Nov 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea (41) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Colts 40-11. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Which NFL Free Agent Will Prove the Biggest Steal?


Enough time has passed to safely consider the impact of NFL free agency.  Which teams may have ended up with the biggest steals?

Antoine Bethea – S – San Francisco 49ers

How the rest of the NFL lets a Pro Bowler land in the laps of the San Francisco 49ers is beyond comprehension.  Yet that is what happened.  Antoine Bethea quietly entered the free agent market at 29-years old as a two-time Pro Bowler who hadn’t missed a game since 2007.  Now he’s going to play with Eric Reid on one of the best defenses in the league.  As if they needed to get any better.

Hakeem Nicks – WR – Indianapolis Colts

It’s hard to explain what happened to Hakeem Nicks in 2013.  He made his share of catches for the New York Giants but could not score a touchdown and was far less effective than in previous seasons.  Hopes are a change of scenery, particularly heading to the fast track of the Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium will help get his career back on track.  Playing with Andrew Luck certainly won’t hurt.

Willie Young – DE – Chicago Bears

Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston will be billed as the big signings for the Chicago Bears as they look to retool their defensive line.  So the fact they got Willie Young too, who started every game for the Detroit Lions last season is a major bonus.  On paper the Bears now have three starters in their end rotation, which is something defenses pine for every year.  If Young can continue to hone his pass rush skill, Chicago may have one of the most underrated pass rushes in the NFL.

Tarell Brown – CB – Oakland Raiders

Nothing about his game is flashy but Tarell Brown is just a solid all-around cornerback.  He does his job, which is to cover the wide receiver effectively and tackle the ball carrier.  This apparently wasn’t good enough for the 49ers, who low-balled Brown in contract negotiations.  So he went across the bay to join the Oakland Raiders who should instantly benefit from his presence, especially if their rebuilt pass rush can perform.

Jonathan Dwyer – RB – Arizona Cardinals

Andre Ellington looks like the starting running back for the Arizona Cardinals.  That is not a surprise.  However, the team is very cognizant of trying to keep their new weapon fresh and healthy throughout the season.  To do that they have to take some carries off his load.  So to think they got Jonathan Dwyer from Pittsburgh for a pittance is great new for them.  Dwyer’s numbers are wowing, but it’s fair to say the Steelers never really committed to him.  For his career there he did average 4.2 yards per carry.  Perhaps Arizona will look to get him the ball more.

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals Chicago Bears Indianapolis Colts NFL Oakland Raiders San Francisco 49ers

  • Lloyd A Brodnax

    Willie Young… He’s a Beast and the NFL had better watch out for these upstart Bears, particularly if the offense continues to be explosive and the defensive schematics of da Bears DC comes 2fruition, then the Bears will be very serious contenders for not only winning the North, but their Conference and culminating with the title of Super Bowl Champions–da Chicago Bears!

    • Erik Lambert

      What’s different about this new line they’ve assembled is its size. It’s so much bigger than last year both in length and girth. I expect Young to be on the field quite often with Houston, Allen and Ratliff. If they stay healthy that is a potentially lethal group.

      • millerforrest

        As lethal as aspirin.
        Willie Young didn’t do much considering he played with Suh and Fairley!

        • Erik Lambert

          Yes, aspirin laced with cyanide. Besides I wouldn’t call 60 quarterback pressures not doing much. Sacks are always a misleading stat.

          • millerforrest

            You mean because Suh & Fairley were being doubled a lot? 60 pressures divided by 16 games = less than 4 a game or less thn 1 per quarter? Yeah…..scary. LOL

  • drtacp

    As a DEN homer I would say Chris Harris Jr. Your first 3 picks are pretty solid contenders, but Harris in the nickel surpasses them all. If/when he returns from ACL injury he will most likely be relegated to his best position due to the presence of Talib and Roby or perhaps Webster at CB’s. Check out his stats if you were not aware.

    • Erik Lambert

      How does Harris qualify as a free agent steal? He’s always played for the Broncos.

      • drtacp

        I realized almost immediately that I fu. I had a drunken fog that we were talking undrafted free agents. I totally admit my bad. Thanks for the reply. BTW I did try to rectify my mistake, but the response time from the website was extremely slow. I let it ride at that juncture. Forgive my total error.

        • Erik Lambert

          No biggie. I figured you just misunderstood.

  • http://twitter.com/kumerle Kenneth Kumerle

    Peppers

    • Erik Lambert

      At age 34 coming off his worst season since 2007? Call me a pessimist but I couldn’t pull the trigger on that one.

      • http://www.bearsdraftontap.com Johnathan Wood

        plus that wasn’t really “under the radar” since he was far and away the biggest move GB has made in FA this year (and in probably 5 years).

      • millerforrest

        You mean Peppers, the one who had NOBODY to help him with rushing the passer on a defense who was the worst RUN DEFENSE (that’s key) in the entire NFL?
        How could he have a down year with 7.5 sacks when MOST teams RAN against the Bears, meaning less chances to rush the QB? Now Peppers has legit help with Matthews, Daniels, Jones, Perry, etc. Peppers will be used efficiently.
        Actually, Peppers had a “average” season last year. Do the research.
        Please think things out Erik before saying non smart things.

        • Erik Lambert

          Teams threw the ball against the Bears 507 times last year. You’re telling me a guy like him can’t collect more than seven sacks in that number of opportunities? But clearly all because teams ran the ball a lot is why he didn’t. It couldn’t possibly be the fact he’s 34 and got exposed. The Bears played Peppers 81% of the time in 2013, which provided him ample rest to stay fresh late in games. Still wasn’t enough. Believe me, miller, I did my research.

          • millerforrest

            And who helped him rush the passer last year in Chicago? Melton was hurt. Now who? Huh wise guy? Did he have a “Clay Matthews” on the opposite side to help? NOOOOOOOO
            Do some more research

          • Erik Lambert

            Who helped J.J. Watt? Who helped Robert Mathis? Who helped Jurrell Casey? Who helped Justin Tuck? Pass rushers who get paid what Peppers was being paid should be able to generate sacks without the aide of a proven secondary rusher. He didn’t.

          • millerforrest

            That’s my whole point dumb dumb! Peppers had NOBODY opposite him to help put pressure on the QB. Peppers has that HELP this year in Green Bay with Matthews, Daniels, Jones, Perry, etc. Are you this stupid or did you bump your head?

          • Erik Lambert

            You know what, miller. If name calling is your game, feel free to take the flag on this one. I have no patience in arguing with people who favor insults. Bottom line: Julius Peppers had plenty of opportunities last season. It should not have mattered that he didn’t have the help Chicago had intended. The point you’re arguing is that by joining the Packers he will magically become the dominant force that he was a few years ago because he might see a couple extra single blocks. I WATCHED THE TAPE. Teams blocked him one-on-one a lot and it didn’t matter. He still couldn’t get home. No amount of Clay Matthews magic dust will change that FACT.

          • millerforrest

            The fact is, Peppers had an AVERAGE year. So what? Ted & Mike watched a lot more tape than you. Now you know more than them? You are a sanctimonious ass.

          • Erik Lambert

            And I rest my case.

          • millerforrest

            You think Ted & Mike don’t know more about football than you? You think Ted woulda signed Peppers if he thought he was washed up?
            You case was rested the moment you wrote the article.

          • Erik Lambert

            I think Ted is gambling on an aging player is what I think. Yet you’re hailing it as the second coming of Reggie White. If you don’t like my viewpoint, feel free to relent from reading.

          • millerforrest

            Where did I say anything about Reggie White? NOWHERE!
            All I said was Peppers had never had anybody opposite him like Clay Matthews and vice versa. They should be helping each other! You’re an editor? You suck like the Bears!

          • bearisity

            Wow selective reading much? Typical packer fan with their blinders on. Let’s talk when the season is done.

  • trinity

    Tj ward? He doesn’t seem to get as much shine as Denver’s other free agents. Emanuel, Demarcus, and Aquib. But he’s a top 10 talent at his position, and I think he’s going to make a huge impact.

    • Erik Lambert

      I see what you’re saying but the 49ers got Bethea for $1.5 million less than the Broncos got Ward. That and the fact he went to one more Pro Bowl is why he’s ahead of Ward.

      • trinity

        Ah ok, I didn’t know what kind of money the 9ers gave Bethea.

        • Erik Lambert

          I made sure to check that before compiling the list.