Because of the lockout, it was obvious that teams needed to make moves, and make moves fast, as we have already seen teams open up its training facilities for camp. The end result? Players signing on with teams faster than you can say 'free agent.'
Ten may seem like a lot of transactions–signings, trades, releases etc.–to list, but trust me I am doing you all a favor by only listing these 10 (plus a few honorable mentions).
Note: these are not in order of importance, they are simply the 10 I believe will play out with the most impact on 2011, and future seasons.
Vikings land former Eagle and Redskin Donovan McNabb for a sixth round draft pick
This deal shows me that McNabb understands he's nearing the end of his career, and Minnesota needs someone who can mentor the rookie Christian Ponder. There's no doubt McNabb will start week one for the Vikes, but he will need to hand over the team to Ponder at some point.
What I think will be interesting to see is whether coach Frazier will let Ponder see the field this season, or wait and start him week one of 2012. We'll see what happens, but either way this has huge ramifications in the NFC North.
Hasselbeck leaves Seattle for Tennessee; 'Hawks agree to sign former Vikings Jackson and Rice to deals
Yesterday morning's big news came when 35-year old veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck signed a three-year deal to join the Tennessee Titans. Just last month Tennessee's hefty vet, Kerry Collins, announced his retirement, therefore leaving rookie Jake Locker to fend for himself.
Hasselbeck quickly came to the rescue, and prompted Tennessee to make a decision on Vince Young's future–he will no longer be a Tennessee Titan.
This chain of events was set off when Seattle had agreed to sign former Minnesota Vikings backup signal caller Tarvaris Jackson to a deal. This had reportedly forced Hasselbeck to look elsewhere, and quickly found a new home with the Titans.
Late last night it was reported that Seattle will add Jackson's Minnesota teammate, WR Sidney Rice, to a five-year deal. Why Rice decided to leave the Vikings, who had a great setup with the addition of McNabb, AP running the ball and a stingy defense led by the ferocious Jared Allen, no one will ever know. Seems to me it was all about the money.
Surprise? I think not.
Cardinals acquire backup QB Kevin Kolb from Eagles for CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick (ARZ to sign Kolb to five-year extension worth $63 million, $22 million guaranteed)
This has been one of the biggest headliner rumors all off-season long, but Arizona clearly couldn't pull the trigger on the deal until the lockout ended. With subpar play from the quarterbacking position in 2010, following Kurt Warner's retirement, there wasn't any doubt that quarterback was the team's biggest priority.
What made this move even more inevitable was when Arizona used its fifth overall selection in this year's draft on CB Patrick Peterson, rather than selecting a signal caller. Arizona's success–or lack of success–this season will depend on the play of Kolb. If they want to compete with Seattle and St. Louis out west, Kolb needs to prove his worth.
Redskins dispose of Haynesworth, Patriots land "perfect fit"
The Washington Redskins finally managed to unload Haynesworth and dump him on to the New England Patriots.
Funny thing is, it was actually a huge boost for the Pats.
While the Skins were finally able to rid themselves of this overpaid, defensive tackle-diva (didn't know D-tackles could be considered as divas), the Patriots have found themselves a another Richard Seymour-type player.
In just 20 games over two seasons in Washington, Haynesworth recorded only 43 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 0 forced fumbles. But if Phat Albert can return to his Pro Bowl form from his Tennessee days, he could be a huge asset to the Patriots' defense. Not to mention coach Belichick's no-nonsense approach is sure to keep the troublemaker inline.
Surprising move for New England, but I like it.
Reggie Bush takes his talents to South Beach
Yes, exactly like NBA superstar LeBron James, former New Orleans Saints running back, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Bush will take his talents to Miami.
A new two-year deal worth approximately $10 million has been negotiated as Bush was entering the final year in his current contract.
To me, I think this trade is more interesting than anything else. Of course Bush is a dual threat as a running back, catching passes out of the backfield and even in the return game. In five seasons with the Saints, Bush has yet to produce anything more than 581 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns in a given season. So it appears as though Miami was after him for his versatility, rather than his ability as a running back alone.
It's time for Bush to save his career and turn it around for the better in Miami.
DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith to stay in Carolina
This is huge, especially for rookie quarterback Cam Newton and newly hired head coach Ron Rivera.
It was announced yesterday that the 28-year old running back would be re-signed and stay with the team. It sounds like good news, at first. But then you see that they signed him to a huge five-year deal with $21 million guaranteed. He'll be 30 in just two years, meaning he is likely to hit that "wall" that running backs often suffer from at that age.
Definitely a good move for 2011 at least, seeing as they will have both Williams and Jonathan Stewart back and healthy.
More good news? All Pro wideout Steve Smith has backed off from his trade demands and wants to stay, reportedly. I feel as though it may be as a result of the Williams re-signing. Who knows.
Either way, Carolina has no where to go but up after a 2-14 campaign in 2010.
Kansas City gets in on action, agrees to sign former Cardinal Steve Breaston to five-year deal
After a shortened playoff run last year due to lack of offensive production, this was a great move picking up Breaston, who is a top tier threat from the slot position. Tight end Tony Moeaki is an emerging star catching passes from Matt Cassel, but Pro Bowl wideout Dwayne Bowe sure could use some more help.
The running game, led by the duo of the speedy Jamaal Charles and hefty vet Thomas Jones, is set for more domination in 2011, but the passing game (30th overall) could surely use a boost. This is one step in the right direction, Kansas City.
Baltimore cuts veterans Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Willis McGahee and Kelly Gregg
It is rumored that the Ravens could end up bringing back Mason and Heap for a cheaper price, but for now they are stuck testing out the FA market.
I doubt they would make a move for McGahee or Gregg, but if I was Baltimore's General Manager, I wouldn't hesitate to snag Mason and Heap back up. I'm sure they'd love to stay, meaning they would likely be willing to sign a smaller contract.
But with quarterback Joe Flacco still looking to break on to the next level, I think it'd be unfair to cut ties with two of his better targets. Especially if they are looking to make a Super Bowl run and make it out of the AFC alive.
Whether the two return or not, this decision on Baltimore's part will surely play a huge role in how the Conference plays out in the end
**Panthers re-sign D-end Charles Johnson to large, multi-year deal
**Jags sign former Buffalo Posluszny to six-year deal
**'Boys cut former Pro Bowlers Williams, Barber, Davis
**Holmes returns to Sanchez-led Jets, who are poised for another run to the Super Bowl
**Veteran Takeo Spikes to leave San Fran for San Diego
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