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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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