2006 free agency: The winners and losers

The 49ers have made a few nice pickups in 2006 free agency, but considering the free agents they've lost during the offseason, they're hardly one of the NFL's big winners on the open market so far this year. But they're not exactly one of the big losers, either. With the latter stage of FA beginning at the start of June, here's a look at the league's biggest winners and losers in '06 free agency.


1. Washington Redskins:
Owner Daniel Snyder once again opened the bottomless vault and brought in the most impressive free agent class in years, which includes two former 49ers starters. Safety Adam Archuleta, defensive ends Andre Carter and Kenny Writerdsf, tight end Christian Fauria, and wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El all will either start immediately or see significant playing time. Lloyd, a restricted free agent, was actually acquired in a trade for two draft picks, but he essentially was a free-agent pickup as the Redskins intended to strike a deal with the 49ers before signing him to an offer sheet.

2. Cleveland Browns: The coup was landing defensive tackle Willie McGinest, but the signing with the most immediate impact is likely offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley, who lived in relative obscurity in New Orleans. Bentley was the second-best offensive lineman available and the Browns shored up a glaring need. They also landed receiver Joe Jurevicious – a FA the 49ers were interested in – tackle Kevin Shaffer, nose tackle Ted Washington and punter Dave Zastudil.

3. Arizona Cardinals: The 49ers' divisional rival won the Edgerrin James lottery and that puts them near the top of the list in itself. James gives the Cardinals a legitimate back for the first time since…Larry Centers? The offense is scary good with James, wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald and golden boy quarterback Matt Leinart. They also added depth at wide receiver by signing Troy Walters away from New England. With the addition of a superb draft class, the Cardinals have had arguably the best offseason of any NFL team.

4. Houston Texans: Everyone in South Texas already knows what most of the league and its fans may just now be catching up to: The Texans had a great offseason. They added depth in the linebacker corps with Sam Cowart, shored up the defensive line with Anthony Cook and gave quarterback David Carr more weapons by signing fullback Jameel Cook and tight end Jeb Putzier. But the biggest move came when they signed Eric Moulds, who will provide the Texans with a legitimate No. 2 receiver threat for the first time ever. They also picked up running back Antowain Smith late in the free agency period.

5. Dallas Cowboys: They are grudgingly listed here because they had the guts, or perhaps idiocy, to sign former 49er Terrell Owens. There is no doubting Owens' ability on the field. There is also no doubting his inability in being a good teammate, as many former and current 49ers could tell you. The Cowboys finally filled their rotating kicker position by landing Mike Vanderjagt. The signing of offensive tackle Jason Fabini could be the key move of the offseason.


1. New England Patriots:
Perhaps no team in the league was hit harder in free agency than the Patriots. They lost one of the best kickers ever in Adam Vinatieri, a stalwart defensive lineman in Willie McGinest and one of the most underrated receivers in the league in David Givens. Losses of receivers Andre Davis and Tim Dwight aren't quite as significant, but do put a dent in the depth at the wide receiver position. Much like their conference rival the Colts, their biggest acquisition was a kicker (Martin Gramatica).

2. Chicago Bears: The Bears had one of the worst offenses in the league last year and what did they do to address their needs in free agency? They added Brian Griese, yet another quarterback with a mostly unproven track record, to essentially compete with Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman for the starting job. Their only other slightly significant addition was adding cornerback Dante Wesley.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Any time your biggest acquisition is a kicker (albeit one of the best in league history in Adam Vinatieri), you probably didn't have too much to get excited about. The Colts were never really in the running in resigning Edgerrin James, who left town for Arizona, so that makes them a free agency loser alone. They also lost receiver Troy Walters and kicker Mike Vanderjagt, for better or for worse.

4. New York Jets: Not much has gone right for the Jets recently. They lost two stalwarts along the two lines in John Abraham and Kevin Mawae. Granted, Abraham was dealt in a trade and wasn't lost in free agency, but the Jets had no intentions of keeping him. Mawae was a rock along the Jets line for years and found a new home on Tennessee. Signing defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen was a nice pick up, though.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Their free-agent signing list largely reads as a "Who's That?" of NFL players. Linebacker Nick Greisen, wide receiver Randy Hymes and cornerback Brian Williams were all signed to add depth, mostly. Their biggest splash came in signing offensive tackle Mike Williams away from Buffalo. The former first-round pick out of the University of Texas was a major disappointment in Buffalo and will be looking to rejuvenate his career with the Jags.

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