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Friday, March 14, 2014

NFL Free Angecy: Early Winners and Losers

Wild on Sports
NFL Free Agency: Early Winners and Losers
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

With the anticipated early frenzy of moves over the initial 72 hours now in the books, lets take a look at the teams who have really stepped up in the early going to position themselves well for 2014.


Denver Broncos
Key Acquisitions: Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, DaMarcus Ware

For the second straight season the Broncos have stolen a key weapon from their top competition in the AFC - New England.  Last year it was Wes Welker, this year Aqib Talib. While the Welker move last season was more of a luxury, adding to an already potent WR core, this season they were able to address a major need at CB. Talib, when healthy, is one of the best DB's in all of the NFL. Last year he was hobbled late in the year and it killed the Patriots down the stretch. If he is able to stay healthy into the playoff this season, watch out. They didn't stop at Talib, grabbing another DB in TJ Ward to help shore up defensive secondary. Ward was a Pro Bowl caliber safety in Cleveland. It is a little strange that they let him walk without putting up much of a fight. That aside, if he comes in as advertised, the Broncos biggest weakness just got two major shots in the arm. Finally, we come to DeMarcus Ware. The long time Dallas All-Pro fell victim to a numbers game for the cap starved Cowboys. Their loss is Denver's huge gain as the rich keep getting richer. All in all a big first three days of free agency for the Broncos.

Philadelphia Eagles
Key Acquisitions: Darren Sproles, Malcolm Jenkins, Nolan Carroll

Somewhere Chip Kelly is a very happy man. Having a two headed monster at running back featuring possibly the best all around back in LaSean McCoy and now the most elusive back in Darren Sproles will make them a match-up nightmare on offense. They also went out and added two nice pieces to the secondary in Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll. One of the leagues worst pass defenses just got a lot better. Minor signings of Punter Donnie Jones, Safety Chris Maragos and Linebacker Bryan Braman should also not go unmentioned. There is still some work to be done of defense and you know Kelly would like to add another big receiver -- plenty to be had in the draft -- but this is a very good start.

Miami Dolphins
Key Acquisitions: Brandon Albert, Earl Mitchel

The offensive line was a nightmare all season for the Dolphins. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked for than any other QB in the NFL. Its hard to win football games with your QB spending half the game on his backside. They shipped out the trouble in Jonnathan Martin (to SF) and Richie Incognito (UFA). In comes big tackle Brandon Albert from Kansas City. Albert was a guy they Dolphins had unsuccessfully tried to acquire at this time last season. He will be a big time difference maker on the left side. The signing of nose tackle Earl Mitchel might be one of the more underrated moves of the off-season to date. Mitchel is a big body and very athletic for his size and position. He is widely regarded as one of the better young gap penetraters in the league and should instantly improve the Dolphins descriptiveness on defense.


Dallas Cowboys

Really poor cap management led to the releases of two players the Cowboys very much needed to keep around in DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. They have been able to restructure a couple of contracts to finally get under the cap but have no flexibility to go out and sign free-agents to make the team better. They will have to rely on the draft, which for Jerry Jones has not been a strong suit in recent years. It is time for Jerry to take a step back and bring in an actual GM who knows what he is doing.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have more money than any other team this off-season and yet here they sit, unable to bring in a marquee name. Darrell Revis wouldn't even talk to them. The QB's are running in another direction. They thought they had signed Roger Saffold before team doctors failed his physical leading to the player signing back with the Rams. What a mess.

New Orleans Saints

What a mess the Darren Sproles situation had become. First they were releasing him, then trading him. They told the player one thing, but did another. All in all just bad business. They also are walking a fine line with TE Jimmy Graham, probably 1 of the two players (Drew Bress being the other) that you just don't want to alienate.


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