After hearing all week about Mark Dominik’s comments regarding free agency and the loosening of pockets, I couldn’t help but wonder what this could finally mean (Rice-Schiano reunion anyone?).
As Bucs fans, we have endured a few too many years of not getting free agents we thought may make an impact around RayJay stadium. Maybe we were right, or maybe that is why we are not ourselves an NFL general manager.
I also began to hope that if this free agency period is the culmination of Mark Dominik’s brain crunching penny pinching (not to mention the Glazer’s), that we don’t get burned. This could cause another relentless amount of years in what I liked to call “futile frugality”. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in building through the draft. It’s what got the Patriots where they are year after year, and a team like the Detroit Red Wings in other sports. They never have great picks, it seems to be the diamonds in the rough they find in round five etc. But I also feel in these cases that you do need to make moves to complete a puzzle, and when you do make free agent signings, they have to be the right ones.
I’m sure if we signed all the big names possible and used all of our cap space, all of the fans would be ready, popcorn in one hand, Bucs pennant waving in the other, mouth foaming et al. But we have to hope that with all of the comments being made, we make smart signings.
Just to see what damage could be done, I went back a few years and looked at the biggest free agents that were signed to new teams, and their relative numbers, because numbers don’t lie.
2011 Players Below Expectation
Unfortunately for the Eagles, this is still fresh in our memories. Last years “Dream Team” off season is exactly what I want to avoid. Don’t get me wrong they may be a good and talented unit, but after a rough season of trying to fit together, as a Philly fan that could not have been fun to watch with high expectations (though neither was our season). Nnamdi, in particular, saw a slight rise in some stats, but did not have a career high anywhere on the field. He was still a good acquisition for any team that was willing, but hindsight is not as nice. He was ALL people talked about.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is many reasons for the decline in his numbers. His own injuries plagued a big chunk of his season, and when healthy, it seemed his quarterbacks were not. He still did look good in a couple games, but I’m sure it was not the production the Seahawks were hoping for (Also see Zach Miller). Have to wonder what his thoughts are on Christian Ponder.
2011 Players Above Expectation
Moved: Re-signed to Carolina
People were loving Jonathan Stewart previous to last season. I know a big part of Williams’ rise in numbers was because of Cam Newton, but nobody suspected the teams top RB would be DeAngelo. Regardless of the cause, Williams had his third highest carries, and yards of his career, and although they weren’t close to personal highs, his avg. YPC was 5.4. I’ll take that anyday.
Moved: Seattle Seahawks to Tennessee Titans
Now I understand he wasn’t exactly a hot commodity but as I just stated neither was DeAngelo Williams. The reason I bring his name up is to show that there is some free agents that are always tried, tested and true. Hasselbeck must have left Pete Carroll red-faced for letting him go after the season they had. Hasselbeck posted his highest number of completions in his second highest number of attempts. Although his 14 interceptions weren’t pretty he did post numbers close to the prime of his career and was helping the Titans win games without a strong run game. This shows me there is low risk low reward guys that can be a pleasant surprise when given the chance.
2010 Free Agency Bust
Moved: Green Bay Packers to Jacksonville Jaguars
As one of the biggest names in free agency on the Dline, many people thought it was a good pickup. However, health issues have not allowed Kampman to get back to true form and this is one signing that the Jags wish they could take back.
2010 Free Agency Steal
Kyle Vanden Bosch
Moved: Tennessee Titans to Detroit Lions
Now the main reason I say he was a steal is because this is exactly the type of signing the Bucs could use. Vanden Bosch came into Detroit, his stats increased and he is a great mentor to the young linemen they have drafted. Sure he had a few less tackles in his second year with them, but his sacks and turnovers doubled and he is not showing signs of slowing.
I could keep going back in years and bringing up the Albert Haynesworths of ’09 (great dump TENN), or the Micheal Turners of ’08 (great pickup ATL), but to me it seems almost simple. Very few big names that have made it to free agency (cause if they are THAT good what team isn’t going to try and restructure to keep them) have been the big player, or the last puzzle piece they were thought to be. It seems the more sifting and sorting and studying you do the more it will pay off. Maybe this formula the Bucs front office has, is gonna pay off. Hell if they find that diamond in the rough that wasn’t working in someone else’s scheme than great. But if they try to be flashy without doing their homework, it’s going to leave alot of sour fans with a bitter taste.