NFL Free Agency Begins, Big Spenders Have Emerged
The NFL free agency period has officially begun as teams around the league look to bolster their roster for next season. It's arguable that football's offseason gets about as much coverage as MLB spring training and even hockey in some markets. Free agency is exciting for players and fans, as well as owners purchasing shiny new toys. Though it's still very early, some teams have already made game changing moves.
We'll start with some of the big name stars that have found new homes in the NFL. Big play receiver Mike Wallace is officially a Miami Dolphin. Wallace will be a major weapon for Dolphins' young QB Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins also signed ex-Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to a 5-yr deal. Ellerbe was expected to take over in Baltimore for Ray Lewis, but the Ravens will have to find a replacement elsewhere. Unfortunately for Baltimore, they'll be looking for replacements for a few of their other starters. Paul Kruger and Anquan Boldin were key players in the Ravens Super Bowl chase that have found higher paying homes in Cleveland and San Francisco respectively. If the Ravens falter this season, fans will have to wonder whether Flacco's NFL high contract was worth it.
The Detroit Lions improved their offensive balance with the signing of RB Reggie Bush. Bush will be the featured back in Detroit and will take some pressure off of QB Matthew Stafford. Though I do believe the Lions' offense needed the help they got, their defense is still the problem and thus far it has not been addressed.
In a more surprising move, WR Wes Welker has signed a 3-yr deal with the Denver Broncos. Tom Brady will no longer have his safety blanket in New England, even after restructuring his contract hoping to keep some free agents around. For Welker, the move makes sense. He was visibly unhappy in New England, and if he's gonna leave the best QB in the league, at least his numbers won't take a big hit playing for Peyton Manning. Welker was quickly replaced in New England by WR Danny Amendola.
In Jets' news, free agents Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller will not be returning to NY. Greene has already signed with the Titans, and Keller has been linked to divisional opponent Miami. The Jets have not made any huge moves yet, only signing QB David Garrard. The 35 yr old gun slinger will not be expected to compete for a starting gig this season.
Big names still available include Safety Ed Reed, Linebacker Brian Urlacher, and Giants WR Victor Cruz. During the next week or two, teams could move effectively from the league's floor to contention. It is always exciting for fans to see how big name signings turn out, though it has proven more effective in the past for teams to build through the draft. We'll see in time which players make a big impact for their new team this upcoming season.