NFL 2011 Free Agency Explosion

Hallelujah, praise the lord almighty, the NFL lockout is over!

Pro football has returned.

Tomorrow I will deal with the end of the lockout itself. Today is just some quick notes on some key free agency deals.

The Eagles were the big winners in the Nahmdi Asomugha sweepstakes, instantly vaulting them into a Super Bowl possibility. Yes, one player can make a difference, and Asomugha does. Deshean Jackson’s holdout could be a problem, but it is up to Walrus Lite Andy Reid to make sure that does not happen.

The Jets and Cowboys lost out on Asomugha, and the Jets were desperately trying to free up cap space. Due to their pursuit of Asomugha, they lost Brad Smith, who plays quarterback and returns kicks. He is an electric performer and losing him hurts. The Jets are still loaded, but these moves do hurt, especially in a “Super Bowl or bust” year.

The Raiders lost Charles Woodson a few years back and saw him win a Super Bowl with the Packers. Once again, the Raiders lost the best cornerback in the league. It will be another long year in Oakland. Despite being much improved, the Raiders have a rock hard schedule. Starting 0-5 is possible with a Monday Night road game in Denver, another road game, home games against New England and the Jets, and another road game. The schedule maker brutalized the Raiders this year.

Despite losing to the Jets in the playoffs last year, the Patriots did go 14-2 and somehow…again…got better. They picked up wide receiver Chad Johnson and malcontent defensive end Albert Haynesworth. Some will say that taking on problem children will wreck the team, but that does not happen with Bill Bellichick in charge. Players talk about “the Patriot way,” which means that he will cut players loose with no emotion if they don’t immediately conform to “the Bellichick way.” Other problem children such as Corey Dillon and Randy Moss fit right in the system. Haynesworth began his Patriots career by…what else? Missing a couple of practices.

The Chargers lost Darren Sproles to the Saints. This is a big loss for the Chargers, as Sproles is a game-breaker. The Saints then shipped Reggie Bush off to the Dolphins. Sproles is a much bigger impact player than Bush. Bush, while less overrated than fellow USC alum Matt Leinart, is expendable. There is no excuse for dating a Kardashian, but even that was less hollow than his performance on the field. He had moments of brilliance but long stretches of uselessness. The Saints could have won the Super Bowl without him, and he knew it. The fans never loved him like they did Deuce McCallister.

The Eagles trading Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals was expected, but I still do not see why everybody was fawning over Kevin Kolb. He hasn’t done anything. He has potential, but so does every other player in the league who has barely played. He started one game for the Eagles, got injured, and lost his job. Andy Reid got lucky with Michael Vick, leaving Kolb virtually untested. Anything Ken Whisenhunt brings in will be an upgrade from the departed Matt Leinart and a downgrade from the retired Kurt Warner. All Kolb needs to do is throw the d@mn ball high in the air and let Larry Fitzgerald catch it. Anybody outside of Captain Checkdown Leinart should be able to do that. So Kolb only has to be good enough.

The most maligned player in the league is Donovan McNabb. McNabb is often compared to Randall Cunningham because they are both running quarterbacks who did not win the big one. Cunningham revived his career when he left the Eagles (and football entirely for a year) and returned to the Vikings. McNabb is now with the Vikings and will be the starter. This fills the void left when Favre finally retired for real.

Oh, and yes there actually was a brief 2011 Favre-watch, but it was not to be. He is not going to the Eagles. He is staying on his ranch, mowing his lawn, and playing high school football with the neighborhood kids. He will not return because Deanna would kill him. The grizzled groundhog saw his shadow, and it was gray haired. He is retired. There will not be 6 months more of football.

The Eagles were determined to crowd the other 31 teams out of the news media, so they decided to take their umpteenth gamble and hire Vince Young. Young has a million dollar arm and a ten cent head, to quote “Bull Durham.” He is the backup to Michael Vick, and will look good holding a clipboard. Young could have owned Tennessee, and like Leinart, wasted away potential hero status. At least Young wins games, but he needs to learn how to win over a locker room again. If he acts like a team player this year he could get a starting job somewhere else. He is insurance because Vick runs crazy and gets into trouble on the field.

Jake Delhomme has been released by the Browns. Walrus Mike Holmgren likes Colt McCoy, and there is plenty to like. As for Dolhomme, he has never been the same since the shocking playoff loss to the Cardinals following the 2008 season. I still say his problem is psychological, and that he is not a washed up bum that his critics make him out to be. We shall see.

Kerry Collins retired from the Titans. The classy Collins admitted that he still has the fire on Sundays, but not the fire for training camp and every little thing it takes. He is a winner who overcame demons early on to have a great career. He will fall short of the Hall of Fame, but the Hall of Very Good should acknowledge him. With Collins, Vince Young, and Jeff Fisher all gone, the Mike Munchak era begins in Tennessee with much uncertainty.

The Denver Broncos are expected to return to prominence at some point because John Elway is now at the helm in the front office. He has Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton, and an attempt to trade Orton failed when he refused to restructure his contract. Orton is also one of the most underrated players in football. All the guy does is win. He is more than a game manager. Yet Tebow is a rock star, and that will win out.

The New Jon Fox team in Denver will be better than the misery he left behind in Carolina. The Panthers went 2-14 last year and may be worse this year. They lost Matt Moore to the Dolphins. Moore can actually play.

From the worst to the best…Peyton Manning has again shown why he is the consummate professional and company man. He has made it clear that he does not need to be the highest paid player in football. He wants to win. If less money means holding on to other key players, he is ready to do it. Every player in the league could learn from him. Money is transitory, but Super Bowl rings last forever.

Tomorrow I will delve into the lockout, and this post will be updated if events warrant.

For now, let’s just be glad the lockout is over.

Like much of America, I am ready for some football.


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