The 2009 NFL free agency thread

I know the [thread=505559]Draft thread[/thread] was made first, but the teams do go through signing free agents first, often affecting their needs on draft day.
What does you team need? What can they afford? What free agents will they re-sign?

Here are Walter Football’s free agent lists. Free Agency officially starts on February 27th.

I have no idea what my 49ers are doing. I’d like to see them get a playmaker on defense. The bigger the better. Julius Peppers would be super-duper awesome, and we run the 3-4 he’s looking for. It’s probably a pipe dream, but I can dream, can’t I?

Here is a FAQ-style breakdown of the insane intricacies of NFL free agency, if you really want to know the ins and outs like an armchair agent.

Forget Manning–to-Burress or the stingy defense – you want to know the main reason the Giants had that amazing playoff run after the '07 season? It’s because of my mother-in-law. She gave me an Amani Toomer jersey for Christmas that year. I wore it faithfully each Sunday, standing up and letting out a “Toooooooomer” each time he made a catch. After she gave me that jersey, they won the Super Bowl and were the #1 seed in the NFC the following year. Now, it’s going to get hung on my “Former Giants” wall <sniff>.

Ah well…time to look forward.

Since the whole Burress thing is still way up in the air (and as much as I’d like to have a non-flaky version of the guy back, it’s asking a lot just to keep him out of prison), I’d like to see them go after a quality receiver – Lance Moore would look nice in the Blue.

I’d also like to see them grab up a good OLB – maybe see if they can get a deal on Michael Boley and whip him back into shape?

I guess I’ll start here and save the Draft specific stuff until the Combine gets underway.

The Bears are a weird team in a weird situation, in many ways they are a walking contradiction. They have some great talent, but they are talent-poor overall. They are inexperienced and old at the same time. They are a poorly coached team that tends to play above their talent level. All this averages out to mediocrity, which just isn’t getting the job done.

More than anything this team needs a change in leadership. It won’t happen this year, and next year might even be a long shoot. Bears ownership tends to wait one or two years too long to make management changes, which I suppose is better than having a hair trigger, but it’s frustrating to watch. The fact that Lovie has taken over the defensive play calling and brought in his buddy Marinelli it’s safe to say that next year will determine his future. There won’t be any more scapegoating of the coordinators and position coaches. Jerry Angelo is a little trickier, but most people seem to think he and Lovie are a package deal at this point. I don’t think he’s irreplaceable though, he’s an above average talent evaluator and scouter but he has very poor judgment when it comes to relative value and seems helpless in free agency and the trade market.

Offensively the Bears have issues pretty much everywhere. Let’s go position by position:

QB: Obviously the situation here is dicey and well covered. I find it strange that this season is the one where Angelo starts saying the the QB position is a priority, we were actually fairly steady there this year and Orton was gradually improving. He’s probably never going to be a Pro Bowl QB but I can see him being successful in the postseason if we are able to re-establish the Defense and Running Game. Also, the WR group we had was awful so evaluating him is hard to do accurately. I’m not sure why Angelo wasn’t convinced the QB position was important the previous 8 seasons.

We need depth and I’d like to see us draft a guy with a prototypical NFL arm. I’d be willing to give Warner or McNabb a shot, but that’s probably a pipe dream and without quality WRs what’s the point. All in all I think we stand pat here and probably bring in a veteran backup to replace Grossman as the #2. We already signed Brett Basanez to push Caleb Hanie as the #3.

RB: I love what we have in Matt Forte but I think the powers that be are being foolish in using him. They are trying to make him a work horse back, which is a outdated notion. I love that he’s a 3 down back and can do everything, but his effectiveness will be diminished if he’s over used. Also, Forte simply isn’t fast enough to be a home run threat. I would love the Bears to draft a speedster, even if he is a bit one dimensional, somewhere in the middle rounds to spell Forte and give them an ability to field a viable 2 back formation. If the guy can split wide into the slot even better.

All in all, I don’t see much happening in free agency on this front. The only RBs that are available are old washed up guys that are essentially more fragile versions of Forte. Speed guys simply don’t get onto the market. I’d love to see Tomlinson in a Bears uni. He’s probably not going to be worth what he’ll cost, but I still love the guy and would have fun cheering him on.

WR: This is the ugliest position on the team and the one most important in free agency. The Devin Hester experiment isn’t a bust but it’s not a solution either. It’s silly for the Bears to continue trying to make him a #1 option and it’s even more silly to line him up on the outside. Terrible coaching there. I’m convinced he could be a utterly dominant slot and if you had a Anquan Boldin type on the outside and forced teams to cover Hester with a Safety or a Nickel, he’d be devastating. The rest of the mix of old and young guys, Booker, Lloyd, Bradley and Davis all could be worthy of roster spots so long as we get a stud to move them into the #3 spot where they belong.

In short, a big splash at WR would solve a lot of issues. A half-assed move at WR does nothing for us. If we get Boldin or Houshmandzadeh we’ll be in great shape. The second tier of Bryant, Washington or Devery Henderson would all make me very happy at a fair price. Getting a feisty slot guy like Lance Moore, Mike Furrey or Jabar Gaffney would be a disaster. You just can’t field one of those guys when you have Hester doing the same thing and bringing them in would mean the Bears are stuck playing Hester out of position at the outside WR spot. I can’t decide if I’d prefer one of the older big names or one of the cheaper, younger more iffy guys. My first instinct is to want Henderson since an outside WR is going to be a decoy more often than not with Orton as the QB and there’s no point in paying top dollar for a 31 year old Housh or having to give something up in trade for a 28 year old Boldin.

OL: The O-Line is still a weakness and they need to keep retooling. We are getting very old with Kreutz and Tait and their performances the last few years have been subpar considering their price. Last years rookie tackle was hurt from the get go and might never amount to anything, nice work Jerry. We need him to develop badly and we need to resign St Clair.

I’m not sure we need to be shopping in free agency unless there’s a bargain out there who can add interior depth. Honestly I don’t know how good those guy are, but I know that mid-round draft picks don’t tend to succeed on the line either. In any case, this isn’t our most pressing need in free agency unless spending money here allows us more freedom to make a splash in the draft.

On the Defense things are equally questionable. What was once a strength is now a highly paid liability. I’ll take this a little less specifically.

In the secondary Nathan Vasher and Mike Brown will probably be gone and it’ll be a relief to dump those big contracts. Not sure how much Vasher will hurt the cap, but he certainly isn’t worth the money any more and he can’t stay healthy. We have a few guys in Graham and Manning who will benefit from the playing time but Steltz and McGowan need to remain backups.

I’d love to see this money thrown at a stud Cornerback, and Nnamdi Asomugha would be the ultimate fantasy. He’s #1 on my list of offseason wishes. The Raiders will probably want to franchise him but with that organization you never know and perhaps a deal can be worked out to bring him here. We’d be able to move Tillman to the weak side and have Graham as the Nickel. Not sure if there’s another guy out there of his caliber but I think a first-rate veteran is crucial.

We need Safety help too and that’s a reasonably deep position with free agents. The draft isn’t so I hope we can put something together before then. Jermaine Phillips would be an awesome second option if Nnamdi isn’t there. If we spend big money anywhere this offseason I hope it’s in the secondary.

The Linebackers also have a hole at the Strong Side. Hillenmeyer was a stupid signing from the outset, anyone could see he was living off a rock solid D-Line and that he’d be toast if that group faltered. Michael Boley would be a terrific replacement. The Bears don’t need a first rate guy here since Urlacher and Briggs can still bring it but they need an athlete who can shed a block. This is another spot where the draft can help, but if a cheap option in FA lets you spend you picks elsewhere they should do it.

Our D-Line needs to play better but I’m not convinced we need to invest a ton of money there. We have a bunch of guys who have at one time or another been Pro Bowlers and they are still in their primes. Hopefully Marinelli can make the difference here.

All in all the Bears can really help themselves in Free Agency, especially if they fill some holes cheaply. Ideally I’d like to see them focus on WR, CB and S in Free Agency and address everything else via the draft.

My semi-realistic dream list would be Asomugha, Henderson, Dawan Landry and Rashad Jeanty or Michael Boley

Wow. Discounting the guys who are already guaranteed to stay put, there are absolutely no QBs on that list that you’d even think about bringing in to start. The only starting-quality RB will be Ward (assuming the Gints keep Jacobs). Houshmanzadeh is the only WR I’d pay for.

Good year to be looking for a LB or a DB, though.

Wow, a non-Bengals fan even knows who Rashad Jeanty is…nice!

Houshmanzadeh just told a Dayton reporter today that if he gets tagged, he’s not showing up for the preseason workouts and minicamps. Fucking yay.

TJ needs to remember that Chad is one of the big reasons he gets so many receptions. Without a genuine #1 opposite him to draw double coverage all day long, TJ wouldn’t have near as much success as he has had.

He’ll also remember the days with Carson Palmer fondly if he goes to a QB starved team like the Bears.

The Bengals need offensive line and linebackers. We pick 6th, so we should get good value there.

I hope that we can tag and trade TJ, otherwise he walks for nothing. I think he is going to be wanting far more money than the Bengals arew willing to pay the NFL’s best 30 plus year old possession receiver. Chad may also get traded during the draft, which the Bengals should have done with Washington last year.

I think the Bengals offense can regain enough form with Palmer back, some offensive line addittions and tweaking, and a solid running game (which surprisingly may very well come from Cedric Benson).

Their defense is now under the watchful eye of Mike Zimmer, who really started to turn the unit around in the latter half of the season. A stud LB, a DE and a backup CB are what this defense needs. We have to figure out a way to generate more pressure on the QB with our front four.

The Bengals just franchise tagged…their kicker Shayne Graham.

Bye TJ, thanks for the memories.

You know, the Lions are going to have to get a new kicker some day…

I’m not happy about that.

Your priorities for improving your team are out of whack if you’re worried about your kicker!!!

look of dejection

Fred Taylor was released by the Jaguars today. He was playing like a guy with a lot left in the tank so I think he might be the top veteran RB available right now. He seems like a perfect fit in New England, and if Brady is 100% that will make they scary again next year. I was shocked when I read that he ranks 16th on the NFL’s career rushing list with 11,271 yards, and most people remember him for his groin killing their fantasy teams…go figure.

Chris McAllister was cut by the Ravens. He was hurt a lot last season, but he was one of the best in the game not too long ago. He’ll find a starting job somewhere this year, maybe Rex Ryan will make a run at him.

Jeff Garcia was informed he will not be offered a new contract by the Bucs meaning he’ll be somewhere else. The ESPN guys are saying the likely landing spots are Minnesota and San Fransisco. Both very logical choices and teams that he’d probably make a whole lot better right away. As a Bears fan I would prefer that he went to Singletary in SF.

As a 49er fan, I’d think that would be bizarrely awesome, somehow.
Maybe Terrell Owens comes back, too, after being released by the Cowboys. That would not be so awesome, however.

Why the hell would San Francisco want him? They found a decent (not great) quarterback last year. His name is Shaun Hill.

Actually, I’m not sure why anyone would want Garcia. He didn’t throw many picks last year, but he didn’t throw any touchdowns either, and he finally made me understand why NFL personnel people don’t like short quarterbacks. I’m not kidding when I say he had to jump to throw a pass at least five times in every game. Also, his deep ball was terrible.

He’s really, really fun to watch, but he’s not really really good. I would rather have had Luke McCown starting last year, although Garcia was clearly better than Griese.

Personally, I’m watching the Chiefs with interest. I was thoroughly impressed by Tyler Thigpen last season. His first week starting I went out and grabbed the defense he was playing in every one of my fantasy league. By the third week, I was practically doing the opposite.

ETA: Omni, since Rex Ryan was the one who benched McAllister last season, I doubt he’ll be too interested in signing him.

Well, I mentioned it because there have been published reports that the Niners are indeed interested. So it’s pretty notable.

To try and guess what the Niners are thinking I’d speculate that Singletary is not as high on Shaun Hill as you’d think since his success came in that Martz offense. Perhaps he’s questioning if he can sustain it. Also you know Singletary wants to be conservative and control the ball, and Garcia for all his faults, is very efficient. He doesn’t turn the ball over and he completes about 61% of his passes, he mobile still and can extend plays and might give Frank Gore’s numbers a bump on outlet and screen passes. Probably more to the point, the Niners realize that you need to have 2 QBs who can start on your roster. Even if Hill is their guy and if he can lead them, having a reliable veteran back-up is golden when you are starting a young upside guy. Look at Kurt Warner, Kerry Collins and Gus Frerotte last season.

Good point, forgot about that, but it’s worth mentioning that the Jets have a pretty suspect CB situation. Ryan might prefer the Devil he knows over the Devils he doesn’t assuming demand for him isn’t sky high.

I don’t know if I’d call it suspect. Revis has certainly lived up to his draft slot.

Revis is very good, they have no one worth a damn on the other side and no depth to speak of.

The Panthers have officially put their franchise tag on Peppers.

The Raiders inked Asomugha to a 3 year, $45.3M deal. Not a huge surprise and I figured the Bears getting him was a pipe dream, but it’s still a bummer. I’m surprised the Raiders settled for a such a short term deal.

This line in the article is very strange:

Um…yeah, if they keep him for the 3rd year the entire deal is “guaranteed”. How is this notable?

The Steelers rarely get too involved in free agency so I won’t go into their needs much, they’ll sign a few depth guys, that’s about it. I do want to comment on McAllister though since I’ve watched him many times playing against the Steelers. Any team needing a safety should be signing this guy. He was a lockdown corner for a while and maybe he can still do that, but I’m sure he can make the switch to safety, especially Free Safety.

Well, the 49ers definitely could use a good free safety, I’ll keep an eye on that one.

How good of a tackler is he? Most systems require the Safety these days to play almost as a 4th LB.