While there are still some free agents yet to land, the whirlwind part of the period seems to be very much over. All 32 teams were looking to bolster their teams by picking guys up, or turning guys loose. As of March 23rd, these are the teams that I see that have won in free agency, and those teams that have lost.
WINNER: Buffalo Bills.
Mario Williams was expensive. So be it. It’s a big league move by a team that has looked like they’ve been mizers with their cash, and they didn’t just make the move to look good, it really does help. Buffalo literally limped to the end of the season last year with a plethora of injuries. If healthy, with both Williams and Mark Anderson who’ve they’ve added to the defense as well, they can be a team that is taken seriously for an entire season next year, not just six weeks.
LOSER: Cincinnati Bengals.
$30 plus million dollars under the cap, and the most they do is Benjarvis Green-Ellis? Those two first rounders may cost a few bucks, but nowhere near what it would have cost them a few years ago. Also, remember Green-Ellis will SHARE time with Bernard Scott. He won’t even be the feature back. Maybe bringing back Pac-Man Jones is a bigger deal than any of us think?
WINNER: New England Patriots
The Patriots are the best example of being able to augment a team without going crazy. A couple of solid but conservative moves that helps out an already stellar offense, the Patriots seem to do this every year. Donte Stallworth might not sell many jerseys, but Brandon Lloyd is a veteran who will step right in and contribute to that football team. Giving Lloyd a quarterback like Tom Brady will make sure he is still a threat. Lloyd was open to staying in St. Louis, but some money, a far better football team and quarterback changes minds. Lloyd is like any good receiver in that he is selfish by nature because he has to be. And he’s not stupid.
LOSER: Washington Redskins
Any Robert Griffin III fan (if he is taken by the Redskins) will see him tested greatly. While they signed Pierre Garcon, that may be one of the very few weapons Griffin gets with lost draft picks over the next few years. Losing $36 mill in cap space over the next two seasons because of penalty hurts too. If they had picks, it could be a blessing in disguise considering how many failures Dan Snyder has had trying to build through free agency. If Robert Griffin III doesn’t meet and exceed most expectations, this could turn the Redskins back for years to come.
WINNER: John Elway
For months John Elway went back and forth on whether or not Tim Tebow should be his quarterback. Tebow was part of teams that won and became a leader in the locker room, but common sense told Elway that Tebow is not an NFL quarterback. With the hysteria over Tebow, it looked like Elway would have to bite the bullet and keep Tebow in until NFL defenses figure out how to stop option plays and jump passes.
Then Peyton Manning decided he wanted to go to Denver. If I were John Elway, I may still be on a celebration bender with Karl Mecklenburg. Elway was given the only conceivable way out when Manning chose the Broncos. Manning is a living legend, his neck checks out fine, and fans can’t hate Elway because it’s Peyton Manning. Tebow may be inspiration to millions, but there’s no question who Elway’s savior is.
LOSER: Tim Tebow
While I’ve never seen a press conference for a back up quarterback, it can’t make Tebow feel great to know that he was traded for two, Day Two picks. Plus he enters a locker room where guys already resent him (see Antonio Cromartie), and a head coach who swears every other word. Tebow started for a team that was down on itself, and helped them get to the playoffs last year. He now joins an underachieving powder keg full of players who seemed more interested in their quotes in the New York Times than winning football games. All jokes aside, Tebow is a great team player, and this may be his toughest mission yet.
LOSER: Miami Dolphins
Will it be Peyton Manning? Will it be Matt Flynn? Will it be Robert Griffin III? Nope. It’ll be David Garrard.
LOSER: Cleveland Browns
The Browns are only losers for not picking up the phone. Leaving out draft trades they still passed on affordable, quality players like Eric Winston. Frostee Rucker is technically an upgrade. When you have to use the word “technically” about an upgrade, you’ve failed.
WINNER: Colt McCoy
Depending on what they do in the draft (and I wouldn’t recommend any other quarterbacks this draft) Colt will get one more shot to be the quarterback for the Browns. He should have been able to show it at least once last year that he can be a franchise quarterback but he never did. This coming year he should have a better line, more experience in the coaching staff, another wide receiver, and possibly another running back. It’s his last chance. All the excuses for him will have been exhausted, like many fans.