Six Points: Early birds

Cris Carter
Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sports' Cris Carter puts six points on the board on the teams that fared the best one week into free agency.

1. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens put themselves in position to be well under the salary cap – approximately $14 million under – and went out and got two quality players who have been in winning programs in wide receiver Derrick Mason and cornerback Samari Rolle.

Both Mason and Rolle were arguably the best players at their positions in free agency, and the Ravens accomplished the two things they needed most: adding a wide receiver and replacing a cornerback (Gary Baxter) in an already great defense. That's why Baltimore is ahead of the pack right now.

2. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks managed to keep their Big Three of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander and tackle Walter Jones. The ability to sign them was crucial. Sometimes, it's not always about going out into the market to add talent. There were really no better players for the Seahawks to acquire at those positions. They deserve high marks for maintaining three of their cornerstones.

3. Dallas Cowboys
I'm really surprised the Cowboys spent so much money on cornerback Anthony Henry, who got a five-year, $25 million contract with an $11 million signing bonus. Just last year, Bill Parcells was quoted as saying that, with the way the illegal contact rules were being enforced, a shutdown corner was non-existent. But I think Henry can be a significant player in that defensive system.

I love the pick-up of quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who has a lot of football left in him, and the signings of defensive tackle Jason Ferguson and guard Marco Rivera. The Cowboys are really on the road to something special.

4. Arizona Cardinals
Dennis Green wants a big, massive offensive line that would mirror what he had in Minnesota. That's why he began free agency by signing 6-foot-5, 322-pound tackle Oliver Ross from Pittsburgh.

By bringing in Kurt Warner on a one-year deal, Green finally has the competition he wants at quarterback. Having an accurate passer like Warner, who completed 62.8 percent of his throws with the Giants last season, can only help the Cardinals' young receiving corps. The level of practices will be so much higher, and I believe Warner can win the starting job over Josh McCown.

Green also added a player whom he brought into the league in safety Robert Griffith. Griffith will be a great addition to a program that is slowly being rebuilt the right way.

5. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings definitely addressed their defensive needs by signing defensive tackle Pat Williams and cornerback Fred Smoot. With someone like Williams, who's a great first- and second-down player, Kevin Williams can become a really special player. We saw glimpses of Kevin Williams becoming a dominant player the last two years, but he'll be even better with Pat Williams next to him.

By going out and getting a shutdown corner in Smoot, the Vikings arguably have one of the better defensive secondaries with Smoot and cornerback Antoine Winfield. Both are very aggressive cornerbacks who can play man-to-man coverage and, more importantly, can both play the run.

6. Detroit Lions
You always need an enforcer in a collision sport like football, and the Lions found one in safety Kenoy Kennedy. Every wide receiver in the NFC had better be on notice because Kennedy is one of the hardest hitters in the NFL. Kennedy doesn't get the recognition he deserves as an all-around player.

For two years, you didn't know what the Lions were doing, but now you can see that they have an actual plan in place. They found an upgrade at tight end in Marcus Pollard, and if they can get a quarterback in there to create some competition and push Joey Harrington, they could be a sleeper in the NFC North now that Green Bay is getting weaker and Randy Moss is no longer in Minnesota.

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