Nov 17, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) walks off the field after their game against the Arizona Cardinals at EverBank Field. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Free Agency: Day One Blunders and Burglaries

The frenzy is underway and 2014 NFL free agency hasn’t disappointed.  In the midst of the carnage, what were some notable blunders and burglaries committed?

Chicago Bears land Lamarr Houston – Result:  Burglary

Contrary to popular belief, pro football isn’t all about sacks when it comes to playing defensive end.  Signing Lamarr Houston (six sacks in 2013) may seem like a consolation prize after the Chicago Bears missed out on Michael Bennett (8.5 sacks), however their signing has unforeseen benefits.  It saves them upwards of $1.5 million per year that would’ve gone to Bennett.  Houston is two years younger and very versatile in terms of his ability to rush and stop the run.  On top of that he was also voted team captain last year, so there’s a leadership element involved as well.  It was a necessary signing for Chicago, but also a smart one.

San Francisco 49ers trade for Blaine Gabbert – Result:  Blunder

Whoever managed to wrangle a draft pick away from the San Francisco 49ers for Blaine Gabbert deserves a pay raise or simply part ownership of the team.  First of all, yes, I understand that from the objective point of view Gabbert had a tough situation in Jacksonville.  He’s still young and physically talented but the fact is the former Missouri star has repeatedly failed to pass the eye test on tape and also doesn’t inspire confidence in his ability to stay healthy.    This move has a rather pungent scent of arrogance to it, like Jim Harbaugh feels he can turn anybody around after what he accomplished with Alex Smith.  Not only could Gabbert end that streak, but it may have cost San Francisco a draft pick.

Atlanta Falcons sign Paul Soliai – Result:  Burglary

Everybody knew the Atlanta Falcons entered 2014 NFL free agency with the intent of improving their presence in the trenches, especially on defense.  They certainly didn’t waste time.  Among a flurry of moves to remake the defensive line, their best was saved for when they landed former Dolphin Paul Soliai.  So often overlooked next to Pro Bowler Randy Starks, the 30-year old was one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the league, a sturdy force against the run.  His addition to the Falcons front should make them instantly tougher and harder to deal with.

Miami Dolphins haul in Branden Albert – Result:  Blunder

I understand that the Miami Dolphins need offensive line help in the worst possible way and they had to get somebody in 2014 NFL free agency but to pay Branden Albert, a man who hadn’t reached a Pro Bowl until 2013 (drafted in 2008) and has only completed a full season healthy once in a six-year career reeks of “overpaying.”  Conversely, the Arizona Cardinals got Jared Veldheer for the same amount of years (five) at $37.5 million.  It could be argued the two tackles are on relatively the same tier in terms of ability.  The fact Miami had to pay almost $10 million more speaks for itself.

Pittsburgh Steelers grab Mike Mitchell – Result:  Burglary

Remaking the secondary is one of the stated goals for the Pittsburgh Steelers but it was clear they wouldn’t be able to do anything crazy as far as wild spending in 2014 NFL free agency.  However, if they picked their moment right they might’ve been able to get a steal.  That is what they landed in safety Mike Mitchell.  Overlooked a lot at times on a talented Carolina Panthers defense, Mitchell quietly put together a very solid season with 66 tackles, 3.5 sacks, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.  The kid is still just 26-years old too.  He should be an instant help in that aging and depleted Steelers secondary.

Oakland Raiders add Rodger Saffold – Result:  Blunder

The number 17 comes to mind when thinking about former Rams guard Rodger Saffold.  No, it isn’t what he wore on his jersey in high school.  It’s how many games he’s missed over the past three seasons.  Saffold started just nine games in 2013 and though he helped stabilize things for St. Louis at times, to give that man $42.5 million is mind boggling.  The Oakland Raiders did need help with their offensive line but to pay a man who has not proven he can stay healthy to block for whichever young quarterback they eventually put in place has to go down as one of the biggest head scratchers of Day One.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: 2014 Nfl Free Agency Atlanta Falcons Chicago Bears Miami Dolphins Oakland Raiders Pittsburgh Steelers San Francisco 49ers

  • Dean Thomas

    Thanks again Reggie McKensie, or however u spell your damn name!!!

    • KloverJane

      He must be sent to sabotage us. He’s a plant.

  • Charles Spencer King

    I got my man !

    • Erik Lambert

      Indeed, but the job is not done yet. They need more bodies.

      • Charles Spencer King

        Come on Duude, you sports writers guys are hard, they good day today, active, got some depth at LB, S, DE, special teams, give them some credit. Most of the guys hangin we wanted to test the market, Melton, Peanut, Josh, and yeah they might be done, but that’s expected for a team like us with too many holes and not enough cap space. We’ll see more players released and we’ll pull the value trigger, we are doing fine so far…..(in my opinion)

        • Erik Lambert

          They’ve done very well but that defense is far from fixed. They have somewhere around $11 million still available, maybe more. I expect a few more moves to come, then I can begin to formulate what they have planned for the draft.

          • Charles Spencer King

            I agree, all I’m saying is we had a good day ! My gut tells me they will trade down, unless Donald, Barr, Gilbert, Lewen or Evsns are there, in that order, if they can’t trade down and they are all gone, I think it will be Dix or Dennard ( not fond of Timmy, Mosley, Ealy, or Hageman ,Tuitt or Nix that high)

          • Erik Lambert

            I am a fan of them moving down. They need more picks and I believe Donald will be available later, same as Jernigan. That will be especially true if Dallas nabs Melton. Either way, there are still some moves out there I think the Bears can swing. I’m quietly hoping they make a run at B.J. Raji.

  • arthur smith

    Guess I’ll get ready for another 4-12 season

  • Wayne Davis

    Strangely quite on A.Verner front??

    • Erik Lambert

      Just got word he’s going to Tampa Bay.

      • Wayne Davis

        Jesus!!!.. Did they pay any attention to the skin trying to buy a championship ?… They gotta be the leader in signings?

        • Erik Lambert

          I think these moves are clear indication they’re going after Sammy Watkins.

  • Wayne Davis

    There was so much Vikes talk abt FA signings I thought we’d be a little more active ?.. Love the Joseph signing

    • Erik Lambert

      You and me both. It’s a solid addition with Joseph but unless they plan a serious run at Tillman or Revis they might miss out on the corners.

      • Wayne Davis

        Revis could be an option once released …not sure about Tillman he may be a little long in the tooth for Spielman.. But I can see us grabbing Gilbert in the first after trading back a few spots and picking up some extra picks an McGill in the late 3rd

        • Erik Lambert

          Maybe but I think he might make a run back to the Jets or to the Browns or Raiders who have loads of cap space.

          • Wayne Davis

            That because the raiders don’t sign there own players lol example : letting Veldeer go an over paying Sufold(spelling) ?..guess maybe they plan to pick up that OT in the 1st

          • Erik Lambert

            That would be a plan but a rather risky one in my opinion. Personally I would’ve retained Veldheer and gone after a quarterback. Then again I’m not in charge of the Raiders.

      • Johnny

        I here you… I wanted 26yr old Monroe… But I have a feeling Baltimore was not going to let him walk after trading for him just last year…

        • Erik Lambert

          Very true. Albert is their guy now, for better or worse.

  • Johnny

    I believe Albert cap hit is only 4.5 Million… And the Phins most likely BACK-ENDED that contract… Dawn Aponte is great at what she does…
    At first look, it looks like they overpaid ( for me too, I wanted Monroe)… But Aponte knows how to write up a contract… And I’m pretty sure he won’t see 30% of that contract..

    • Erik Lambert

      Perhaps but I still think they paid the wrong guy. I favored Monroe first and Veldheer second, then Albert.

  • John Vassar

    Erik, good recap. Forgot one more blunder, GB over paying for Shields. Based on what the top flight CB’s are getting it looks like Shields was the burglar!

    • Erik Lambert

      Thank you, John. You have a point. It’s clear Green Bay wasn’t confident they could get a good replacement for Shields if they let him leave so they likely overpaid for the familiar. Now that I think about it, the 49ers could’ve made this list twice, once as a blunder for Gabbert but also as a burglar for getting Antoine Bethea.

  • jose garcia

    Thanks to fuckn Reggie Mackenzie raiders won’t be nothing in 2014 we need a new coach and new gm so much money and not doing nothing how does he want to rebuilt the team when hes destroying the team… I’m a ride or die fan but he makes us losse hope in our team

    • Erik Lambert

      Certainly looks like he’s not being aggressive enough. Broncos and Bucs have made a killing with a fraction of the available cap space. Something to be said for having good coaching staffs and front offices I suppose. I feel for you, Jose.

    • KloverJane

      We won’t be nothing , we will be picking number one over all 2015. That’s something. …

  • KloverJane

    Once again the media says we’ve blundered in free agency. Sick of the mediocre moves in Raider Nation . Why do some just accept it? Because they’re sheepoles.

    • Chris Schroeder

      Because as fans you only have a few choices. 1. Surround yourself with negative vibes and live with hate in your heart. 2. Move on to another team (not an option for a real fan), or 3. Stand behind the decision of our leaders and support them ( everything is for a reason, even if we don’t understand what it is ).

      As more pieces start to assemble, we will get a clearer view of the big picture. Hard to see the puzzle one piece at a time.

      Have a little faith. Veldeer is better from the right side and wanted LT money, he would have been overpaid, they cut him and pay a guy to come in who can play multiple positions for basically the same price, a few mil more but he’ll never see it. Then they go out and sign a RT for 7.5 mil less than Veldeer who stays healthy, doesn’t commit penalties, and worked his way into the conversation during the 2013 season.

      The media also said the Raiders had the worst team in the NFL last year before the season started and yet they were in several games they lost that they could have won if it weren’t for lack of depth. And that was done by RM using players nobody else wanted who cost little money. Gotta have faith!

      • KloverJane

        Good insight. Having faith isn’t the issue it’s what seen that’s questioned. Losing Veldeer was the worst thing I read. I’m not getting over It anytime soon. The one player I was certain we were going to re sign was the first one to walk out the door. The first sack from The Blind Side and they’re going to be reminded of their stupid mistake. And I’m going to be their to tell them. We would have won more games and made it to the playoffs over San Diego if our two Quarterbacks didn’t have to run for their lives every down. Remember those 4th and 41? 4th and half the field. Don’t think Marquette King planned in kicking Just saying…Veldeer would have stuffed them. Watch the Cards next year you’ll see. Go Raiders. Go forth and sign some talent for the love of God!

      • Ryan

        The key is they LOST games they could have won. It’s hard to win in the NFL but great teams find a way. Bad teams like the Raiders don’t and have terrible front offices. Sorry buddy they suck.

  • James Schroeder

    Hmmm… As I understand it Saffold is more versatile than Veldeer and even better at the respected position. When healthy of course, which is why only 21 mil is guaranteed and the rest is incentives. He has enough upside to be worth every penny if he goes the distance. Don’t really see that as a blunder from a business standpoint. Guess that’s why RM is the GM and we are just the observers.

    • Erik Lambert

      I understand that James but I am of the belief that if you’re going to pay a guy that kind of money to play guard for you, pay one who can stay on the field. Saffold is versatile, true and could pan out but the likelihood is very dicey.

  • Troy Scott Cocklin

    I don’t understand how Gabbert is a blunder from the niners perspective. They have 12 picks including 5 in the first 3 rounds and one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. The odds that a sixth round pick makes the team is extremely low and rolling the dice on a 24 year old quarterback that was considered a first round talent 3 years for a draft pick not likely to make the team is not a blunder IMO.

    • Erik Lambert

      And that’s fair, Troy. A lot of people have that same perspective, but I’m of the opinion if the 49ers had just waited they could’ve gotten in free agency without having to sacrifice that pick at all. Besides, I’ve seen enough of Gabbert to know he’s a lost cause.

  • Johnny

    lphins screwed up!!!! They let the top 3 guards sign elsewhere!!! Beadles, Shwartz, and Asamoah…How can they not pick up atleast one of these guys??? Now?? Slim pickings.. Nice job Hickey… Only have 3-4 spots to fill on the OLine… Now we have Albert at LT and Pouncy at C.. Need 2 guards and a RT!!! Yes you might get one rookie you draft to start… But you can’t expect them all too… Needed atleast 1 Guard in FA.. And the top Gs are off the board…. Screwed up Hickey!!! WTF!!!

  • bk

    Mitchell had 1 good year playing behind a great front 7. Pitt should have spnet the money on L. Joseph.

    • Erik Lambert

      Mitchell is 26-years old and had his best season last year. That means he’s trending up. It also means if the Steelers can rev up their front seven they know they’ll have two playmakers in the secondary between him and Polamalu.

  • [email protected]

    History repeating itself……. Oakland giving up a stud LT in order to pay more to a so-so utility knife OLman. Miami paying WAAAAYYYYYY too much for a good, but perhaps not great, player in Albert ($60 million for Mike “Stone hands” Wallace last year!!!! Wonder if we tried to trade LaMarr Woodley to Miami before we cut him!! LOL!!!). And then the Browns swapping safeties and LBs and chewing up an additional $9 million of cap space in the process. And then the Steelers stealing a good young FS for a relatively nominal amount. Amazing that some folks never learn from their past sins…….

  • Jacob

    I acknowledge not knowing much about Albert (and didn’t want him) BUT your article says he never reached a Pro Bowl. If that is the case then why does the Miami website have a pic of him wearing a Pro Bowl jersey in a Pro Bowl game? I suspect this is just more anti-Dolphin crap reporting.

    • Erik Lambert

      Yeah, I caught that mistake too Jacob and I admit it. I thought I’d corrected it but the corrections didn’t go through. Not anti-Dolphin at all. Just think they spent too much on the wrong guy (again).