Fast & Furious Offseason Pace
The Minnesota Vikings shipped offensive playmaker, Percy Harvin, out of town in exchange for a few draft picks. The Pro Bowl wide receiver and return specialist adds a new dimension to the Seattle Seahawks. Harvin reunites with wide receiver Sidney Rice, they were teammates for the Vikings a few years back. Minnesota is scheduled to play at Seattle next season.
The Seahawks didn’t stop there. To help an already stout defense, they add a few pass rushers in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Avril reaped success with the Detroit Lions while Bennett brings his potential from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the contrary,
Detroit adding Reggie Bush to the backfield makes them even more dynamic. Bush will take advantage of the attention star wideout Calvin Johnson demands, and will even get yards after the catch when he gets a checkdown or swing pass from signal caller, Matthew Stafford.
Not necessarily a replacement because Harvin plays in the slot and in the backfield, but the Vikings pry wide receiver Greg Jennings from their division rivals. They hope he can spread the field for All Pro running back Adrian Peterson, and help to groom quarterback Christian Ponder. Jennings became a Pro Bowl receiver with the Green Bay Packers, and was a team leader during the transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. These foes clash twice every year.
The Atlanta Falcons made the headlines. Not only did they convince future Hall of Fame tight end, Tony Gonzalez, to come back for another run, but they upgrade at running back by signing Steven Jackson. Believe it or not, Jackson has not played for a winning team despite his productive career, and the Dirty Birds are loaded to make a Super Bowl run.
Wes Welker will be catching passes from a future Hall of Fame quarterback on a Super Bowl contender, just not the one that you’re used to. The Pro Bowl wide receiver became a household name with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, but he looks to cap off an impressive career with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Yes, you guessed it, Denver will travel to New England next season.
Most of you are sitting there in approval of the Patriots, how they replaced Welker with a similar slot receiver in Danny Amendola. Here’s the thing, Amendola has bounced from team to team because he is injury prone. He is absolutely a difference maker, but getting on the field and staying in the lineup is easier said than done. On paper it appears to be a suitable business deal, but there aren’t too many players that can perform like Welker year in and year out.
The Kansas City Chiefs retaliated to the Broncos’ moves by signing cornerbacks Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith. Robinson was drafted by the Houston Texans, where he won Defensive Rookie of the Year, before recently playing for the Atlanta Falcons. Smith was drafted by the Miami Dolphins and gets a fresh start to fulfill the potential they think he has. Joining safety Eric Berry and cornerback Brandon Flowers in the secondary, they will matchup against the Broncos receiving core of : Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker. Although the Chiefs and Broncos clash twice per season, Robinson and Smith will not get to play against their former teams next year.
On the other side of the ball, Andy Reid and the Chiefs traded for quarterback Alex Smith. Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, Smith is a former first overall pick that played for several coaches and systems, and he performed at a high level for the last season and a half. He will take the helm for the Chiefs while last year’s starter, Matt Cassel, has been released. Kansas City and San Francisco are not scheduled to play next season.
Speaking of Andy Reid, his former team is aggressive yet again this offseason. The Philadelphia Eagles might not be the “Dream Team” after a nightmare season, but new coach Chip Kelly is trying to revamp the defense overnight. He did get a versatile weapon for the offense in H-back James Casey, he played both fullback and tight end for the Texans. And they flipped a couple draft picks to the Buccaneers for wide receiver Arnelius Benn, a former second round pick.
Back to the matter at hand, addressing the defense. Cornerbacks Fletcher Bradley and Cary Williams get the opportunity to replace Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. Safeties, Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips, also hopped on board. These additions to the secondary have a couple things in common, size and physicality, but they all have to fight the injury bug. Inside the box, the Birds added outside linebacker Connor Barwin and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Barwin tallied 11.5 sacks a couple seasons ago for the Houston Texans, while Sopoaga has been a plug in the middle of the 49ers defense. Phillips came from the rival New York Giants, he’s the only acquisition that will face his former team.
After the first phase of free agency, there are still some Pro Bowl caliber players available on the market, such as pass-rushers Elvis Dumervil and Dwight Freeney. It will be interesting to see if anybody can snag wide receiver Victor Cruz away from the Giants or cornerback Aqib Talib from the Patriots. This league is desperate for offensive line help, it’s only a matter of time before Jake Long attracts heavy interest.
There will probably be a second wave of free agent transactions, but after that all attention will be on the draft. Especially if you’re the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens, who keep losing players: wide receiver Anquan Boldin traded to San Francisco, linebackers Dannelle Ellerbe to Miami and Paul Kruger to Cleveland.
Sometime after the camps and practices begin, teams will get a better picture of who they are and unfortunately, injuries are part of the game, and that’s when the remaining free agents are positioning themselves for the right fit.