We'll take a look at the teams that haven't done a good job in free agency thus far in this installment.
1) Tennessee Titans - Similar to what the Baltimore Ravens did after they won the Super Bowl, the Titans had a salary-cap purge. However, in this situation, the Titans aren't coming back from a Super Bowl victory, they're coming off of a bad season.
Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations Floyd Reese made a clear decision. What he had on the roster wasn't good enough to get them over the top. He made a strong move and decided to take their big cap hits this season as Baltimore did in 2001.
Gone are veterans fullback Robert Holcombe (released), wide receiver Derrick Mason (released), running back Antowain Smith (free agency loss), offensive tackle (free agency loss), defensive end Carlos Hall (traded), kicker Joe Nedney (free agency loss), defensive lineman Kevin Carter (free agency loss), and cornerback Samari Rolle (released).
You might call it out with the old and in with the new.
Will it work? Time will tell, but Reese is one of the most savvy football men around the NFL. The bottom line is that this year's version of the Titans will look very young -- perhaps too young.
2) Indianapolis Colts - For a team that was just one game away from the Super Bowl, you might think they didn't need that much help. But when you think about it, a big reason why they've been unable to take the next step and get to the big game is because their defense isn't good enough.
Other than re-signing some of their restricted free agents, the Colts didn't sign one impact free agent. In fact, the only player that they signed from another team was offensive lineman Joaquin Gonzalez. While he's a solid backup player, Gonzalez has yet to prove he's more than that.
While the team didn't have a boatload of cap room to work with, you have to wonder why they didn't try to improve their defense more so far this off-season.
3) Washington Redskins - Owner Daniel Snyder and head coach Joe Gibbs believe that the way you build your team is through free agency. That has been made abundantly clear by their comments over the last year or so.
Where does the NFL draft come in? Second.
After making a big splash in free agency for several years but not making the playoffs, the Redskins haven't made a big impact in that area this off-season, but it's not for the lack of trying. They just haven't had enough salary-cap space to make a lot of moves.
They lost key defensive players in middle linebacker Antonio Pierce and cornerback Fred Smoot. While they didn't pursue Pierce as hard as they did Smoot to re-sign, his loss is big. Pierce had a great season and looks to be one of the rising stars at the position.
The loss of Smoot is even bigger when you consider they lack an adequate replacement for him.
Offensively, time will tell if the trade of Laveranues Coles back to the Jets for Santana Moss will be an upgrade or not. The other two moves of note for the team were the signings of center Casey Rabach and wide receiver David Patten. Neither look to be of impact but are decent moves.
The bottom line is the Redskins look to have lost a lot more than they've gained this off-season.
4) Green Bay Packers - While many have questioned head coach Mike Sherman's decision-making in free agency over the past few years, not much has changed so far this off-season under new general manager Ted Thompson.
While losing key players in guard Marco Rivera (lost in free agency), guard Mike Wahle (released), linebacker Hannibal Navies (released), safety Darren Sharper (released), safety Bhawoh Jue (released), and even cornerback Michael Hawthorne (released), the team really hasn't taken an aggressive approach.
The signings of offensive lineman Adrian Klemm and Matt O'Dwyer look to be big downgrades to Rivera and Wahle, and the addition of former Dolphins safety Arturo Freeman doesn't really impress anyone. The hope is that his play will be better under defensive coordinator Jim Bates, who coached him in Miami.
After looking at their moves so far in free agency, you have to wonder if they're doing all that they can.
5) New York Jets - While the Jets are coming off of a solid season where they made the playoffs, they still had areas of improvement needed in free agency.
Instead of adding a few key players, they lost some.
Gone are running back LaMont Jordan, wide receiver Santana Moss (traded), tight end Anthony Becht (lost in free agency), offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie (lost in free agency), defensive tackle Jason Ferguson (lost in free agency), and linebacker Sam Cowart (traded).
While the loss of Jordan doesn't seem that big, it's very questionable to think that his replacement, Derrick Blaylock, is any better. Blaylock is a good change-of-pace back and a good special teams player, but Jordan is a better fit as Curtis Martin's successor. Most believe Blaylock is too small to be an every-down back or to take a lot of carries.
Many Jets fans wanted to see Becht go, and while he might have hands of stone, he's one of the better blocking tight ends around.
We do believe Coles will be an upgrade over Moss, and you could probably argue that he played his best ball as a Jet. But they lost a big part of their offense in McKenzie.
McKenzie's presence on the right side will be missed, as they don't have a solid replacement on the roster.
Perhaps the biggest loss of them all was Ferguson. What really helped fellow tackle Dwayne Robertson take a big step was the presence of Ferguson next to him. Former Giants' defensive lineman Lance Legree is a big downgrade.
The loss of Cowart isn't big since Jon Vilma took over the starting job after Cowart got hurt, but it does hurt their depth.
Overall, when you look at their roster, the Jets look to have lost more than they have gained.
2005 NFL Free Agency Losers
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