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The Sports Geeks Top Stories of 2010 NFL Offseason — 2nd Edition

With the advent of April—and with less than two weeks to go before the NFL Draft debuts in prime time—it felt as though the time was right to follow up the earlier story about the top stories of the 2010 NFL Offseason so far.  Yes, to be correct, the initial posting was the “Top Stories of 2010 NFL Free Agency – 1st Edition”; however, the moves aren’t all free agent signings, so expanding the terminology was necessary.

Now that I’ve lost half my audience due to rambling, onward with the 2nd Edition of the top moves in the NFL.  Thanks to the addition of polls here at The Sports Geeks, each story has questions for you all to weigh in on.

How the (NFC) East was Won(?)

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Obviously, the biggest move of this second part of the offseason was the trade that sent former Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins.  With the 4th Overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, many draft experts expected that the Redskins would use that placement on the board to select a franchise quarterback for the future; while that might still be the plan, it seems much less likely now that they have gotten their hands on a veteran signal-caller like McNabb.

Time will tell whether or not the Eagles or Redskins won out on this move.  Coach Andy Reid clearly felt as though his Eagles were ready to begin a new season with the somewhat-proven Kevin Kolb under center.  In two games filling in for an injured McNabb last season, Kolb was quite impressive as well.  However, it’s reasonable to expect that Philadelphia will see some drop-off as Kolb attempts to settle into the role of full-time starter and as teams collect more footage to game-plan his starts.  Should the Kevin Kolb experiment stutter out of the gate, the Eagles could turn to backup Michael Vick, but it would seem that such a scenario is not preferred based on how limited his “spot” appearances were in 2009.

As for the Redskins, they certainly improve at the QB position; Jason Campbell is by no means a terrible quarterback—certainly not the worst in the league—but he lacks the winning experience of McNabb.  The issue in Washington is that the offensive line is porous and the receiving corps is unremarkable; the former biggest “name” WR on the team, Antwaan Randle El, signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, leaving McNabb with the following “weapons”:

  • WR Santana Moss
  • WR Anthony Armstrong
  • WR Malcolm Kelly
  • WR Marko Mitchell
  • WR James Robinson
  • WR Devin Thomas

Only Moss, from that list, has more than three years of NFL experience; at 10 years experience in the league, he is also not the spry, young offensive threat he was earlier in his career.

Both Redskins fans and Eagles fans have been trying to claim big expectations for the 2010 season thanks to the trade, but it seems most likely that the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will be put in the best situation for improvement.  While McNabb remains in the division, he is put at the helm of a weaker team; while the Eagles had an explosive offense at times in 2009, Kolb will be in his first season leading the team.  The trade may have positive results in Washington and Philadelphia in the long-run, but in the short-term look for the Cowboys and Giants to try to take advantage of the coming season.

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About those Redskins… (and their RB stable)

The Redskins have also stockpiled a three-headed running back monster through signing former Steeler Willie Parker, former Kansas City Chief/Cincinnati Bengal Larry Johnson, and returning Clinton Portis.  The assumption is that new head coach Mike Shanahan will be staging some sort of open competition for the starting spot, but there’s also a chance that all three players could remain on the team and be inserted for certain down situations.  However, the youngest of the three players—Parker—will be entering his 8th season this year; given the shelf-life of running backs, this stable of former star backs might put up disappointing numbers.  The entire Washington Redskins offense will be an interesting story to watch as the season draws closer.

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A Trade, Essentially

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This fruity Joey Porter picture taken from

In the 1st Edition of this offseason reporting, I spoke briefly about Arizona Cardinals LB Karlos Dansby and his decision to sign with the Miami Dolphins.  Since then, disgruntled Dolphins LB Joey Porter decided that he would fill that opening and sign with the Cardinals.  He then celebrated his signing by getting arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and resisting arrest.  Even without acknowledging that Porter’s skills are in decline, this doesn’t project well for Arizona.

This story doesn’t get a poll; no need to ask who has a better chance of seeing an upside here.

Kickers on the Move

To the surprise of many—including former kicker Neil Rackers and his agent—Arizona decided to take their special teams game in a new direction by signing former New York Jets kicker Jay Feely.  In return, Rackers scheduled a visit with the Jets and then surprised onlookers by signing a deal with the Houston Texans and being put in a competition situation with Texans kicker Kris Brown.  Meanwhile, the Jets now field Dallas Cowboys cast-off Nick Folk as their place-kicking starter.

Feely and Rackers—despite missed kicks in the AFC Championship and NFC Wild Card Games, respectively—have to be considered among the top-tier kickers in the league.  Folk, meanwhile, has certainly been mid-level at best despite a promising start to his career; in 2009, he only made 18 of 28 field goal attempts, while Feely went 30-for-36 (3-for-5 in the playoffs) and Rackers went 16-for-17 (1 for 3 in the playoffs).  Safe to say that—for this kicker carousel—the Cardinals won, the Texans won, and the Jets lost (link goes to video of Folk missing a 24-yard field goal against the Saints… indoors).

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But that doesn’t mean we’re taking a QB with the 1st Pick… (Sure, guys)

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The St. Louis Rams bid farewell to veteran quarterback Marc Bulger this offseason, leaving them with A.J. Feeley, Kyle Boller, and Keith Null on the depth chart.  If the Rams plan to start the season with any of those players under center, they better be prepared for another cellar-dwelling year and a very angry fanbase.  Despite the clear implication that QB prospect Sam Bradford is all but assured to be the Rams selection for the 1st Overall Pick in the 2010 draft, the Rams brass are playing coy regarding their plans.

Given that the Rams finished with a single win and the worst record in the entire NFL for the 2009 season, it’s safe to say that even drafting a franchise QB won’t turn anything around right away.  Though Bradford might have a bigger upside than last year’s #1 pick Matthew Stafford, he would find himself in a situation where he won’t exactly be surrounded by talent on the field.

As good as prospects Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh may be, both are DT’s; the Rams aren’t very good on either side of the ball, but their fanbase and their franchise need somebody settled in the quarterback position for the long haul.  If St. Louis is serious about their decision to move away from Bradford, they better hope that there’s a solid Plan B in mind; otherwise, they might become the favorite for relocation in the NFL’s plans to move a franchise to Los Angeles.

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The Odd Man Out Finds a Spot

The clear loser in the Cleveland Browns moves at the quarterback position earlier this offseason was former starter and former Pro Bowl QB Derek Anderson, who was the only player without a team once the dust settled in Ohio.  Since then, he has inked a deal to play for the Arizona Cardinals as a backup who could potentially compete for the starting job if Matt Leinart should have trouble re-establishing himself as “the guy” in the desert.

Good to know that a guy who played eight games in 2009 and compiled 3 touchdowns and 10 interceptions—including a Week 5 game in Buffalo where he completed 2 of 17 pass attempts with an interception—can still sign a two-year contract worth $7.25 million.

Wish I could make that kind of money for being less than half successful at what I do.  Anderson’s final completion percentage for 2009 was 44.5%, which was actually 4.3% worse than Oakland Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell for the season.

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The “I Called It” Award, 1st Edition

In the 1st Edition of my offseason transactions coverage, I detailed the New England Patriots sudden lack of tight ends on the roster with the departures of Benjamin Watson to the Cleveland Browns and Chris Baker to the Seattle Seahawks.  In my comments, I mentioned that the Patriots should look at Tennessee Titans free agent TE Alge Crumpler as a potential option.  Shortly after the article went live, rumors came out that Crumpler and the Patriots were discussing a deal, and the deal was finalized shortly after that.

Given his age, Crumpler probably won’t be coming into New England as a game-changer; at least now, however, the Patriots will be fielding someone at the position who actually has NFL experience.

Well, there you have it; the 2nd Edition of my coverage of the Top Stories of the 2010 NFL Offseason.  Any big moves that you think I overlooked?  Let me know in the comments below.


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