Tag Archives: chris baker

FR: Free-agency opening weekend

As always, free agency opened with a flurry. After the first weekend, here are how each team’s moves from the first weekend compare. Teams that have not made key signings since Friday are not included, nor are franchise-player moves or re-signings before free-agency began. (Those are covered in the posts that are linked.) We’re also covering trades separately ina post later this week. We’re using a 10-point scale to compare the moves, with 10 being an instant impact and 1 being no impact at all. This post includes moves between Friday, February 27 and Monday, March 2.

10 – Redskins (added DT Albert Haynesworth and OG Derrick Dockery) – Dan Snyder was the big spender of the first weekend, inking Haynesworth to a 7-year, $100 million contract. Haynesworth was the best defensive player in football last year, and if the Redskins can fit their scheme to this talented player, he’ll make a difference. Dockery gives depth on the offensive line as he returns to the team he had his best success with.

9 – Giants (added LB Michael Boley, DTs Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard) – The Giants didn’t hit the home run, but they had three doubles that could turn into triples if things turn out right. Canty is a solid run-stuffer who will have to change from a 3-4 to a 4-3. He’s talented, but is he a fit? Boley and Bernard are better fits. Boley gives the Giants a younger linebacker who can make plays. Bernard probably shouldn’t start, but he’ll flash with big plays as a rotation tackle. This defense is better because of these three moves.

9 (con’t) – Broncos (added RBs Correll Buckhalter and JJ Arrington, WR Jabar Gaffney, Safeties Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill, CB Andre Goodman, LB Andra Davis, DT Darrell Reid, LS Lonnie Paxton) – The Broncos are following the Patriots’ plan circa 2001 to rebuild the team quickly. That year, New England signed 17 free agents to improve depth and consistency, and it worked as the Patriots ended up in the Super Bowl. None of Denver’s signings this year are dynamic, but they will help. Dawkins is the biggest name, but Goodman (a starting quarterback) got the biggest deal and will make the biggest difference on defense. Buckhalter and Arrington, along with holdover Ryan Torian, give a backfield that was battered beyond belief last year a lot of help.

8 – Jets (added LB Bart Scott, kept OG Brandon Moore) – Scott is probably the second-best player to move in free agency thus far. He knows new coach Rex Ryan’s defense and will be a difference-maker. His veteran presence should help fellow ILB David Harris, a former first-round pick, better as well. Moore and Lito Sheppard (who came over in trade) are also solid starters who help.

7 – Rams (added C Jason Brown; kept CB Ron Bartell) – The Rams need a lot of help, so this single move doesn’t address all their issues. But it’s a start in an area that needed tons and tons of help. Brown was a solid center in Baltimore, and he can play guard as well. He’ll be a cornerstone as the Rams seeking to do a full remodel of the offensive line. Bartell quickly became one of the top cornerbacks available on the market, but the Rams were able to talk him into staying instead of taking an equal 4-year, $28M offer from New Orleans.

6 – Texans (added DE Antonio Smith and QB Dan Orlovksy; kept S Eugene Wilson and TE Joel Dreesen) – The Texans got one of the up-and-comers of free agency in Smith, an impact defensive end who should partner with Mario Williams to give Houston a fearsome pass rush. This move could help take the Houston defense up a level.

5 – Patriots (added RB Fred Taylor and TE Chris Baker, kept S James Sanders) – The Patriots don’t need a ton of help, but Taylor could be an upgrade as a rotation running back. Baker gives the Pats a pass-catching tight end option that they didn’t have last year. Both are bit players, but they should provide an additional spark for an already potent offense. 

4 – Titans (kept QB Kerry Collins and DB Vincent Fuller) – It’s hard to rate a team with no additions and some significant losses (Haynesworth) so highly, but the Titans deserve some credit for locking Collins up. (After all, the Cardinals and Kurt Warner are still negotiating.) Collins at least gives the Titans a chance to carry over their success from last season.

4 (con’t) – 49ers (added WR Brandon Jones and FB Moran Norris; kept LB Takeo Spikes and CB-RS Allen Rossum) – Jones is the big move here, because the 49ers are in such need of a receiving threat. He’s probably a quality starter, but he’s not a No. 1. That’s something the Niners haven’t had since T.O. left town. But for a team on the uptick, this is a move that helps.

3 – Cowboys (added LB Keith Brooking) – Brooking is a solid pro who will help some on the field but might prove to be more valuable in the locker room for the Cowboys. He’s not a Pro Bowl-caliber player anymore, but he’s dependable on the field. His presence will help to allow the Cowboys to continue to turn DeMarcus Ware loose.

3 (con’t) Saints (kept LB Jonathan Vilma and OT Jon Stinchcomb) – The Saints need to add help on defense, but they spent the first weekend of free agency making sure they didn’t lose two key contributors. Vilma was in demand, and Stinchcomb is a solid player at a position of need on this year’s market. Both retentions were necessary, so the Saints should get credit for getting them done.

2 – Steelers (kept OG Chris Kemoeatu and FB Sean McHugh) – The Steelers outbid the Jets to keep Kemoeatu, who was part of an offensive line that was far from special. But they view Kemoeatu as part of the solution, and being able to keep him was a plus.

2 (con’t) – Eagles (added OT Stacy Andrews) – The Eagles let both starting offensive tackles, Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, enter free agency, so there’s a gaping hole to be addressed. Enter Andrews, a hot prospect last year before tearing his ACL during the season. Andrews probably fits in better at right tackle than on the left side. His presence can’t hurt his brother Shawn, a former Pro Bowl guard who battled personal problems last season.

2 (con’t) Ravens (added CB Domonique Foxworth) – The Ravens have been raided so far, losing Bart Scott and Jason Brown. But they did address their cornerback issues by signing Foxworth to help replace Chris McAlister (cut) and Samari Rolle, who battled injuries all last year. But here’s the question: Is Foxworth a starter? He wasn’t in Denver at the beginning of his career, and he started only part time in Atlanta next season. The Falcons weren’t going to pay Foxworth as a starter, but the Ravens did (4 year, $28 million, $16.5 million guaranteed). A cornerback move was necessary, but Foxworth as the move has some bust potential.

2 (con’t) Seahawks (added DT Colin Cole) – The Seahawks lost DT Rocky Bernard, but they replaced him with Cole, a run-stuffing tackle. They still have bigger fish to fry, but this move mitigated a key departure, which is a good thing.

2 (con’t) Jaguars (added S Sean Considine; kept C Brad Meester and CB Scott Starks) – Jacksonville, like division rival Indianapolis, was able to keep its center at the last minute. Meester has been a solid pro for the Jaguars for 9 years, and they didn’t want to lose him.

1 – Bears (added OT Frank Omiyale) – The Bears had to get an offensive tackle after the retirement of John Tait and the free-agency of John St. Clair. Omiyale can be a decent starter, and now Chicago has the option to pair him with ’08 first-round pick Chris Williams. If the Bears resign St. Clair, Omiyale could move inside or become a swing tackle. He’s a handy guy to have around, but he has to start to be worth the 4-year, $11.5 million deal he got.

1 – Lions (added RB Maurice Morris, WR Bryant Johnson, CB Eric King) – The Lions need a lot of help and a lot of depth, and so they’ve gone the bargain route in free agency. All three of these guys will at least play, even though they’re probably not ideal starters. Still, having some more professionals around can’t do anything but help.

1 – Bills (added OL Geoff Hangartner, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) – The Bills are another team that’s lost more than it gained, and more losses (notably CB Jabari Greer) are likely coming. Hangartner is a versatile lineman who’s good enough to start inside, and Fitzpatrick is at least an average backup QB. But neither of these moves will matter much in the long run.

(Note: The Miami Dolphins made most of their moves before the weekend; you can read about them here.)

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FR: Most impactful cutbacks

 This is part 3 of our free agency preview. We’ve already done a more than full workup on the 14 franchise players, and we’ve been updating our post on key re-signings clubs made so far. (That post was updated through the opening of free agency.) Now, we’re going to break down the most impactful cutbacks teams have made. We’re comparing them on the football relativity scale, with 10 being the teams that lost the most, and 1 being teams that didn’t lose much. We’ve listed only teams that have made salary-cap-related cutbacks, so all 32 are not listed. And this post will also be updated up through the beginning of the new league year tomorrow.

 10 – Buccaneers  (key cuts: LBs Derrick Brooks and Cato June, RB Warrick Dunn, WRs Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard) – This cut list reads like a Tampa Bay’s all-pro ballot from just a few years ago. Brooks is arguably the greatest Buccaneer of all time (only Lee Roy Selmon really has an argument), and he has remained productive even as he has aged. Galloway went into last year as Tampa’s No. 1 wide receiver, and Hilliard and Dunn played bit roles but key roles last year. With the change of head coaches, Tampa Bay is obviously trying to turn a page, but they’re losing a lot of quality players and leadership in the process. These cuts hurt a lot.

9 – Colts (key cut: WR Marvin Harrison) – Indy’s list of cuts isn’t as long as Tampa’s, but the name on the list is as big as Brooks. Harrison’s huge salary-cap number (more than $13 million) meant a cut was necessary, but he’s a loss. Harrison had been passed by Reggie Wayne as the Colts’ No. 1 receiver, but he still was a key part of Indy’s frequently used three-wideout set. The onus is on Anthony Gonzalez to step up for the Colts, and they’ll have to find a third receiver to keep the offense moving. This is another loss (head coach Tony Dungy, defensive coordinator Ron Meeks) that makes me think the arrow is pointed down on the Colts going forward.

8 – Jaguars (key cuts: RB Fred Taylor, WR Jerry Porter, CB Drayton Florence, DE Paul Spicer) – The Jaguars, like Tampa Bay and Indy, had to cut a franchise icon. Taylor has been a productive running back for 11 years in Jacksonville, and although he was clearly No. 2 to Maurice Jones-Drew last season, he was still productive. Spicer spent nine years with the Jags, but he was being slowed by injuries, and Jacksonville had to give ’08 draft picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves a chance to sail or sink. The other two cuts, Porter and Florence, were 2 of Jacksonville’s big free agent signings last year. Both were huge, huge busts. After changing general managers, Jacksonville decided to cut their losses on both big deals.

7 – Saints (key cut: RB Deuce McAlister) – We continue the team icon hit list in New Orleans, where McAlister got the axe after eight productive years. This cut is lower on the relativity scale because injuries have left McAlister with less ability to contribute than either Taylor or Harrison have. McAlister doesn’t look to be more than a bit player anywhere else, but the emotional loss that Saints fans will have in not seeing their native son out there is still significant.

7 (con’t) –  Broncos (key cuts: CB Dre Bly, DT Dewayne Robertson, DE John Engelberger, TE Nate Jackson, LB Niko Koutovides, S Marquand Manuel, LB Jamie Winborn) – This list is significant because of its length and because of Bly and Robertson. Robertson was a top-5 draft pick with the Jets who got a second chance in Denver and didn’t capitalize. Bly was a borderline Pro Bowl player in Detroit and St. Louis, but his time in Denver across from Champ Bailey showed that Bly was no longer an elite corner. This is another organization turning the page, and you can tell from the cut list that the new management feels like ex-grand poobah Mike Shanahan left a lot of pages on the roster that needed to be turned.

7 (con’t) – Ravens (key cuts: CB Chris McAlister, DE Marques Douglas) – This McAlister isn’t quite a franchise icon, but he was a key part of the Ravens’ dominating defenses this decade. The question is what McAlister has left. He’ s no longer a true shutdown corner, but can he still be an effective starter? My guess is some team will be willing to invest to see if that’s the case. Douglas was a rotation defensive end but not a huge loss.

6 – Raiders (key cuts: WR Ronald Curry, S Gibril Wilson, FB Justin Griffith, OT Kwame Harris, DE Kalimba Edwards) – The Raiders, like the Jaguars, cut the cord on many of their top free agent signings of last offseason. DeAngelo Hall got the axe during the season, and Wilson and Harris are now gone as well. (Many in the league had chuckled at the Wilson contract and laughed out loud at the Harris contract.) The Raiders are still talent thin, so cutting guys who can play, even if their contracts are way out of whack, still hurts.

5 – Jets (key cuts: WR Laveranues Coles, OG Brandon Moore, CB David Barrett, LBs David Bowens and Brad Kassell, TE Chris Baker) – The Jets had a bounce-back year last season, so it’s a bit surprising to see them cutting contributors like Moore, Baker, and Barrett. But while there’s some volume of cuts here, there’s not a devastating impact – if the Jets can get some young players through the draft to replace the depth. Coles was cut later in what was termed as the Jets “letting him be a free agent.” Don’t be fooled – that’s nothing but a requested release. Coles is decent but not worth the money he thinks he is. The Jets are probably better off just moving on.

4 -Texans (key cuts: RB Ahman Green, LB Morlon Greenwood, DE Anthony Weaver, S Will Demps, OT Ephriam Salaam) – This list is long enough that it’s worth putting on this level. While Green used to be good, injuries have robbed him of effectiveness. No big losses here, but this is another team that must be strategic in replacing depth.

4 (con’t) – Lions (key cuts: CB Leigh Bodden, TE Dan Campbell, WR Mike Furrey, S Dwight Smith) – Another team changing regimes that cut some guys who have been productive. Bodden is notable because he was a key part of the Shaun Rogers trade last offseason. But given the Lions’ utter failure last year, these guys were probably all in roles (and at salaries) that are above their current water level.

4 (con’t) – Bills (key cuts: OG Derrick Dockery, TE Robert Royal) – Dockery was a big-ticket free-agent signing two years ago, getting Steve Hutchinson money (7 years, $49M) even though he wasn’t a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Dockery has started 93 straight games, and so he should hook on elsewhere, but it should happen at a much lower pay rate.

3 – Panthers (key cuts: WR D.J. Hackett, RB Nick Goings, OT Jeremy Bridges) – Hackett was a key signing in Carolina last offseason, but he made little impact and got passed on the depth chart by Dwayne Jarrett. Bridges has played well over the last couple of years but his multiple off-field problems made him dispensible. Goings is a key special-teams guy, but his moment as an NFL-quality running back is gone.

3 (con’t) – Chiefs (key cuts: CB Patrick Surtain, LB Donnie Edwards, QB Damon Huard) – Surtain and Edwards were once stars, but they’ve lost effectiveness, and so in a regime change their cuts are expected. Damon Huard played OK as a starter 2 years ago, but he’s really just a backup, and Tyler Thigpen showed last year that he’s good enough to at least be a No. 2 quarterback.

3 (con’t) – Rams (key cuts QB Trent Green, WR Drew Bennett) – Bennett’s another free-agent bust on this list. He never was able to become Torry Holt’s sidekick for the Rams. Green has been a good player, but his time in the NFL is over. He should go to the broadcast booth next season, because he’ll be good at that, and he’s not a good quarterback anymore.

3 (con’t) Redskins (key cuts: CB Shawn Springs, LB Marcus Washington) – It’s a theme of this list – another free agent bust. Washington left the Colts as a big signing with the Redskins, but he didn’t deliver equal to his contract value. When Springs was cut, he moved the Redskins up a level in this comparison, but not more. Springs was once an elite quarterback, but injuries hampered him severely last season, and had he stayed he probably would have had to move to safety. The emergence of DeAngelo Hall in Washington made Springs expendable, especially at his $8 million price tag.

2 – Giants (key cuts: RB Reuben Droughns, CB Sam Madison, S Sammy Knight) – Droughns was only the fifth-best back on the Giants’ roster, so he’s expendable. Madison and Knight once were good players, but age has taken its toll. They have to hope to catch on for the minimum elsewhere if they want to keep playing.

2 (con’t) Steelers (key cut: OG Kendall Simmons) – The most amazing thing about the Steelers’ Super Bowl run was how ineffective their offensive line was most of the year. An overhaul is due, and Simmons, a former first-round pick, is being jettisoned as part of it.

1 – Bears (key cuts: WR Marty Booker, LB Gilbert Gardner) – Booker was brought into Chicago last year to contribute as a wideout, but he’s no longer effective. Gardner is merely a backup.

1 (con’t) – Cardinals (key cut: LS Nathan Hodel) – This is only notable because Hodel was a college teammate of PK Neil Rackers, and the Cardinals had promoted the fact that Hodel’s snaps helped Rackers succeed.

1 (con’t) – Cowboys (key cuts CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, QB Brad Johnson) – Dallas signed Johnson to be a safe, reliable backup, but when Tony Romo got hurt Johnson showed he just didn’t have it anymore. As for Jones, he got more attention than anyone else on this list last year, but he didn’t play very well at all. This move proves that the Pacman-in-Dallas experiment was sound and fury signifying nothing.

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