A Crazy First Week in the Lockout Free NFL

With the lockout finally over teams have been free to make trades and sign free agents, something they've been doing so fast you'd almost think the start of the season was just around the corner.  Actually, the start of the season is just around the corner.  If fact, in the time it takes me to write this I'm sure at least two or three new big deals will have taken place.  But let's look at some of the bigger moves that have already happened in just the first week, and don't worry, no annoying slide show to navigate here.

Sleepless in Seattle

Alright, I admit that's an unoriginal heading, but few teams have been more active over the last week than the Seattle Seahawks.  Early on long time Seahawks quarterback Matt "I'm not married to Elizabeth" Hasselbeck signed with the Titans, replacing Kerry Collins as the starter.  Hey, if one really old quarterback at the end of his career is not working for you, why not try again with another?  The Seahawks then decided the best option to replace him was long time journeyman Tarvaris Jackson from the Vikings.  That's almost as bad as trading for another teams 3rdstring quarterback who's looked good in spring training games but never actually done anything in a real game.  Wait a minute.  I guess they did try that last year when they traded for the Chargers Charlie Whitehurst.  Is Matt Leinart available? 

But they weren't done raiding the Vikings.  They then signed a player the Vikings would miss when they pried away Sidney Rice.  At least Rice will have some familiarity with Jackson, even if it's being familiar with just how far over his head Jackson's passes usually sail.  They then rounded it all off by signing former Raiders offensive lineman Robert Gallery to help shore up one of the more porous offensive lines in football.  I guess the Seahawks really like signing players away from teams with pirate themed mascots.

 

Take our headache please

When the Redskins announced they were going to be switching their defense from a 4-3 front to a 3-4 front the 100 million dollar man, Albert Haynesworth, complained that the switch would hurt his numbers since nose tackles clog up lanes but rarely make the tackle or get the sack.  He feared fans would look at his stats and complain he wasn't actually worth all the money he was being paid.  Unbeknownst to him, things would end up being worse than even he imagined.  Turns out, playing nose tackle not only hurts your stats but it makes it hard to pass a fitness test or make it to practice.  Now he's off to the Patriots after they traded an autographed copy of "Good Will Hunting" with signatures of both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to get him.

Of course, it's not the first time the Patriots have traded for a former pro bowl player who's numbers had taken a dive.  In 2007 the Patriots traded with the Raiders for much maligned wide receiver Randy Moss (who's now retired, if you can call not being able to find a single team willing to sign you "retired").  Moss, suddenly finding himself playing for a team that had a chance to win, decided he should actually make an attempt to run his routes, and for three years put up huge numbers for New England.  Now the Patriots are rolling the dice again.

But they weren't done with Haynesworth.  A few days later they traded a case of Neccos (or flavored chalk as my wife likes to call it) to obtain Bengals wide receiver Chad "85 in Spanish".  While Haynesworth looks to be somewhat of a gamble, the trade for Ochocinco seems a safe bet.  Even playing for a bad Bengals team, Ochocinco finished the season with 67 receptions for 831 yards.  Those numbers should only go up with Tom Brady throwing to him.

The real question is, if the Bengals are willing to trade Ochocinco, why won't they trade Carson Palmer?  Is it only because Palmer publicly demanded a trade but Ochocinco didn't?  If that's the case, it's pretty petty (unlike Tom Petty) and it does nothing to improve their team.  It's kind of like when my wife reminds me to take the trash to the curb.  I was planning on doing it anyways but now that she's made a point of reminding me I no longer want to do it since it seems like I'm only doing it because she said something.  So I leave it there and let the trash pile up for another week.  Sure, I have to endure the stench of it just as much as she does but I'm not going to be told what to do even if it's something I was going to do anyways. 

You're still here?

For one glorious day in April the lockout was lifted and players were allowed back into their team's training facilities.  They also received playbooks including 49ers free agent quarterback Alex Smith.  Since he wasn't officially a member of the 49ers many fans wondered if it meant he was going to resign.  So when he signed his one year contract for $5 million and officially became a 49er once again, 49er fans from all over collectively let out a giant, "Meh". 

Best case scenario for Smith and the 49ers would be if it turned out similarly to how things worked out for the Chargers and Drew Breese the year they drafted Phillip Rivers.  Breese played so well Rivers had to wait a couple years before finally getting a chance to play.  So while people could go on the fictional ride "The Michael Vick Experience (the link works now)" and see what it was like to run down the field, cutting left and right, and spinning away from tackles, others could ride "The Phillip Rivers Experience" and see what it was like to walk down the sidelines holding a clipboard (In interest of full disclosure, I stole that).  If Smith finally lives up to his potential, great, but if Smith plays like Smith than at the worst he signs somewhere else next year as a backup, and Colin Kaepernick has one year to learn the offense before taking over.  Although how ironic would it be if Smith did leave next year and started playing great with another team after the 49ers gave him more second chances than Lindsey Lohan. 

It's been fun New Orleans

When the Saints drafted running back Mark Ingram in the first round of the draft, Reggie Bush immediately tweeted, "It's been fun New Orleans."  The Saints responded by saying they had no desire to trade Bush and Bush himself later went back on his statement.  Of course, everyone knew there was no way they Saints were going to keep so many running backs so it didn't surprise anyone when they traded Bush to Miami. 

Since we live in the age of Sports Center the casual fan seems to believe Bush is a dynamic playmaker, while the truth is he's a very average player who can occasionally show flashes of brilliance.  In his five years with the Saints Bush has totaled 2,090 rushing yards and 2,142 receiving yards, while missing 20 games due to injury, never making a pro bowl and never having a season where he rushed for over 600 yards.  In other words, he's the prototypical change of pace back who has value in the return game, but is nowhere near being worth the number 2 overall pick.  I guess the Texans knew what they were doing after all when they chose defensive lineman Mario Williams with the first pick, which is more than I can say for the Texans fans who jeered Williams in his first season as if he chose himself. 

Now Dolphins fans will get to know Bush much the same way a newly married couple gets to know each other.  While they were dating they only saw the other person at their best, much like a highlight reel, but once you're married and have to wake up to Mr/Mrs halitosis breath every morning, things aren't nearly as exciting.

Donovan McNabb, come on down!

After enduring two years of the soup opera known as Brett Favre, the Vikings have decided to try their luck with another future hall of fame quarterback who may or may not have something left in the tank when they traded for McNabb.  They then let their best receiver Sidney Rice leave town and replaced him Devin Aromashodu.  I know.  I thought the same thing when I saw that as well.  Who?  At least he can still hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson and they won't have to worry about any sexting stories.

Kevin Kolb is our future!

Quarterback Kurt Warner let the fans in Arizona know how it felt for at least for a few years what it was like to cheer for a winning team, but after that brief respite it was back to the playoff desert (Nice play on words right?).  Now that they know what it feels like to win, they're hoping to return to the promised land by sending the king's ransom of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round draft pick to the Eagles in return for Kevin Kolb.  It was a steal for the Eagles since Kolb was expendable thanks to the resurgence of Michael Vick, while for the Cardinals only time will tell if it was a smart move or if it will forever be included in many top 10 lists of the worst trades in NFL history alongside Herschel Walker.  At least they get bonus point for trying which is more than can be said for the Bengals.

The Eagle has landed

No free agent was more sought after than Nnamdi Asomugha.  Every team with need in their secondary and some cap room to spend went after the lockdown corner.  Yet I don't think anyone saw the Eagles as one of his serious suitors especially after they traded for Rodgers-Cromartie.  Now the Eagles have a secondary that features Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel.  Throw in the signings of defensive ends Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin and the Eagles defense has become the Freddy Krueger of every NFL quarterbacks nightmares.

What's worse news for every team in need of help in the secondary (I'm looking at you 49ers), most of the top cornerbacks after Asomugha are also gone.  Johnathan Joseph, Josh Wilson, Antonio Cromartie, Ike Taylor, and even Nate Clements are all gone.  About the only quality corner left is Brent Grimes, and to a lesser extent, Brandon Carr and Carlos Rodgers.  Any chance the 49ers can take a mulligan on the recent draft and get Prince Amukamara instead?  He may not be quite on the level with Asomugha but at least his name is just as hard to spell. 

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