Just three days into the frenzy and 2014 NFL free agency has hatched loads of surprises. Where were the latest blunders and burglaries committed?
Philadelphia Eagles trade for Darren Sproles – Result: Burglary
Normally any sort of trade for a 30-year old running back is ill-advised at best but Darren Sproles is a unique case. He doesn’t have the same sort wear and tear a player of his age does due to the simple way he has played the game. It is that style the Philadelphia Eagles bought for a fifth-round pick. The reason it’s such a bargain is it was a pick they sent to New England initially in a previous trade and the fact that Sproles is a perfect fit for the Chip Kelly offense. Any way the team can find to keep star LeSean McCoy fresher is a bonus.
Detroit Lions sign James Ihedigbo – Result: Blunder
Priority one for the Detroit Lions coming into the off-season was improving their secondary, both at corner and safety. Dumping former standout Louis Delmas was part of that process and finding a replacement in 2014 NFL free agency was equally important. Their though leaves a little to be desired. Granted, James Ihedigbo is coming off easily the best season of his career with 101 tackles and three interceptions for the Baltimore Ravens. By the same token though at age 30 it’s unrealistic to expect him to improve or even duplicate that production switching to his fourth different team of his career, especially since the bulk of it was spent playing in a 3-4 scheme.
New York Jets ink Eric Decker – Result: Burglary
Is he a #1 receiver? No, but the New York Jets needed somebody reliable for Geno Smith to throw to and they could’ve done a lot worse than Eric Decker. The former Denver Bronco has good size, proven ability to make tough catches and has different ways to get himself open. He won’t carry an offense by himself but if he can make plays with Tim Tebow throwing him the ball, Geno Smith should be able to do something with him.
New York Jets grab Breno Giacomini – Result: Blunder
However, in typical Jets fashion they accompanied a solid signing with a slight head scratcher. Obviously coming from the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks can make a lot of players look better than they are and that is likely the case for Brent Giacomini. He was often considered the weak link of the Seahawks offensive line, a good run blocker but often woefully inadequate in pass protection. He is a poor substitute for Austin Howard. If the Jets are smart they bring in some competition in the draft.
Washington Redskins land Tracy Porter – Result: Burglary
Tracy Porter is most famous for his championship-sealing play for the Saints a few years ago but that belied how underrated the cornerback actually is. He proved that again in 2013 when he made 67 tackles, collected 1.5 sacks and two interceptions while deflecting 12 other passes. At age 27 his experience and physical peak are meeting and the Washington Redskins were smart to pounce on it. Porter is not a shutdown guy but he’s reliable, physical and a playmaker who can turn an interception into points.
Chicago Bears haul Willie Young – Result: Burglary
Stat experts understand that sacks are the typical measuring point for defensive ends in the league but there is so much more that goes into playing the position. Causing disruption and pressures are almost as important, as is stopping the run. Willie Young only had three sacks in 2013 as a starter for the Detroit Lions but a deeper look showed a player who constantly found ways to move the quarterback off his spot. He’s still just 28-years old and not nearly as beat up as most ends his age. For the Chicago Bears to get him at $3 million per season over three years is a definite smart signing.
Indianapolis Colts sign Phil Costa – Result: Blunder
D’Qwell Jackson and Arthur Jones were tremendous pickups for the Indianapolis Colts as they remodel their defense. Yet even they seem destined to make some ponderous decisions. One popped up on the radar when they signed center Phil Costa. The former Dallas Cowboy has played in just six games over the past two seasons as he’s dealt with injuries and demotions. The fact Indianapolis signed him with more proven players like Brian De La Puente and Evan Dietrich-Smith still available is interesting. Such is 2014 NFL free agency.