The basic concept of a free market society is the idea of supply and demand. If something is needed, but rare, the price goes up. If there are lots of something, the price goes down. Some industries control the supply deliberately (the diamond industry for example). Some industries have a large supply of items (toilet paper for example). I would argue that the NFL and the NFLPA just created an artificial demand heading into free agency 2010.
The last time we had an uncapped free agency year was back in 1993--and that was the first year of free agency. The NFL Palyers Association and the league met earlier this week to try and hammer out a deal or extension but nothing was accomplished, which meant that 200 or so players who were hoping to hit a big payday in unrestricted free agency found themselves restricted free agents instead.
Speculation was that Peppers would be signed within minutes of the clock striking 12, but it was actually the Detroit Lions who moved first, trading for one player and signing another. Several other teams have made moves as well but by far the two biggest players in the early stages of FA are the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears.
Today we've seen some deals being struck with players and new teams as well as some extensions. There have been a couple of trades, and several players have met or had contact with teams to discuss deals (including our own Barry Sims and Tony Pashos). Obviously the two biggest free agent names are Karlos Dansby and Julius Peppers, but as of 6p Mountain Standard Time only one of them had reached a deal.
I'm going to go through the list of teams who are active in free agency and discuss the moves they made, how that impacts their current starters, what the deals cost them, and how those deals may impact the draft. Join me after the jump for more detailsArizona Cardinals
The Cardinals haven't signed any free agents yet, but they have made a really strong play to resign Karlos Dansby (reportedly at $8.5 million a year) and have met with QB David Carr and had talks with Chad Pennington. They've concluded a trade with Baltimore where they'll ship Anquan Boldin and a fifth round draft choice to the Ravens in exchange for a 3rd round pick and a 4th round pick.
On the one hand having a division rival weakened is always nice. That makes it easier for us to win the division and go to the playoffs. On the other hand you have to feel sorry for fans of the team. Kurt Warner is gone, they'll be losing one of their top receivers. If they don't resign Dansby or Rolle it will decimate their defense. I get the feeling that their ownership doesn't really seem to want to field a winning team.
Don't read too much into the Cardinals trying to get a QB (mabye Delhomme now?). They have no depth at the position after Leinart so they need backups.
Their draft needs will depend largely on what happens with Dansby. If they don't sign a deal with him they'll need a LB desperately, otherwise their needs stay the same.
The Falcons have been fairly quiet the first day of FA. They extended backup QB Chris Redman to a two year, $5 million deal and franchised several of their players. The big news for them is their strong play for CB Dunta Robinson. He's the best CB to hit the market. He's from Georgia and has a home there. Reports are that he'll sign a deal with them on Sunday. No word yet on the amount. This fixes one of the big needs they have on their defense. Their other needs are DE and OLB. Atlanta picks 19 so they should have a few options available for them at that point. They also need a TE, so they might grab Jermain Gresham here too.
The only deal the Ravens have been able to close today has been with Arizona. They've traded a 3rd and 4th round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for WR Anquan Boldin. Boldin had one year left on his contract which was a big reason why his value had dropped. Baltimore just took care of that with a 4 year, $28 million contract (and $10 million in guaranteed money). They could still use some help with a new OG and TE (maybe a trade with Chicago for Olsen?), but now they can focus their draft picks on their defense where they desperately need a good CB as well as a DT
The big news here is that Jake Delhomme was released, which is surprising given that he's still owed over $12 million in guaranteed money from his deal. It was an emotional news conference with him and John Fox both in tears. I expect he'll land on his feet somewhere else. This really doesn't affect the Panthers in the draft as their needs are still the same. They're already on the hook for Delhomme's money so they're not saving by cutting him.
The Bears have been extremely active in the first hours of free agency. They've signed Julius Peppers to a 6 year, $72 million deal. They've also picked up Chester Taylor and signed him to a four year $12.5 million ($7 million guaranteed) deal. The third player they picked up was TE Brandon Manumaleuna who signed a five year deal. Manumaleuna is the blocking tight end that Martz likes in his offenses so expect Greg Olsen to be traded for a 2nd or 3rd rounder.
The Bears don't pick until the 3rd round this year because of the Cutler trade, but if they can get something for Olsen that will help them immensely.
The Browns have been fairly quiet thus far, though they did make two important deals. They traded DT Corey Williams to the Lions for a fifth round pick, and signed Josh Cribbs to an extension. His new deal is for 3 years, $18.5 million ($7 million guaranteed). The $18.5 is not base, but is contigent upon hitting qualifiers. This really doesn't affect their draft much.
I think that the Lions are clearly the winners in today's free agency scramble. They resigned OT Jon Jansen to a one year $850,000 deal. They picked up DT Corey Williams from the Bears, and signed Kyle Vanden Bosch to a 4 year, $26 million deal ($11 million guaranteed). This is a great move for them. It beefs up their defense substantially, and allows them to look at the draft with a different eye. I'm fairly confident that they'll now pick Russell Okung with their first pick which could change everything.
Green Bay Packers
Broncos may be in trouble with their offensive. Darryn Colledge has received interest from another team. They were unable to reach a deal with OT Chad Clifton (they had offered him $5 million a year and Clifton is wanting closer to $7 million). They're having trouble signing Kampman to a deal. This leaves them open to drafting an offensive lineman, or if one isn't available when they pick, a LB.
The only thing they've done so far is extend Gary Brackett's contract. It's a five year deal worth $33 million with a $12 million signing bonus. If they'd lost him they would be in trouble. Retaining him allows them to keep moving forward.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs haven't done anything solid yet (other than giving Vrabel a one year deal), but they're rumored to be in the hunt for Brandon Marshall and Thomas Jones. Both would make sense for this team. They lack a proven #1 wide receiver and Thomas Jones is a big name for their fans. I think they should stick with going after Marshall--Jamaal Charles ran for 1,129 yards with only 10 games as a starter. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and scored 7 TDs. If they can get a WR that fixes a big problem for them (and also gives us a better chance at drafting Berry at #13)
The Dolphins have yet to close on any deal but they're in the final stages of several. They've brought Chad Pennington back and are very close on finalizing a deal with him, but they're being held up because he wants a no-trade clause inserted. They're pursuing Rolle (having released Gibril Wilson), and are also the main suitor for Karlos Dansby's services. If they can land Dansby that fixes probably their biggest need as a team and will let them focus on other needs in the draft. Most mocks had them picking a LB with the first pick. Signing Dansby would let them get a DT (also a huge need), or a WR.
New England Patriots
Pats haven't done a great deal today. They were in the thick of things for Boldin but are no longer interested. They did resign LB Tully Bunta-Cain to a 3 year deal worth $4.5 million a year. If he performs well it could escalate to $6 million per year. They made an offer to Peppers as well but lost out. Their needs haven't really changed much thus far.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have also been very quiet, focusing on extending their current players. They are very close to signing a long term deal with Jahri Evans that will make him one of the highest paid guards in NFL history, which is good as he derseves it. Other than that they haven't done much. They really need help on their defensive line and there aren't many players who have hit the market that they can go after, so their draft needs stay unchanged I think.
San Diego Chargers
Chargers have been pretty quiet today as well. Not too many rumors about them meeting with players. The big news of course is that they've traded Antonio Cromartie to the Jets for a 3rd round pick. If Cromartie meets certain escalators the pick will move to the 2nd. The other shocker was the last minute tendering of Sproles with a 1st and 3rd.
This really doesn't change much for them. They still need an every down back, they still need a NT to replace Jamal Williams whom they cut (though the San Diego Union-Times says they may resign him).
San Francisco 49ers
We've been pretty quiet today as well. We've had visits from safety Matt Ware and QB David Carr. I expect that if we sign Carr it will impact Shaun Hill more than Alex Smith. Barry Sims has received a couple of calls from other teams intersted in his services and Tony Pashos has meetings scheduled with Denver and Washington.
The Seahawks haven't signed anyone yet but they've been busy meeting with players. Brandon Marshall will meet with the team tomorrow to discuss a deal. TE Benjamin Watson is also scheduled to meet with the team and WR Arnaz Battle is scheduled as well. Clearly the Seahawks are hoping to get some offensive weapons through FA. If they land Marshall they'll have to give up the #6 pick in the draft but they'll still have #14. They need offensive line and QB badly, so my guess is that if either Bradford or Clausen go into freefall and are there at 14 they'll grab him, otherwise it's best offensive tackle left.
St. Louis Rams
Rams have made a few moves but none too flashy. They signed QB AJ Feely to a 2 year $6 million deal. They've also resigned FS Craig Dahl to a 3 year deal. The AJ Feely deal is an interesting one because it gives them a reprieve on their QB needs. They can either pick Suh this year and try to get Locker next year, or they can grab Bradford or Clausen this year and let him sit behind Feeley for a year to learn and gain some confidence. I think most poeple thought the Rams would make a play for Vick, but that appears to be wrong.