NFL Free Agency Impact Players
by Trevor Whenham - 3/19/2010
NFL free agency still rages on, and it will to some extent until the season starts. The biggest splashes have been made, though, and the teams with the greatest sense of urgency have addressed their issues. Now that the smoke has cleared on the initial flurry of moves it's a good time to look at the deals that have been done so far to see which ones have the biggest impact for bettors. Here are seven that stand out as the most significant in my eyes:
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Julius Peppers to Chicago - I personally ave some concerns about Peppers. He has the annoying ability to look totally invisible for several plays in a row, and I'm not convinced that a big fat contract - likely the last he'll sign - is going to be the answer for his motivation and attitude. Still, this deal can't be seen as anything other than a positive when it's all balanced out. Peppers was the biggest treasure available in free agency, so the Bears set a positive tone for their team - and a much-needed one - by landing him as quickly as they did. He significantly upgrades the pass rush for Chicago, and that's never a bad thing. In this case it should help the defensive problems on several levels. The Bears are a better team because of this signing, and it will be easier to trust them when they don't have the ball than it has been. Now if we could just trust them when they do have the ball.
Anquan Boldin to Baltimore - I know that Boldin wasn't a free agent, but the trade happened during free agency, and it's significant. Boldin has elite talent, and if he can find chemistry with Joe Flacco then he has the chance to put up some real numbers and make a big impact on the team. What will be interesting to watch, though, is how the public reacts. This deal has been received very positively, so there is a chance that the public will give the move more credit that it deserves and cause inflated lines.
Kyle Vanden Bosch to Detroit - His best days are probably behind him, but I still like this deal for three big reasons. First, the Lions had a massive problem with their defensive line, and this addition is a good first step towards addressing them, and he'll be a good mentor if and when they wind up with a young stud on the line with him. Second, I like the fact that a free agent that was going to be reasonably attractive and sought after decided to go to the Lions. They have been so bad for so long that they are a very hard sell, but this could help to make them a more feasible target - positive role modeling for future free agents. Finally, I like the fact that the Lions pursued him as hard as they did - they were sitting outside his door when free agency opened. The Lions have been pathetic for so long that their struggles have been inevitable, so this kind of passion is refreshing.
Aaron Kampman to Jacksonville - The Jaguars were a huge disappointment last year. Two big reasons for that were a lack of attitude, and a lack of a pass rush. Kampman brings both. He's versatile enough to play at linebacker or DE, and he's a field general and a leader no matter where he plays. He's not the slam dunk that Peppers would be in terms of perception, but he brings at least as much to a team overall at a far better price. The Jags have the core in place to be much better than they are, and the addition of a guy like this could help them reach their potential.
Dunta Robinson to Atlanta - The Falcons had a huge need at corner - their biggest by far - so they quickly and quietly went out and got the best corner on the market. What's not to like about that? Robinson isn't flashy, but he rarely makes mistakes, and he stays out of trouble. The Falcons got much better on D in one move.
LaDainian Tomlinson to New York - I don't like this deal. I understand that the Jets got Tomlinson for two years for what they would have paid Jones for one. Jones is coming off such a good year, though, while LT is a shadow of what he was. The running game was so crucial for them as Mark Sanchez struggled last year, and yet they are going into this season with a lesser running game - even accounting for improvement from Shonn Greene in a bigger role. The nice thing is that LT is immensely popular, so he'll attract public money to the Jets.
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Jake Delhomme to Cleveland - Delhomme isn't a long-term solution, and I'm not even convinced that he'll wind up as the starter by the time the season arrives. What I like about this deal so much, though, is the tone that Mike Holmgren set with it. By bringing in Delhomme and sending away both Anderson and Quinn, Holmgren sent the clearest possible message that what happened in the past wasn't acceptable and that these Browns aren't just going to be an extension of the crap that has come before.