Free agency in the NFL certainly got off to an eventful start, even if the Cleveland Browns weren't at the center of discussion. Here is a brief recap of the teams who made the biggest splash:
Free Agency Around the NFL
- Lets start with the Chicago Bears. Julius Peppers signed a six-year deal worth about $91.5 million, with about $42 million of that guaranteed. I can't help but think this is a poor decision for the Bears. They already blew a ton of money on Jay Cutler last season, and now they have guaranteed over $40 million to a defensive end who is 30 years old. Peppers' best days are probably behind him, and although he should still be productive, the Bears needed a lot more help on defense than at just one position.
(Browns news after the jump)
- Chicago also signed RB Chester Taylor, the player who would've been my top pick to be the Browns' backup running back. Taylor will get $12.5 million over four years, with $7 million of that guaranteed. I imagine Matt Forte and Taylor will split carries. The other signing was that of TE Brandon Manumaleuna, who signed a five-year deal. Now the rumors are circulating as to whether or not TE Greg Olsen will be dealt. He'd certainly be an attractive option for the Browns after being severely underutilized by the Bears.
- Besides acquiring Corey Williams from the Browns, the Detroit Lions went out and signed DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and WR Nate Burleson. Overall, I guess the moves were ok for the Lions, as they acquired two starters for their defensive line and a receiver to line up opposite Calvin Johnson. Still, for Burleson's production, it almost seems like a Donte Stallworth type of contract he's receiving. I see the moves as acceptable, but nothing nearly enough to suddenly start contending with the Packers or the Vikings.
- I think the Ravens made a really good move in acquiring Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals for a third- and fourth-round pick. He'll get a 28 million contract, but it's not like the Ravens made a move at one player who will be the only threat on their offense. Ray Rice is already a machine on the ground, and between Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Stallworth, and now Boldin, one could argue that Baltimore has the best group of receivers in the division.
- The Jets didn't get the best cornerback tandem possible in Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha, but now they have Revis and Antonio Cromartie. I don't quite agree with Ryan's assessment, as Cromartie has some weaknesses, but he had high praise for the former Charger:
As a cornerback, he has "extraordinary gifts," according to Rex Ryan, who said Cromartie's man-to-man coverage skills are so good that he can use him occasionally on the No. 1 receiver instead of Darrelle Revis.
- Without Kurt Warner, Boldin, and now Antrel Rolle (who signed with the Giants), I sense that there will be a new division leader in the NFC West this year. Just in, the Cardinals also just lost Karlos Dansby to the Miami Dolphins. Another big loss for the Cardinals, but a big gain for the Dolphins.
Cleveland Browns in Free Agency
The Browns were obviously active right away with the trading of Corey Williams, a deal which will net a fifth-round pick for the Browns and prevent us from having to pay him his roster bonus (the Browns also gave the Lions a seventh-rounder).
For what Williams contributed to the Browns, in hindsight, I'd love to have that second-round pick back. At the time though, we were pretty much thrilled with the decision and I drank the Kool-Aid in belief that it was a great move. Here are the other notes and rumors that have been surrounding the Browns in free agency:
- As everyone knows by now, Joshua Cribbs' new contract was announced Friday. He received a three-year deal worth $20 million, with $7.5 million guaranteed. As anticipated, it was a true compromise between the Browns' $5 million offer and Cribbs' wishes for $10 million.
Cribbs undoubtedly helped make the Browns a respectable team last year, from giving us the best starting field position in football to being a threat out of the Wildcat formation. The team now needs to work on finding a way to get him the ball more often on offense next year, even if it is as a receiver and not out of the Wildcat. As a receiver, we can find opportunities to give Cribbs the ball short and set up quick blocks down the field.
- Amidst D'Qwell Jackson being upset about his 2nd-round tender, the Browns are set to meet with LB Scott Fujita today. Fujita played OLB in the 4-3 for the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, but would probably move to the inside in the Browns' 3-4 defense. For the right price, I think Fujita fits in nicely with the type of players Eric Mangini likes to recruit.
- The situation at quarterback is where we could be seeing the biggest headlines still. Will there be a suitor for Derek Anderson (the Cardinals)? Will there be a surprise in which Brady Quinn gets dealt? Will the Browns move to trade for Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb, or Seneca Wallace? Or, could the Browns end up bringing in David Carr if he doesn't sign with the 49ers? I'm really not too interested in Carr being a member of the Browns, but I'd be open to the other options. In the end though, I'm still willing to wait patiently and see what Quinn could do with a full season of work.
- The Browns did sign one free agent -- one of our own. That would be S Ray Ventrone, who received a three-year, $2.2 million deal.
- OL Ryan Tucker officially announced that he's retiring.
- Because the Seahawks gave a fourth-round tender to OG Rob Sims, there is speculation that another team will jump in to sign him. He has ties to Ohio and OSU, and a few writers have speculated that the Browns would seem like a good landing spot for him. After losing Hank Fraley and Rex Hadnot, Sims could be the type of former player that Holmgren would want to land in Cleveland.
I can't really say I'm disappointed by the fact that the Browns haven't made a "splash" in free agency. When I look at most of these contracts that are being handed out, I'm saying "pass" at every one of them. The only moves that have been remotely attractive to me are the ones that involve trades.