Other thoughts on the first weekend of free agency « Ol' Bag of Donuts

Other thoughts on the first weekend of free agency

So far, we at OBOD have covered the hell out of free agency as it relates to the Green Bay Packers and the rest of the NFC North.

(Okay, maybe we haven’t “covered the hell” out of it. But we’ve been good….solid….decent. Yeah, let’s stick with that – decent.)

But what about the rest of the NFL? After all, there has been activity outside of the division and, with it being Monday morning and all, it seems like a good time to expand our horizons and look at some of the other notable moves made. Some of these, of course, have Packers-related repercussions and we’ll mention them, as needed.

  1. Cardinals taking big steps back – After watching Kurt Warner retire awhile back, the Cardinals lost three more key players this past weekend. Arizona finally rid themselves of Anquan Boldin, trading the somewhat malcontent receiver and a fifth round pick this year to the Baltimore Ravens for third and fourth round picks this year. Boldin might have been a pain in the butt, but he’s also an elite talent who is as tough as they come. Steve Breaston is decent, but Boldin he is absolutely not (love this move for the Ravens, by the way, as Boldin finally gives them the big-time wideout they seemingly have never had). Another big loss comes in the form of middle linebacker Karlos Dansby – I remember seeing him do something big a couple of months ago, but I can’t remember what - signing with the Miami Dolphins (five years, $43 million with $22 mil guaranteed). Dansby, while not an elite ‘backer, is very good and was a great fit for that defense. The Cards also lost safety Antrel Rolle to the New York Giants (five years, $37 million with $15 mil guaranteed, more on that in a bit). It’s true that they replaced Rolle by trading a fourth round pick this year and a seventh next year to the New York Jets for safety Kerry Rhodes and that Rhodes is a good player. But Rolle was on the up and knew this scheme. It will take Rhodes time to learn it. Those moves, combined with Matt “Chubby Girls and Beer Bongs” Leinart now at quarterback, lead me to believe the NFC West is an open race. Well, unless you’re the Rams.
  2. The champs also appear to be losing some steam – The New Orleans Saints were dealt a considerable blow on defense as linebacker Scott Fujita signed a three year, $14 million deal with the Cleveland Browns. Fujita, while not a great player, was a very solid presence, both on and off the field. Things could get even worse if safety Darren Sharper bolts for another team (the Miami Dolphins, perhaps?). Sharper is 34, but is coming off of one of his best seasons yet and could still be a very good player for at least another year or two as he is a great fit in Gregg Williams’ scheme. The Saints seem to be making a push to get Sharper back, but they need to do more. If he leaves, that defense isn’t as good and they could go back to where they were a couple of years ago (i.e., a .500 team that wins eight games 45-41 and loses eight games by that same score). Right now, the Cards are definitely not as good as they were last year and the Saints could be heading that way, opening the door for other NFC teams….like maybe the Packers?
  3. Two contracts shed a light on how much the Packers will have to pay Collins and Pickett – If you thought Nick Collins was going to want big-time dough before, you have to think that tenfold now when you see the deal Rolle got – the richest ever for a safety. In two years of playing free safety – he’d been a corner, previously – Rolle recorded 139 tackles, five interceptions, 13 passes defended and 1.5 sacks (with a Pro Bowl appearance in 2009). Collins, over the past two years – playing in two different schemes – recorded 104 tackles, 13 interceptions, 28 passes defended and one sack (with two Pro Bowl appearances). Collins pretty much crushes Rolle in the key playmaking categories and, as a result, you have to think he will want much more than Rolle got. If Rolle is getting an average of over $7 million per, Collins likely will aim for the $8-$10 million-a-year range and, at this point, it’s hard to blame him. Thanks, New York. As for Ryan Pickett, you can now use the contract given to New England’s Vince Wilfork - five years, $40 million with $25 million in guaranteed money - as a barometer of sorts. Age-wise, the two are fairly similar (Pickett turns 31 in October while Wilfork turns 29 in November). And while Pickett is not in the same class as Wilfork, a truly elite 3-4 nose tackle, he’s not that far off and provides great value to Green Bay’s defense. If Wilfork got an average of $8 million per, it’s likely going to take $5 or $6 million on average to lock up Pickett.
  4. Cromartie deal not a slam dunk for the Jets – Many seem to be applauding the New York Jets for trading a third round pick in next year’s draft to San Diego for cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Those people have said that Cromartie’s pairing with Darrelle Revis (the second best corner in the game) gives the Jets the best corner tandem in football. While I disagree with them on that - Charles Woodson and Al Harris/Tramon Williams, anyone? – I’ll stick to the trade in this post. Here’s what Cromartie is: A guy who had one truly amazing season (2007, in which he recorded 10 picks) and two average ones since (five picks of the past two years combined). He’s also still griping about a new contract – even though he’s only been decent as of late – and has fathered seven children in five different states. I know Rex Ryan has a devil-may-care attitude about players with questionable character, just like his old man, but I also know that you don’t see too many Antonio Cromarties on championship teams. So glad the Packers didn’t pursue this guy.
  5. Bad trends building for Big Ben – Okay, so this one doesn’t have anything to do with free agency. But the accusations of sexual assault against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Georgia was one of the biggest NFL stories of the weekend. Now I have no idea whether or not the guy is guilty or not. In the end, that’s not up to me to decide, anyways. What I do know, though, is that a nasty trend is forming with him. This is the second time such accusations have been lobbed his way, remember. He beat the criminal charges, stemming from an incident in Nevada awhile back, and he may well beat these. But leaders – true leaders – simply do not put themselves in these spots. Can you ever see Joe Montana allowing himself to be put in such a spot in a million years? Or even a guy like Aaron Rodgers? Not a chance in hell. Sure, he’s won two Super Bowls and he’ll never have to pay for a drink in Pittsburgh again. But if you want to be truly great, Ben, and not be remembered simply as “the guy who kept getting accused of sexual assault”, you must stop allowing yourself to get caught in these situations. Okay, I’ll jump off my soapbox now.

-Chris Lempesis

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