August 01, 2011
As much as free-agency hits and misses help shape a team, the Super Bowl could have been won or lost over the past seven days. We can't know for sure how things will shake out -- some of the guys listed below absolutely will turn into overpaid, under-producing albatrosses around the necks of the teams unfortunate enough to employ them, but for now, there's no reason not to be optimistic. These are the five teams that most put themselves in a position to improve with their free-agency moves.
1. Philadelphia Eagles. It's been a pretty thorough domination of free agency by the Eagles. Not only did they surprise everyone by landing the big prize in Nnamdi Asomugha(notes), their top-notch secondary is also now matched by their front four with the signings of Cullen Jenkins(notes) and Jason Babin(notes). They also did well with the Kevin Kolb(notes) trade, moving their backup quarterback for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie(notes) and a second-round draft pick. Then they went out and signed Vince Young(notes), who, if he's ready to accept the full Andy Reid treatment, could still turn out to be a better quarterback than Kolb.
2. Arizona Cardinals. ... but the Cardinals hope that doesn't happen. Kolb's their big offseason prize, but under the radar, the Cardinals did pretty well with free agents, too. Stewart Bradley(notes) immediately upgrades the linebacking corps, and Daryn Colledge(notes) will help stabilize the offensive line. Todd Heap(notes), if he's healthy (a gigantic "if," I grant you -- I'd put it in 72-point font if they'd let me) will be a nice outlet and red zone target for Kolb when Larry Fitzgerald(notes) is being octuple-teamed.
3. Seattle Seahawks. History suggests that there's not much of a future in being a big-money wide receiver signing with the Seahawks, but Sidney Rice(notes) hopes to reverse that trend. He'll have to do it with the help of Charlie Whitehurst(notes) or Tarvaris Jackson(notes), but we'll save that for another day. This is a post for optimism. Robert Gallery(notes) is a nice addition at guard, too, and keeping Brandon Mebane(notes) in town was big. One gets the feeling that Seattle is moving in the right direction.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars. It didn't take a general managing prodigy to figure out that the Jaguars needed help on defense. They gave up 250 passing yards per game last year, and let opposing quarterbacks post a 98.5 QB rating against them. Only the Texans were worse. They also gave up 4.7 yards per carry on the ground, and 122 rushing yards per game. So while identifying the deficiency wasn't difficult, credit them for addressing it thoroughly: Paul Posluszny(notes) and Clint Session(notes) at linebacker, and Dawan Landry(notes) at safety. They missed out on Eric Weddle(notes), but can live with it because they'd have had to overpay to get him.
5. Houston Texans. How many times did you see the Texans last year and say, "If they just had a little bit of a secondary, they'd be dangerous." Well, they should have a little bit of a secondary now, with quality cornerback Johnathan Joseph(notes) in the mix, as well as Danieal Manning(notes) at safety.
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