The NFL lockout has been long and tiresome. For those of us who have been following it closely, we understand that there are few more tiring things on the face of this earth than listening to all of politics, minutiae, and idiosyncrasies of it all.
The lockout is now over and a free agency period has been established, it’s going to be the craziest and most expensive game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos the world has ever seen.
I’m just going to try and highlight teams that are going to go after big name free agents or teams that I think are going to have a big impact on the free agency period. (List of course in no particular order.)
1. Washington Redskins- Apart from being my favorite football team are, like they are every year, a free agency disaster waiting to happen. When one talks about free agency one inevitably has to talk about the Redskins. For the past 20 years never have so many wrong decisions been made so consistently (Adam Archuleta comes to mind, I’m still mad about that).
However the focus has been letting the football guys handle the football stuff. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are in and Dan Snyder is out. It’s the same Redskins though and I think some big name player will be picked up.
It appears as though Washington will be rolling with John Beck as starting quarterback and will look to re-sign Rex Grossman to also compete for the job. Washington is in need of a wide receiver, a nose tackle, and a defensive back, among other things. Shanahan has expressed interest in Santonio Holmes. A big play receiver who can also come up big in the clutch.
For nose tackle the best available player that Washington would have a shot at is San Francisco’s Aubrayo Franklin. He didn’t get paid by San Francisco the way he would have liked and if they don’t pay him this year Washington might be a good fit.
At cornerback the Redskins should try to fix their burned bridge with Carlos Rogers. Going for a big name guy like Nnamdi Asomugha is risky. Rogers may not have golden hands. He many not intercept a lot of passes, but he keeps the receiver from catching the ball and that’s what counts. Pay the man. Please.
2. Arizona Cardinals- Are the front runners for the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes. As I’ve mentioned before, I think Kolb is highly overrated. We’ve taken this average quarterback and pole vaulted him into elite status. This of course means that he is not only one of the most sought after quarterbacks on the trading block, but he’s being considered the best available option. I think Arizona is going to take the bait and trade for Kolb.
The Cardinals had more than there fair share of quarterback woes. Their starters ended up being Derek Anderson and Max Hall. There’s no way they don’t go after the most overhyped quarterback in the free agency/trade period.
To address their linebacker needs I think that Arizona will like likely go after Minnesota’s Chad Greenway to address their needs. Greenway is a solid linebacker, but he’ll have to go through a system change. Greenway currently plays in the Vikings 4-3 and will have to make the conversion to the 3-4 that the Cardinals play. Another player to look at would be Washington’s Rocky McIntosh. McIntosh struggled when Washington switched to the 3-4, but he has more experience than Greenway and it appears that the Redskins aren’t looking to re-sign him.
With how long the lockout has gone on that could prove difficult, but the Cardinals can’t be picky right now.
3. Houston Texans- Are a team that are no stranger to disappointment. They tend to start season hot and then cool off considerably, which in turn causes them to miss the playoffs, much to the chagrin of their fans. Part of this is the fact that even though they have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league lead by Matt Shaub and Andre Johnson, their defense however is sub par. This leads to their games being microcosms of their whole season, they come up short. The Texans are ranked 29th in points allowed per game, 30th in yards allowed per game, and last in the league in passing yards allowed.
So to fix this problem, we should expect the Texans to be aggressive in an attempt to go after Raiders free agent Nnamdi Asomugha. Nnamdi is a great DB and a game changer. While I wouldn’t put him at the level of a Darrell Revis, I do think he’s close. He’ll most certainly be a big boost to one of the league’s worst defenses.
The Texans will still need help to patch their ailing secondary. They’ll need a safety as well. First of all, the Texans should probably reach out to Bernard Pollard. He’s not the greatest safety in the world, but he was decent. If they can’t hold onto Pollard then going after another safety ought to help. Free agency is going to be se quick and frenzied that even though, Philadelphia’s Quinten Mikell would be a nice fit, the Eagles are probably going to try and use their leverage to re sign him.
4. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Ponder was a great pick in the draft for the Vikings. He really was, but let’s face the music here. To a team that was in the NFC championship game just two seasons ago handing over the reigns to a rookie is well . . . unsettling. I think the Vikings will go after a veteran QB. In this year’s free agency there’s no shortage of those. With names like Donovan McNabb, Kyle Orton, and Kevin Kolb being thrown around, the Vikings certainly have a wealth of choices.
Ultimately I think the Vikings trade for McNabb or wait until the Redskins cut him. McNabb played in Philadelphia when Leslie Frazier was there with Brad Childress. They run a system very similar to what McNabb ran back in Philly, so the lack of knowledge due to the lockout will be diminished even further. Donovan also provides great locker room leadership, which fills another void left by Favre that a rookie would not be expected to fill.
The Vikings need a wide receiver. The logical choice would simply be to re-sign Sidney Rice but, Rice looks like he might want to take his elsewhere (maybe south beach?). If this is the case then it might be tempting to take the Plaxico Burress bait. Instead if the Vikings make a convincing offert to Cardinals receiver Steve Breaston. He may have that injured knee but, Breaston has undeniable ball skills and is a talented receiver. If he can get healthy he’ll definitely put Minnesota on the right track.
5. Indianapolis Colts- Where do the Colts need help? Well at the running back postion for starters. Donald Brown and Mike Hart had some decent games between the two of them, but the facts are that Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne moved the offense and that’s about it. Which is pretty amazing considering that the Colt’s receivers were dropping like flies due to injury. Who knew anything about Jacob Tamme going into last season?
DeAngelo Williams is a big name free agent that could come in and help the Colts. Since the Panthers already have two solid backs in Mike Goodson and Jonathan Stewart its likely that Williams would be allowed to walk. Williams only had 86 carries for 361 yards. In Indy he would be the featured back and he would be highly productive. This would certainly serve to help the Colts offense further as they would actually be able to sell the play action fake for a change.
6. Seattle Seahawks- Rumor has it that Seattle is in love with Kolb as well. However with free agency as short as it is, does Seattle want to gamble? Without a solid quarterback, losing Hasselbeck could be a terrible thing. If Seattle cannot convince Hasselbeck to return Detroit’s Drew Stanton could be a good secondary choice. Stanton started 3 games for the Lions last season and he ended up going 2-1 overall. He proved to be a smart quarterback. He made great decisions with the football and Seattle could probably get him for much cheaper than any other quarterback on the open market.
Despite being a playoff team last season the Seahawks ranked near the bottom in every statistical category. Yep. Both offensive and defensive categories. A quarterback could help, but they’re also going to need to look into getting safety to aid their ailing defense.
If the Ravens don’t re-sign Dawan Landry, and Houston doesn’t make a move on him first, Seattle should make their move for him. Dawan had 2010 season that showed a lot of his potential and growth. If Landry pans out the Seahawks could have a fixture in their defense for years to come.