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2011 Free Agency: Grading the AFC East

Posted: 09 Aug 2011 01:50 AM PDT


Buffalo Bills

Unsigned players: LB Akin Ayodele (UFA), QB Brian Brohm (UFA), OLB Keith Ellison (UFA), RB Quinton Ganther (UFA), DT John McCargo (UFA), TE Jonathan Stupar (UFA), CB Ashton Youboty (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Chargers WR Buster Davis, Aug. 5; Ex-Packers UFA ILB Nick Barnett, July 31; Ex-Jets UFA WR Brad Smith, July 29 (four years, $15 million); Ex-Dolphins UFA QB Tyler Thigpen, July 29 (three years).

Key departures: UFA S Donte Whitner, Aug. 4 (to Bengals); UFA ILB Paul Posluszny, July 29 (to Jaguars).

Key re-signings: UFA CB Drayton Florence, July 29 (three years, $15 million); RFA TE Scott Chandler, July 29 (one year).

Grade: C+

Comment: The teams biggest priority going in was to keep Posluszny, but it only took a few days for him to bolt and sign with the Jaguars. They did recover with the inking of Barnett, but it’s a position that is going to suffer if Barnett isn’t able to stay on the field. The signing of Smith could add a spark to the offense, but only if they use him quite a bit and get him the ball. Losing Whitner wasn’t a surprise, and they were able to bring back Florence, but overall, it’s been an average offseason at best for the Bills.

Miami Dolphins

Unsigned players: RB Patrick Cobbs (UFA), TE Joey Haynos (UFA), OG Pat McQuistan (UFA), OLB Quentin Moses (UFA), QB Chad Pennington (UFA), OG Cory Procter (UFA), RB Ricky Williams (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Seahawks OT Ray Willis, Aug. 6; Ex-Jets QB Kevin O’Connell, Aug. 5; Ex-Cowboys OT Marc Colombo, Aug. 1; Ex-Jets DE-OLB Jason Taylor, Aug. 1; Ex-Broncos DT Ronald Fields, July 31; Ex-Chargers UFA ILB Kevin Burnett, July 29 (five years, $21 million, $9.8 million guaranteed); Ex-Panthers UFA QB Matt Moore, July 29; Traded for ex-Saints RB Reggie Bush, July 29. Ex-Browns UFA LB Jason Trusnik, July 29.

Key departures: UFA RB Ronnie Brown, Aug. 2 (to Eagles); Released LB Channing Crowder, July 29; UFA QB Tyler Thigpen, July 29 (to Bills).

Key re-signings: RFA OL Nate Garner, Aug. 4; UFA DT Tony McDaniel, July 29 (two years).

Grade: C

Comment: An interesting offseason for the Fins, who everyone thought they were going to get Broncos QB Kyle Orton, but were unable to make a deal for him. They did acquire former Saints first-round pick Reggie Bush, and also signed Chargers UFA ILB Kevin Burnett to a big deal, hoping his presence will upgrade the LB core. They also brought back for a third time Jason Taylor, and inked Matt Moore to backup Chad Henne, who still seems to be on track to being the opening day starter. Some still feel eventually they will get back on the line with Denver and make a deal with them for Orton. Until then, a lot of questions remain.

New England Patriots

Unsigned players: S Josh Barrett (RFA), RB Fred Taylor (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Redskins DE Andre Carter, Aug. 7; Ex-Jets UFA DE Shaun Ellis, Aug. 7; Ex-Texans UFA DE Mark Anderson, Aug. 5; Ex-B.C. Lions DL Steve Williams, July 30; Traded for ex-Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth, July 29 (Redskins get 2013 fifth-round pick). Traded for ex-Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco, July 28 (Bengals get late-round picks in 2012 and ’13, per

Key departures: Cut S Brandon McGowan, Aug. 8; UFA S Jarrad Page, Aug. 2 (to Eagles); UFA PK Shayne Graham, Aug. 2 (to Redskins); Cut DL Ty Warren, July 29 (to Broncos); LB Ryan Coulson, July 29; Cut TE Alge Crumpler, July 29; Cut OT Nick Kaczur, July 29; Cut CB Tony Carter, July 29; Cut DT Marcus Stroud, July 29; Released OLB Tully Banta-Cain, July 29.

Key re-signings: UFA DE Gerard Warren, Aug. 8; RFA RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Aug. 3; UFA OLT Matt Light, July 31 (two years); UFA LB Tracy White, July 30; UFA S Brandon McGowan, July 30; UFA RB Kevin Faulk, July 30; UFA RB Sammy Morris, July 29 (one year); FFA OG Logan Mankins, July 29 (one year).

Grade: A-

Comment: The Pats played free agency more like a team that went 2-14 than a team that went 14-2. They were active from the moment the bell rang, going out and making deals to get Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth and Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco. The best part in their eyes is they didn’t have to give up much for them. Ochocinco and Bill Belichick are close, and some say the loudmouth WR will have a breakout season with Tom Brady throwing to him. The club let go of OLB Tully Banta-Cain, DT Marcus Stroud and DL Ty Warren. They realized that their defense has to get better to get back to the Super Bowl, another reason they went out and got former Jets DE Shaun Ellis. Bold moves by a team that doesn’t usually make many free agent mistakes.

New York Jets

Unsigned players: OLB Shawn Crable (RFA), S James Ihedigbo (UFA), LB Lance Laury (UFA), DE Trevor Pryce (UFA), FB Tony Richardson (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Ravens WR Derrick Mason, Aug. 6; Ex-Giants WR Plaxico Burress, July 31 (one year, $3.017 million, $3.017 million guaranteed); Ex-Chargers CB Donald Strickland, July 30 (one year); P Chris Bryan, July 29.

Key departures: UFA DE Shaun Ellis, Aug. 7 (to Patriots); UFA WR Braylon Edwards, Aug. 4 (to 49ers); Waived QB Kevin O’Connell, July 29; UFA CB Drew Coleman, July 29 (to Jaguars); UFA WR Brad Smith, July 29 (to Bills); UFA QB Kellen Clemens, July 29 (to Redskins); UFA P Steve Weatherford (to Giants), July 29.

Key re-signings: UFA S Brodney Pool, Aug. 4; UFA CB Antonio Cromartie, Aug. 1 (four years, $32 million); UFA S Eric Smith, July 30 (three years); UFA PK Nick Folk, July 29 (one year); UFA OT Wayne Hunter, July 29 (four years); UFA WR Santonio Holmes, July 29 (five years, $50 million, $24 million guaranteed); RFA C Robert Turner, July 29 (one year).

Grade: B-

Comment: The Jets biggest concern entering free agency was what to do with their WR core. They were able to get it settled quickly, getting Santonio Holmes back, and then making a splash with the signing of Plaxico Burress. They didn’t make much of a run at Braylon Edwards, who left for San Francisco. They also brought back CB Antonio Cromartie, this after failing to be able to talk Nnamdi Asomugha into coming to New York. They also picked up veteran WR Derrick Mason, who will help their WR core, but lost Brad Smith, who was expected to leave anyway for more of a chance to have a bigger impact somewhere else. The Jets seemed to be in the news a lot, but the biggest moves were getting Holmes back, and bringing back Cromartie to play opposite Darrelle Revis.

Titans CB Cortland Finnegan Apologizes for Absence From Team

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 07:02 PM PDT

Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan apologized on Monday for his actions when he left the team unannounced and then ripped media for twisting the story.

Finnegan acknowledged his one-day absence was in fact related to his unhappiness with his contract. Sunday on Twitter he said his absence was because of personal issues.

He also acknowledged he didn't tell the team he was leaving camp. Sunday on Twitter he said he had informed the team officials.

"I want to apologize to the media for this tirade of events that's happened. It has been nothing but a distraction to the team that was not needed,'' he said. "When I was talking with my agent, because I wasn't happy with some of the things said I let the emotions get the best of me and I had to take a step back personally and regroup.

"I took the negotiations personally and I shouldn't have and it affected everyone in the community and the team and I deeply regret that … I want to be here long-term."

Rookie QB Gabbert Likely to Start Jacksonville’s Preseason Opener

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 06:55 PM PDT

It looks more likely that Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert will start Thursday night against the Patriots. Starting quarterback Davd Garrard says he will not risk aggravating his back by playing.

“I want to be ready tomorrow,” Garrard told Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. “I can’t try to force myself out there and set myself back again.”

“If it means missing the first preseason game, unfortunately it means missing the first preseason game,” Garrard said.

Cardinals Safety Adrian Wilson Out With Torn Biceps Tendon

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 06:30 PM PDT

By Cardinals Gab Columnist Cameron Moon

On Monday, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt updated the media as well as fans on the status of safety Adrian Wilson, who was injured in a scrimmage Saturday.

Wilson has a partially torn biceps tendon, and there is no certain timetable for his return. "We do expect him to play this season", said Whisenhunt, so the injury does not seem to be as serious as it sounds.

The last thing the Cards want is for him to try and return from injury to quickly, and hurt himself further.

Wilson's injury has thrown an interesting wrinkle into the Cardinals' preseason and early season plans, especially at safety. Darren Urban of has reported the team re-signed Matt Ware, but that the move was going to happen regardless of Wilson's injury.

Rashad Johnson, a third year player who has 63 career tackles and one interception will fill in as the starter next to Kerry Rhodes until Wilson makes his return.

NFL Supplemental Draft to be Held on August 17th

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 06:17 PM PDT

Pro Football Weekly is reporting that the NFL supplemental draft, featuring former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, will be held on August 17th. The big question – what team will take a chance on Pryor – and how high will that team go to get him?

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the NFL has notified all 32 teams that it will hold its annual supplemental draft on Aug. 17.

Mortensen added that no players have been declared eligible, as of yet. The two biggest-name players who have left their schools and hope to be eligible for the draft are ex-Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor and ex-Georgia RB Caleb King.

A Goal for the Colts In 2011, to Keep the Lead

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 04:29 PM PDT

By Colts Gab Columnist Jesse Wilson

If there's one thing that the Colts do poorly (And sadly, there's more than one. I'm looking at you special teams!), it's maintaining a lead. I've had many conversations about this with my brother and we believe that the inherent problem lies in a coaching shift once the Colts go up by about two touchdowns.

In countless games, I've seen the Colts get a good lead going into the 2nd half or the 4th quarter, but then their entire offense completely changes. Our beloved "run-n-gun" offense with the league's best quarterback (arguably best of all time) and a slew of the league's best receivers and tight ends becomes this "safety first" bunch of pansies that just try to run the clock out. You know what, if the Colts are up by three touchdowns with four minutes in the game left, fine, this is a great tactic. But we see this all the time beginning as early the 3rd quarter where Indy get something like a 12-point lead and then goes into cruise control. That's why I actually like seeing Indy play from behind in the 4th, because they take the gloves off and go for broke.

The worst example of this is Super Bowl XLIV where the Colts were actually winning until about 6 minutes left in the game. But starting when our boys went 3-and-out deep in their own territory at the end of the 2nd quarter, it felt like the Saints had all the momentum and were winning the whole time (Sidenote: I'm convinced that if we hadn't gone 3-and-out there and had picked up even one 1st down, it would have changed the whole game and the Colts would have won their 2ndSuper Bowl that night.). For some reason, Jim Caldwell stops playing to win once he is winning.

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Vikings QB Bomar Apologizes To Team For Arrest

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 01:59 PM PDT

Quarterback Rhett Bomar evaded the media on Monday, one day after his drunk driving arrest, but he was upfront with his teammates about the incident.

"It was more his idea," said Leslie Frazier of Bomar's decision to address the team.  "As we talked, he felt bad about what had happened and he knew how the guys would look. You've got 99 percent of the guys doing the right and one guy sticks out like a sore thumb, so (he was) really embarrassed and he wanted to talk to the guys about that."

Frazier said the Vikings do not plan on releasing the quarterback, who currently appears to be fourth on the depth chart and likely to get cut anyways, but that the team is investigating the incident to make sure that "there's nothing else that we need to know."

"I'm not naïve enough to think there aren't going to be other situations," Frazier said of his approach to players getting into trouble. "I know there are going to be others, and you've just got to deal with them on an individual basis."

Jared Allen, who knows a thing or two about getting into trouble for driving drunk, said Bomar admitted to the team that he had made a mistake.

"I think everybody deserves second chances if you can learn from them and move forward," said Allen.  "Nobody in this world is perfect. So, it's one of those things — it does happen, it happens to the best of us, and all you can do is learn from your mistake. I think people are willing to forgive you if you learn from your mistake and move forward. He'll just have to prove it now."

Predictions: 2011 Rookie QB Starts

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 01:35 PM PDT

Assuming none of the quarterbacks get hurt, here are my predictions for how many starts the first-year dudes will get. I can’t wait to get a look at them in the preseason, since that is where the only live snaps shall be for some of them.

Andy Dalton, Bengals. Bruce Gradkowski is considered a gamer and has been able to navigate 4th-quarter victories for the Bucs and Raiders, but right now he’s losing out to Dalton. With the young Bengals starting at wideout and tight end – and with the Bengals still seeming far away from the Ravens and Steelers -, it makes sense that they might go with the philosophy of “trial by fire” instead of “sit and learn”. Dalton’s not the kind of guy who will crumble if he fails early on. Prediction: 16 starts. 

Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars. I said when they drafted him that he’d beat out Garrard in camp. Garrard’s been injured and can still play quarterback for a Super Bowl team yet Gabbert is likely already a better fit for Koetter’s play-action style and is going to battle spiritedly to keep the job in the preseason opener and beyond. The one thing working against him may be Jack Del Rio’s hot seat (he gave up play-calling duties for the defense to Mel Tucker). However, maybe he can buy another year if they progress during the season as Gabbert does. You wonder if their free agency acquisitions – LBs Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, SS Dawan Landry – would have been made if there were no  salary floor. I think it’s 51-49 that he starts week 1 and he was the highest-rated QB on my draft board (one of only three in the top tier, which was him – Christian Ponder – Cam Newton). Prediction: 16 starts.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers. Alex Smith will start and will make a playoff push with his elite playmakers and the lack of complete defenses in the NFC West. Kaepernick was the rawest of the QB’s drafted but is hard-working, so he could make it interesting. Kaepernick is mobile (so is Alex Smith), but if the offensive line in struggling, they are going to be even more dissuaded to play him. Kaepernick rushed for 1228 yards and 20 TDs (1 fewer than he passed for) his senior season at Nevada. Prediction: 0 starts.

Cam Newton, Panthers. Cam Newton, like Mark Sanchez, only started one season at the highest level of college football. His athletic ability far exceeds that of Jimmy Clausen. If Carolina’s rebuilding, the deciding comparison should not be how Newton is doing this camp compared to Clausen, it should be how Newton is doing this camp compared to Clausen’s first camp. They are close enough in this battle that – even though #1 overall money and #1 pick-to-coach link don’t wield the incentives to start that they used to – they have to think Newton has better long-term prospects and that they should start him right away. Newton has had up-and-down accuracy in camp. The Gabbert prediction was my most difficult one but this one may be a close second and it will also be flexible based on preseason. Prediction: 16 starts.

Jake Locker, Titans. Hasselbeck will win the job, but he needs to show he is healthy and not making bad throws like the last three seasons (34 TD, 44 INT). There’s a chance Hasselbeck plays at a Comeback Player of the Year level and a chance he plays mediocre, but the Titans will likely not be out of it until late in the season. Prediction: 2 starts.

Christian Ponder, Vikings. Donovan McNabb might not admit he was to blame for some of the problems in Washington, but he must know that the Vikings expect him to be efficient in running the offense, especially on third down. I get the feeling Leslie Frazier is excited for what Ponder can do, so – if the Vikings are out of it -, he’ll eventually give him a shot. The Vikings, however, have a fairly easy schedule and will be competing for a Wild Card spot late in the season. McNabb missed games due to injury in five of the last nine seasons. Prediction: 1 start.

I predict Scott Tolzien (Chargers), Ryan Mallett (Patriots), Tyrod Taylor (Ravens), Pat Devlin (Dolphins), and Ricky Stanzi (Chiefs) to make the final 53-man rosters .

I also predict Greg McElroy (Jets) and Adam Weber (Broncos) to make practice squads or be claimed by other teams while on their transfer to the practice squad.

Brett Favre Being “Slightly Tempted” To Come Out Of Retirement?

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 01:03 PM PDT

Peter King of Sports Illustrated is hearing Brett Favre is being slightly tempted about playing football again. King doesn’t think any team is going to come after him now, and doesn’t think he’s going to pursue anything.

But King does think if a starter gets hurt or stinks, and the coach has no faith in the backup, Favre is going to get a call. Depending on the team, he might consider returning.

Cleveland WR Mohamed Massaquoi Has A Bone Problem In His Left Leg

Posted: 08 Aug 2011 12:26 PM PDT

Browns coach Pat Shurmur revealed starting wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi has an injured bone in his left leg. Massaquoi, who showed up at training camp with a cast on his leg, has not yet practiced and spent the workouts on an exercise bike and watching from the sideline.

Shurmur did not divulge any details about Massaquoi’s injury until Monday, when he confirmed it was a bone problem. The Browns have not said how long they expect Massaquoi, who had 36 receptions as a rookie, to be out.

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