The following is an article written by Real Football Services. They are a frequent contributor on newyorkjets.com.
We talked last week in this space about some of the big free agent signings that will make an impact this coming season. Some teams, most notably the Cardinals and Dolphins, made moves that, at first glance, would appear to put them on the road to success. On the flip side of the coin however, there were a few teams who struggled to improve their team through free agency, either by the lack of quality players they were able to sign, or by virtue of the players they let get away.
Here's a short list of some of the biggest offseason gaffs this year.
A Big Hole to Fill
Everyone talks about OT Walter Jones being the best tackle in the game. This is true. But what made the Seahawks so dominant on the left side of the line was the combination of Jones and all-pro OG Steve Hutchinson. Hutch is a roadgrader in the run game and is very athletic and physical as a pass protector, and is well on his way to becoming the premiere player at his position in the NFL. While we have a hard time justifying spending $50 million on a guard, the Seahawks made a major miscalculation by slapping Hutchinson with only a transition tag, and giving him an out.
Making matters worse, the Hawks don't have a sure-fire replacement. Pork Chop Womack is a veteran player who will get the initial nod, but he has struggled with injuries and been inconsistent. If he can't hold the job, free agent Tom Ashworth may get a shot at the spot until fourth round draft choice Rob Sims is ready…they hope. It will be interesting to see how the loss of Hutchinson effects the running ability of Shaun Alexander.
What Have You Done for Me Lately
Adam Vinatieri, by all accounts, did not have his best year in 2005. And yes, he is only a kicker. But imagine where the Patriots might be right now without him. Simply one of the best big game, clutch kickers in the NFL, Vinatieri has bailed the Pats out on numerous occasions.
But now Vinatieri goes to the indoor comforts of Indianapolis where the Colts have been looking for the edge that will vault them past New England and the rest of the AFC into that elusive Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the Pats settle on Martin Grammatica, a man who has missed 18 of his last 45 attempts. That's 40%!! And only four of those attempts were from 50 yards or more. Grammatica has a strong leg, but is erratic and hasn't shown the ability to make the big kick that New Englanders have grown accustomed to.
Is Brady a Magician? He'll Have to Be
While we're on the Patriots, who is going to catch the well-thrown passes of Tom Brady? Now in his sixth season, Brady has made an art of taking what the defense gives him, finding the open man, and spreading the ball around. But even he has to be concerned with the makeup of his receiving corps. They lost David Givens to free agency, and while Chad Jackson has speed and talent, he is still a rookie whose physical tools did not always translate into big plays on the football field in college. Troy Brown is now in his 14th year and is not the player he once was. Deion Branch can still lead the group, but the man the Pats signed as their second starter, Reche Caldwell, has just 76 catches and 7 TD in his FIRST FOUR YEARS in the NFL and still doesn't have 1,000 career receiving yards. He struggled to break into the starting lineup of a bad receiving corps in San Diego.
Brees Can't Win
All Drew Brees did in San Diego the last two seasons was lead his team to 21 wins, a playoff berth, and an AFC West title while earning Pro Bowl honors as one of the most productive QB's in the league. Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer leaves him in a meaningless game at the end of last season and Brees suffers a shoulder injury, then lets him go while handing the reins to the unproven Phillip Rivers. When you have LT and Antonio Gates on your roster, you have some leeway with moves like this, but they can't carry your offense if the QB can't get them the ball. It remains to be seen how this will play out.
For Brees, he seemed to land on his feet with a nice $10 million payday in New Orleans, until the team completely dismantled their offensive line. Stellar OC LeCharles Bentley signed with Cleveland, starting OG Kendyl Jacox was released, OT Wayne Gandy was traded to Atlanta, and RT Jammal Brown was moved to LT where he hasn't played since HS. How's that shoulder feeling Drew? Better yet, how are the legs feeling, because you could be running for your life this season.
CB Woodson to the Pack.
Charles Woodson has the ability to be a playmaker when he wants to be, but the trouble is figuring out when he would like to be that playmaker. Coaches questioned his heart in Oakland, and fans in Green Bay have to question why their team spent big free agent money on the guy who hasn't played a full 16-games season in five years.
WR Bradford to Detroit
Yes, we know he's slated to be a starter in Mike Martz' new offense. Our question is why? Corey Bradford is nearly ten years into an NFL career that has yet to see a 50-catch season, and though he has some long speed, he has averaged less than 14 yards per catch over the last two years.
Milloy to Atlanta
While Lawyer Milloy can be a physical presence in a secondary in dire need of it, he is in his 11th season and on the downside of his career. Though he was a solid starter for the Bills the last three years, he was unspectacular, and the Patriots found him to be expendable before that. Solid player, but not a difference maker for a defense that desperately needs one.