The Armchair Quarterback's Guide To The NFL: Free Agency Winners And Losers

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Nov 17, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd (31) celebrates his first half interception against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Armchair Quarterback’s Take Of The Week

Free Agency’s Early Winners And Losers

As I write this, the free agency signing period is less than 48 hours old. In that short amount of time there have been a ton of players signed and even more dollars spent. While no one will know if these moves were wise or foolish until these players take the field for their respective teams, it’s no fun to save judgement for six months. This is an instant feedback generation and I’m here to please. So this week I’ll take a look at some of free agency’s biggest winners and losers after the first two days of action.

Side note: I was originally going to run the second part of my draft pick analysis on what positions drafted resulted in the most wins this week, but to ignore the free agency hysteria that has griped NFL fans everywhere just felt wrong. So I apologize if anyone is disappointed, but I promise to bring part two next week.

This week it’s all about free agency and just like most years, some teams are doing it right and some teams are getting it all wrong. Let’s start with the winners. These are the five teams that I think have done the best in free agency so far.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have sent a clear statement to the rest of the league that they are all in on getting a Super Bowl before Peyton Manning retires. They have added some serious firepower to their defense with the additions of TJ Ward, Aqib Talib, and DeMarcus Ware. Plus, the contract that they did with Ward was well below the price of the other top safeties on the market, Jairus Byrd and Donte Whitner.

New England Patriots

After a quiet first day the Pats brought the thunder on day two when they signed Derrell Revis to a one year deal. If the Pats can give Tom Brady a few more weapons to work with and get some of their players back to 100% health, they can absolutely give Denver a run for their money.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals desperately needed a new starting left tackle. While there were reports that Arizona wanted Branden Albert, the birds wisely let Miami pay Albert more money and signed Jared Veldheer to a more manageable average of 7 million per year for five years. The move looks even better when you see that the Raiders tried to pay his replacement even more than he is making (more on that in a minute).

New York Giants

The Giants were beat up a lot last year and really struggled to run the ball. They added arguably the best guard on the market in Geoff Schwartz to help up front. I watched Schwartz in KC last season and he’s a great run blocker and an even better guy. I also like the addition of running back Rashad Jennings. Jennings is a physical runner who gets yards after contact. The addition of these two guys plus JD Walton as even more OL depth, should help take some pressure off of Eli Manning.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints paid out huge money to safety Jairus Byrd, but much like the Broncos and Patriots they are in “win now” mode while Drew Brees is still an elite passer. The Saints appeared to be running one step behind the Seahawks and the 49ers in the NFC and needed to add a difference maker in order to keep stride with them. Pairing Byrd with Kenny Vaccaro gives them a dynamic duo in the back of their secondary.

While those teams all made good moves thus far in free agency and gave their teams a great chance to compete next season there were also some teams that have missed the mark. Here are free agency’s five biggest losers so far.

Oakland Raiders

Do I even need to rehash it? They gave an injury prone, average tackle/above average guard elite left tackle money. Then he failed his physical. Then they gave an average RT too much money too, but at least he hasn’t flunked his physical. They also re-signed Darren McFadden and when McFadden isn’t your free agent signing with the most injury issues, you’re doing it wrong.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have traditionally been a very smart team when it came to free agency, but I just can’t justify giving an average safety like Mike Mitchell a five year contract worth 25 million dollars. The Steelers don’t have tons of cap space and have an aging roster that needs turned over. So if they were going to fork over big money to one player he needed to be a difference maker and I don’t think you can call Mitchell that. That money could have been better served elsewhere in my opinion.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys defense last season was absolutely abysmal. Their solution, don’t re-sign the extremely talented Jason Hatcher and cut one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, DeMarcus Ware. The sad part is that they won’t really be able to replace them for the same reason they had to let them go, they have no cap space. It’s hard to see the Cowboys taking any kind of step forward next season given the state of their roster.

The Denver Broncos’ Future

I know what you’re thinking, “ummm…..didn’t you have Denver on the FA winners list?” Why yes, yes I did. They made the winners list for what they did to make a run this year and for getting TJ Ward at a discounted rate. However, the big deals that they’ve given to Talib and Ware will seriously handicap this team financially down the road. If they win a Super Bowl and Manning retires I think you could see a Florida Marlins-esque roster purge to get rid of some of these high priced players. Either that or they’ll have to let some of their talented younger players walk when their current deals are up. Either way, not good. Now looks great, the future is going to get ugly.

The Fans Of The Packers And The Chiefs

Every die hard NFL fan has been living life attached to their Twitter feed, favorite blogs, and latest ESPN/NFL Network updates in hopes of hearing about an exciting new addition to their team. However, a few teams have done very little (if anything) during the initial spending spree. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. A lot of players are being over paid in the first couple of days and it’s probably wise to let other teams run up prices on certain players and then snatching up the most valuable players left. The problem is that this patient approach doesn’t indulge the news hungry fan bases. To make matters worse for KC fans, they’ve seen multiple starters leave in free agency so far. It’s not easy, but don’t give up hope yet, smart GMs go for value over sizzle. Value just doesn’t blow up your Twitter feed or get your favorite team talked about on ESPN.

So that’s my list of free agency’s biggest winners and losers thus far. What do you think? Am I off base on any of these? Am I overlooking anyone on either end of the spectrum? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. In the meantime, check out the Armchair QB Odds and Ends of the Week…………..

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