And so it begins… One day down, 332 more to go until Super Bowl 50. As a life-long fan of the Washington Redskins, this is usually the time of year that I ignore logic and buy in to the hype that each grossly overpaid player brings to Washington. I mean, we are perennial off-season champions. This article may sound like a warning, and to fans of some teams it certainly is.
If you happened to take a nap yesterday afternoon or just did not feel like perusing your favorite sports website, you may have missed your team gaining or losing a star player. Jimmy Graham is now a Seahawk, Darrelle Revis is a Jet… again, Ndamukong Suh now swimming with Dolphins. Where individual players go is always interesting, but looking at what a team does for the big picture is far more telling.
Championship teams are not bought in free agency, at least not in one season. The wholesale change of the Philadelphia Eagles is something I can’t remember seeing before, certainly not by a playoff contender. It makes sense for teams like the Jaguars and Raiders to try anything to get out of the hole, but the Eagles are a conundrum. Chip Kelly certainly brought in players who have shown talent, but seemingly is just swapping out players at every position. Getting Sam Bradford for Nick Foles, replacing LeSean McCoy with Ryan Mathews, getting Byron Maxwell in place of Cary Williams. With player control finally in Chip Kelly’s hands, perhaps he is not in that “win now” mode of thinking. This could be Kelly’s foundation for a team that will be a contender two or three years down the road.
The best free agent moves are the ones that often go under the radar. Often times, a back-up or declining player who will get a fresh start in a new location. A player who did not cost much, added to a core roster that already was successful. Priest Holmes was a back-up on the Super Bowl winning Ravens in 2000, went to Kansas City and had three of the most productive years any running back has ever had. Mike Vrabel was a back-up for the Steelers, collecting a total of 25 solo tackles in 4 years. He went to the Patriots and had 63 in his first year on route to a Super Bowl ring. And of course the cursed Raiders players, who found new teams and had career renaissances (Randy Moss to NE & Charles Woodson to GB). As much as Ndamukong Suh might be the key piece for the Dolphins, perhaps someone like A.J. Hawk will make all the difference in Cincinnati. The point being that we have no idea how all these moves will play out, could these guys be Reggie White or Albert Haynesworth? Only time will tell.
Some teams believe in their scouting and system (Patriots, Seahawks), some attempt to acquire talent to put them over the edge (Colts – having signed established veterans Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Trent Cole), and most teams are content to keep things mostly the same (Packers, Bengals). We won’t know who got it right this year, until next February.
The time for acquisition is not over, plenty of players are still on the market and of course… the draft.