NFL Offseason Transactions Ending 03/22/09
Total Pro Sports – Who’s In
The big winners of the post season so far have been the Patriots. They already picked up Fred Taylor, Sam Baker (a relative unknown, but the Pats are great spotters of talent – do you remember that relative unknown Wes Welker?) and the 34th overall pick in the draft, and this week they focused on their weaknesses by upgrading their secondary with the acquirement of Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden. I’ve said before that I’m a big Bodden fan and blame horrible Lions’ management for his down year and not the player, so the Pats have really stolen one here. Springs’ talent is too often hidden behind injury and an aging body.
They also added Joey Galloway who is enough of a deep threat to draw the attention of safeties and clear the middle of the field for Welker; the Pats don’t need an elite number 2, just enough to turn Randy Moss triple teams into doubles. Greedily the Patriots look set to sign one of the league’s premier rush experts, Julius Peppers. On paper he should fit into a 3-4 since he has the speed and technique to shed one-on-one blockers, but there is an element of doubt and he isn’t getting any younger; having said that these are minor criticisms of what is a serious upgrade to the meager New England pass rush of 2008.
The cost of all these moves? Aging Mike Vrabel would have been replaced in the draft anyway and Matt Cassell, who holds zero value to New England. They’re hard to like, but you have to admit that New England have dominated free agency. Entering the draft they can do whatever they want with their only priority being youth at linebacker, and may even take a shot on an elite runner like Knowshon Moreno or Chris Wells in the first.
In other moves the Ravens bizarrely put pen to paper with former Eagle LJ Smith; the guy can’t catch and isn’t a phenomenal blocker to make up for it, so what are the Ravens really doing? Remember when Todd Heap was good and they threw his way more than 35 times in a season? Baltimore management would cite his inability to stay healthy, but even when he was in the line-up he wasn’t used. LJ Smith is like Todd Heap but worst in every way, so I don’t get this move. Last week I heralded the free agency full back class at the top of which sat Leonard Weaver, well Weaver found a new home as an Eagle which was surprising since Brian Westbrook doesn’t necessarily need a conventional lead blocker. Sure he’ll love a talented blocker like Weaver in front of him, but Westbrook’s skills suit broken play and nifty cuts not driving between tackle and guard. Maybe Andy Reid will use him more as McNabb’s personal protector when Westbrook splits out on swing routes. Speaking of former Seahawks, Bobby Engram got a job as a Kansas City Chief: old and injury prone, I doubt he makes an impact.
Matt ‘Coke’ Jones was cut by the Jags after mid season cocaine issues, and character problems combined with a possible suspension are a shame for a physically gifted player who could have done something in the league. Maybe he gets picked up, but it won’t be for a lot of money and he won’t be the focus of a team like he would have been in Jacksonville. Oh and when Carolina lose Peppers they’re getting an F for their off season effort. Do they know they are allowed to sign players as well as lose one of the most talented defensive linemen in the league? So much for consolidating on a promising season.
3 to Watch…
1) Bit of a selfish one here since I am a Browns fan, but the next week could be the difference between 2-14 or 9-7. Is Edwards on the block? Does Shaun Rogers get the release he wants? What role does Mangini have in the Cutler ordeal, and does Quinn become a Bronco? Donte Stallworth’s punishment?
2) I talked like it’s a done deal but Jerry Jones is just about crazy enough to hijack this deal from the Patriots, and make Peppers a Cowboy.
3) When speculating about Cutler’s future in a recent post, I mentioned the Browns and lo and behold they get involved. The other team I mentioned was the Eagles since McNabb for Cutler and a whole bunch of picks make a lot of sense for both sides. I’m just saying.