So what happened to that much-anticipated quiet first weekend of NFL free agency?
Fiscal responsibility seemed to give way to fiscal madness.
How else can we explain what we saw in the first three days of free agency? It was quick-paced, just like in years past, with money being thrown around like some baseball teams do it.
The uncapped year and all the talk of how teams would hold the line gave way to the urge to fill holes quickly. A free-agent group, which some personnel people said was the old, the lame and the sick, seemed to cash in big.
Wonder what it would have been like if they were young and healthy?
If the rules were what they were a year ago, there would have been almost 200 more free agents on the market. It would have been even worse.
Instead of marquee players -- those young, 26-ish players -- getting the deals, teams spent on what was out there: older players who are mostly on the down slope of their career, with a few exceptions.
Here's a prediction: Not one of the players who signed deals or were traded over the weekend will be the difference in their teams winning a Super Bowl.
Not one. That's why it was so hard to say good things about many of the moves. There was simply too much overspending for the sake of spending.
It sure wasn't quiet.
Here's a quick look at the first three days of free agency:
I like the move OK, but the money was way too high
Karlos Dansby is a good player. He is not worth what the Miami Dolphins paid him. The Cardinals wanted him back, but only at the right price. They didn't see him as a difference maker. The Dolphins obviously do. Paying him a contract that includes $22 million in guaranteed money to play inside is a lot of money. Good player. But the position isn't a value spot -- and they paid him that way.
Nice under-the-radar move
Tony Pashos played well for the 49ers before getting hurt last season. He is a road-grading right tackle who will help the Browns offensive line, teaming with Joe Thomas to give them a solid tandem. Pashos isn't great in pass protection, so he needs to work on that. But he didn't cost all that much.
What's this move say about your drafting?
The Broncos signing of nickel corner Nathan Jones -- I like the move, but what does it say for their move in last year's draft to trade a first-round pick in this year's draft to take corner Alphonso Smith in the second round? Smith didn't do a lot for the Broncos as a rookie, so maybe they have concerns. With Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman as the starters, the Broncos need a nickel corner to emerge. If Jones is that guy, maybe they blew the Smith move, which cost them the No. 14 pick in this year's draft, now owned by Seattle.
The saving-our-jobs moves
That's what Bears general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith were trying to do when they signed Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor in the first day of free agency. Peppers is a good player, who could be great, but giving him a deal that pays him $40 million in the first three years is a risky move for a 30-year-old end. Taylor is no kid either at 30, old for a back. But it doesn't matter if they don't work out for Angelo and Smith. If they don't, they won't be around to take the heat. They'll be looking for work.
He's not who you think he is
There are a lot of national media members slobbering over the Ravens trading for Anquan Boldin. I am not one of them. I believe Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is one of the best in football, and he has a great staff underneath him, but I don't think Boldin is the answer in their seemingly endless search for a No. 1 receiver. He can't stretch a field. Is he tough? You bet. But No. 1 receivers run by corners in press coverage. He doesn't. He's better than anything the Ravens had last year, but to think he puts them over the top in the division, which many are now saying, is absurd. As one league source said, "I think they'll have buyer's remorse." I do too. Boldin has done some selfish things -- see not celebrating with his team on the field after they won the NFC Championship Game last year -- but he isn't considered a Terrell Owens-style hothead. Free pass? Maybe. But the Ravens' locker-room leaders can handle that. As for his inability to run by corners, there is no fixing that -- especially as he ages.
|He's not a free-agent acquisition, but recently acquired Anquan Boldin won't be the answer for the Ravens. (Getty Images)|
The best fill-a-need move
Even though they paid him a ton, the Atlanta Falcons filled a major need in signing corner Dunta Robinson. He's a major upgrade over what they had and is the current regime's best corner in their two years there. Robinson, 28, will start, probably opposite either second-year player Christopher Owens or Brent Grimes. Veteran Brian Williams was also re-signed. Robinson's signing will allow the Falcons to focus on other positions in the draft, maybe defensive end or even an offensive lineman. The price was high, but the move makes sense.
The pressure-is-all-on-you-kid move
The Carolina Panthers said goodbye to Jake Delhomme in an emotional move for the team last Thursday. That puts a ton of pressure on Matt Moore, who took over last season when Delhomme broke his finger and played well down the stretch. The Panthers showed what they felt about Moore when they gave him the highest tender as a restricted free agent. He was 4-1 as a starter, so he's their guy -- at least for now. Expect the Panthers to sign a veteran quarterback at some point.
Despite the numbers that explain how pass rushers aged 30 and above really slow down, we had three teams paying big money to three of them in the first three days. We saw Peppers sign with the Bears, Kyle Vanden Bosch sign with the Lions and Aaron Kampman, coming off a torn ACL, sign with the Jaguars. History shows these are risky moves. There have been 17 men ages 30 or above who have finished in the top 10 in sacks in the past 10 years. Four repeated that feat in another year. One retired. Of the 12 who didn't repeat, they saw their sack numbers go from an average of 13.8 sacks to five. That's significant, to say the least.
Teams that sat out the first couple of days on the sidelines were the smartest of them all. Most of these players are on the market for a reason. There is no way you should be overpaying for good players with great money. Teams that draft well -- see Steelers and Colts -- don't need to dive into the free-agency pool -- or pond, as it may be.
The nobody's-open move
Yes, Antonio Cromartie might have some issues. Yes, he freelances at times. But he is a perfect fit for what the Jets do. They love to play press coverage in Rex Ryan's defense, and Cromartie can do that. He joins Darrelle Revis to give Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine a great pair of man cover corners. The price of a third-round pick was fair.
I can't believe he's still on the sideline
Why has no team taken a run at Rams safety O.J. Atogwe? With the way the Rams tendered him, there will be no compensation if the Rams choose not to match. There's always the chance they would match it, but why not take a shot? The kid is a young, rising player who has range and hits. Why isn't he getting nibbles?