Veteran Free Agency Begins With a BIG BANG
We knew about a lot of VFA signings before they were allowed to be official. The trade of LeSean McCoy to Buffalo was a big news maker, but that trade may have been trumped by trade action on Tuesday.
The SAINTS parted ways with JIMMY GRAHAM, who they dispatched to Seattle for a starting OC (Max Unger) and the Sea Hawks first round pick @ No. 31. I never saw it coming, even though I knew the Saints were in some serious Cap trouble. Clearly, in my eyes, some very hard feelings developed last year when the Saints & Graham got into a perverbial pissing match over the value of Graham as a TE or a WR and contract value. Don’t downplay the significance of Graham drawing 2 penalties for dunking after TDs last pre-season, even though the League had singled out that act (his specialty) as being punishable. HC SEAN PAYTON was not amused by Graham’s immaturity. Throw that on top of the contract acrimony and I think the Saints management decided that Graham had become quite selfish in his rise to NFL stardom. The Saints who are still trying to get below the 2015 Cap level just turned a talented player with a huge contract into a starting OC and what should be a starting Rookie for less money combined than GRAHAM would have cost the team.
The JETS seem to be on a signing rampage right now working a double victory with the signing of REVIS away from the PATS. It adds significantly to their own weak secondary while taking away the best defender on the rival PATS. Revis may now be running neck-and-neck with DEION SANDERS as the most lucrative mercenary player in pro football history. They have also added in a slot Corner in Buster Skrine from Cleveland, Ryan Fitzpatrick as a vet back-up QB, James Carpenter/OG and clearly are not done wheeling & dealing yet. Let’s also not forget they managed to re-sign ILB/David Harris & RB/BILAL POWELL already.
It has seemed amazing to me that at all the Chip Kelly critics who have come out of the woodwork with his early Free Agency moves. How many RB in the NFL have contracts that call for $10-million+ a year; besides McCoy & Peterson? Time will tell if Kelly’s plan and strategy will work, but it should be noted that the team has added some big name VFA like Byron Maxwell/CB(8), Ryan Mathews/RB(22) & Walter Thurmond/CB(58). The numbers after each name are their rankings in the VFA Class by NFL.com. The SAM BRADFORD trade might be the biggest surprise of all given Sam’s multiple knee injuries, but he wasn’t the No. 1 overall pick of the Draft back in 2010 because he was a poor QB talent. Some of the most verbal critics of Kelly and his moves seem to be forgetting that he was the HC of the 10 Win teams the past two seasons. Chill a bit folks, there is more Free Agency ahead as well as an NFL Draft to be conducted. There will e plenty of team to pile on Kelly if the team looks like crap come September.
IMO, the biggest winners after two days would appear to be the Indianapolis Colts. For a winning team, with the best young QB (26 in Sept) in the League, the future is now. Andrew Luck keeps getting the Colts into the Play-Offs, but they don’t have enough around him to go all the way. I think GM Grigson is on the right track in signing vets who should have a couple more productive seasons in them, and can serve as solid locker room leaders. ANDRE JOHNSON/WR and FRANK GORE/RB should be big upgrades over Wayne & Richardson at their respective positions. They have also had a solid start to beefing up their Defense by signing Trent Cole/DE/LB and Kendall Langford/DT. Now if they can just mix in a productive Draft they may have the tools to be serious Super Bowl contenders in 2015.
Despite the wizardry of GM OZIE NEWSOME, Ravens fans may have solid grounds to be concerned about their team’s talent drain. I haven’t even heard a name yet as being interested in signing with the Ravens, but they have already chosen to part ways with HALOTI NGATA/DL (over his cap hit contract) and Jacoby Jones/WR/RS. TORREY SMITH has taken his deep speed to the 49’ers and TE/OWEN DANIELS has followed Gary Kubiak to Denver. They have already lost pass-rush specialist PERNELL McPHEE/DE/LB and Justin Forsett/RB is currently out on the market. FORSETT would be a tough loss considering they counted on him to replace Ray Rice last season. Newsome and the Ravens have had a history of being able to turn their roster, but the Cap has become a tough mistress for them since their last Super Bowl victory and the giant contract it cost them to keep Joe Flacco.
I’ll keep tabs for the next couple of days and proclaim some more winners and losers with an update to this first blush at VFA around the League.