Craig: Ten NFL free agency don'ts

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 6, 2014 - 7:57 AM

Sometimes an NFL team’s best move is resisting the urge to throw millions at older, overrated players.

hide

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher (24) was called for defensive interference in the corner of the end zone while defending Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson (81).

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Breathe, people. Breathe.

Yes, NFL free agency starts Saturday when teams are allowed to begin contacting players from other teams. Yes, players can begin signing Tuesday. Yes, every media outlet in the country will immediately knee-jerk every team into two black-and-white piles for winners and losers.

But if you find your blood pressure rising with unrealistic fantasies of your favorite team buying Super Bowl XLIX before St. Patrick’s Day, take a deep breath, close your eyes and ask yourself three things:

1. Whatever became of that “Dream Team” the Eagles bought in March 2011? Answer: #nightmare.

2. Who won the first week of free agency in 2013 and how many actual on-the-field victories did it translate into? Answer: Dolphins, one (6-10 to 7-9).

3. Which five words might best describe why Redskins owner Dan Snyder doesn’t have a Lombardi Trophy? Answer: Impatience, free agency and Albert Haynesworth.

Some have described the start of free agency as Christmas morning. And, yes, there are some treasures to be found. But realistically, if Santa were in charge, he wouldn’t take the really good toys — Greg Hardy, Jimmy Graham, Brian Orakpo, etc. — out of the sleigh before departing the North Pole.

With the salary cap at $133 million — $10 million above last year’s total — and expected to keep climbing in future years, most teams have ample room to (over)pay players they like now and release them without too many financial entanglements if they fall short of expectations (see Carlson, J.). The Vikings have about $34 million in cap space and two primary needs: offense and defense.

Heading into free agency, it’s probably better to have a not-to-do list than a to-do list. Here’s one person’s guideline:

1. No 30-year-olds. Thirty isn’t the new 25. Thirty is too old and too close to the proverbial NFL wall to be flirting with.

2. No running backs. Sorry, Toby. Sorry, Knowshon. But good running backs can be found younger and cheaper on Day 3 of the draft or among the pool of rookie free agents.

3. No receivers if you don’t have a franchise quarterback. With few exceptions, quarterbacks make receivers good, not vice versa. If you think a high-priced receiver will make your marginal quarterback look good, chances are you’re going to end up with two problems: a marginal quarterback and an unhappy high-priced receiver.

4. No sentimental moves based on past performance or locker room leadership. Sorry, Kevin Williams.

5. No players currently in or possibly on their way to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s woodshed. A lot of NFL players are future behavioral risks. Why take ones who already have a history of letting their teams down? Sorry, Brandon Browner. Sorry, Jerome Simpson.

6. No aging pass rusher unless he’s the missing piece. Jared Allen makes no sense for the Vikings. He makes a lot of sense for the Patriots.

7. No injury-prone guys, even nagging injuries. Sorry, Aqib Talib.

8. No overpaying overrated “system” guys. This is a tough one to determine because players generally play better with better players and coaches around them. But here’s where it pays to have talent evaluators who not only can spot talent but can translate how it fits or doesn’t fit their specific team. No offense to former Gopher Eric Decker, but is he really a No. 1 receiver in waiting for a huge payday following a career year? Or is he more the product and extension of Peyton Manning’s brilliance? Personally, it would be hard to open the vault too wide after that one catch for 6 yards in the Super Bowl.

9. No panic moves. By rule, teams have to spend at least an average of 89 percent of the cap over the four-year period from 2013 to 2016. But don’t spend just to spend. Free agency is only one piece of the puzzle. John Abraham was a leftover scrap that signed with the Cardinals in training camp last summer. He went on to have 11½ sacks.

10. No extending the “potential” on guys based purely on height, weight, speed and what the prototypical player at their position is supposed to look like. Sorry, Chris Cook.

 

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com









 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City 3 2nd Qtr 7:19
Oakland 14
Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
LA Clippers 58 3rd Qtr
Miami 40
Chicago 9:30 PM
Sacramento
Minnesota 1 2nd Prd 7:54
Philadelphia 0
Tampa Bay 1 3rd Prd
Toronto 4
St. Louis 1 3rd Prd
Montreal 2
Nashville 1 3rd Prd
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 2nd Prd 8:26
Winnipeg 2
Arizona 1 2nd Prd
Dallas 0
Washington 0 1st Prd 8:00
Colorado 0
Chicago 2 1st Prd 11:05
Calgary 0
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Carolina 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Florida 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas A&M 53 FINAL
Dayton 55
USC 46 FINAL
Akron 66
Coll of Charleston 57 FINAL
Connecticut 65
Drexel 46 FINAL
Miami-Florida 66
New Mexico 65 FINAL
Boston College 69
Penn State 97 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Detroit 62 FINAL
Michigan 71
Eckerd 59 FINAL
UCF 76
VU of Lynchburg 51 FINAL
East Carolina 92
Texas 71 FINAL
Iowa 57
Jacksonville 43 FINAL
NC State 79
Navy 51 FINAL
Providence 88
Grambling St 30 FINAL
Purdue 82
UMass Lowell 57 FINAL
Sacred Heart 54
Keystone 69 FINAL
St Francis-PA 102
Niagara 61 FINAL
Saint Peters 59
Palm Beach Atlantic 85 FINAL
Stetson 96
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Tennessee 70
MD-Eastern Shore 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 106
SUNY-Westbury 49 FINAL
Wagner 83
Bluefield (VA) 57 FINAL
William & Mary 100
Bob Jones Univ 41 FINAL
USC Upstate 107
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Bryant 72
Fordham 48 2nd Half 1:00
Maryland 62
Howard 34 2nd Half 9:59
Radford 36
Champions Bapt 29 FINAL
UT Martin 115
George Mason 50 2nd Half 8:49
West Virginia 73
South Florida 40 2nd Half 15:18
UAB 40
UC Davis 50 2nd Half 10:19
Eastern Ill 45
Fla Atlantic 35 2nd Half 8:43
Harvard 55
SMU 45 2nd Half 14:59
Indiana 40
Franklin Pierce 38 2nd Half 11:21
Minnesota 82
Brescia 30 2nd Half 12:34
Murray State 60
North Florida 38 2nd Half 13:52
Northwestern 44
Fisk 35 2nd Half 14:32
Tennessee St 37
New Orleans 42 2nd Half 15:50
TCU 60
Miss Valley St 33 2nd Half 14:14
Tulane 53
Bucknell 35 2nd Half 15:51
Villanova 39
Northwestern St 51 2nd Half 15:08
LSU-Alexandria 48
Winthrop 28 2nd Half
Savannah State 26
Southern U 15 1st Half 3:19
Ole Miss 28
Morgan State 30 2nd Half
Northern Iowa 29
Cornell 21 2nd Half
South Carolina 35
Southern Miss 19 1st Half 11:32
Alabama 25
Loyola Marymount 10 1st Half 9:59
Arizona State 17
Lipscomb 6 1st Half 14:01
Vanderbilt 13
Texas-Arlington 13 1st Half 13:23
Grand Canyon 7
Syracuse 8:35 PM
California
Idaho 8:35 PM
Northern Ill
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Pacific Union 9:00 PM
Pacific
Denver 9:00 PM
St Marys-CA
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
San Diego St
Nicholls 10:00 PM
UCLA
Bowling Green 20 FINAL
Toledo 27
Kent State 0 Postponed
Buffalo 0
(12) Kansas State 20 3rd Qtr 9:03
West Virginia 3
North Carolina 28 3rd Qtr
(25) Duke 7
Arkansas State 8:30 PM
Texas State
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 11/21/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Air Force 11/21/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
San Jose St 11/21/14 8:30 PM
Utah State
Char Southern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
South Alabama 11/22/14 11:00 AM
So Carolina
Rutgers 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(10) Michigan State
Minnesota 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(21) Nebraska
Northwestern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(18) Marshall 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UAB
Kansas 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(23) Oklahoma
Indiana 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Penn State 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
(14) Eastern Ky 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Florida
TX-San Antonio 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
SMU 11/22/14 11:00 AM
UCF
Virginia Tech 11/22/14 11:30 AM
Wake Forest
Washington St 11/22/14 12:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Louisiana Tech 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Old Dominion
Western Mich 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich
New Mexico 11/22/14 12:30 PM
(22) Colorado State
Eastern Mich 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Appalachian St 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Louisiana
Tulsa 11/22/14 2:00 PM
Houston
(15) Arizona 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(20) Utah
FIU 11/22/14 2:30 PM
North Texas
(8) Ole Miss 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Louisville 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Notre Dame
Maryland 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Texas Tech 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa State
(14) Wisconsin 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Syracuse 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Boston College 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Georgia State 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Tulane 11/22/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Stanford 11/22/14 3:00 PM
California
Western Carolina 11/22/14 3:00 PM
(2) Alabama
ULM 11/22/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
So Florida 11/22/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
Colorado 11/22/14 3:30 PM
(3) Oregon
Fla Atlantic 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 11/22/14 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Virginia
Vanderbilt 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 11/22/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
Oklahoma State 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 11/22/14 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 11/22/14 7:00 PM
Connecticut
Boise State 11/22/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Washington
Fresno State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
UNLV 11/22/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Webber International 41 FINAL
Florida A&M 52
San Jose St 80 FINAL
UC-Riverside 100
Norfolk State 65 FINAL
Radford 74
Washington Adventist 43 FINAL
Morgan State 66
Alabama State 62 FINAL
Savannah State 71
VA Commonwealth 72 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Southern U 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 91
Monmouth 78 FINAL
Long Island 57
Bethune-Cookman 51 FINAL
Jacksonville 64
St Thomas (TX) 49 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Boston U 56 FINAL
Boston College 73
Clemson 41 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 99
(7) Duke 82 FINAL
Old Dominion 66
Belmont 35 FINAL
(12) Louisville 95
Fla Gulf Coast 69 FINAL
Auburn 72
Florida 66 FINAL
St Johns 72
James Madison 69 FINAL
American Univ 65
Philander Smith 6:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Tougaloo 6:00 PM
Grambling
Virginia 71 FINAL
Xavier 59
Murray State 66 FINAL
Wright State 74
Providence 54 FINAL
Hartford 57
Holy Cross 53 FINAL
Dartmouth 69
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
Northern Ill 50
Detroit 57 FINAL
Ohio U 60
St Bonaventure 58 FINAL
Toledo 64
Mary Washington 59 FINAL
Navy 79
Michigan 64 FINAL
Pittsburgh 85
Davidson 68 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 67
Longwood 50 FINAL
Richmond 80
USC Upstate 69 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 60
(17) West Virginia 41 2nd Half 16:01
Miss State 44
Concordia-Austin 18 2nd Half 11:22
TX-Pan American 49
Western Ill 48 2nd Half
Chicago State 22
Albany 40 2nd Half 11:45
Western Ky 41
Drake 32 2nd Half 11:52
SIU-Edwardsville 48
Memphis 27 2nd Half 15:06
Illinois 32
Arkansas 42 2nd Half 11:53
Middle Tennessee 32
LSU-Alexandria 41 2nd Half 12:35
McNeese State 41
Vanderbilt 54 2nd Half 9:33
Wisconsin 48
Utah 46 2nd Half 7:19
Creighton 49
Weber State 0 1st Half 20:00
Air Force 0
(10) Texas 17 1st Half 10:05
(6) Stanford 13
Utah Valley U 22 1st Half 8:45
Utah State 23
New Mexico St 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
South Dakota 9:00 PM
Washington
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers and Vikings do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close