Detroit 22 15.1 9.2 Indianapolis
C Meester 36 Jacksonville 17 -2.7 -8.6 Jacksonville
CB Ball 28 Houston 8 6.2 0.2 Jacksonville
CB Molden 28 Jacksonville 3 2.2 -3.8 Jacksonville
DT Miller 26 Tampa Bay 15 15.7 9.7 Jacksonville
LB Hayes 26 Chicago 15 15.7 9.7 Jacksonville
RB Forsett 28 Houston 10 7.8 1.8 Jacksonville
WR Shipley 28 Jacksonville 7 5.4 -0.6 Jacksonville
CB Smith 26 Miami 20 20.3 14.3 Kansas City
CB Robinson 31 Atlanta 20 9.3 3.3 Kansas City
DE Jones 29 Kansas City 3 0.9 -5.0 Kansas City
DT Devito 29 NY Jets 22 15.1 9.2 Kansas City
G Schwartz 27 Minnesota 7 6.8 0.9 Kansas City
OLB Jones 29 Kansas City 3 0.9 -5.0 Kansas City
QB Daniel 27 New Orleans 0 0.8 -5.1 Kansas City
TE Fasano 29 Miami 16 10.6 4.7 Kansas City
WR Avery 29 Indianapolis 6 3.2 -2.7 Kansas City
DT Martin 27 San Diego 12 11.1 5.2 Miami
G Louis 28 Chicago 10 7.8 1.8 Miami
LB Wheeler 29 Oakland 14 9.2 3.3 Miami
LB Ellerbe 28 Baltimore 9 7.0 1.0 Miami
S Clemons 28 Miami 14 11.1 5.1 Miami
T Garner 28 Miami 3 2.2 -3.8 Miami
TE Keller 29 NY Jets 18 12.1 6.2 Miami
WR Wallace 27 Pittsburgh 28 24.9 19.0 Miami
WR Gibson 26 St. Louis 12 12.9 6.9 Miami
FB Felton 27 Minnesota 4 4.2 -1.7 Minnesota
G Olsen 28 Indianapolis 3 2.2 -3.8 Minnesota
LB Henderson 27 Minnesota 10 9.4 3.5 Minnesota
QB Cassel 31 Kansas City 23 11.2 5.2 Minnesota
S Sanford 28 Minnesota 12 9.4 3.4 Minnesota
T Loadholt 27 Minnesota 21 18.9 13.0 Minnesota
WR Jennings 30 Green Bay 27 16.3 10.3 Minnesota
WR Simpson 27 Minnesota 11 10.3 4.4 Minnesota
CB Arrington 27 New England 16 14.6 8.7 New England
CB Talib 27 New England 14 12.9 7.0 New England
CB Cole 30 New England 4 0.5 -5.5 New England
LB Koutouvides 32 New England 3 -2.7 -8.6 New England
RB Washington 31 Seattle 8 1.7 -4.3 New England
S Wilson 34 Arizona 21 3.2 -2.8 New England
T Vollmer 29 New England 28 19.6 13.7 New England
T Svitek 32 Atlanta 7 -0.4 -6.3 New England
WR Jones 26 Buffalo 8 9.3 3.3 New England
WR Amendola 28 St. Louis 11 8.6 2.6 New England
CB Lewis 27 Pittsburgh 11 10.3 4.3 New Orleans
LB Humber 26 New Orleans 3 4.7 -1.3 New Orleans
LB Herring 30 New Orleans 3 0.2 -5.8 New Orleans
OLB Butler 26 Dallas 4 5.6 -0.4 New Orleans
TE Watson 33 Cleveland 16 2.9 -3.1 New Orleans
CB Ross 31 Jacksonville 11 3.6 -2.4 NY Giants
DT Jenkins 32 Philadelphia 20 7.1 1.2 NY Giants
G Boothe 30 NY Giants 14 7.3 1.3 NY Giants
LB Rivers 27 NY Giants 9 8.6 2.7 NY Giants
LB Connor 28 Dallas 11 8.6 2.6 NY Giants
QB Carr 34 NY Giants 1 -6.0 -11.9 NY Giants
RB Torain 27 NY Giants 5 5.1 -0.8 NY Giants
S Mundy 28 Pittsburgh 7 5.4 -0.6 NY Giants
TE Myers 28 Oakland 13 10.3 4.3 NY Giants
WR Murphy 26 Carolina 12 12.9 6.9 NY Giants
G Colon 30 Pittsburgh 4 0.5 -5.5 NY Jets
LB Mauga 26 NY Jets 3 4.7 -1.3 NY Jets
NT Garay 34 San Diego 14 0.0 -6.0 NY Jets
OLB Barnes 29 San Diego 6 3.2 -2.7 NY Jets
QB Garrard 35 Miami 25 2.5 -3.5 NY Jets
RB Goodson 26 Oakland 7 8.3 2.3 NY Jets
RB Hilliard 29 NY Jets 1 -0.6 -6.5 NY Jets
CB Adams 25 Oakland 4 6.8 0.8 Oakland
DE Hunter 30 Denver 8 3.2 -2.8 Oakland
DT Walker 26 Atlanta 9 10.2 4.2 Oakland
DT Sims 28 Cincinnati 7 5.4 -0.6 Oakland
LB Roach 28 Chicago 19 15.1 9.1 Oakland
LB Burnett 31 Miami 28 14.3 8.3 Oakland
LB Maiava 26 Cleveland 8 9.3 3.3 Oakland
T Barnes 31 Oakland 13 4.9 -1.1 Oakland
CB Fletcher 27 St. Louis 13 12.0 6.1 Philadelphia
CB Williams 29 Baltimore 16 10.6 4.7 Philadelphia
LB Phillips 27 Carolina 3 3.4 -2.5 Philadelphia
NT Sopoaga 32 San Francisco 18 5.9 0.0 Philadelphia
OLB Barwin 27 Houston 16 14.6 8.7 Philadelphia
S Phillips 27 NY Giants 15 13.7 7.8 Philadelphia
S Chung 26 New England 11 12.0 6.0 Philadelphia
TE Casey 29 Houston 11 6.9 1.0 Philadelphia
G Foster 28 Pittsburgh 16 12.7 6.7 Pittsburgh
QB Gradkowski 30 Cincinnati 5 1.1 -4.9 Pittsburgh
TE Johnson 26 Pittsburgh 5 6.5 0.5 Pittsburgh
TE Speath 30 Chicago 7 2.5 -3.5 Pittsburgh
CB Cox 27 Jacksonville 12 11.1 5.2 San Diego
G Rinehart 28 Buffalo 8 6.2 0.2 San Diego
RB Woodhead 28 New England 22 17.5 11.5 San Diego
RB Brown 32 San Diego 9 0.8 -5.1 San Diego
T Dunlap 28 Philadelphia 9 7.0 1.0 San Diego
TE Phillips 26 Dallas 5 6.5 0.5 San Diego
DT Dorsey 28 Kansas City 17 13.5 7.5 San Francisco
LB Skuta 27 Cincinnati 4 4.2 -1.7 San Francisco
S Dahl 28 St. Louis 15 11.9 5.9 San Francisco
S McBath 28 San Francisco 2 1.4 -4.6 San Francisco
WR Moore 26 Miami 2 3.7 -2.3 San Francisco
DE Avril 27 Detroit 22 19.7 13.8 Seattle
DE Bennett 28 Tampa Bay 14 11.0 5.0 Seattle
DE Hayes 28 St. Louis 7 5.4 -0.6 St. Louis
T Long 28 Miami 24 19.1 13.1 St. Louis
TE Cook 26 Tennessee 17 17.5 11.5 St. Louis
LB Casillas 26 New Orleans 5 6.5 0.5 Tampa Bay
S Goldson 29 San Francisco 28 19.6 13.7 Tampa Bay
TE Crabtree 28 Green Bay 9 7.0 1.0 Tampa Bay
C Turner 29 St. Louis 7 3.9 -2.0 Tennessee
DT Hill 27 Detroit 7 6.8 0.9 Tennessee
DT Pitoitua 28 Kansas City 7 5.4 -0.6 Tennessee
FB Johnson 27 Tennessee 3 3.4 -2.5 Tennessee
G Levitre 28 Buffalo 21 16.7 10.7 Tennessee
LB Fokou 28 Indianapolis 10 7.8 1.8 Tennessee
QB Fitzpatrick 31 Buffalo 33 17.5 11.5 Tennessee
RB Greene 28 NY Jets 18 14.3 8.3 Tennessee
S Pollard 29 Baltimore 16 10.7 4.7 Tennessee
TE Walker 29 San Francisco 13 8.4 2.5 Tennessee
WR Reynaud 28 Tennessee 3 2.2 -3.8 Tennessee
CB Biggers 26 Tampa Bay 11 12.0 6.0 Washington
DT Golston 30 Washington 8 3.2 -2.8 Washington
G Lichtensteiger 28 Washington 15 11.9 5.9 Washington
T Polumbus 28 Washington 14 11.1 5.1 Washington
T Trueblood 30 Tampa Bay 10 4.6 -1.4 Washington
C Legursky 27 Pittsburgh 9 8.6 2.7
C Brown 30 St. Louis 9 3.9 -2.1
C Faine 32 Cincinnati 12 2.5 -3.4
C Berger 31 Minnesota 9 2.4 -3.6
C Cooper 27 Tennessee 1 1.7 -4.2
C Mruczkowski 31 San Diego 2 -2.0 -8.0
CB Hall 30 Washington 25 14.9 8.9
CB Porter 27 Denver 12 11.1 5.2
CB Asomugha 32 Philadelphia 25 10.0 4.0
CB Grimes 30 Atlanta 16 8.7 2.7
CB Jenkins 28 Dallas 10 7.8 1.8
CB King 26 Pittsburgh 6 7.4 1.4
CB Middleton 27 Jacksonville 6 6.0 0.1
CB Smith 28 Detroit 7 5.4 -0.6
CB Gamble 30 Carolina 11 5.3 -0.7
CB McCann 26 Miami 3 4.6 -1.4
CB Routt 30 Houston 10 4.6 -1.4
CB Adams 28 Arizona 6 4.6 -1.4
CB Brown 34 Cleveland 23 4.1 -1.8
CB Carter 27 Denver 3 3.4 -2.5
CB Barnes 27 Detroit 3 3.4 -2.5
CB Carr 30 San Diego 8 3.2 -2.8
CB McDonald 28 Tampa Bay 4 3.0 -3.0
CB King 26 Jacksonville 1 2.8 -3.2
CB Jackson 26 St. Louis 1 2.8 -3.2
CB Clements 34 Cincinnati 20 2.7 -3.2
CB Jammer 34 San Diego 20 2.7 -3.2
CB Mack 27 New Orleans 2 2.5 -3.4
CB Spencer 31 Oakland 9 2.4 -3.6
CB Trent 28 Washington 3 2.2 -3.8
CB Coleman 30 Detroit 6 1.8 -4.2
CB Youboty 29 Jacksonville 4 1.7 -4.2
CB Tryon 29 NY Giants 4 1.7 -4.2
CB Mouton 27 Tennessee 1 1.7 -4.2
CB Hughes 28 NY Giants 2 1.4 -4.6
CB Cox 28 Seattle 2 1.4 -4.6
CB Lewis 28 Seattle 2 1.4 -4.6
CB Jones 28 Washington 2 1.4 -4.6
CB Wilhite 29 Chicago 3 0.9 -5.0
CB Wade 29 Miami 3 0.9 -5.0
CB Hanson 32 Oakland 9 0.8 -5.1
CB Wilson 28 Dallas 1 0.6 -5.4
CB McBride 28 Jacksonville 1 0.6 -5.4
CB Newman 35 Cincinnati 20 0.5 -5.5
CB Bartell 31 Detroit 6 0.5 -5.5
CB Griffin 31 Washington 6 0.5 -5.5
CB Mathis 33 Jacksonville 11 0.3 -5.7
CB Trufant 33 Seattle 11 0.3 -5.7
CB Lee 29 Detroit 2 0.2 -5.7
CB Corner 30 Buffalo 2 -0.9 -6.9
CB Woodson 37 Green Bay 29 -1.3 -7.3
CB Sapp 32 Minnesota 5 -1.5 -7.4
CB Coe 30 Dallas 1 -1.6 -7.6
CB Winfield 36 Minnesota 19 -2.0 -8.0
CB Madison 32 Pittsburgh 2 -3.3 -9.2
CB McGee 33 Buffalo 3 -3.8 -9.8
DE Idonije 33 Chicago 25 7.5 1.5
DE Freeney 33 Indianapolis 23 6.5 0.5
DE Applewhite 28 Carolina 8 6.2 0.2
DE Abraham 35 Atlanta 33 5.8 -0.2
DE Selvie 26 Jacksonville 4 5.5 -0.5
DE Jackson 28 Detroit 6 4.6 -1.4
DE Crowder 28 Tampa Bay 6 4.6 -1.4
DE Scott 29 New England 7 3.9 -2.0
DE Mitchell 29 Tampa Bay 7 3.9 -2.0
DE Brown 26 Detroit 2 3.7 -2.3
DE Tapp 29 Philadelphia 6 3.2 -2.7
DE Johnson 32 Buffalo 11 1.9 -4.0
DE Davis 30 Chicago 6 1.8 -4.2
DE Benard 28 Cleveland 2 1.4 -4.6
DE Ball 32 Tennessee 10 1.3 -4.6
DE Vanden Bosch 35 Detroit 19 0.1 -5.9
DE Charleston 30 Tampa Bay 3 -0.2 -6.2
DE Carter 34 Oakland 13 -0.5 -6.4
DE Moss 29 Oakland 1 -0.6 -6.5
DE Tollefson 31 Oakland 4 -0.8 -6.8
DE Ah You 31 St. Louis 3 -1.4 -7.4
DE Parker 35 Cleveland 9 -3.9 -9.9
DE Brock 35 Seattle 4 -5.9 -11.9
DT Ellis 28 New Orleans 19 15.1 9.1
DT Branch 29 Seattle 20 13.6 7.7
DT Marks 26 Tennessee 12 12.9 6.9
DT Okoye 26 Tampa Bay 9 10.2 4.2
DT Toeaina 29 Chicago 12 7.7 1.7
DT Johnson 29 Indianapolis 11 6.9 1.0
DT Moore 27 Buffalo 7 6.8 0.9
DT Neblett 25 Carolina 4 6.8 0.8
DT Patterson 30 Philadelphia 13 6.7 0.7
DT Douzable 27 Tennessee 6 6.0 0.1
DT Landri 30 Philadelphia 12 6.0 0.0
DT Thomas 28 Denver 7 5.4 -0.6
DT Ayodele 30 New Orleans 11 5.3 -0.7
DT Wynn 27 Tennessee 5 5.1 -0.8
DT Kelly 33 Oakland 20 4.9 -1.1
DT McDaniel 28 Miami 6 4.6 -1.4
DT Jamison 27 Houston 4 4.2 -1.7
DT Seymour 34 Oakland 22 3.6 -2.3
DT Laws 28 St. Louis 4 3.0 -3.0
DT Williams 33 Detroit 16 2.9 -3.1
DT Scott 27 St. Louis 2 2.5 -3.4
DT Schaefering 30 Dallas 7 2.5 -3.5
DT McBean 29 Baltimore 5 2.4 -3.5
DT Bannan 34 Denver 19 2.2 -3.7
DT Foster 28 Indianapolis 3 2.2 -3.8
DT Okam 28 Tampa Bay 3 2.2 -3.8
DT Muir 30 NY Jets 6 1.8 -4.2
DT Pryor 27 New England 1 1.7 -4.2
DT Nwagbuo 28 Carolina 2 1.4 -4.6
DT Coleman 34 Dallas 16 0.9 -5.0
DT Hargrove 30 Green Bay 4 0.5 -5.5
DT Evans 30 Minnesota 4 0.5 -5.5
DT Eason 33 Arizona 10 -0.2 -6.2
DT Richardson 29 NY Jets 1 -0.6 -6.5
DT Cesaire 33 San Diego 8 -1.3 -7.3
DT Edwards 34 Carolina 11 -1.4 -7.3
DT Haynesworth 32 Tampa Bay 3 -2.7 -8.6
DT Bulman 31 New England 1 -2.7 -8.7
DT Bernard 34 NY Giants 6 -3.7 -9.6
DT Warren 35 New England 5 -5.5 -11.5
DT Holliday 38 Arizona 6 -9.3 -15.2
FB Schmitt 28 Oakland 4 3.0 -3.0
FB Baker 26 NY Jets 1 2.8 -3.2
FB Cox 28 Atlanta 2 1.4 -4.6
FB Larsen 29 New England 3 0.9 -5.0
FB Polite 32 Atlanta 2 -3.3 -9.2
FB Mughelli 33 St. Louis 3 -3.8 -9.8
FB Hall 34 Tennessee 3 -5.1 -11.0
FB McIntyre 34 Buffalo 2 -5.6 -11.5
G Slauson 27 NY Jets 16 14.6 8.7
G Green 27 San Diego 13 12.0 6.1
G Harris 29 Tennessee 15 9.9 4.0
G Rachal 27 Chicago 10 9.4 3.5
G Britton 26 Jacksonville 7 8.3 2.3
G Caldwell 27 Houston 8 7.7 1.8
G Peterman 32 Detroit 20 7.1 1.2
G Williams 28 St. Louis 8 6.2 0.2
G Williams 27 Chicago 5 5.1 -0.8
G Spencer 31 Chicago 13 4.9 -1.1
G Scott 32 Philadelphia 16 4.8 -1.1
G Cook 30 Dallas 9 3.9 -2.1
G Moore 33 NY Jets 18 3.9 -2.1
G Petrus 26 Tennessee 2 3.7 -2.3
G Lilja 32 Kansas City 14 3.6 -2.3
G Lutui 30 Tennessee 8 3.2 -2.8
G Hadnot 31 San Diego 8 1.8 -4.2
G Richard 29 New England 4 1.7 -4.2
G Thomas 27 Indianapolis 1 1.7 -4.2
G DeVan 28 Tennessee 2 1.4 -4.6
G Wrotto 29 Chicago 3 0.9 -5.0
G Bell 32 Cincinnati 9 0.8 -5.1
G Herrera 33 Minnesota 9 -0.7 -6.7
G Gallery 33 New England 9 -0.7 -6.7
G Loper 31 Dallas 3 -1.4 -7.4
G Carlisle 36 Oakland 20 -1.7 -7.6
G Holland 33 Dallas 7 -1.8 -7.8
G Kosier 35 Dallas 14 -1.9 -7.9
G Steinbach 33 Miami 5 -2.8 -8.8
G Dockery 33 Dallas 4 -3.3 -9.3
G Davis 35 San Francisco 8 -4.3 -10.3
G Yates 33 Cleveland 1 -4.9 -10.9
G Wells 33 San Diego 1 -4.9 -10.9
G Wragge 34 Baltimore 3 -5.1 -11.0
G Womack 35 Arizona 5 -5.5 -11.5
G Hicks 35 Miami 5 -5.5 -11.5
G Williams 37 Baltimore 12 -6.2 -12.2
G Hochstein 36 Kansas City 5 -6.9 -12.8
LB Curry 27 Oakland 13 12.0 6.1
LB Dansby 32 Miami 26 10.5 4.5
LB Black 29 Tampa Bay 12 7.7 1.7
LB Scott 33 NY Jets 25 7.5 1.5
LB Ruud 30 Seattle 14 7.3 1.3
LB James 32 Houston 20 7.1 1.2
LB Grant 28 San Francisco 9 7.0 1.0
LB Sylvester 25 Pittsburgh 4 6.8 0.8
LB Smith 31 Jacksonville 16 6.8 0.8
LB Hill 31 Seattle 16 6.8 0.8
LB McIntosh 31 St. Louis 16 6.8 0.8
LB Urlacher 35 Chicago 35 6.6 0.6
LB Jordan 28 Philadelphia 8 6.2 0.2
LB Guyton 28 San Diego 8 6.2 0.2
LB Palmer 27 Detroit 6 6.0 0.1
LB Barnett 32 Buffalo 17 5.4 -0.5
LB Goff 28 Washington 7 5.4 -0.6
LB McRath 27 Tennessee 5 5.1 -0.8
LB Howard 30 Cincinnati 10 4.6 -1.4
LB Bosworth 27 Jacksonville 4 4.3 -1.7
LB Siler 28 Kansas City 5 3.8 -2.2
LB Diles 28 Tennessee 5 3.8 -2.2
LB Adkins 26 Atlanta 2 3.7 -2.3
LB Witherspoon 33 Tennessee 17 3.4 -2.6
LB Gaither 29 Oakland 6 3.2 -2.7
LB Dobbins 31 Houston 10 3.0 -3.0
LB Foote 33 Pittsburgh 16 2.9 -3.1
LB Cole 26 St. Louis 1 2.8 -3.2
LB Brown 27 Cleveland 2 2.6 -3.4
LB Williams 27 Philadelphia 2 2.5 -3.4
LB Mitchell 29 Minnesota 5 2.4 -3.5
LB Johnson 30 Pittsburgh 6 1.8 -4.2
LB Glenn 27 Baltimore 1 1.7 -4.2
LB Sintim 27 NY Giants 1 1.7 -4.2
LB Carpenter 30 New England 5 1.1 -4.9
LB Shanle 34 New Orleans 16 0.9 -5.0
LB Iwuh 29 Denver 2 0.2 -5.7
LB Lenon 36 Arizona 25 0.0 -5.9
LB Haggan 33 St. Louis 10 -0.2 -6.2
LB Williams 29 Carolina 1 -0.6 -6.5
LB Adibi 29 Tennessee 1 -0.6 -6.5
LB Brown 30 Baltimore 2 -0.9 -6.9
LB Fox 31 Houston 3 -1.4 -7.4
LB Blackstock 30 Baltimore 1 -1.6 -7.6
LB Fujita 34 Cleveland 10 -1.9 -7.8
LB McCoy 31 Seattle 2 -2.0 -8.0
LB Williams 33 San Diego 6 -2.3 -8.3
LB White 32 New England 3 -2.7 -8.6
LB Poppinga 34 Dallas 8 -2.8 -8.7
LB Spikes 37 San Diego 21 -3.6 -9.6
LB Ekejiuba 32 Detroit 1 -3.8 -9.7
LB Peterson 37 Atlanta 12 -6.2 -12.2
LB Brooking 38 Denver 16 -7.0 -12.9
NT Cody 30 Houston 18 10.1 4.1
NT Pouha 34 NY Jets 25 5.0 -1.0
NT Hampton 36 Pittsburgh 22 -1.0 -6.9
NT Kemoeatu 34 Baltimore 12 -1.0 -6.9
OLB Phillips 32 San Diego 24 9.4 3.5
OLB Zombo 26 Green Bay 7 8.3 2.3
OLB Pace 33 NY Jets 25 7.5 1.5
OLB Harrison 35 Pittsburgh 37 7.4 1.4
OLB Trusnik 29 Miami 6 3.2 -2.7
OLB Westerman 28 Indianapolis 4 3.0 -3.0
OLB Nading 28 Houston 2 1.4 -4.6
OLB Thomas 34 NY Jets 15 0.4 -5.5
OLB Alama-Francis 29 Miami 1 -0.6 -6.5
OLB Wilson 30 Washington 2 -0.9 -6.9
OLB Haggans 36 San Francisco 14 -3.8 -9.7
QB Campbell 32 Chicago 25 10.0 4.1
QB Young 30 Buffalo 17 9.4 3.4
QB Kolb 29 Arizona 13 8.4 2.4
QB Smith 29 Pittsburgh 4 1.7 -4.2
QB Hanie 28 Denver 2 1.4 -4.6
QB Painter 28 Baltimore 2 1.4 -4.6
QB McGee 28 Dallas 2 1.4 -4.6
QB Edwards 30 Philadelphia 5 1.1 -4.9
QB Quinn 29 Kansas City 3 0.9 -5.0
QB Hall 28 Arizona 1 0.6 -5.4
QB Palko 30 Kansas City 2 -0.9 -6.9
QB Grossman 33 Washington 8 -1.3 -7.3
QB Leinart 30 Oakland 1 -1.6 -7.6
QB Clemens 30 St. Louis 1 -1.6 -7.6
QB Beck 32 Houston 2 -3.3 -9.2
QB McCown 32 New Orleans 1 -3.8 -9.7
QB Boller 32 San Diego 0 -4.4 -10.3
QB Leftwich 33 Pittsburgh 2 -4.4 -10.4
QB McCown 34 Chicago 2 -5.6 -11.5
QB Redman 36 Atlanta 4 -7.2 -13.1
QB Feeley 36 St. Louis 1 -8.3 -14.2
QB Batch 39 Pittsburgh 3 -11.2 -17.2
RB Bradshaw 27 NY Giants 28 24.9 19.0
RB Jones 26 Dallas 20 20.3 14.3
RB Turner 31 Atlanta 29 15.0 9.0
RB Hillis 27 Kansas City 16 14.6 8.7
RB Wells 25 Arizona 9 11.7 5.7
RB Benson 30 Green Bay 17 9.4 3.4
RB Stephens-Howling 26 Arizona 8 9.3 3.3
RB Smith 27 Detroit 7 6.8 0.9
RB Hightower 27 Washington 7 6.8 0.9
RB Jackson 28 Cleveland 8 6.2 0.2
RB Jennings 28 Jacksonville 8 6.2 0.2
RB Ringer 26 Tennessee 4 5.6 -0.4
RB Hester 28 San Diego 6 4.6 -1.4
RB Karim 27 Indianapolis 4 4.3 -1.7
RB Bell 27 Chicago 4 4.2 -1.7
RB Allen 25 Baltimore 1 3.9 -2.0
RB Toston 26 Jacksonville 2 3.7 -2.3
RB Choice 29 Buffalo 6 3.2 -2.7
RB Addai 30 New England 8 3.2 -2.8
RB Ware 28 NY Giants 4 3.0 -3.0
RB Jacobs 31 San Francisco 10 3.0 -3.0
RB Scott 29 Cincinnati 5 2.4 -3.5
RB Grant 31 Green Bay 9 2.4 -3.6
RB Barber 30 Chicago 6 1.8 -4.2
RB Battle 30 San Diego 6 1.8 -4.2
RB Williams 31 St. Louis 8 1.8 -4.2
RB Leonard 29 Cincinnati 4 1.7 -4.2
RB Slaton 27 Miami 1 1.7 -4.2
RB Brinkley 28 San Diego 2 1.4 -4.6
RB Lumpkin 29 NY Giants 3 0.9 -5.0
RB Brown 28 Detroit 1 0.6 -5.4
RB Bolen 28 Jacksonville 1 0.6 -5.4
RB Parmele 28 Jacksonville 1 0.6 -5.4
RB Moore 31 Indianapolis 5 -0.1 -6.1
RB Booker 29 Chicago 1 -0.6 -6.5
RB Cobbs 30 New Orleans 1 -1.6 -7.6
RB Darby 31 St. Louis 1 -2.7 -8.7
RB Morris 34 Detroit 8 -2.8 -8.7
RB Ward 33 Houston 4 -3.3 -9.3
RB Jones 35 Kansas City 8 -4.3 -10.3
RB Taylor 34 Arizona 4 -4.7 -10.6
S Sensabaugh 30 Dallas 17 9.4 3.4
S Martin 29 Carolina 12 7.7 1.8
S Rhodes 31 Arizona 17 7.4 1.4
S Mikell 33 St. Louis 23 6.5 0.5
S Landry 31 Jacksonville 14 5.5 -0.5
S Lynch 28 San Diego 7 5.4 -0.6
S Peprah 30 Dallas 11 5.3 -0.7
S Smith 30 NY Jets 11 5.3 -0.7
S Greene 27 Jacksonville 5 5.1 -0.8
S Jarrett 24 Philadelphia 1 5.0 -1.0
S Babineaux 31 Tennessee 13 4.9 -1.1
S Elam 32 Kansas City 16 4.8 -1.1
S Nolan 27 Chicago 4 4.2 -1.7
S Washington 27 Kansas City 4 4.2 -1.7
S Sanders 30 Arizona 9 3.9 -2.1
S Leonhard 31 Denver 11 3.6 -2.4
S Giordano 31 Oakland 11 3.6 -2.4
S Williams 32 Washington 13 3.1 -2.8
S Crocker 33 Cincinnati 16 2.9 -3.1
S Demps 27 Houston 2 2.5 -3.4
S Atogwe 32 Philadelphia 12 2.5 -3.4
S Oliver 29 San Diego 5 2.4 -3.5
S Barber 27 Houston 1 1.7 -4.2
S Langford 27 Kansas City 1 1.7 -4.2
S Nelson 27 Philadelphia 1 1.7 -4.2
S Martin 28 New England 2 1.4 -4.6
S Culver 30 Miami 4 0.5 -5.5
S Francisco 30 Tennessee 4 0.5 -5.5
S Hope 33 Atlanta 10 -0.2 -6.2
S Corto 29 Buffalo 1 -0.6 -6.5
S Barrett 29 New England 1 -0.6 -6.5
S Coleman 31 Detroit 4 -0.8 -6.8
S Bigby 32 San Diego 6 -0.9 -6.9
S Smith 30 Tennessee 2 -0.9 -6.9
S Ventrone 31 Cleveland 3 -1.4 -7.4
S Considine 32 Baltimore 4 -2.1 -8.0
S Barber 38 Tampa Bay 20 -6.1 -12.0
T Richardson 27 St. Louis 19 17.2 11.3
T Smith 26 Cincinnati 15 15.7 9.7
T Winston 30 Kansas City 20 11.5 5.5
T Justice 29 Indianapolis 13 8.4 2.5
T Heyer 29 NY Jets 11 6.9 1.0
T Smith 27 NY Jets 6 6.0 0.1
T Gaither 27 San Diego 5 5.1 -0.9
T McNeill 30 San Diego 10 4.6 -1.4
T Harris 28 Houston 6 4.6 -1.4
T Dombrowski 28 San Diego 6 4.6 -1.4
T Starks 32 Pittsburgh 15 4.2 -1.7
T Clark 28 Denver 5 3.8 -2.2
T Keith 29 Arizona 6 3.2 -2.7
T Locklear 32 NY Giants 13 3.1 -2.8
T Omiyale 31 Seattle 10 3.0 -3.0
T Otah 27 Carolina 2 2.5 -3.4
T Whimper 30 Jacksonville 7 2.5 -3.5
T Brown 32 Washington 11 1.9 -4.0
T Henderson 29 San Diego 4 1.7 -4.2
T Ojinnaka 29 St. Louis 4 1.7 -4.2
T Brown 27 Miami 1 1.7 -4.3
T Murtha 28 Miami 2 1.4 -4.6
T Hunter 32 St. Louis 10 1.3 -4.6
T McQuistan 30 Arizona 5 1.1 -4.9
T Butler 30 Houston 4 0.5 -5.5
T Cousins 29 Cleveland 2 0.2 -5.7
T McKinnie 34 Baltimore 14 -0.1 -6.0
T Essex 31 Indianapolis 5 -0.1 -6.1
T Hills 29 Indianapolis 1 -0.6 -6.5
T Robinson 29 New Orleans 1 -0.6 -6.5
T Batiste 31 Arizona 3 -1.4 -7.4
T O’Callaghan 30 Kansas City 1 -1.6 -7.6
T Ugoh 30 NY Giants 1 -1.6 -7.6
T Barron 31 Seattle 1 -2.7 -8.7
T Black 33 Washington 5 -2.8 -8.8
T Bridges 33 Arizona 4 -3.3 -9.3
TE Davis 27 Washington 15 13.7 7.8
TE Boss 29 Kansas City 13 8.4 2.5
TE Pascoe 27 NY Giants 8 7.7 1.8
TE Beckum 26 NY Giants 4 5.6 -0.4
TE Morrah 26 Seattle 3 4.7 -1.3
TE Mastrud 26 Miami 3 4.6 -1.4
TE Mulligan 28 St. Louis 5 3.8 -2.2
TE Potter 27 Jacksonville 3 3.4 -2.6
TE Rosario 29 San Diego 6 3.2 -2.7
TE Cooley 31 Washington 10 3.0 -3.0
TE Miller 29 Jacksonville 5 2.4 -3.5
TE O’Connell 28 Kansas City 3 2.2 -3.8
TE Thomas 30 New Orleans 6 1.8 -4.2
TE Pope 30 Pittsburgh 6 1.8 -4.2
TE Heap 33 Arizona 12 0.8 -5.2
TE Shiancoe 33 New England 12 0.8 -5.2
TE Hill 29 Indianapolis 1 -0.6 -6.5
TE Bajema 31 Baltimore 4 -0.8 -6.8
TE Clark 34 Tampa Bay 12 -1.0 -6.9
TE Heller 32 Detroit 6 -1.0 -6.9
TE McMichael 34 San Diego 12 -1.0 -7.0
TE Smith 31 Cleveland 3 -1.4 -7.4
TE Humphrey 30 Oakland 1 -1.6 -7.6
TE Spach 31 Jacksonville 1 -2.7 -8.7
TE Lee 33 Cincinnati 4 -3.3 -9.3
TE Graham 35 New Orleans 5 -5.5 -11.5
TE Kelly 36 Atlanta 4 -7.2 -13.1
WR Heyward-Bey 26 Oakland 16 16.6 10.6
WR Young 24 St. Louis 8 11.9 5.9
WR Lloyd 32 New England 27 11.1 5.1
WR Robinson 28 Jacksonville 12 9.4 3.4
WR Collie 28 Indianapolis 10 7.8 1.8
WR Nelson 27 Buffalo 8 7.7 1.8
WR Massaquoi 27 Cleveland 8 7.7 1.8
WR Doucet 28 Arizona 9 7.0 1.0
WR Edelman 27 New England 7 6.8 0.9
WR Jenkins 31 Minnesota 15 6.2 0.2
WR Ogletree 26 Dallas 4 5.6 -0.4
WR Edwards 30 NY Jets 11 5.3 -0.7
WR White 26 Indianapolis 3 4.7 -1.3
WR Breaston 30 Kansas City 10 4.6 -1.4
WR Hill 28 NY Jets 6 4.6 -1.4
WR Smith 28 St. Louis 6 4.6 -1.4
WR Henderson 31 New Orleans 12 4.3 -1.7
WR Barden 27 NY Giants 4 4.2 -1.7
WR Walter 32 Houston 15 4.2 -1.8
WR Sims-Walker 29 Jacksonville 7 3.9 -2.0
WR Aromashodu 29 Minnesota 7 3.9 -2.0
WR Austin 25 Washington 1 3.9 -2.0
WR Obomanu 30 Seattle 9 3.9 -2.1
WR Naanee 30 Miami 9 3.9 -2.1
WR Robiskie 26 Detroit 2 3.7 -2.3
WR Butler 27 Seattle 3 3.4 -2.5
WR Hixon 29 NY Giants 6 3.2 -2.7
WR Hagan 29 Oakland 6 3.2 -2.7
WR Schilens 28 NY Jets 4 3.0 -3.0
WR Banks 26 Washington 1 2.8 -3.2
WR Komar 26 Chicago 1 2.8 -3.2
WR Turner 26 NY Jets 1 2.8 -3.2
WR Miller 26 St. Louis 1 2.8 -3.2
WR Branch 34 New England 20 2.7 -3.2
WR Stroughter 27 Tampa Bay 2 2.5 -3.4
WR Gaffney 33 Miami 15 2.4 -3.6
WR Armstrong 30 Dallas 6 1.8 -4.2
WR Williams 27 Arizona 1 1.7 -4.2
WR Dillard 28 Detroit 2 1.4 -4.6
WR Stovall 28 Jacksonville 2 1.4 -4.6
WR Willis 29 Denver 3 0.9 -5.0
WR Clowney 28 Buffalo 1 0.6 -5.4
WR Swain 28 San Francisco 1 0.6 -5.4
WR Stuckey 30 Arizona 3 -0.2 -6.2
WR Camarillo 31 New Orleans 3 -1.4 -7.4
WR Parrish 31 Tampa Bay 3 -1.4 -7.4
WR Anderson 30 Washington 1 -1.6 -7.6
WR Martin 31 Buffalo 2 -2.0 -8.0
WR Johnson 32 Houston 3 -2.7 -8.6
WR Logan 32 Detroit 2 -3.3 -9.2
WR Stallworth 33 New England 4 -3.3 -9.3
WR Davis 34 Chicago 3 -5.1 -11.0
WR Moss 36 San Francisco 8 -5.8 -11.7
WR Houshmandzadeh 36 Oakland 5 -6.9 -12.8
WR Stokley 37 Denver 8 -7.3 -13.3

Will Quarterback Demand Ever Flatten?

It wasn’t that long ago that quarterback talent in the NFL wasn’t in great demand.  We’re not talking about the 1970’s here.  A decade makes a pretty big difference.

Over the last five years or so, quarterback demand has exploded driven by two main factors: schematic and rule alterations in the NFL that have made passing games more valuable than ever before, and the mass retirement or attrition of a generation of good quarterbacks.

While the Brady/Manning era has very much been a thrill to follow, the NFL never had a true quarterback dichotomy at the top before.  Joe Montana’s career overlapped with Dan Marino’s career which overlapped with with Warren Moon’s career which overlapped with Steve Young’s career which overlapped with Brett Favre’s career.  Never was the debate of “whos the best?” any more clear than it was over the last decade when Peyton Manning put up astronomical numbers on a year to year basis, until Tom Brady (and later Aaron Rodgers) began doing the same.  That clarity is in the past now with the latest influx of college talent, but first, lets take a step back to the early days of Manning-Brady and look at the quarterback landscape in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002.

From 1999-2002, there wasn’t a standard of excellence that would have separated the “haves” from the “have nots” based on quarterback acquisition.  The best two quarterbacks over this timeframe were Kurt Warner of the Rams and Rich Gannon of the Raiders.  The Rams appeared in two super bowls over this timeframe, and the Raiders progressively reached each level of the playoff field under Gannon.  It’s not that Warner and Gannon werent the most valuable players in the league, but during these years, perhaps the NFL’s best player was Marshall Faulk, a running back.  By approximate value, there were three quarterbacks among the fifteen most valuable players.

From 2009-2012, during the quarterback demand explosion, that number doubles and quarterbacks occupy the top three spots.

What makes the quarterback demand situation 10-15 years ago so different is that Gannon and Warner were both freely available for any team back then, and though they eventually married wide open passing systems, only Peyton Manning was drafted to lead a franchise.  He (along with Ryan Leaf) was considered one of a kind at the time.  But in the 1999 draft, teams started to address the value of the passing game when they drafted six quarterbacks in the first round that year, headlined in the first three picks by Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, and Akili Smith.

Or did it?  The mindset of NFL teams at the time arguably hadn’t changed at all.  Back then, the quarterback bust rate was solidly 50% for first rounders.  It was a big deal when six quarterbacks got drafted in the first round for the first time since 1983, but a generational shift in the league’s quarterback talent this was not.  At least, teams didn’t treat it as such.

Let’s take a look at two prospects, one picked in the 1999 draft, the other picked in 2005.  Quarterback A posted a completion percentage about four percentage points above the league average in his first five seasons.  Quarterback B would eventually have a season where he completed more than 104% of the league’s completion percentage, but it took him until his eighth season to do so.  If you ended each QB’s career at the point where their team’s gave up on them, you’d assume they had pretty much the same career.  Which is why I’m comparing the two first overall picks in those drafts, Tim Couch (A) and Alex Smith (B).

What happened here was the talent in the league shifted dramatically over the course of Smith’s career.  During Couch’s career, QB talent was largely stagnant: a passing yard in 1999 was worth pretty much the same as it was in 2003.  By 2011, a passing yard was worth so much less than it was in 2006.  Demand for quarterbacks spiked in the late aughts, and so Alex Smith’s “development” doesn’t look any different from Tim Couch’s from a environment-adjusted perspective.  This isn’t Smith’s fault, and he seems to have made it out alright, but who knows what would have happened to Couch’s career given the two additional offseasons Smith received to develop?

Why did QB demand spike?  Well, one of the major factors that happened was that many of the quarterbacks who dominated the statistical categories ten+ years ago weren’t drafted and developed and cultivated.  Rather, they developed in a survival of the fittest league, and were then signed to winning teams.  The QB draft class of 1999 largely flopped, and the two best picks in the class Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper, benefited from weak competition.  Trent Green thrived on his third team.  Brad Johnson was pretty darn good for two different teams.  Kerry Collins made it.  Teams, by and large, couldn’t develop young quarterbacks — which was most stark in the case of the Atlanta Falcons failing to get a consistent player out of Michael Vick, a generational talent.

Quarterback demand spiked because of rule changes and copycat effect, but also because of the failures of developmental prospects.  Teams who were going to win by throwing needed a higher grade of prospect, a more polished type of talent.  This, I believe, is why so many teams in that era won with veteran talent.  The problem was teams that won with veterans like the Rams (who got about five good seasons from Marc Bulger following Kurt Warner’s MVP years), Raiders, Redskins, Steelers (pre-Roethlisberger), Chiefs, Titans (post-McNair), Panthers, and 49ers all fell off the map at some point or another and ended up at the top of the draft.  Meanwhile, the Colts and Patriots and Eagles and Giants won year after year.

The veteran quarterback market died (and is now incredibly undervalued — the league has swung too far the other way).  Young, skilled quarterbacks roughly doubled in total value, measured by trade compensation.  In 2004, the Chargers were able to get two firsts and a third for Eli Manning (one of the firsts became Philip Rivers).  By 2012, the Rams got three first rounders for Robert Griffin III.  Twenty years ago, 37 year old veteran Joe Montana commanded a first round pick.  Now? Position players return basically nothing in terms of draft picks.  Young quarterbacks return a treasure trove of picks.

Now the question becomes: is this demand going to flatten anytime soon?

I don’t forsee a rule change swinging things back towards the running game and defense, and away from the passing game.  Instead, we see instances of teams looking to add athleticism to quarterbacking as a job requirement.  Of course, the same trend appeared the tame ten years ago with McNabb, Culpepper, and Vick, coaches just never took advantage of the athleticism offered to them ten years ago, and dual-skill sets quickly died off.

However, while demand for QB talent doesn’t show any sign of letting up, supply of young, talented passers have never been greater.  You see the effects of this by the fact that Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton made it out of the first 32 picks in 2011.  Then Russell Wilson made it into the 3rd round in 2012.  This year’s class isn’t quite as deep, but the overall supply of quarterback ability is putting roughly 5 starter quality prospects into the talent pool on a yearly basis.  It wasn’t anything ten years ago to expect to get one per year.

One of two things is going to happen to the quarterback market with increased supply: either quarterback cost (in terms of draft picks) will begin to drop, or quarterback skill sets are going to get so highly specialized that it will become much harder to separate quarterback from coach (because those teams that don’t marry systems to players will not be able to compete with those who do).  We saw a bit of that from the Redskins and 49ers this past season, but as of right now, we can’t know for sure if it’s a long term trend.  It’s possible that a quarterback in 2015 will simply be cheaper to acquire than one in 2012, and that teams will start to pay to keep proven commodities (i.e. the Flacco trade) instead of paying to acquire new talent (i.e. every first round of every draft for the previous six years).

In the short term, it is clear that demand is going to continue to rise as opposed to flatten.  Teams like the Jets, Bills, Cardinals, Browns, and Chiefs cannot compete with the perennial contenders at all, not to mention the ones having great years.  Quarterback performance is reaching the critical point where having one simply isn’t enough to compete, because there aren’t enough wins to steal from teams that don’t have quarterbacks.  The Patriots can continue to steal wins from the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets, but as Ryan Tannehill develops and the Jets and Bills can address their QB situations, those divisional wins will be tougher to get, and as Tom Brady ages, they might not come at all.  End dynasty.

Teams that don’t have quarterbacks are going to have to get talent efficiently, while teams that do are going to have to build at a faster rate than other “haves.” If the current crop of coaches cannot win with the available talent supply, expect an influx of coaching talent from the college ranks to force out the current coaches.  QB supply and demand remains an endless struggle.  Now it’s just a struggle over-flushed with talent.

Week Two FA Recap: Why the Bengals might be becoming a model Small-Market NFL Franchise

The Cincinnati Bengals pretty clearly emerged as the free agency winner of the second week of this NFL league year.  One week ago today, we all freaked out collectively when the Bengals — awash in cap space — did not make a competitive move early in free agency.

It appeared that the Bengals were opting to be cheap and not spend money in anticipation of the NFL’s cash spend minimum going into effect in 2012.  But after free agency’s second week, we’ve seen that the Bengals actually were looking to spend money.  They were just planning to avoid overspending.

In fact, the Bengals have shown a rare competency to supplement their roster with free agent acquisitions while allowing their own free agents to go be overpaid elsewhere.  Last year the Bengals lost CB Johnathan Joseph to the Texans.  Unfortunately, Joseph played like an All-Pro in Houston, and the Bengals may have lost their gamble when the lost to the Texans twice in 2011.  But they have stayed the course, opting to let defensive ends Frostee Rucker (Cleveland), Andre Caldwell (Denver) and Jonathan Fanene (New England) take their talents elsewhere, while opting not to offer a deal to Cedric Benson.  What the Bengals have done differently this year is that they’ve been willing to spend on undervalued players to replace what they lost, and have been willing to spend more on coaching and on scouting then in the past to ensure the long-term success of the organization.

They’ll pay BenJarvus Green-Ellis just $3 million per year to play running back for them, but that’s more than he could have gotten from New England to stick as a backup.  Green-Ellis is probably worth a lot more than that to a team with a hole at RB, but the Bengals named their price and got him locked up for less than FA target Michael Bush signed for with Chicago.  They replaced Fanene and Rucker by signing former 1st round bust Jamaal Anderson, who was taken high because he flashed pass rushing skills, but at age 26, can really handle an edge rushing attack.  Because teams in the AFC North prefer to use a stretch running game, Anderson is a good pickup.  They also signed another former bust Derrick Harvey, who was most recently a Bronco, to replace what physical ability they lost in Rucker.  With the cash savings, they were able to make a competitive offer for — and lock up — their own no. 2 DT Pat Sims, who wasn’t a priority re-signing, but when the cash came available, the Bengals spent it.

The Bengals also managed to upgrade at left guard, turning Nate Livings — who signed with Dallas for 5 years/$19 million — into veteran Travelle Wharton, who they got at 3 years, just under $10 million.

And most importantly, the Bengals managed to re-sign two key defensive parts who actually took offers from other teams; S Reggie Nelson, and LB Manny Lawson, who re-signed today.

The Bengals were fortunate to be in the playoffs last year, but they are a better team right now than they were at this time last year, and with Baltimore and Pittsburgh struggling so hard against the cap to simply tread water in the declining AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals have separated themselves from the Cleveland Browns — an organization whom which they were neck and neck with at the start of last season — and have pushed themselves up into the discussion with the Steelers and Ravens.

When you compare the work of the Bengals to a team that did all it’s damage in the first week of FA, such as the Bucs, before turning it’s attention to the draft, you come away with a better concept of just how well the Bengals’ offseason has gone to date.

Like the Bengals, the Bucs’ cap flexibility was near the top of the league, and they evaded criticism from fans by quickly getting involved in the FA market for three big names: WR Vincent Jackson, G Carl Nicks, and CB Eric Wright.  By frontloading the guaranteed money in those free agent contracts, the Bucs were able to leverage their cap position to have the most flexibility in the future.  That made those moves very defensible.

But it also caused the Bucs to sit out the part of free agency where the Bengals were finding all the values, such as BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  The Bucs weren’t replacing their own free agents by spending cap room, they were bringing in parts to an largely established, but under-producing roster.  That means the success or failure of the 2012 and 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tied directly to the roster that made the 2010 Bucs a 10 win team, and the 2011 Bucs a 12 loss disaster.  It minimizes the kind of impact that the Bucs could have from the players like Vincent Jackson who they spent a ton of available cap room to get.  Furthermore, the backloaded-ness of the non-guaranteed cap dollars in the Jackson, Wright, and Nicks deals create a situation — perhaps a likely situation — where the Bucs tear down their current roster after the 2013 season with a lame-duck coach and new personnel department.

I feel the Bucs would have been a lot better off taking the Bengals approach to free agency: don’t act in the first week.  Eat the PR hit that comes from being perceived as a team who is cheaping out.  You can live with that perception of being frugal, trust me.  That’s not a perception you changed when you signed a bunch of large FA contracts but refused to guarantee any money beyond the 2013 season.  And then with all that cap room in the second week, go make sure your own valuable contributors are paid, that you aren’t shaping your draft plans too much by spending money in free agency, and that you lock up a solid amount of ‘Plan B’ roster options to deals of 2, 3, or 4 years in length.  I don’t believe getting Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks — two of the highest rated free agents — does much to save a roster that was already pretty dependent on it’s quarterback, Josh Freeman, and on an underachieving TE acquisition from the 2009 season, Kellen Winslow Jr.  The Bucs OL played well at times last year, maybe the best performing unit on the field.  You were already overpaying RG Davin Joseph and RT Jeremy Trueblood.  Now you have one of the most expensive OLs in the league, and you haven’t done anything to guarantee it’s future performance.  The Bengals have done more for the performance of their offense with less money spent, and actually have spent handsomely to give defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer some real talent he can work with in 2012.

The Bengals may not need to win the AFC North to make it back into the postseason again.  However, they’ll likely need to do better than the third place finish that earned them the AFCs 6th seed in 2011.  But with Baltimore and Pittsburgh in reach (0-4 against those combined opponents in 2011, accounting for exactly half of the Bengals 2011 defeats), the Bengals have propelled themselves into that conversation with an outstanding second week of free agency.

Building a team out of what’s left in the FA Market

Can a team with no cap committment use the FA market to build a winner?  The answer is not clear, but a two-deep depth chart could be created using only players still looking for a job, and in many ways, such a roster would rival a lot of teams sitting around the league average.

Obviously in a real game, this team would have no stars, and it would be easily schemed against by pro coordinators.  But the larger concern is whether or not a team can be made out of players without a contract that rivals current NFL teams.

In parenthesis, I have provided the cumulative AV rating of a two deep (46 players total) roster in anticipation of a full draft class.

Quarterback (55) – Vince Young, Donovan McNabb

This team gets two guys at quarterback who have each won plenty of games in this league (both are well above .500 as starting QBs in the NFL).  Neither is ideal as a starter at this point, but at the same time, neither deserves to be available at this point in the league year.  We’re happy to have them.

Running backs (43) – Cedric Benson, LaDainian Tomlinson

Cedric Benson is a good pickup for this team, although he doesn’t have a ton left in his legs heading into his eighth season.  Tomlinson is still a major contributor in the passing game, but a high percentage of the carries on this team would end up going to an undrafted rookie, and not to a RB currently on the FA market.

Fullbacks (7) – Mike Sellers

Mike Sellers could captain the special teams unit and can still catch the ball in the flat.  It’s odd that the FB market went so much quicker than the RB market.  Sellers is unlikely to find a job in this league.

Wide Receivers (58) – Braylon Edwards, Mike Sims-Walker, Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton

There’s no quality number one receiving options on the market, but there are three guys on this team who have very recently been go to targets on NFL teams.  Braylon Edwards still has a lot of career left, he’s under the age of 30, as is Sims-Walker.  Williams and Crayton are veteran receiving options.

Tight Ends (42) – Dallas Clark, Jeremy Shockey

I’m excited about the tight ends still available.  Dallas Clark doesn’t fit of a lot of systems, which is why he is still out there, but he would be an excellent slot receiver H-back combination in this offense.  Shockey is more of an in-line tight end.  This team would probably end up starting two tight ends.

Offensive Tackles (72) – Marcus McNeill, Kareem McKenzie, Barry Richardson, Demetrius Bell

Plenty of injury concerns at the tackle position for our team.  McNeill and Bell both can’t stay healthy.  Richardson is a good option off the bench.  Kareem McKenzie might be done.  But he’s the one guy of this group who has showed up and played consistently each of the last eight years, making him the easy first choice at RT.

Offensive Guards (56) – Kyle Kosier, Vernon Carey, Jake Scott

I’m very excited about having a chance at Kyle Kosier, who has recent experience at both left and right guard.  Vernon Carey is a swing player of sorts, who might end up playing tackle if McNeil and Bell can’t stay healthy.  If so, I’d have no problem with Jake Scott stepping into my starting lineup.

Centers (38) – Dan Koppen, Andre Gurode

Dan Koppen is a former pro-bowl center from a super bowl team.  If healthy, he and Kosier would combine to make an interior two guys that very few other teams could match.  Gurode served in a backup role last year for the Ravens, but I would be comfortable with him starting for me.

Nose Tackles/3-techs (70) – Kelly Gregg, Amobi Okoye, Aubrayo Franklin, Luis Castillo

There’s a lot here at the defensive tackle position.  Okoye can get after the quarterback and is just now coming into his own.  Franklin is scheme versatile, and can replace Gregg in either a 3-4 or 4-3.  Castillo has health concerns, but would be an interesting projection as a three technique.  This group also gives us the flexibility to play a multiple defense, necessary because of a lack of true pass rushers.

Defensive Ends (78) – Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter, Jason HunterMatt Roth,

I have to grab the Ellis/Hunter LE duo to support more pure pass rushers in Carter and Roth.  This becomes a weakness of the team, although not nearly the weakness it probably should be considering that Carter, Hunter, and Roth all can get after the passer a little bit still.

Linebackers (117) – E.J. Henderson, David Hawthorne, Geno Hayes, Quentin Groves, Bradie James, Gary Guyton

The strength of the team.  Henderson and Hawthorne are an excellent ILB group for sub packages.  Geno Hayes is just 25 and is already a quality starter in this league, albeit coming off a poor season.  Groves is a great backup who can help in blitz package schemes and isn’t yet thirty.  James is over the age of 30, but can get after the passer as well.  Guyton has been a nice contributor for the Patriots over the last four years.

Cornerbacks (61) – Terence Newman, Bryant McFadden, Alan Ball, Justin King

This is where we start to get to the point where we can’t build a great defense.  That’s an excellent linebacker level we were able to build.  But this group of cover guys can only achieve success with the presence of a great pass rush.  This team’s best pass rushing duo is Andre Carter and Jason Hunter.  That wouldn’t be the worst group in the league, but it also wouldn’t make the top 28.  And then it’s on Terence Newman and Bryant McFadden to wear the treadmarks of the opposing defense.

Safeties (81) – Yeremiah Bell, Chris Harris, Jim Leonhard, Abram Elam

For as weak as teams are claiming the secondary market to be, that’s a pretty strong group of available safeties.

Kicker (0) – Neil Rackers
Punter (0) – Daniel Sepulveda
Long Snapper (2) – Ken Amato

Cumulatively, this team would be as deep as any team in the entire NFL.  It’s problematic though that this team could not rush the passer, can’t stop the pass, and would ultimately find itself in shootouts with Vince Young or Donovan McNabb at quarterback.  One thing this team would be excellent at is stopping the run.  There are a ton of linebackers and box safeties out on the market, and the defensive lineman still out there are aging, but are disciplined and can hold at the point of attack.

This would be the oldest team in the league, by far.  But it would also be the one least affected by injury to its starters, so that would curb the effects of being an old team a considerable amount.

I would expect this team to win between 6 and 8 games per season.  Currently, between 1/8th and 1/4th of the league would be expected to win less than that.  Which means that a team built entirely off of free agent scraps, and whose only limitation is no existing contracts could not only compete in the modern NFL, but could beat about 5 or 6 NFL teams consistently.

NFL Free Agency 2012: Not winning

Yesterday’s article on free agency winners can be read here.  Today, it’s six teams that probably hurt themselves more than they helped, plus two bonus teams who are going to end up on a list of FA losers, but don’t really deserve to.

Houston Texans

The Texans were decimated by free agency, losing Mario Williams, Mike Brisiel, Jason Allen, and Joel Dresseen against their wills, and making the conscious decision to move Eric Winston and Demeco Ryans to avoid having to make them salary cap casualties in a year.  The Texans have enough depth to weather those losses, but now their depth at all positions has been eliminated by circumstances.  Luckily, with the draft still to go, the Texans aren’t looking to fill holes so much (they have to take a receiver early), so they can stay nice and tight to their draft board and try to replicate their cornerstone draft from 2006 (y’know, the one where they got Winston, Ryans, Williams, and Owen Daniels in the first place).

Just a year after going from one of the worst units we’ve ever seen to one of the best in the NFL, the Texans defense was the hardest hit by the losses and may reside somewhere around the middle of the pack in 2012.  The Texans could live with that.  The bigger problem from where I’m sitting is that Matt Schaub is in a contract year coming off of injury, and the Texans will be starting two different offensive linemen next year, lack depth at TE that was once a hallmark of their roster, and figure to be breaking in a rookie receiver like Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill.  The Texans were one of the NFL’s best teams last year.  Now they are a longshot to make it back to the playoffs.  It will be interesting to see if Gary Kubiak really did get off the hot seat last season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I was really hesitant to put them on this list at all, because the Bucs spent a lot of money (as the league will mandate starting in 2013), and didn’t really kill their cap positions.  But none of their major signings (Vincent Jackson, Eric Wright, and Carl Nicks) really make them all that much better.  With Jackson, if the Bucs were going to bring in anyone to mentor a young talented receiving corps, it had to be someone accomplished.  But will the Bucs throw the jump balls downfield that Vincent Jackson loves to go and get from his time in San Diego?  That’s not so clear.

Eric Wright, meanwhile, had an awful end to his one season in Detroit, following an awful end to his more promising time in Cleveland.  And Wright just got a lot of money from the Bucs for once masquerading as a shut down man-to-man corner.  Nicks is the safest investment of the group, in that unless he does something silly off the field — or gains a ton of weight — it won’t be obvious to even the trained eye whether he is dominating his competition, or just collecting a paycheck.  When you send big money interior offensive lineman to small markets, you’ll never, ever be criticized.  Except of course by the poor soul who makes fun of small market teams for having poor attendance.

The Bucs will be in good cap shape come 2014, but Josh Freeman needs to win now, and it’s not clear that the Bucs’ spending brought him much help.  Of course, Jackson will only be as good as Freeman makes him, to it’s probably fair to put the ball in #5’s court.

New York Giants

Oh, boy.  Here we go.  Since Super Bowl 46 concluded, the Patriots and Giants drew up offseason plans that could be described as diametric opposites.  The Patriots let the market set then started to amass talent.  The Giants locked up Terrell Thomas, then re-signed David Carr, then brought in Martellus Bennett.

The Giants play in a division where they (like the team that’s next on the list) have to do something.  The Cowboys didn’t go full out to make changes, they just released an ineffective corner for cap room, then gave big money to a much better corner.  The Giants had great success last year watching guys walk in free agency and feeling comfortable about the roster they had, but that’s because the ball was in the Eagles and Cowboys’ court last year to prove they could catch the Giants.  And even though the Giants are super bowl champs, they were fortunate to win the division, and likely entered free agency as the second or third best team in the NFC East.  What worked for Jerry Reese in 2011 likely cannot work for him in 2012, and now, they are clearly the third best team in their own division.

Except maybe it’s not so clear…I hear the Redskins are getting a quarterback.

Washington Redskins

The problem is that the Redskins have no clue how to build around that quarterback.  It’s not for lack of effort: Mike Shanahan’s whole plan following the Donovan McNabb debacle was to step back, keep continuity on his roster at quarterback, and build around a known weakness.  The Redskins had mixed results to start the 2011 season, but by mid-season, mixed results turned to bad results, and Mike Shanahan started to spend time watching college tape instead of his own game film.  Well, as someone who has broken down every Redskins game the past four seasons, I can assure him he didn’t miss anything: Shanahan failed to put the talent around Rex Grossman that he tried to.

Because they’ve struggled for so long, the Redskins are a better fit for a guy like Robert Griffin than the Colts are for a guy like Robert Griffin; there’s just more talent on the Redskins roster than there is on the Colts and Browns.  Unfortunately for Redskins fans, add the Rams to that list and that about concludes the “list of teams the Redskins have more talent than.”  Two of those teams are in about as clear of a rebuilding situation as you can possibly be in.  The other also has a former coach atop it’s personnel department.  So it’s fair to put that one on Mike Shanahan (and Mike Holmgren).

Now, the Redskins’ problem is that they hardly have any former first round picks on their roster.  They ran LaRon Landry out of town one year after running Carlos Rogers out of town one year after running Jason Campbell out of town.  They have Brian Orakpo, Trent Williams, and Ryan Kerrigan.  They have Fred Davis and DL Jarvis Jenkins representing the second round.  They’ll have Robert Griffin III.  And that’s it.  They won’t pick again in the first round until 2015.  And by then, Shanahan will have run Orakpo and Davis out of town.  So Griffin is pretty much doing this by himself.

Which is why the Redskins needed to bring in a lot of talent from other teams to make up for what they don’t have in draft picks.  So they spent more than $11 million in cap on Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, and resigning backup DL Adam Carriker (a former first round pick!) on the first day.  Exciting.  Well, I suppose we’ll all know how good Robert Griffin III truly is in short time.

Cleveland Browns/Arizona Cardinals

The Browns and Cardinals owe it to their quarterback situations to create the best possible situations for them to succeed in, and for the Browns, that apparently meant to skip free agency entirely, while for the Cardinals, it meant “try to build the worst offensive line that money can buy.”

The Browns at least have an excuse that they will be doing the draft hardcore now that they weren’t able to get Robert Griffin, and so they don’t want to add mediocre veterans to that mix and block potential rookies who need the playing time to develop.  But it’s hard to say exactly for sure what kind of timetable the Browns are on.  Furthermore, when you have the fourth overall pick, and you know who the top three picks are going to be, you should be able to incorporate that selection into your free agency plans.  The Browns did not, assuming they even bothered to make a free agency plan.

What the Cardinals did was worse though.  They signed Adam Snyder to play RG, resigned Levi Brown with the intent of moving him back to RT, and let Brandon Keith walk (he remains unsigned).  The Cardinals have an awful offensive line, and they signed D’Anthony Batiste, an awful backup, to be a backup.  It’s going to be Kevin Kolb’s responsibility to get the ball out quick for this group, and when that plan A inevitably fails, then it will be John Skelton’s turn.

Controversial Omissions

New Orleans Saints – The Saints are being mentioned in league circles as a loser in free agency because of one fact: the sanctions from the NFL on their franchise happened at a time where they were trying and failing to get franchise player Drew Brees under contract.  That’s some bad PR.

Thing is, while wearing the exclusive franchise tag, Brees is effectively under contract.  He doesn’t have to report to camp if he doesn’t sign his tender, sure, but he’s Drew Brees, quarterback of the Saints.  You do not have to worry about him.

The Saints have done just fine in free agency with limited cap room.  Their biggest challenge lies ahead with the loss of Sean Payton for the season and possible suspensions for their defensive players, the Saints could be very thin on that side of the ball in 2012.  However, the Saints could be a big player in free agency late, because in the NFL, suspensions without pay (or with forfeiture of pay) free up team salary.

Miami Dolphins – Allow me to defend the Dolphins here for a moment: the only reason we perceive the Dolphins’ offseason as a catastrophic failure while we look at the Chiefs offseason as a rousing success is because the Dolphins’ owner is a little bit green and happens to put his franchise is a tough spot with his words too often.  One of the two teams improved immensely at the quarterback position in free agency.  It wasn’t the Chiefs.

The addition of David Garrard was a pretty smart move by Jeff Ireland, who needs to start stringing together smart moves in order to win games and keep his job.  Ignoring the fact that one of the best FA QBs was on Ireland’s roster (Chad Henne), no team except the Broncos improved by as much at the QB position as the Dolphins did going from Matt Moore to Garrard.  Garrard is also enough of a veteran to get out of the way next year for Ryan Tannehill (or whoever) to play quarterback.

The Dolphins really do have a good team, and made the correct decision to trade Brandon Marshall while only 31 teams know he’s not good enough to justify the headache he gives his quarterback, instead of 32 (sorry, Chicago).  They aren’t a good organization, or one that seems to have any idea how to win in the long term.  But for 2012, they’ve given themselves a fighting chance.

NFL Free Agency 2012: Winning!

March 23, 2012 1 comment

I don’t have an objective system to grade free agency like I do the draft, but I take an objective approach to charting what happens during free agency, and that gives me a pretty good concept of who wins and loses these deals.  There will be teams listed on this list of winners who made a bad signing or two.  What I’m looking for here are teams that either improved their salary cap position for the future without losing a significant amount of talent, added a ton of talent without hurting their cap position, or in the best of cases, did both.

New England Patriots

Very quietly, the Patriots will bring more veteran talent into training camp in 2012 than any team in the NFL.  Like the Giants, the AFC Champion Patriots entered free agency as a middle of the pack roster, arguably not in the ten best teams in the NFL.  Two weeks later, I have the Patriots as the team with the most talent on it.

Only the Patriots could make those kind of gains, and do it so quietly, that you didn’t even know they were making moves at all.  I don’t think all of their moves will work.  It’s hard to see a role for TE Daniel Fells but for injury to Rob Gronkowski.  I don’t think Brandon Lloyd will consistently earn playing time, even over the marginalized corpse of Chad Ochocinco.  And sure, we’re double counting on Robert Gallery and Logan Mankins here.  The Patriots will end up cutting plenty of players who could start for other teams.

But that’s the point of free agency.  If the Patriots philosophy is to go into camp every year as the favorite in their division going away, then there’s no way to look at this year’s haul except that it was wildly successful.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars probably made a catastrophic mistake with the Laurent Robinson contract.  It’s unfortunate that Robinson will get paid like a no. 1 reciever, because he won’t be the no. 1 receiver even on a team with Mike Thomas.  Robinson, when healthy, improves the Jaguars starting lineup.

But the Jaguars continue to find pieces to build their defense, leaving a pass rusher as the only need remaining on that side of the ball.  With the Texans losing Jason Allen and Demeco Ryans, the Jaguars enter 2012 as potentially the strongest defensive unit in the NFL.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders did not get better in free agency this year.  They probably got worse.  So why are they here?

Because the Raiders found themselves in a dangerous trap when Reggie McKenzie took over the GM position in Oakland.  They had a talent-loaded roster that was already competing for the division, but had come up short on the defensive side in 2011.  McKenzie inherited an awful cap situation.  And instead of locking himself into a veteran roster (for better or worse) that he did not build, McKenzie made seven veteran cuts (including G Cooper Carlisle, who was re-signed) to free up just a bit of cap room in the immediate, but a ton of cap room that wouldn’t have been there in 2013, a year where the Raiders already have $100 million in salary commitments to just 11 players.

Instead of taking one last run in 2012 with Hue Jackson’s guys (a personal friend of McKenzie), the Raiders will field an average roster that they can build towards bigger things in 2013.  That decision was questioned at the time, but looks a heck of a lot better now that Peyton Manning has signed on with the Broncos.  With San Diego and now Denver fighting atop the division, and Kansas City able to improve at a greater rate than the Raiders, Oakland couldn’t have done anything to be the favorites in the division.

The Raiders also took smart one year fliers on veterans like CBs Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, and Pat Lee, while managing to re-tool the offensive line on the cheap, paying for a foundation RG in Mike Brisiel (who replaces C Samson Satele in the starting five), and getting bargains on Carlisle and T Khalif Barnes, keeping continuity on an offensive line than improved immensely in 2011.

The Raiders will not be out of cap hell until 2014 at the earliest, but can compete this season on the strength of a strong rookie class (though they will not pick in the 1st or 2nd round), and can compete in the mediocre AFC West with the team they currently have.  The fact that most media outlets will pick the Raiders to finish last (which will be justified) shouldn’t deter the process.  Competing with the AFC North for the sixth seed in the AFC field (and maybe as a darkhorse in the AFC West) is the upside for the 2012 Raiders.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs make this list in spite of becoming one of the few teams with absolutely no long term solution at quarterback on it’s roster.  Brady Quinn is 28. Matt Cassel is 30.  Ricky Stanzi is an interesting backup QB prospect, but likely will not be relevant until the Chiefs draft a quarterback in the first or second round and replace Cassel on the roster.  With the acquisitions of Tim Tebow by the Jets, David Garrard by the Dolphins, and Chad Henne by the Jaguars, I’m 95% confident that the NFL’s worst QB situation sits somewhere in the state of Missouri.

But outside of that position, the Chiefs are as strong as any team in the NFL.  To fix their anemic offense, they turned RT Barry Richardson into Eric Winston.  They also will replace Casey Wiegmann at center with Rodney Hudson, and Leonard Pope at TE with Kevin Boss.  Jamaal Charles will return from injury to join Peyton Hills.  And all of these moves fit new O.C. Brian Daboll’s scheme quite well.  Finding a quarterback will be the next step for the Chiefs.

New York Jets

The Jets are going to find themselves in a tough spot a year from now when they realize how much they guaranteed Mark Sanchez, but that’s next year’s issue.  This year the Jets rebuilt their secondary around an athlete in LaRon Landry, and will move Antonio Cromartie to free safety.  He will be replaced by Kyle Wilson.  The Jets were also able to retain Sione Pouha and Bryan Thomas, giving them one of the best defenses in the AFC, which Landry will only help.

Obviously, Tim Tebow will be a very significant part of the offense this year, though I doubt the Jets are going to figure out how to use him before Mark Sanchez plays himself out of the starting job, an event that would end the Tebow “problem.”  The Jets still have work to do on offense, but were able to fix their WR situation on the cheap, adding Chaz Schilens to replace the ineffective Plaxico Burress.  Up next: finding a running back who can lead the rushing attack.  Cedric Benson would be a good fit.

Chicago Bears

The Bears didn’t get everything they could have wanted in free agency, but they kicked off the period trading for WR Brandon Marshall, quickly added two backup quarterbacks (Jason Campbell and Josh McCown), depth at running back (Michael Bush), receiver (Eric Weeks), and linebacker (Blake Costanzo).  They haven’t fixed tight end and apparently don’t see a possible solution for their OL on the free agent market.

But with the draft upcoming, the Bears are noticeably better on offense in terms of depth to the point where last year’s injury-related collapse doesn’t even have a chance to occur again.  Unlike in 2011, the Bears are set for the long-haul.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks were able to name their price on Matt Flynn, and ended up upgrading their quarterback situation without even trying.  It will be interesting to see if the Seahawks remain in the hunt for a quarterback in the first round of the draft.  The Seahawks have weapons out the wazoo to run Darrell Bevell’s version of the spread offense, and a handpicked OL that simply missed too many games to injury in 2011.

The Seahawks had a fantastic defense last year, and only added to it (although David Hawthorne as an outstanding UFA is still a big deal) with a one year contract for Jason Jones.  But the offensive firepower they added was a big deal.  The day after the super bowl, RB Marshawn Lynch wasn’t under contract and the only offensive back who was under contract was Tarvaris Jackson.  With Flynn and Lynch locked up, the Seahawks could be a surprise contender in the NFC West.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons really get a ton of credit for the last two years of free agency.  Since July of 2011, they had to deal with the expiration of 1) all five of their starting offensive linemen, 2) every receiver on the roster but Roddy White and Eric Meier (and obviously Julio Jones), 3) backup RB Jason Snelling, twice, 4) Every defensive end on the roster except Lawrence Sidbury, 5) the potential cap-related loss of MLB Curtis Lofton (26 years old), 6) a secondary that needed to be entirely overhauled.

And all GM Thomas Dimitroff lost was 1) WR Michael Jenkins, who would have been replaced anyway by Jones, 2) FS Erik Coleman, who was released and signed by the Lions, 3) Jamaal Anderson, who he released, 4) Harvey Dahl, who the Rams vastly overpaid for, and 5) potentially Lofton and starting C Todd McClure.

Amazingly, that’s it.  The Falcons seemed to play the market perfectly right in every case.  While I have legitimate criticisms about some player they’ve overdrafted, Dimitroff has fixed the contract issue he inherited with his veterans and now has set the Falcons up to be a perennial super bowl contender under Matt Ryan whose window of opportunity has just opened.

Controversial Omissions

Buffalo Bills – The Bills ponied up big time for Mario Williams, and in all reality, this won’t hurt their cap that much since the Bills never really spent to the cap anyway and there will be CBA-mandated spending minimums starting in 2013.  But it also will not help them as much as it seems.  The Bills spent the third overall pick last year on a good player in Marcel Dareus, but if he’s getting bumped inside in Dave Wannestedt’s 4-3, then even as a pro bowler (should he reach that level), the Bills can’t really get value on that pick.  Mark Anderson raises the overall quality of the Bills DL as well, but they overpaid for him.

The Bills spent as much as any team this season, but at least five, maybe six teams improved by a greater amount this offseason, including at least one in their own division.

Denver Broncos – One of those five or six teams that that improved more than the Bills was the Denver Broncos, who, uh, signed Peyton Manning?  That will do the trick.

Still, the Broncos decision to rid themselves of the Tim Tebow “problem” is a God-send in disguise for the Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers.  Manning will give those teams fits this year and probably next year, but it’s not going to be long until Manning is a 38 year old quarterback guaranteed $19 million on the cap in 2014.  That’s a team in an awful situation, supposing that Manning isn’t still still the best player on the team at that point.  He just might be, because defensive standout Champ Bailey will be 36 and still under contract.

Tebow isn’t Manning (and he’ll never be Peyton Manning), but he was just 24, and was developing a special relationship with the city of Denver.  If he improved by as much as he was capable of improving on a year to year basis, AFC West opponents would have had all sorts of problems competing with that kind of player.  Heck, they had problems competing with him in 2011, when he completed 46% of his throws.

The Broncos saved the other teams in the AFC West that headache by sending Tebow to the Jets.  Manning really, truly does improve the Broncos a lot in the short term, but that more or less makes the Broncos this year’s 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.  A weak roster got a LOT better using free agency as it’s primary vehicle.  What you probably didn’t realize about the 2011 Eagles is that most of their FA signings worked out really well.  But they didn’t all work out, and it was tough to overcome the prior deficiencies on the roster with a stars-and-scrubs approach.

So here are the Denver Broncos who have cashed in their chips to try and get a winning season now, on the back of a 36 year old quarterback, a year after they overcame the odds with a 24 year old quarterback.  If stripping the names “Peyton Manning” and “Tim Tebow” makes that seem like a bad decision, well, then yeah, I’d say it does make it sound like a bad decision.

Denver is definitely not a FA loser, but there’s no objective way to make last year’s Dream Team Eagles seem like a FA loser (outside of the Asomugha contract, which could improve significantly in year two).  But as Andy Reid can tell you, 8-8 is 8-8, no matter whether you get there with homegrown youth, or with free agents.