2011 Free Agency: Grading The NFC East

Eagles Flied In Landing Top Free Agent Prize

Philadelphia Eagles

Unsigned players: OG-C Nick Cole (UFA), CB Antoine Harris (UFA), RB Jerome Harrison (UFA), CB Ellis Hobbs (UFA), DE Bobby McCray (UFA), P Sav Rocca (UFA), OG Reggie Wells (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Giants WR Steve Smith, Aug. 10 (one year); Ex-Redskins DE Chris Wilson, Aug. 8; Ex-Panthers UFA DT Derek Landri, Aug. 3; Ex-Saints UFA DE Tony Hargrove, Aug. 3; Ex-Patriots FS Jarrad Page, Aug. 2; Ex-Broncos OT Ryan Harris, Aug. 2; Ex-Dolphins UFA RB Ronnie Brown, Aug. 2 (one year). Ex-Packers UFA DT Cullen Jenkins, July 30 (five years, $25 million); Ex-Titans QB Vince Young, July 29 (one year); Ex-Raiders UFA CB Nnamdi Asomugha, July 29 (five years, $60 million, $25 million guaranteed); Ex-Raiders UFA WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, July 29; Ex-Packer TE Donald Lee, July 29; Traded for ex-Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, July 28 (Cardinals get QB Kevin Kolb); Ex-Titans UFA DE Jason Babin, July 29 (five years, $28 million, $5-6 million guaranteed).

Key departures: Cut DE Ricky Sapp, Aug. 5; UFA OG Max Jean-Gilles, Aug. 2 (to Bengals); UFA CB Dimitri Patterson, Aug. 2 (to Browns), UFA OLB Ernie Sims, Aug. 2 (to Colts); Traded DT Brodrick Bunkley, Aug. 1 (to Browns — Eagles get 2012 fifth-round draft pick); UFA LB Stewart Bradley, July 29 (to Cardinals); UFA S Quintin Mikell, July 29 (to Rams); PK David Akers, July 29 (to 49ers); MLB Omar Gaither, July 29 (to Panthers); Traded QB Kevin Kolb, July 28 (to Cardinals — Eagles get CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and second-round draft pick).

Key re-signings: UFA OLB Akeem Jordan, July 30 (one year); FFA QB Michael Vick (one year).

Grade: A

Comment: Quintin Mikell was the only key loss during the Eagles free agency frenzy.  Along this bonanza of spending, I found it a bit shocking the team didn’t upgrade their linebacker corps.  Other than that, it was a summer to remember, one for the ages.  Everyone talks about Nnamdi, and rightfully so, but to get not only Jason Babin, but Cullen Jenkins – downright robbery.  Jenkins will be a dominant force on the interior line, and to be paired up with Trent Cole and Babin on the four-man front; it’s a vicious group quarterbacks will hate to see.  Keep in mind, Anthony Hargrove can get to the passer in a hurry, too.  I thought he was an underrated addition to the defense.  Also, people may not be too familiar with Johnnie Lee Higgins, but the speedster can spell DeSean Jackson on punt returns from time to time.  Steve Smith was the cherry on top, or was it?  I don’t know when he will be healthy and ready to contribute.  So, that makes Ronnie Brown the icing on the cake.  For an offensive unit that has been long known to struggle in short-yardage situations; Brown is a godsend.  It’s the perfect role for one of the league’s most punishing backs.  Ryan Harris was yet another sensational acquisition, and if healthy, he is a Pro Bowl-caliber right tackle.  Lastly, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will allow Asante Samuel to do more free-lancing, which he does best.  Oh, and Vince Young is the best back-up QB in the NFL.  Did I forget anyone?

Washington Redskins

Unsigned player: WR Mike Furrey (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Steelers LB Keyaron Fox, Aug. 6; Ex-Seahawks OT Sean Locklear, Aug. 5; Ex-Patriots PK Shayne Graham, Aug. 2; Ex-Cowboys UFA DE Stephen Bowen, July 29 (five years, $27.5 million, $12.5 million guaranteed); Ex-Ravens OG-C Chris Chester, July 29 (five years, $20 million, per NFL Network); Ex-Giants UFA DT Barry Cofield, July 29 (six years, $36 million, $12.5 million guaranteed); Ex-Ravens UFA WR Donté Stallworth, July 29 (one year); Ex-Jets UFA QB Kellen Clemens, July 29 (one year); Ex-Ravens UFA CB Josh Wilson, July 29 (three years, up to $13.5 million); Traded for ex-Broncos WR Jabar Gaffney, July 28 (Redskins give up DE-DT Jeremy Jarmon).

Key departures: UFA CB Carlos Rogers, Aug. 2 (to 49ers); UFA OT Stephon Heyer, Aug. 2 (to Raiders); Traded DE Vonnie Holliday to Cardinals, July 31 (Redskins get RB Tim Hightower); Cut OT Mike Williams, July 30; Traded DT Albert Haynesworth, July 29 (to Patriots — Redskins get 2013 fifth-round pick); Released DE Phillip Daniels, July 28; Released C Casey Rabach, July 28; Released NY Maake Kemoeatu, July 28; Traded DE-DT Jeremy Jarmon to Broncos, July 28 (Redskins get WR Jabar Gaffney).

Key re-signings: UFA S Reed Doughty, Aug. 5; UFA DE Kedric Golston, Aug. 5; UFA ILB Rocky McIntosh, Aug. 5; UFA QB Rex Grossman, Aug. 2; UFA CB Phillip Buchanon, Aug. 2; UFA OT Jammal Brown, Aug. 1 (five years); UFA LB H.B. Blades, Aug. 1; UFA WR Santana Moss, July 29 (three years, up to $15 million).

Grade: B

Comment: Cofield and Bowen more than replace Haynesworth.  Both linemen are going to help solidify a run defense which allowed the sixth-most yards per carry last season.  Both signings were within the division, so that’s a double whammy.  The re-signings of Moss, Brown, and McIntosh were all smart decisions; especially Brown.  Josh Wilson for Carlos Rogers is a wash.  Acquiring Tim Hightower was a steal for a team that was looking for running back depth because Ryan Torain is hurt again and Roy Helu is a rookie.  Adding Chester and Locklear to the line has the ‘Skins even more primed to run the football on a consistent basis.  Overall, I like how the team improved on both sides of the line, while retaining key pieces to the puzzle.  Bargain shopping for a change garnered a passing grade.  It’s impressive to see what you can do spending wisely in the clearance section of the free agency department.

New York Giants

Unsigned players: MLB Chase Blackburn (UFA), CB Courtney Brown (UFA), OLB Keith Bulluck (UFA), S Deon Grant (UFA), S Michael Johnson (UFA), QB Jim Sorgi (UFA), OLB Gerris Wilkinson (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Seahawks UFA OT Stacy Andrews, Aug. 3; Ex-Cardinals UFA DT Gabe Watson, Aug. 2; Ex-Cardinals UFA TE Ben Patrick, Aug. 1; Ex-Seahawks UFA OG Chris White, July 30; Ex-49ers UFA C David Baas, July 29; Ex-Jets P Steve Weatherford, July 29.

Key departures: UFA WR Steve Smith, Aug. 10 (to Eagles); UFA WR Derek Hagan, Aug. 6 (to Raiders); UFA TE Kevin Boss, Aug. 5 (to Raiders); UFA DT Barry Cofield, July 29 (to Redskins); Cut C Shaun O’Hara, July 28; Cut OT Rich Seubert, July 28; Cut OT Shawn Andrews, July 28.

Key re-signings: UFA DE Dave Tollefson, Aug. 6; UFA DT Rocky Bernard, Aug. 3; UFA WR Michael Clayton, Aug. 2; UFA RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Aug. 1 (four years); UFA DE Mathias Kiwanuka, July 29; UFA OG Kevin Boothe (two-year deal), July 29.

Grade: C+

Comment: The team dodged a bullet by bringing back Ahmad Bradshaw.  Kiwanuka was another valuable re-signing, and it looks like Osi Umenyiora is staying put in the Big Apple.  David Baas fills the void left by Shaun O’Hara, which is a good exchange.  Out with the old in with the new continued, as Seubert was turned in for Shawn Andrews’ (who was cut) younger brother, Stacy – and no, it’s not his sister.  Nonetheless, it was a couple of moves that had to be made.  Losing Steve Smith and Kevin Boss isn’t a big deal, considering their replacements, Jerrel Jernigan and Travis Beckum, are going to fill their shoes with a propensity to provide yards after the catch.  The departure of Cofield stings, but the defensive line is deep enough to replace him with the most recent pair (’10 – Linval Joseph, ’11 – Marvin Austin) of second-round draft picks.  However, the team is probably regretting the signing of ex-Cowboy Chris Canty, the team’s highest paid defensive lineman, when they could’ve used that money to keep Cofield, who’s now part of a division rival (Redskin).  Former Giant and Super Bowl XLII hero, Plaxico Burress, would’ve been a nice pick-up.  Overall, it was still a profitable free agency period for the guys in Blue.

Dallas Cowboys

Unsigned players: QB Chris Greisen (UFA), ILB Leon Williams (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Browns UFA S Abram Elam, Aug. 4 (one year, $2.5 million).

Key departures: UFA WR Sam Hurd, July 29 (to Bears); UFA DE Stephen Bowen, July 29 (to Redskins); Cut OG Leonard Davis, RB Marion Barber (to Bears), WR Roy Williams (to Bears), OT Marc Colombo, July 28.

Key re-signings: UFA S Gerald Sensabaugh, Aug. 2 (one year, $2.5 million); UFA DE Jason Hatcher, Aug. 1; RFA DB Alan Ball, July 31 (one year); UFA DE Marcus Spears, July 29 (five years, $19.2 million); UFA OG Kyle Kosier, July 29 (three years, $9 million); UFA OT Doug Free, July 29 (four years, up to $32 million, $17 million guaranteed).

Grade: D

Comment: What do you makes of this team’s free agency?  Did they benefit other than dropping dead weight?  Some may wonder why they kept injury-prone Marcus Spears instead of Stephen Bowen.  Where was the ambition for America’s Team to add some secondary help outside of Abram Elam?  Nnamdi would’ve been the ideal signing, when you consider Terence Newman is sidelined again.  Don’t worry Cowboys’ fans, you’ll get to see him twice this season.  Rob Ryan may have to pump up the volume on his aggressiveness because I don’t see how the defensive backfield is going to hold up.  Hopefully, rookie fifth-round pick Josh Thomas (Buffalo) will be able to step up in a hurry.  Retaining starting offensive linemen Doug Free and Kyle Kosier was in Tony Romo’s best interest.  Right call.  The line looks sharp, but who’s going to run behind it?  I would’ve kept Marion Barber over Tashard Choice.  Well, look on the bright side, at least Roy Williams is gone.  All in all, we will remember this free agency as, “The Lost Summer.”

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