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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Free-agent recap: The insanity has just begun

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The Redskins make a sly move by grabbing Stephen Bowen from a division rival. (Getty Images)  
The Redskins make a sly move by grabbing Stephen Bowen from a division rival. (Getty Images)  

They said it would be wild like a jet-ski ride on six-foot seas.

They were right.

NFL free agency 2011 has been like none other and one we may never see again. Thanks to the lockout -- you remember that, right? -- free agency was pushed from March until this week. And even though teams couldn't officially sign players until Friday, the action has been fast and furious.

Teams began agreeing to deals as soon as the negotiating period opened on Tuesday, and it hasn't stopped.

We've had trades, free-agent moves, releasing of former star players (or supposed stars in Vince Young's case) and draft picks signing on the dotted line.

Oh, by the way, camps opened up.

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Since it's three days in, I thought it a good time to take a quick look at some of the moves that have been made.

Just remember: It's not over. Not close to it.

Get that motion-sickness medicine ready. The wild ride continues.

Best-filling-of-a team-need move: The Texans' signing of Bengals corner Johnathan Joseph. They were horrible in the secondary last year, finishing last in pass defense. With Joseph, they can move Glover Quin to free safety, which is his more natural position. If second-year corner Kareem Jackson, who flashed at times as a rookie but was inconsistent, can step up his game to the level expected, the Texans should be much improved in pass defense. The targeting of the Colts and Peyton Manning continues.

The-sequel-move: The Eagles didn't think enough of end Jason Babin to bring him back after one season with them in 2009. So he goes to Tennessee and gets 12 1/2 sacks and now the Eagles love him. I know Jim Washburn, his line coach at Tennessee, is now in Philly and they will use him as a 9-technique end, which is what he excels at playing. But they gave a 31-year-old, one-year wonder a five-year deal for $28 million. Wow.

I'm-comfortable-in-the-background move: Why would Matt Leinart agree to stay in Houston? Matt Schaub is there. Why not go to Seattle with a chance to play. That's telling to me about him. Some guys are just cut out to be in the background.

Little-known-steal move: The Redskins agreeing to a deal with Dallas defensive end Stephen Bowen. He really came into his own last year when Marcus Spears went down, and was one of the Cowboys better defensive players. At 27, he's the right age and he fits in the Redskins' 3-4 scheme.

Taking-care-of-your-own moves: That's what three teams did from the NFC South all did. The Panthers, Falcons and Bucs all spent on their own. I love the way Carolina will keep the core players. Did it overpay for DeAngelo Williams? You bet. The Panthers will pay way too much for an older back. But the thinking was they had to have Williams and Jonathan Stewart to take the pressure off their young quarterbacks. They also agreed to deals with defensive end Charles Johnson and linebackers Thomas Davis and James Anderson. They did trade for tight end Greg Olsen and spent on kicker Olindo Mare, but mostly it was taking care of their own. Tampa Bay had a ton of money to spend, but rather than poach free agents they agreed to deals with guard Davin Joseph, linebacker Quincy Black and tackle Jeremy Trueblood, three potential starters. The Falcons agreed with tackle Tyson Clabo and linebackers Mike Peterson and Stephen Nicholas, all key contributors on the 2010 team that won the division. These teams did it the right way

Rising-star-move: It has to be the Panthers bringing back Charles Johnson. They gave him a $72 million deal, but he is 25 and he had 11½ sacks last season. That's money well spent.

Get-off-the-rocker-grandpa, you're-our-quarterback moves: The Titans and Vikings, desperate for veteran passers, decided to acquire Matt Hasselbeck and Donovan McNabb. The Titans signed Hasselbeck to a three-year, $21-million deal, even though he is 35 and has played 16 games just once since 2005. Minnesota traded to get McNabb, who was a flop last year in Washington. Of the two, I like McNabb better, but why not just play the rookie first-round picks, Jake Locker in Tennessee and Christian Ponder in Minnesota? Are the Titans and Vikings playoff teams with the two veterans? Didn't think so.

Why-he's-a-genius-move: New England coach Bill Belichick is a wizard at picking up players for a ham sandwich. That's what he did when he acquired defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth for a 2103 fifth-round pick. There is little risk -- and maybe a lot of reward. Haynesworth, when motivated, is a top talent. And Belichick is as good as any at motivating players. If he can get one year out of him, like a coach told me Thursday, it's a good deal. I say he does.

Why-he's-not-a-genius-move: Do you really think an aging, slowing receiver will help the Patriots? That's what the Pats got when they traded to get Chad Ochocinco. They needed somebody who could get vertical. Ochocinco doesn't do that. Belichick and Tom Brady were masterful at scheming to hide their speed deficiencies last season. That will be tough to do again. This is a high-profile move, but not he's not nearly the player people think he is anymore.

Who-the-heck-is-your-quarterback move: The Seattle Seahawks will go into preseason with Charlie Whitehurst and free-agent signing Tarvaris Jackson as their quarterbacks. Is there any doubt they will be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes next spring?

Typical-Steelers move: The Steelers are a team that loves to keep their own. That's what they did in re-signing corner Ike Taylor. He is perfect for their scheme, a physical player who knows how to play zone and can play some man. Kevin Colbert is so underrated as a personnel man.

The-wait-and-see-approach: I know there are media members and fans wondering what Tampa Bay is doing. They have $50 million to spend and they aren't spending. They did re-sign Quincy Black. That was big. Just because you have money doesn't mean you have to spend it foolishly.

The-risk-reward-move: Is quarterback Kevin Kolb, who the Cardinals acquired from the Eagles, the next Matt Schaub or the next Scott Mitchell? I say he's more like the former, but there are questions. The Cardinals gave up a top corner in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick, plus agreed to pay Kolb $63 million. If he isn't the next Schaub, this is a move that will set the franchise back.

The-surprise-he's-standing-man: Why isn't Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards off the market? He plays a premier position and he was considered a top free agent. You hear some teams are turned off by his ways. I also hear some teams don't think he's nearly as good as advertised. "He might be a product of that defensive line," said one coach. Whatever the reason, he's still looking for a deal. (Editor's note: Report on Friday indicate Ray Edward is heading to the Falcons.)


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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