NFL Offseason Spotlight

For most National Football League teams, evaluators combing their respective rosters in lieu of the free agent player signing period, set to begin on March 2nd. As the challenge of securing talent and filling holes within the roster becoming increasingly difficult, decision time is around the corner, as the off-season heats-up. Seattle, Miami, and Cleveland are on tap for this weeks NFL spotlight.

The free agent player signing period has a history in comparison to that of a roller-coaster. Many teams in the early days of free agency would mortgage the future, banking on free agent players to lead them to the promised land. Other teams have shown the frugal approach, the results vary, but the story remains the same.

We can look to the great Northwest and see where difficulty resides. The Seattle Seahawks, an organization which purged their front office following the 2004 season has many difficult decisions to overcome in the upcoming days. With three star caliber players headed to free agency, the Seahawks are in a precarious position.

Offensive left tackle Walter Jones, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and running back Shaun Alexander, all starters for a Seattle team which qualified for the playoffs following the 2004 season.

Over the past few seasons, Jones has worn the franchise tag of the organization. In what had become a yearly tradition in Seattle, the organization would be unable to secure a long-term deal with the standout offensive lineman, thus tagging him, which secures his rights while the player receives the average pay of the top-five players at the position.

Today, the Seahawks have been backed into a corner they are not familiar with.

Can Seattle afford to tag Jones once again, letting Hasselbeck and Alexander test the free agency waters? At 31, Jones remains one of the very best, if not potentially the best offensive linemen available. In Alexander, we speak of a high-caliber and consistent running back that is a vital contributor to a Seattle offense which shows inconsistency in the passing game.

In the days leading up to free agency, the Seahawks would like to secure the services of all three of these players, but the likelihood remains that one or two of these standout players will slip-on a new uniform in 2005………….and Jones may finally be released from the franchise tag, something he has longed for.

The story is quite different in Miami and Cleveland. With new head coaches in place, expect some change within these organizations.

Nick Saban, the man in charge in Miami seeks balance on both sides of the ball, as well as within the salary structure of the team. Heading into the off-season, the Dolphins have issues with the salary-cap to deal with and Saban appears poised to change the face of the Dolphins. Starting cornerback Patrick Surtain has been granted permission to seek a trade. Sam Madison, the veteran cornerback which starts opposite of Surtain may be asked to renegotiate his contract or his release may be in the offing.

Cleveland faces many obstacles to regain their playoff form of a few seasons ago. New Head Coach Romeo Crennel, teaming up with personnel ace Phil Savage intend on changing the look for the Browns immediately. The belief in Cleveland is there is talent on the roster, but the prior coaching staff and personnel evaluators did not do a good job in putting the roster together with players that complimented one another. Quarterback Jeff Garcia will be released within the next couple weeks, the organization is expected to focus on improving the quality of offensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs in free agency and the draft. With an excess of 10-million dollars to devote to their cause, the Browns will be active.

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