Additions: CB Brandon Carr, LB Anthony Spencer (F), LB Dan Connor, G Nate Livings, QB Kyle Orton, G Mackenzy Bernadeau, S Brodney Pool, FB Lawrence Vickers
Subtractions: WR Laurent Robinson, TE Martellus Bennett, G Kyle Kosier, CB Terence Newman
Dallas positioned had themselves for a very active offseason, but the leagues decision to come down on them for the moves they made in the 2010 offseason cost them a percentage of their available cap space. Still, the Cowboys were able to address arguably their biggest need by signing Brandon Carr to a five-year deal worth $50.1 million. That’s a lot of money to invest in someone that wasn’t even the best CB on his previous team, but he’s young and has plenty of ability. The good news with him is that he’s actually better in coverage which is really what they need at the cornerback position. The addition of Connor was a great move and should give them two quality ILB’s and franchising Spencer does make sense despite his low sack totals. They didn’t commit to him long-term so they can allow him to leave next season and receive a compensatory pick if things don’t work out.
The one move that really standout as a possible miscue, was the signing of Nate Livings to a five-year, $19 million contract that includes $6 million guaranteed. Livings just turned 30 and is coming off of a very poor season with the Bengals, in which he was rated as the #56 best guard in the league by Pro Football Focus. He’s decent in pass protection, but struggles with run and screen pass blocking and draws his fair-share of penalties. I’d be surprised to see him finish out this contract.
I’m sure they would’ve liked to keep either Robinson or Bennett, but it’s not going to be a huge setback to be without them, even though Bennett is a very underrated player. Dallas should be able to find replacements in the draft during the middle to late-rounds.
New York Giants
The Giants aren’t exactly known for being big players in the free agent market so it’s certainly not surprising to see how things played out this year.
I really like the signing of Martellus Bennett because he’s actually a bit of an underrated player. I know he’s yet to live up to his true expectations as receiver, but he’s been largely overshadowed by Jason Witten‘s performance in Dallas. PFF actually rated him above Witten overall and has him as the best pass-blocking TE in the league. He still has to work on becoming a better receiver, but this guy is very solid, 25 years old and signed a one-yea deal worth $2.5 million. One of the best value signing of the free agency period.
Losing Manningham, Ross and Jacobs may not has as big of an impact on the team as it may seem. D.J. Ware was as effective as Jacobs was during the regular season, Manningham got paid based on a great catch in the Super Bowl, and Ross was an average at best cornerback for the them. Jacobs provided them with a different skill set than what wither Ahamd Bradshaw or Ware offer, but he’s by no means irreplaceable. New York has done a great job in the past of finding players to step up in the absence of someone and they’re also really good at finding talent in the draft.
Additions: DE Trent Cole (R), WR DeSean Jackson (R), LB DeMeco Ryans (T), G Evan Mathis (R), OT Todd Herremans (R), DT Antonio Dixon (R), OT King Dunlap (R), Demetress Bell
Subtractions: DE Juqua Parker, C Jamaal Jackson, OT Winston Justice, WR Steve Smith
Philadelphia may not have brought in a huge list of players like they did last season, but they probably did a much better job of stretching their available cash this year.
Re-signing Trent Cole was the right move, even though he’s coming off of a spectacular season which forced them to pay him more (six-years, $59.3 million). They also found a decent ILB in DeMeco Ryans who’s solid against the run and has shown the ability to be effective in coverage in year’s past. Keeping Mathis wound up being a much bigger deal than it seemed at the time. The injury Jason Peters makes him even more valuable to their offensive line. The Eagles will most likely sign a veteran OT like Demetrius Bell of Marcus McNeill to replace Peters, so Mathis becomes their best offensive lineman next season.
Juqua Parker is a very solid player, but their defensive line is one of their biggest strengths so they can certainly handle things without him. They should be able to address their remaining needs in the draft without over paying for players in the time being.
Washington was also punished by the NFL for their decision to shed salary during the uncapped year of 2010. The Redskins lost much more cap space than the Cowboys did and had to adjust their free agency strategy accordingly.
They wound up paying top-dollar for Pierre Garcon (five-years, $42.5 million) despite the fact that he’s yet to be a consistent player in the NFL. He is 25 years old so there’s still time for him to develop into a more effective WR, but that’s a huge investment none-the-less. Conversely, the Josh Morgan signing has a chance to be a great move. They did spend $11.5 million over two-years on him, but he was starting to show some real improvement before he suffered a broken leg last season. Carriker, Meriweather, Griffin and Grossman are hardly moves to get excited about.
It’s kind of surprising that they didn’t keep LaRon Landry considering that he signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million with the Jets. They could easily have matched it but they chose to look elsewhere.
Overall, I can’t say I love what they’ve done in free agency, but they’re probably more concerned with the draft now that they have the #2 overall pick.