Sunday, March 1, 2009

3 Early Winners in Free Agency

Here are the three teams who have had the best off season's so far. Obviously things can change but these three teams are off to a good start.

1. Washington Redskins: Big Moves: resigning CB DeAngelo Hall, signing DT Albert Haynesworth (FA, Tennesse Titans), signing OG Derrick Dockery (cut, Buffalo Bills)

The Redskins have had a great start to the off season signing three starters all of whom are under the age of 30. It could be argued that all three are the best free agents at their position. Haynesworth being the best overall free agent and maybe the best defensive tackle in the game. Dockery and Hall are no slouches either. Dockery, who was originally drafted by Washington,, is a top run blocker and will be 7 years younger than the man he replaces, Pete Kendall. Hall, only 25, was a huge asset to the Redskins secondary when they claimed him off waivers from the Oakland Raiders last season. Hall can be one of the top corners in the league when he stays focused. The only negative to the Redskins off season so far is that Washington may have already spent all of their money available for free agency. The Skins still need to address needs at defensive end, outside linebacker and right tackle. If they can address at least one more of those needs with a second tier free agent the Redskins will have had a great off season. Grade: A The Skins signed three of the best players on the market, none of whom were with this team in Week 1 last season.

2. Miami Dolphins: Big Moves: re-signing OT Vernon Carey, MLB Channing Crowder, S Yereimah Bell, signing S Gibril Wilson (Cut, Oakland Raiders)

"If it ain't broke don't fix it" seems to be the Dolphins motto this off season as they have re-signed their top three free agents. Miami inked their three guys and signed safety Gibril Wilson, who had just been released by the Raiders, all before free agency began Friday morning. This allowed them to maintain leverage in negotiations, keeping the price down some what. Bell is the only one of these players that is older than 30 and he will just be 31 this next season. All four players are quality starters in the league. The other advantage with signing their guys early and getting Wilson before free agency began is that none of those guys could have been replaced internally and Wilson replaces their best available free agent safety Renaldo Hill. Carey is an above average right tackle and is a solid bookend to Jake Long. Crowder is a solid inside linebacker who has missed a couple games the past two years due to injury. He lacks the big play ability of other linebackers but is a sure tackler in the middle. The Dolphins secondary just got very dangerous this off season as Bell and Wilson are one of the best safety tandems in the league. Wilson will be three years younger than Hill and is a big upgrade to the 25th ranked passing defense. Both he and Bell excel at stopping the run and playing center field. While the Dolphins have protected themselves from losing any of their top players, Wilson is the only improvement they've made. The Dolphins still have to address issues on their offensive line, at wide receiver and at cornerback. Grade: A The Dolphins kept together a group of players that led to a 10 win turn around in 2008 and look to build towards taking the next step and advancing in the playoffs.

3. New York Giants: re-signing RB Brandon Jacobs, signing OLB Michael Boley (FA, Atlanta Falcons), DT Rocky Bernard (FA, Seattle Seahawks)

The Giants wasted no time locking up their offensive star, first by placing their franchise tag on Jacobs, then inking him to a multi-year deal. Jacobs was a key part of the Giants running attack that finished 1st in the league. Jacobs signing means the likely departure of fellow 1,000 yard back Derrick Ward. New York made the right decision in keeping Jacobs. While Ward is a good back, Jacobs can be a great back. His combination of power and speed is extremely rare in the NFL, and represents a nightmare for opposing defenses. The Giants strengthened their own defense with a pair of signings over the weekend bringing in Bernard and Boley. Bernard should help bolster an already impressive defensive line. He will join a tackle rotation that includes Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield. Bernard, who will be 30 next season, is no longer the every down tackle he once was but can still be a force in the middle. Boley, 27, is one of the better young outside linebackers in the league. Boley should be a big upgrade to a linebacking corps that lacked talent on the outside. Boley did struggle last season with a new defense so it will be interesting to watch how the Giants use him this year. The Giants still need to fill a few more holes but keeping Jacobs was a must for this offense. The defensive signings were solid but neither player is truly elite. Grade: A- The Giants have done well striking quickly and bringing in some good players. The key to this off season will be Boley, if he plays like he did last season it's a bust, but if he plays like he did in his first couple of years this could be a great signing.

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