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Winning the NFL Offseason Doesn’t Mean Much

It is easy to understand why the Broncos acquired Wes Welker. With an older quarterback and running back, the window for success is limited. The fact that Welker is 31years old doesn't really matter because Denver needs to win now. On the flip side, the Dolphins, with 24-year-old signal caller Ryan Tannehill, have elected to put all their eggs in this year’s basket too. This has proven to be a poor strategy for teams that are more than one or two players away and are facing urgency for no particular reason.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reported last week that the Dolphins have back-loaded the contracts of many of their acquisitions. Brian Hartline, Matt Moore, Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, and Phillip Wheeler will count for only $12.725 million under the 2013 salary cap. The same group will make $43.275 million in 2014. This has allowed Miami to add Brandon Gibson, Dustin Keller, and perhaps others to the 2013 roster. While Miami has added a lot of talent, they likely will not have the cash to resign Paul Soliai next year, and over the next few years, when Tannehill is hitting the prime of his career, Miami will be handcuffed by the moves they made this year with little roster flexibility.

Last year it was Buffalo who hit free agency by storm. After going 6-10 in 2011, the Bills added Mario Williams, and Mark Anderson in addition to resigning Stevie Johnson. Buffalo went 6-10 in 2012 and fired coach Chan Gailey. The Bills may start next year with Tavaris Jackson at quarterback.

Two years ago the Eagles added Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, and Jason Babin via free agency and traded Kevin Kolb to Arizona for extra draft choices plus Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. After winning a division title without those additions in 2010, Philadelphia won their final four games to finish 8-8 in 2011. Last year they finished 4-12 leading to the end of the Andy Reid era.

Other ill-advised free agent grabs include the Redskins signing Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall, and the Raiders drastically overspending for Jeff Garcia, Javon Walker, and Larry Brown. And don't believe everything you read.

Last March Nate Davis of the USA Today named Buffalo, Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay among his “winners” in free agency. None of the five made the playoffs, and while he did suggest Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver had good off-seasons, three out of five is a record that gets your coach fired, like it did in Buffalo, Chicago, and KC. Davis did a bit better with his free agent “losers.” While two playoff teams, Cincinnati and Houston appeared on the list, so too did the Jets, Raiders, and Dolphins.

The moral of the story is that spending freely does not guarantee much, and it is too early to evaluate all of the moves. However, going all-in only makes sense if you are a player or two away, and you can do a lot of damage to your franchise if signings are not made with the future in mind.


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