Monday, March 03, 2008

2008 Free Agency: Instant Winners (cont'd)

Here is how a pro does his winners and losers list. My three "instant winners" from last night's post appear on John Clayton's list of five winners, which I think I'll take as a good thing (he's in the football writers Hall of Fame or something, right?). To the Dolphins, Eagles, and Vikings, Clayton adds the Browns and the Jags.

I could almost put the Browns ahead of the Eagles and the Vikings but for my reservations about the Shaun Rogers trade. The other moves are great. I love the trade for Corey Williams. He's a good young player who I think projects well as a 3-4 end, as I noted when I included him on my All Free Agent team. And Donte Stallworth, who you wouldn't want to bring in as your number one receiver, is perfect as a complement to Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius. And I'm 100% behind re-signing Derek Anderson to a three-year deal. But the Rogers trade, man, I don't know. Talk about boom or bust. Leigh Bodden might not have been a great corner—he struggled more in 2007 than in previous seasons—but he's a solid starter. To part with him and a third round pick in what I think is shaping up to be one of the deeper drafts in recent memory (even the receiver position, which is weak at the top, will offer quite a few nice prospects in the second and third rounds), that's a lot for a guy who hasn't been dependable over the past couple of seasons. There's no doubt Rogers has All-Pro talent—he displayed it at times as recently as last season. And if he can keep himself in shape and play like that consistently, we'll look back and say the Browns were the big winners this off season. But that's not a bet I would make at this point.

I respectfully completely disagree with Clayton's take on the Jags. They overpaid for Jerry Porter, who would have been worth bringing in only at a lesser price. And the Troy Williamson trade just adds another first-round wide receiver bust to a roster filled with them. I'd rather have former Jag wide out Ernest Wilford any day (surprisingly Clayton doesn't even feel Wilford warrants a mention in his Miami paragraph). Cornerback Drayton Florence was toasted, popped up, and toasted again for San Diego in 2007. He's not going to help the Jags pass defense any more than Aaron Glenn did last year. And I'm not so sure that Cleo Lemons is an upgrade at backup quarterback over Quinn Gray.

So if it's not the Jags, who would my fifth "winner" be so far? How about the Dallas Cowboys. As a general rule, I believe less is definitely more in free agency, and Dallas has barely made a peep. Zach Thomas seems to be fine health-wise, what with the Patriots, Saints, and Cowboys all checking him out and giving him the OK. If so, he should be an upgrade over Akin Ayodele who was a better fit in the Parcells 3-4 than in Wade Phillips' scheme. Resigning Flozell Adams to a big contract might not have been the smartest move when you consider his age, but when you consider the other options at left tackle in free agency and after about the fifteenth pick of the draft—well, there aren't really any other options, at least not that can help immediately. Bringing Adams back seems like a necessary move for a team coming off of a 13-3 season. And by trading Jason Ferguson Dallas jumps up about 30 picks to the top of the sixth round and gains an extra sixth rounder for next year.

Honorable mention: the Detroit Lions. I believe strongly in building a defense from the front back (well who doesn't after that last Super Bowl, right?). But, the Lions just had to rid themselves of the Shaun Rogers conditioning soap opera. And, hey, not only did they get something in return for him. They picked up a solid starter at a position of need and a nice little third round pick to boot. Props to Mr. Millen for that one.

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