Here are the winners and losers from free agency. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
2013 NFL Free Agency Winners
Thomas Dimitroff is one of the top general managers in the NFL, and he definitely lived up to that distinction this spring. Retaining Tony Gonzalez and stud safety William Moore was huge. Dimitroff also signed a key player in Steven Jackson. There's no doubt that Jackson is not the same running back he once was, but he's a huge upgrade over Michael Turner. What's so great about the acquisition is that Jackson barely cost anything (3 years, $12 million).
I hate the Jermon Bushrod signing. He was way too expensive and isn't even an upgrade over J'Marcus Webb. However, I loved everything else Chicago did in free agency. Martellus Bennett, who was obtained much more cheaply than the inferior Jared Cook was in St. Louis, will serve as a solid intermediate target for Jay Cutler.
Of course, Chicago lost Brian Urlacher. This will depress the fans for a bit, but D.J. Williams will be a cheaper and better solution. Getting Tom Zbikowski for the veteran minimum was also solid.
I know what you're thinking - how can the Broncos be a winner in the wake of Faxgate? Well, what they did otherwise was spectacular. Stealing Wes Welker away from their arch rival was awesome. Signing Louis Vasquez will shore up Peyton Manning's protection. Getting Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie for one year will upgrade the secondary because he'll be motivated. Obtaining Terrance Knighton will help against the run. The Broncos are the best team in the AFC right now.
New Orleans Saints
Much has been made about the Saints' loss of Jermon Bushrod, but Bushrod wasn't very good anyway. He can easily be replaced, so don't look for New Orleans to use its No. 15 overall pick on a tackle. The Saints just don't value the left tackle position as much as other teams.
What I do like for the Saints is the signing of Keenan Lewis. He was one of the top free agent cornerbacks available, so he'll improve the team's woeful secondary.
New York Giants
The patient Giants wait and pounce on good deals, unlike other clueless franchises. General manager Jerry Reese scored cheap, quality signings by obtaining Brandon Myers, Cullen Jenkins and Dan Connor. All three figure to be valuable contributors in 2013, and they were acquired for a combined five years, $11 million. That's how you handle free agency.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers definitely lost to the Seahawks in the free agency arms race, but trading for Anquan Boldin for a late-round pick was a great move. An even better transaction was the Alex Smith deal. San Francisco now has tons of draft picks, so it can move up and obtain a top-notch player. Also, signing Phil Dawson to a cheap deal (1 year, $2.25 million) will fix the team's kicking woes.
The Seahawks dominated the week of the 11th. They first acquired Percy Harvin from the Vikings, giving Russell Wilson a potent weapon to work with for a change. They then shored up their pass rush by signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to cheap deals. Seattle was already No. 1 in my NFL Power Rankings before all of this. This team is going to be scary good in 2013.
2013 NFL Free Agency Losers
The Bills lost one of the best guards in the NFL. This is now yet another big need for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. And speaking of needs, all Buffalo currently has at quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson. The team was forced to cut Ryan Fitzpatrick after general manager Buddy Nix criticized him on a taped conversation - though that move probably would have happened anyway.
The Browns are paying two new players (Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant) a combined $75 million over 10 seasons. That would be fine, except Kruger has just seven career starts and Bryant, who didn't fill a need with Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn up front, doesn't have experience in the 3-4. The Browns probably could have found better deals had they been patient.
There were many poor contracts handed out this offseason. It seemed like the Colts were responsible for half of them. For example...
Ricky Jean-Francois was given $22 million for four seasons even though he's had just five career starts.
LaRon Landry received $14 million in guarantees despite being completely unreliable in terms of staying in the lineup.
Gosder Cherilus was handed $34 million over five years for some reason. Cherilus has sucked for most of his career. Detroit fans were thrilled to see him go, and they all laughed when they saw his new contract.
Erik Walden... no comment.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs gave up way too much for Alex Smith and then overpaid six free agents. The combination of Sean Smith, Chase Daniel, Dunta Robinson, Anthony Fasano, Mike DeVito and Donnie Avery were worth a combined $71.4 million over 19 years. That's nearly $4 million per season for an OK No. 2 corner, three average starters, a backup quarterback with almost zero professional experience and a receiver who drops tons of passes.
Everyone congratulated the Dolphins for signing many key players on the first day of free agency, but Miami is most definitely a loser. The team is going all in for 2013 by overpaying tons of players. Are the Dolphins better? Absolutely. But will these new players help the team make a deep run into the playoffs? Probably not.
The Dolphins treated free agency like someone would playing franchise mode in Madden. "I have an 84 linebacker but there's an 86 linebacker available in free agency, so let me replace him! Oh, a receiver with a 95 speed rating? I want him!" It's stupid. Football is a team game, and compiling a roster as if you're playing fantasy is never a recipe for success. Just look at the 2011 Eagles as an example. There are going to be high expectations in Miami. With all of these moves, the Dolphins will be seen as a contender for the AFC East. Inexperienced teams with high expectations seldom live up to them.
Making matters worse, general manager Jeff Ireland backloaded all of these deals, so the Dolphins will be in terrible salary cap position in 2014 and 2015. Thus, after a disappointing 2013 campaign, they could be bad for a long time.
The Vikings received fair compensation from the Seahawks in the Percy Harvin trade, but then they absolutely blew it with Greg Jennings. Giving Jennings a 5-year, $47.5 million deal is a huge mistake. Jennings obviously was chasing money; if he cared about his career, he would have taken a little less to stay with Aaron Rodgers. Jennings is an overrated receiver who can't stay healthy. He doesn't make Minnesota much better.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers had to improve their offensive line this offseason. They lost stud guard Louis Vasquez to rival Denver and were only able to replace him with the mediocre Chad Rinehart and a man known in Philadelphia as "King Duncrap."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay's front office is not sending a positive message to the players. The team seemed to quit a bit when Aqib Talib was traded last year. This spring, the Buccaneers allowed Michael Bennett and Roy Miller to walk away for minimal money. Eric Wright will also be gone in the near future. Soon enough, all the Buccaneers will be comprised of is Josh Freeman and a bunch of rookies.
According to Tennessee's front office, the trio of Shonn Greene, Sammie Lee Hill and Delanie Walker are worth 10 years, $38.9 million. That's nearly $4 million per year for a backup running back, a third defensive tackle and a blocking tight end. Talk about spending frivolously.
I really don't understand why you keep bashing the 49ers contracts. You have to overpay for guys when you have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Beyond that, they have nearly $70 mill in cap space even after free agency, so what's the big deal if they overspend?