Honestly, winners and losers in NFL free agency is a figment of the sports’ society imagination.
Every year, around this time, analyst, experts, columnist and whoever else deems themselves credible loves to crown the winners and losers of the free agent frenzy. While I understand the premise of doing so, I find it irrational to say team A out-performed team B solely because of out-bidding the competition.
Are the Baltimore Ravens considered “losers” because they lost multiple starters? No, every season is different. Look at the body of work by Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, he always plans for the future, drafts well(which is most important) and build from within. What about the Miami Dolphins? They made quite the splash overpaying for a one-trick pony in Mike Wallace, although, that speed of his is one helluva trick. Miami is active in free agency, but labeling them as winners is a bit premature. No one knows how any of these signings will pan out.
Remember the Philadelphia Eagles from years past? Or should I say the “Dream Team?”
They “won” free agency that year. But what else have they won since then? That year was a complete catastrophe, the league’s longest tenured head coach was fired, Michael Vick once again withered behind a leaky O-line, and the prize of free agency that year, CB Nnamdi Asomugha? Not even Verizon could help his coverage. The Eagles are surely smarting over that wasted contract.
Even though some players enter free agency in their prime, it is almost a rarity. While I can make a compelling argument on why it’s OK for Super Bowl contenders or teams who have a two to three year window of opportunity to sign quick fix free agents, lets face it, free agency teeters on edge of desperateness. Teams are giving eye-popping contracts to one-year wonders, veterans on the down-slope , salary-cap casualties and maybe because of other unforeseen reasons.
Here’s a stat for you, Wes Welker had the 2nd most drops in the NFL last season and the most drops in the postseason since 2008. The Broncos possibly picked up a once productive player who is on the down side of his career. Bill Belichick knew what he was doing by not giving him the money he wants and signing the underrated Danny Amendola to replace him.
The media (I also consider myself the media, sue me) has the Seahawks so-called “winning” in free agency? They are hauling in a load of players, true, but a lot of them are castoffs. The only significant signing is Percy Harvin, if he can focus on playing football. I’m not buying Cliff Avril. I believe he is a product of a beastly defensive line in Motown. I am a true believer that the sophomore slump is real. I would be crazy to tell you Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson will all have down years, but besides RGIII and the Redskins, Seattle, Miami and Indianapolis have been active in free agency. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of these teams fall off next year.
The key is building through the draft. It may not not garner as much attention as signing big name free agents, but cultivating young talent and grooming potential is how you mold an organization from the ground up. While first rounders do attract the spotlight, successful selections in the middle of the draft is what causes teams to flourish.
It’s way too early for me to say who “won” and who “loss” in free agency. Only time will tell if the money was well spent. Right now, everyone is glossing over their prized free agents like a new car off the lot.
Too bad you can’t test drive free agents. Maybe that’s what a physical is for (see Jake Long and the St. Louis Rams).