As we’ve done throughout the offseason, in this post we’re going to compare the recent free-agent signings in the NFL to each other. (If you want to see previous posts, check out the post-draft signings post and follow the links back from there.)
This post will compare signings from June 1 to July 17 to each other. 10 is the team that made the most impactful additions; 1 is teams that are merely worth a mention.
10 – Raiders (add DE Greg Ellis and QB Charlie Frye) – Ellis spent 11 years in Dallas before being released this offseason. He had been unhappy about his role and/or his contract for several years, and he did seem miscast as a 3-4 outside linebacker, even though he had one really good season in that role. He lands in Dallas where he will play in a more traditional 4-3. Ellis is big enough to be stout against the run in that role, and with 77 career sacks, he should bring some pass-rush presence too. His addition may allow the Raiders to trade Derrick Burgess (perhaps to New England), as has been rumored. In any case, Ellis will definitely find a role with the Raiders. It’s weird for the Raiders, who have Jeff Garcia, Andrew Walter, and Bruce Gradowski as backup quarterbacks, to bring Frye in. He’s probably the best No. 3 quarterback option they have, but to expect more from Frye at this point would be foolhardy. So Frye is an addition that seems unnecessary.
9 – none
8 – Chiefs (add S Mike Brown) – Brown was a former Pro Bowler who was a key cog in the very good Bears’ defenses of the middle of this decade. Consistent injury problems, though, have limited Brown’s ability to contribute over the past several years. That’s why the Bears were willing to let him walk via free agency even though he managed to start 15 games in ‘08. While it would be unwise for any team to count on Brown, adding him in a spot where he can beat out holdover safeties if he’s healthy is worth a shot. At his best, Brown (who has 30 career interceptions) is more of a playmaker than either Bernard Pollard or Jarrad Page. Brown can also join Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas in bringing a veteran presence to a Chiefs’ defense that needs the massive overhaul it is getting. In that effort, this is a reasonable risk to take.
7 – Broncos (add WR Brandon Lloyd) – Lloyd has talent, but he’s bounced from Washington to San Francisco to Chicago and now to Denver without putting it all together. He was a decent target for Orton with the Bears last year, which is a plus, and his size would be a good contrast to Eddie Royal were Brandon Marshall to be unavailable. If the Broncos have designs on Lloyd replacing Marshall, they’ll quickly and painfully discover that not all Brandons are created equal.
6 – Falcons (add OL Jeremy Newberry) – Newberry is a versatile guy who was a Pro Bowler twice for the 49ers and has been a solid contributor for the Chargers and the Raiders over the last two years. He can play across the line, and he’ll provide a veteran influence for a line that’s lost experience with the retirement of Todd Weiner this offseason.
5 – Jaguars (add S Marlon McCree) – McCree, who was a Jag from 2001 to 2003, has 91 career starts with five teams. He’s a big hitter who’s OK but not great as a starter, which makes him the ultimate one-year stopgap. But for a team like Jacksonville that finds itself needing secondary help, McCree can step in and play strong safety.
4 – Texans (add QB Rex Grossman) – Grossman, who started a Super Bowl but was wildly inconsistent in Chicago, stayed on the free-agent market for a long time. He finally landed in Houston, where he looks to be a No. 3 quarterback behind starter Matt Schaub and Dan Orlovsky, who signed a multi-year deal to be the backup this offseason after the team dealt Sage Rosenfels. Grossman, who got a one-year deal at the minimum, has more experience than Orlovsky and probably more potential too, so don’t be surprised if he beats the ex-Lion out to back up Schaub. And with as many injuries as Schaub has traditionally had, winning the backup job would mean winning a few games to show his stuff again.
3 – Browns (add OT George Foster) – Foster, a former first-round pick in Denver, was the odd man out in Detroit after the Lions added Jon Jansen. Foster has good size, but he’s never lived up to his potential. But that potential is still at least a teeny bit tantalizing, which makes Foster worth a flier for the Browns.
2 – Saints (add LS Jason Kyle) – Kyle, a 14-year vet who spent the last 8 years in Carolina, is a pro’s pro at long snapper, but his veteran status priced him out with the Panthers, who are pinching every penny in order to pay Julius Peppers’ massive one-year contract. The Saints viewed Kyle as an upgrade over their long-time long-snapper Kevin Houser and made the switch.
1 – Jets (add P Reggie Hodges and TE Richard Owens) – The Jets are unsettled at punter, and so they brought back Hodges, who averaged a so-so 42.8 yards per punt with them last year. He’ll have to compete, but at this moment Hodges may well be the best option the Jets have. Owens, a block-first tight end, replaces the released Bubba Franks.