It is impossible for an NFL team win or lose a Super Bowl in March. The transactions that take place this month cannot be judged until the next January, at the earliest, and likely cannot be accurately judged for at least two to three years down the road -- which as Tuesday's release of Nnamdi Asomugha tells us, is the shelf-life of most free agent contracts.
That said, it's always interesting to see which teams seemed to lose ground in the first day of the process, and here are five teams who appear to have done just that. (Click here to see the big winners from the first day of free agency):
Baltimore Ravens: Quick -- who are the Ravens' current linebackers? Well, we know who's out the door at this point. Ray Lewis retired, Dannell Ellerbee was signed by the Miami Dolphins, and Paul Kruger was picked up by the Cleveland Browns. Add to that the loss of receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick, and the defending Super Bowl champions certainly look a bit picked off right now. The good news is that general manager Ozzie Newsome is one of the more adept personnel people in the NFL, but for a guy who insisted during Super Bowl week that his team was setting up to engineer a multi-year run, Newsome has a lot of holes to fill.
Oakland Raiders: The current Raiders front office, led by the able Reggie McKenzie, is still paying for the sins of the past. On Tuesday, they cut loose two former first-round disappointments set up for them by the late Al Davis in receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and safety Michael Huff. Davis had a history (at least a recent history) of blowing it big with high picks, and that can take years to overcome. In addition, the cap-strapped Raiders lost perhaps their best defensive lineman, tackle Desmond Bryant, to the Cleveland Browns. ESPN.com's Bill Williamson puts it best: as it stands now, the Raiders have just three set starters on defense -- lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Miles Burriss, and safety Tyvon Branch. At least to this point, they've decided to stick with veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and his $13 million base salary. Perhaps they have a plan in which Palmer can play defense as well.
New York Jets: The Darrelle Revis situation is just getting silly. Reports on Tuesday indicated that at least one team (most likely the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) was interested in taking Revis off the hands of new general manager John Idzik, but Idzik has said that he will take his time and consider offers for the star cornerback. It's hard to know which way the Jets will go in this, because they seem hamstrung by the whims of owner Woody Johnson -- and as Dallas Cowboys fans will tell you, it's rarely a good thing when the team owner is running personnel. If Idzik waits too long to pull the trigger and drops Revis' overall trade value, it will be a major hit to a franchise that can't take too many more and expect to win any time in the near future. On the plus side, Idzik, who is an able salary cap manager (one thing that could never be said of his predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum), restructured the contracts of receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
San Diego Chargers: When you already have a really bad offensive line, replacing Louis Vasquez with King Dunlap isn't really the way to do. The Chargers lost Vasquez, their best lineman in 2012, to the Broncos, who signed him to a four-year, $23.5 million contract. Like the Raiders, the Chargers are paying for the mismanagement of a previous regime, but Vasquez was one of the few things former general manager A.J. Smith got right in recent years.
Minnesota Vikings: Losing their second-best offensive weapon in Percy Harvin was a net gain in the big picture -- the Vikings got another first-round pick (and other picks) out of the deal. But the release of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield had a lot of people around the NFL scratching their heads. Winfield was 35 years old last season, but he was still a highly effective slot defender, and a great leader and mentor for Minnesota's young starting secondary. Moreover, according to Winfield, the Vikings didn't even try to re-structure his contract before cutting him, and they did it by summoning him upstairs to the office of general manager Rick Speilman while Winfield was in the team facility, working out. Speilman later said that he wanted to leave the door open for Winfield's return at a lower salary, but veterans who admit to feeling "blindsided" by their releases don't generally re-sign with the teams who made them feel that way.