Winners And Losers Through One Week Of NFL Free Agency

The NFL’s free agency period is nearly one week over and here are the early winners and losers, including a couple of teams that are in a wait and see mode.

WINNERS

Chargers

The Chargers didn’t make a big splash in unrestricted free agency like some other teams but they did take advantage of restricted free agency.

The Chargers were able to retain five key players in restricted free agency including LT Marcus McNeil, LB Shawne Merriman, WR Vincent Jackson, RB Darren Sproles and WR Malcolm Floyd.

Instead of dropping $50 million into free agency, the Chargers spent less than $15 million retaining key players.

Redskins

The Redskins made their usual foray into free agency dropping over $130 million in contracts….wait a minute! The Redskins didn’t make high-risk moves in free agency and instead took a gander at a couple of veteran offensive linemen.

The Redskins didn’t do anything splashy in free agency by any means but their restraint could go a long way in determining the future success of the franchise.

WAIT AND SEE

Bears

The Bears are the new Redskins signing over $100 million in free agent contracts. The high profile names are DE Julius Peppers, RB Chester Taylor and TE Brandon Manumaleuna.

Each of these players has demonstrated that they’re capable of producing in big-time fashion. Peppers has averaged over ten sacks for his career, Taylor should complement RB Matt Forte very nicely and Manumaleuna is one of the best blockers in the business.

However, with bold moves come giant risks.

It’s just as possible Peppers reverts back to his 2007 form when he recorded just two sacks or Taylor’s age (30) catches up to him quicker than you think.

Bottomline, this is a major boom or bust free agent class for the Bears.

Lions

The Lions, like the Bears, moved swiftly into the free agent market inking WR Nate Burleson to a big deal, trading for DE Corey Williams and making a midnight signing at the home of DE Kyle Vanden Bosch.

The Lions, like any team with the second pick in the draft, needed help all over the place.

All three of those players are definitely upgrades at their respective positions (at least on paper) but it remains to be seen whether they’ll live up to their big money contracts.

Burleson has flashed some potential when given the opportunity. He went over 1,000 yards in 15 starts back in 2004 but the Lions gave him $25 million. That’s definitely a risky move.

Vanden Bosch knows head coach Jim Schwartz very well from their time in Tennessee. In fact, Schwartz’s scheme helped him sack the quarterback 31 times from 2005-07. However, Vanden Bosch is no spring chicken at age 31 and has just eight sacks in the last two seasons.

Again, like the Bears this has a chance to be a solid class but there’s a lot of risk involved.

LOSERS

Cardinals

Talk about a rough weekend for the Cardinals.

Before free agency started, they lost their quarterback, which is bad enough. But once the clock hit midnight, the Cards saw S Antrel Rolle, LB Karlos Dansby and WR Anquan Boldin leave town.

They got some value in return for Boldin, who was in the final year of his contract, but the loss of Rolle and Dansby will hurt because it’s not like that defense was a powerhouse to begin with.

Ken Whisenhunt comes from the Steelers where free agency seemingly doesn’t exist but you figured they would’ve kept at least one of those three players.

New York Jets

I’m perplexed by the trade for Antonio Cromartie.

Not only did they give up a lot of value in a second or third round pick but Cromartie has a few issues that will make his situation in New York difficult.

First, he’s got seven kids in five states. Is that against the law? No. But definitely irresponsible, which brings me to the second point.

The Jets had to front him $500,000 (!) because he seemingly couldn’t afford his bills, like child support. Is this the type of character and (ir)responsibility you want on your team?

Finally, Cromartie is entering the final year of his contract which means after just one year the Jets are going to have to decide whether to retain him via a long-term contract and presumably quite a bit of money as well considering he’s in a high-profile position.

Bottomline, the negatives outweigh the positives on this one.

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