Sunday, March 04, 2007

Some Thoughts as Free Agency Marches Along

Lots of player movement in the first three days of the free agency period in the NFL.

I'll focus on the potential impact to the Eagles and Donte' Stallworth in a second, but here some quick hits:

- The Texans signed RB Ahman Green to a 4-year, $23 Million contract....$5+mill/year for a player on the downside (injuries or no, the 30-year-old Green peaked a few years ago) seems like a bit of a reach. I know he was healthy for most of last year, but he's been a workhorse for a while now, and 30 is that warning line for running backs, who take SO much punishment...Rotoworld suggests that the deal is likely structured to allow the Texans a relatively easy out after two years, and if that's the case (and it likely is, given the relatively modest amount of guaranteed money) it not a terrible signing. One final note, I will present the same caution about this signing that I offered last year about Edgerrin James going to Arizona. Running backs need good O-lines, and the Texans are awful in that department. I know Kubiak brought along the Denver "zone blocking" scheme (nice euphemism for dirty cut blocking), but lets be honest....Houston couldn't keep David Carr upright, but we're supposed to think these guys are turn into run-blocking machines?

Make that A quick hit (singular) cause I want to talk about Stallworth, and that hit wasn't so quick anyway...

But what about the market for the Eagles biggest free agent: Donte Stallworth?
Well folks, there are two schools of thought on this one: no news is good news (i.e. no team seems in a big rush to sign a guy who missed 1/4 of last season with hamstring problems to a big fat contract) and the no news is bad news (the foolish who confuse the Eagles relative silence as a sign of complacency).

But here is what the market is saying about FA WR, and the signs that do not bode well for the potential that the Birds will be able to keep Donte' without breaking the bank:
- Drew Bennett signed a 6yr/30 mill contract with the Rams
- 49ers agreed to a two-year, $4.3 million deal with WR Ashley Lelie. The deal includes a $2 million signing bonus. Not a horrible deal, but Lelie has underachieved his whole career.
- The kicker is this deal: The Patriots plan to sign Miami restricted free-agent wide receiver Wes Welker to a seven-year offers sheet worth $38.5 million. I think this one is the one the Drew Rosenhaus is going to reference regarding Stallworth (the reason is simple: its the BIGGEST DEAL)
This deal is just confusing:
- Jaguars agreed to terms with WR Dennis Northcutt on a five-year contract worth roughly $3.4 million-per-year. He'll get $4.5 million to sign. WHAT the FUCK???!!! Northcutt is next to useless and he gets a hefty pay-day from the Jags??? I have to agree with John Clayton from ESPN when he writes: "It's curious that the Jaguars would spend $4.8 million a year on tackle Tony Pathos when they have two starting tackles under long-term contracts. It is equally baffling that they would spend $3.4 million a year on Dennis Northcutt when they have three receivers who have underachieved the past couple of years. Competition is one thing. Dead cap money from releases are another."

The only good thing: Each of these teams that was looking for add a WR has now done so, the list of potential suitors is getting smaller...Terry Glenn re-upped with Dallas, and with FA WR Kevin Curtis expected to go to either Minnesota or Detroit (to rejoin Mike Martz), I don't know how many destinations for Donte' remain....

*****UPDATE***** just published a report that Donte Stallworth is enrolled in the NFL's substance abuse program. It is mandatory that such information be made available to teams if the player is a free agent, but there was no source on who leaked it to the public (the fines are stiff). Regardless, its means that Donte'--whether he entered voluntarily or failed a drug test (we can say with a degree of surety that it wasn't because of a run-in with the law or else that woulda been all over) --has one strike against him. Another violation would cost him 4 games, and a third is a year suspension.

This will undoubtedly cloud the market for his services, as any teams thinking about signing Stallworth has now been given cause for pause, including the Eagles. I wouldn't go so far as to say this precludes his return to Philly, but any contract the Eagles are likely to offer will almost assuredly contain voidable language to protect the team.

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