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Training Camp Moves – Week 2

This post is a compilation of additions NFL teams made during the second full week of camps. The timetable for this post opens on August 1 and continues through August 6. You can read a summary of the first week of training camp moves here, and follow past offseason moves from there. Because moves will be coming fast and furious throughout training camp, we’re going to use quick analysis of moves each week during this time instead of creating a massive Football Relativity comparison.

Additions

Seahawks (add CB Travis Fisher and OGs Cory Withrow and Grey Ruegamer) – After cutting ’08 starter Mike Wahle, the Seahawks went looking for interior offensive line depth. Withrow and Ruegamer are both veteran hands, and it apepars that they’ll be fighting it out for one job (at best). Fisher provides depth at an already-deep position, but with Marcus Trufant battling a back injury, Seattle went for some insurance.

Eagles (add LBs Matt Wilhelm and Jason Babin) – When starting MLB Stewart Bradley went out, the Eagles faced a huge gap in the middle. They were fortunate that Wilhelm, a starter in San Diego, was on the market. Wilhelm isn’t an impact guy, but he’s big and can at least help stuff the run. He’ll be moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, which could cause some problems, but it’s worth a shot for Philly to see if Wilhelm can adjust and contribute as a two-down player. There probably wasn’t anybody else on the market as good as Wilhelm, so props to Philly for getting this deal done immediately after Bradley’s injury. Babin, a former first-round pick in Houston, has potential as a pass rusher but has never really realized it. Still, he’s worth a look – especially in Philly’s attacking D.

Falcons (add LB Jamie Winborn and WRs Robert Ferguson and Marty Booker) – After losing Keith Brooking to free agency in the offseason, the Falcons wanted a veteran hand in their LB corps. That’s what Winborn brings, along with Mike Peterson. Winborn probably fits in best as Curtis Lofton’s backup at middle linebacker, but he could step into the strong-side role if Peterson were to get hurt. This is a move designed to bring depth, and it should do just that. Ferguson never really broke out as a receiver in Green Bay or Minnesota, but he’s a veteran who can slip into the No. 3 or No. 4 spot in the ATL now that Harry Douglas is out for the year. With Douglas out and Roddy White holding out, the Falcons desperately needed depth, and Ferguson can provide that. The fact that Ferguson can help on special teams as well should help secure him a spot on the regular-season roster. Booker has had a more accomplished career than Ferguson, but his size and lack of speed makes him a lot like current Falcons wideout Brian Finneran. So unless Booker shows a burst he hasn’t featured in recent years, he’s a long shot to make it.

Chiefs (add WR Amani Toomer and QB Matt Gutierrez) – Toomer, the long-time Giant, no longer has any kind of breakaway speed, but he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. It seems a little strange to have both Toomer and Bobby Engram on the same roster, which could lead to a release down the line. But if Mark Bradley doesn’t continue to emerge, then Toomer is a solid insurance policy. Probably the best-case scenario for the Chiefs is to have Toomer as their No. 4 receiver who can fill in outside if Bradley or Dwayne Bowe has to miss time. Relying on Toomer for more than that could prove to be a mistake. Gutierrez is good enough to be on a roster, but it didn’t make much sense for the Patriots to have two inexperienced backups behind Tom Brady. That appears to be why Gutierrez lost his spot there to Andrew Walter. The Chiefs claimed Gutierrez on waivers to be their third quarterback, which makes sense because he’s coming from the same system as starter Matt Cassel. Gutierrez still has potential, and the fact that new Chiefs GM Scott Pioli knows him reveals the logic behind the move. He’ll upgrade the Chiefs at the No. 3 QB spot and could even make trading promising backup Tyler Thigpen an option at some point before 2010.

Patriots (add DE Derrick Burgess and QB Andrew Walter) – Burgess, who had 38.5 sacks in his four years in Oakland but only 3.5 last year, had become disgruntled as a Raider, and so he’s been seeking a trade all offseason and into training camp. He finally landed in New England (as had long been rumored) in exchange for 3rd- and 5th-round draft picks in 2011 (according to Mike Lombardi). Burgess fits in New England as a situational pass rusher but not much more. Still, given the veteran nature of the Pats’ roster, and given the luck New England has had with Raiders castoffs like Randy Moss, we can count on Burgess finding a nice niche and filling his role well. Walter is a former third-round pick, but his potential never revealed itself during his starts in Oakland. Still, he has a good arm, and his experience provides a better balance to backup Kevin O’Connell than Matt Gutierrez’ raw ability did.

Texans (add CB Deltha O’Neal and RB Andre Hall) – With Dunta Robinson holding out and Jacque Reeves out for more than a month, the Texans were in dire need of cornerback help. O’Neal is a veteran who can attack the ball but also gets burned at times. Still, he can help enough to be worth a look in Houston’s hour of need. Hall has shown flashes of ability in the past, and he has played in a system like Houston’s in Denver, so he could get noticed in the preseason.

Cardinals (add C Melvin Fowler) – Fowler, a center who was most recently with the Bills, is an experienced hand who should provide some stability as a backup. He won’t beat out Lyle Sendelein, but he is a better insurance policy than Donovan Raiola would have been.

Bengals (keep CB Jamar Fletcher) – Fletcher, who played 11 games for Cincinnati last year, was on the outside looking in until David Jones’ injury opened a roster spot for him. The former first-round pick and 8-year veteran faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but at least he’s in a camp now.

Redskins (add WR D.J. Hackett) – Hackett, who showed potential in Seattle but busted out as a big free-agent addition in Carolina last year, hooked on with the Redskins after offseason import Roydell Williams was released because he broke a pinkie finger and would miss the next month. Hackett is big and has shown the ability to get downfield regularly, but his lack of consistency hampers him from being a regular rotation player. Hackett is the kind of veteran who can make a roster and help in case of injury – or in case of slow development of young receivers that are plentiful in Washington. But even if Hackett makes the team, he’ll probably be a game-day inactive until an injury or demotion opens the door for him.

Jets (add WR Aundrae Allison and TE Kevin Brock) – Allison, a former fifth-round pick, had just 18 catches in two seasons, and he was passed by youngsters Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. So the Vikings cut Allison, and then the Jets quickly grabbed him off waivers. He has average size but above-average speed, and that’s the reason he’s work a look. Allison could also figure in as a return specialist at a cheap price. Brock, an undrafted rookie who spent OTAs in Carolina, is a pass-catching tight end from Rutgers. He does what Dustin Keller can do, which should at least make it easier for the Jets to run their regular offensive sets with Mark Sanchez and the No. 2s. He’s a useful camp body, which shows the Jets are actually thinking as they try to prep Sanchez for the season.

Subtractions

Seahawks (cut OG Mike Wahle) – Wahle, a big-time free-agent signing last year who started all season, failed his physical before camp, and he was released. The 12-year veteran is reportedly considering retirement. The main upshot of Wahle’s release could be that second-round pick Max Unger has an easier path to a starting spot as a rookie.

Redskins (cut WR Roydell Williams) – Williams, who looked to be a fifth receiver, was waived/injured after suffering a broken pinkie that will sideline him until just before the regular season. Once he gets healthy, he could land somewhere as a backup receiver. He’s the kind of guy who could also go to the UFL and be a standout to try to enhance his value.

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Fantasy Football: Receivers update

A few name receivers have landed with new teams this week, and so we thought we’d give some fantasy analysis on them. For other fantasy players who have moved this offseason, check out this post. And you can of course find all of our fantasy football articles through the fantasy football category on our blog.

Chiefs add WR Amani Toomer – Toomer, the long-time Giant, no longer has any kind of breakaway speed, but he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. It seems a little strange to have both Toomer and Bobby Engram on the same roster, which could even lead to one of them being released down the line. But if Mark Bradley doesn’t continue to emerge, then Toomer is a solid insurance policy. Probably the best-case scenario for the Chiefs is to have Toomer as their No. 4 receiver who can fill in outside if Bradley or Dwayne Bowe has to miss time. Relying on Toomer in fantasy football could prove to be a mistake, but he should be on your radar if Bradley or Bowe gets hurt. Toomer’s presence also limits Engram’s sleeper potential.

Redskins add WR D.J. Hackett – Hackett, who showed potential in Seattle but busted out as a big free-agent addition in Carolina last year, hooked on with the Redskins after offseason import Roydell Williams was released. Hackett is big and has shown the ability to get downfield regularly, but his lack of consistency hampers him from being a regular rotation player. Hackett is the kind of veteran who can make an NFL roster, but he’s not a fantasy option this year. You’d be much better off casting your lot with one of the Redskins’ younger receivers, Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas, instead of selecting Hackett in your draft, because even if Hackett makes the Redskins, he’ll probably be a game-day inactive until an injury or demotion opens the door for him.

Jets add WR Aundrae Allison – Allison, a former fifth-round pick, had just 18 catches in two seasons, and he was passed by youngsters Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. So the Vikings cut Allison, and then the Jets quickly grabbed him off waivers. He has average size but above-average speed, and that’s the reason he’s work a look. Allison could also figure in as a return specialist at a cheap price, but he doesn’t look to be a fantasy option, despite the Jets’ lack of receiver depth.

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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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