As of I’ve consistently said for the last few years, the Arizona Cardinals roster is in need of a serious talent infusion. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to accomplish this during free agency this year.
Pursuing Peyton Manning made sense because he’s capable of offsetting some of their offensive deficiencies, but losing out in the biding for him forced Arizona to address their financial issues in different ways than not picking up Kevin Kolb’s option. Instead, they cut Levi Brown, only re-sign him a few days later to a more reasonable five-year contract worth $30 million, but only includes $8 million in guarantees. This will allow them to release him following the 2012 season if he continues to struggle. Franchising Calais Campbell was an obvious move, but they have to get him under contract in the very near future to prevent him from becoming a free agent again next season. William Gay must improve his coverage skills in the near future to make his signing justifiable. Adam Snyder isn’t going to be able to solidify their offseason line considering how bad he was last season and Early Doucet is not a viable #2 WR.
With that being said, they didn’t lose anyone that they’re going to miss all that much. Richard Marshall has better cover skills than Gay, but comes with other concerns. I still would have liked to have seen them grab some impact players, but their financial issues probably prevented that from being a possibility.
They really need to hit a few home runs in this year’s draft, but that’s easier said than done. Going with the best player available in the first-round makes sense, but after that they have to find a pass rusher, a receiver, some o-line help and another CB.
San Francisco 49ers
Additions: S Dashon Goldson (F), QB Alex Smith (R), CB Carlos Rogers (R), WR Mario Manningham, LB Ahmad Brooks (R), WR Randy Moss, RB Brandon Jacobs, QB Josh Johnson, CB Perrish Cox, WR Ted Ginn (R), LB Tavares Gooden (R)
San Francisco was as busy during free agency as any team. More interesting than that, is the fact that they’ll have a staggering number of starters returning next season while they addressed the few team needs that they had in the time being.
Let’s start with decision to franchise Dashon Goldson. I know everyone is going to point to his interception totals as the reason why this was reasonable decision on the 49ers part, but this guy offers very little in terms of coverage or run stopping, while drawing his fair-share of penalties. Goldson benefited more than anyone else did from the 49ers amazing defensive front in 2011. Conversely, Carlos Rogers is an underrated player. He practically had to beg San Francisco to re-sign him. Rogers is only one year older than Brent Grimes and does all of things that Goldson can’t, while still providing the same amount of interceptions. Alex Smith is coming off of his best season but the 49ers were smart enough to give themselves an out in his new contract instead of committing to him in the long run. Good job by them. Mario Manningham and Randy Moss provide name value but it’s hard to say how effective they’ll be next season. Manningham was relegated to the Giants #3 WR position last year and seemed to struggle in several aspects. Moss could be unbelievable or terrible, but at least they limited their financial obligations to him, unlike the Manningham signing. Brook is a serviceable OLB but giving him a six-year, $37 million contract seems crazy. I’m on board with the Brandon Jacobs, Josh Johnson, and Ted Ginn signings though.
Losing guys like Shawntae Spencer, Josh Morgan and Adam Snyder really isn’t that bad when you consider who they brought in, and their current roster depth. Having solid players at a number of positions allows team’s to take chances that other franchises cannot. Jim Harbaugh has proven to be an incredible motivator and I’m sure he’ll be able to get these guys to buy into his philosophy. Despite not agreeing with some of their moves, they certainly improved their roster so far.
Matt Flynn was Seattle’s big offseason acquisition and while some may feel like it’s a real gamble for them to pay a guy that has only started 2 NFL games, I think it’s a good move for them. Flynn didn’t just have two decent games for the Packers, he almost led them to a victory on the road in New England, where team’s rarely win, and then owned a Lions that had everything to play for while the Packers sat a number of their starters. On top of that, it’s not they over committed to him or anything. He only got a three-year, $19.5 million contract with $10 million guaranteed. They can move on if need be. Marshawn Lynch has become a very marketable figure in Seattle and he definitely has some of the best highlights, but he’s really not a featured RB. Giving him a four-year deal worth $31 million contract and $17 million guaranteed is a bit much. Lynch can be a very productive player in the coming years, but he’s not going to be a game-changer like Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy. I love both of the Red Bryant and Jason Jones signings. The Seahawks had to improve their offensive line and keeping Bryant in place while adding a solid interior lineman, will certainly accomplish that much.
They’ll be fine without Marcus Trufant, Charlie Whitehurst and Anthony Hargrove. Losing John Carlson hurts but not because of his ability. They just have to find another TE at some point. Robert Gallery battled injuries last season and could end up being a good signing for the Patriots. The Seahawks o-line has improved but that doesn’t mean that they should just stand pat with who they currently have. ILB really needs to be addressed but they can easily do that in the draft.
St Louis Rams
Jeff Fisher and the Rams got right to work tearing down what was left from the Steve Spagnuolo era. They made a number of cuts right of the gate and then positioned themselves to sign to a number of impact players.
Cortland Finnegan is a huge improvement to a bad secondary. He brings a lot of toughness and is coming off of a great season for the Titans, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no risk involved in this move. $50 million for five-years and $24 million guaranteed is a lot of money. Pro Football Focus rated him as the #98 CB out of #100 in 2010 when he was with Fisher in Tennesse, so he’s capable of under performing. I still like the move overall. Kendall Langford was a great signing for the Rams. He has plenty of versatility and should be solid player next to Chris Long. Making Scott Wells one of the highest paid centers is a risk, but he’s a very tough player with a huge chip on his shoulder. Just ask the Packers. The knock on him is his size but that hasn’t proven to be an issue in the last few seasons. There’s no doubt that he too is a big upgrade. Steve Smith still has a chance to be an effective WR, but it’s going to take some work on the part of the Rams to utilize him better than the Eagles did last season. There’s a chance that his struggles were related more to his ability/injury than the Eagles system.
Lloyd will be missed as they’ve yet to find an adequate replacement for him, but there were concerns about his attitude moving forward and it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he’d be playing in New England anyways. Fred Robbins was actually rated as the #7 DT last season by PFF but he’s getting up there in age so I can understand why they chose to move on. Ron Bartell and Jason Brown both have little to offer in coming year’s as well.
The Rams can now focus on getting the most out of their future draft picks from the Redskins. It’s going to take some time, but they clearly have the mean’s to become a great team.