I was asked by a few friends to write up a short post on which NFL teams I feel have made the most of the NFL Off-season and Free Agency signings thus far (read: pre-draft). It's hard to judge a team in the off-season by the moves they make before the draft, because the draft is a big indicator for most teams. Yet, here I find myself writing up this post and almost chuckling at how many teams made some really good moves, and how many made some not so good moves. In no particular order, they are listed below with my explanations on why I chose them.
This off-season the Jets have made a few select key moves which have added to their overall depth, and also to their overall mystique. Defensively, the green and white added Antonio Cromartie, Jr. A lot of people have viewed this move by the Jets as one without much forethought, but I disagree. The Jets have a coach who knows how to keep players in line, and will simply not accept someone who isn't doing their job. Cromartie is a top 10 cornerback in the league, and with Revis covering the opposite side of the field will have a far better chance to be comfortable with his role. Cromartie needs to not be the number one guy, and now he isn't. The change of scenery will also help Cromartie, but don't expect his numbers to be dramatically improved. When you are splitting the field with arguably the best cover man in the league, let alone the known universe, you can't expect to have a whole lot of opportunities to begin with. Then again, he should see most of the passes thrown his way. Who the hell in their right mind is going to throw to Revis?
Offensively, the Jets add both Santonio Holmes, SuperBowl MVP, and LaDanian Tomlinson. LT is not getting any younger, however he is headed to a team who actually has a decent offensive line, and he won't be expected to carry the full burden. Sanchez now has a new target, Holmes, who will bolster a receiving corps that really, really needed the help. Neither player will be the top three at his respective position, however their presence forces defenses to remain at least somewhat honest, and also should free up Sanchez to make even more incredible plays.
Now, I know this one will get me a lot of flac from the McNabb haters, and the Shanahan haters, etc, but the Redskins have had a very solid off-season. They pick up Donovan McNabb for a relatively inexpensive price. They acquire Kyle Shanahan, who proved last season with the Texans that he has the tools and knowledge to be a decent, if not incredible, offensive coordinator. They also pick up not just one, but two quality NFL running backs in Willie Parker and Larry Johnson. Just like LT, these guys are getting on in age, and are showing it. Here's the deal, though, when you pick up two of them, you help spread the load. Not to mention it's really like picking up three of them when you consider they also have Clinton Portis on the team (perhaps not for long). Add in the other off-season Front Office moves, and well, I think the Redskins *gulp* are prepared to make a true comeback to form. These guys will be a force to be reckoned with.
I know, I know. You all think I'm absolutely ape sh|t to choose the Browns over the Bears or Ravens or Lions, but the fact remains that the Browns had an incredible off-season. They picked up some of the best Front Office personnel and coaches, got rid of the two biggest dead-weight quarterbacks in the league, while picking up a veteran, Jake Delhomme, who if he can avoid injury is an elite throwing machine. Also, he's there to mentor Seneca, and whomever the Browns draft in the 2nd or 3rd round at the position. Add in the acquisition of Scott Fujita, and they had themselves a damn good off-season so far. They didn't stop there, though. The Browns went and signed Ben Watson, a tight end who has great hands, can catch the ball on the run, can block both in run and passing situations, and is a veteran. Offensively, a team that couldn't score, is now poised to score and score lots. Their defense was already good, now with some downs to actually rest, they should be even better.
That's it. I know people will think I left teams out, but I'm the one writing this post not them. Nyah! On a side note, I'm going to go out on a limb and state here and now that all three of these teams will be playoff bound in 2010.