Free Agency: Teams Have Money To Spend, but Lack Options

By: Ryan Crossingham

With the parameters of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) finally kicking in, cap room is of abundance around the NFL (unless you’re the Saints). Free agency doesn’t officially kick off until Tuesday, March 10, but teams are already making it rain.

“Market Value” is a term that gets thrown around a lot during negotiations, and it’s a term that can lead to players getting drastically overpaid. We’ve already seen some of these types of contracts, and we are sure to see some more to come in the next week during the first wave of free agency.

Moves so far that I like:

Pernell McPhee to Chicago

– The Bears are trying to get back to their identity of running the football and playing stingy defense. With new defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, the team will be switching to a 3-4 scheme and McPhee fits it to a tee. McPhee, one of the more coveted free agents, provides an excellent pass rush threat from the edge, and at a young age, the Bears should feel comfortable giving the outside rusher “market value.”

Darnell Dockett to San Francisco

– The 49ers are a mess, but the Dockett signing is anything but. It’s a low-risk 2-year deal that provides insurance along the defensive front in the likely scenario that incumbent defensive end Justin Smith retires this week. Dockett, a Pro Bowl player when healthy, is coming off of a torn ACL that forced him to miss the 2014 season. If healthy, he can help the 49ers replace what they’ll lose in the departure of Justin Smith.

Randall Cobb resigning with Green Bay

– This was a no-brainer for me. Yes Cobb could have cashed in by signing with a lowly team like the Raiders, which was reported at one point, but Cobb, who is only 24 years old, was able to sign for an average of 10 million dollars per year to remain with the Packers. Not only is that a good chunk of change, but he gets to remain with Aaron Rodgers for the next four years. If he flourishes, which he most likely will, he can take another shot at free agency at the age of 28.

Jason McCourty resigns with New England

– A rangy free safety is a prime position in today’s pass-happy NFL, and McCourty is as good as there is in the game. He took a discount to stay with the Patriots over more lucrative deals including one reported from the Eagles. McCourty was the one free agent that would be impossible for the Patriots to replace, and they made sure they didn’t have to cross that bridge.

Moves I hate:

Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City

– Maclin is a speed demon, a true vertical threat that can put fear into defenses, but he’s not a number one receiver. The Chiefs receivers in 2014 totaled zero touchdown catches and Maclin recorded double digit touchdowns last season. Saying that, Maclin is a complement receiver, not a number one option. Chiefs still have a lot to do at that position, without much money anymore to do so.

Byron Maxwell to Philadelphia

– Maxwell is a good player, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not worth the money he’s going to get from the Eagles. Maxwell, who for the past 3 years has been the fourth best player in his own secondary, is now getting paid as a shutdown corner. The Eagles struggled immensely in the secondary a season ago, so this move reeks of desperation. I expect those struggles to continue again in 2015.

Moves I’d like to see:

Mike Iupati to Oakland

– The Raiders signed center Rodney Hudson from Kansas City today and have been linked to Iupati. If you have money to spend, which they do, it’s a good idea to invest up front and protect their young quarterback, Derek Carr.

Demarco Murray resigned with Dallas

– It just seems right. Murray can probably get big money from the Colts or Jaguars, but he needs to stay in the state of Texas. Let’s face it, is he going to find a better offensive line to run behind.

Andre Johnson to the Patriots

– Andre will sign with a team with an elite quarterback. As a Texans fan, I pray he doesn’t go to Indianapolis, though if I we’re betting money, that’s where I believe he will end up.

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