NFL Free Agent Signings/Analysis

More than 50 free agent signings and re-signings throughout the weekend, with analysis of how the player will fit the system. Updated Monday morning.

QUARTERBACK

Tim Hasselbeck (NY Giants) –
Despite lacking ideal size and arm strength, Hasselbeck has displayed the ability to lead a team on a limited basis. Showing the tendency in brief appearances to throw the ball into coverage too often, Hasselbeck can be prone to interceptions. Has not had a legitimate opportunity to gain playing time and experience and will not in New York while backing up Eli Manning.

Sage Rosenfels (Houston) – Career backup with limited opportunities displayed some flashes of quality play while with the Dolphins in 2005. Rosenfels is a strong-armed quarterback that needs to play to gain experience and consistency. Being stuck in the quarterback quandary of Miami, signing with the Texans could be a blessing.

Chris Weinke (Carolina) – Weinke's professional career has been marred by bad decisions when given the opportunity to shine. Sporting good size and arm strength, Weinke has been erratic, inconsistent, and does not move well in the pocket. Familiar with the Carolina offensive system and this is a good match for depth purposes.


RUNNING BACK

Chad Morton (NY Giants) –
Morton excels in the return game and has been steady in that role for the Giants. Due to his limited ability to be an asset in the running game due to his size, Morton can be of help coming out of the backfield, if called upon. Morton provides the team a viable weapon in the return game and should continue to succeed in this role.

Mike Anderson (Baltimore) – The Ravens were in need of a veteran running back and wasted no time in landing a better than average talent, Mike Anderson. Not the fleetest afoot, Anderson has proven to be a powerful inside, downhill type rusher, which could be a fit within the Baltimore offense, which is expected to take on a different look in the 2006 season. Basically a between the tackles runner, Anderson will be counted on to carry the load for the Ravens until the team adds depth to the position. Anderson should keep the running game alive for Baltimore, but expect the Ravens to add another back in free agency or early in the draft.

Edgerrin James (Arizona) – Arizona claimed they would not be a player in the high-stakes, high-salary free agency wars. Well, guess again, landing the multi-talented James. In James, the Cardinals now have a running back that will complement an already exciting passing game. James can run between the tackles, off tackle, and is a superb receiver coming out of the backfield. For the Cardinals, it is Christmas Day! Questions surrounding the overall state of the Arizona offensive line now must be evaluated, as James is a talent, but needs help up front to be successful.

Ron Dayne (Denver) – May have found himself in the rushing-machine known as the Denver Broncos offense. Some of his on-field success, though limited, may come from a diligent off-season workout program that he entered and the blocking emphasis of the Denver scheme. Dayne displayed much better burst and vision in the 2005 season while maintaining a powerful lower base. The Broncos appear committed to Dayne in some capacity, whether as a starter or backup.

Chester Taylor (Minnesota) – Versatile back that has been the jack-of-all trades while a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Has not been a feature back at the professional level, but will get the opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota head coach Brad Childress envisions the opportunity to focus on Taylor in the running game, much like the Eagles (Childress' former team) does with Brian Westbrook, with Taylor being a better between the tackles rusher.

DeShaun Foster (Carolina) – The Panthers are in a precarious position at running back. Foster is everything the team wants in a back, but questions remaining regarding injury issues kept this deal from getting done sooner. Despite the issues, the Panthers are thin at the position and are hopeful Foster can be their workhorse back in the future.

Mike Alstott (Tampa Bay) – Due to his versatility and experience, Alstott appears poised to play one more season in Tampa Bay. Alstott fits nicely in the Tampa Bay offensive scheme and his leadership qualities were hard for the team to pass on (as well as a modest salary).

Jameel Cook (Houston) – Cook is an improving blocking back. Lacks the speed and quickness to carry the load for a team, but can be an asset coming out of the backfield on occasion, as well as on special teams.


TIGHT END

Christian Fauria (Washington) –
A true possession type receiver, Fauria has been effective in the red zone and short yardage for the Seahawks. An above average receiver at this point in his career, Fauria will battle defenders for a reception, as well as fight to maintain a blocking assignment. At this time, Fauria is a well-rounded type tight end that should not be expected to catch 50 balls a season, but rather a solid teammate and professional that knows how to play the game.

Matt Schobel (Philadelphia) – Simply stated, Matt Schobel is a pass receiving type tight end. Schobel is not an average blocker and should not be counted upon to handle such tasks on a consistent basis. What Schobel does well is get open, often sitting down in the holes in a zone defense. Has the speed and quickness to split the seam downfield. With the questionable state of the tight end position in Philadelphia, Schobel appears to be a nice fit for the Eagles.

Robert Royal (Buffalo) – The Bills are seeking a tight end that possesses receiving skills to be a threat in the intermediate passing game. While his blocking skills are suspect, Royal came into his own during the 2005 season in Washington and fits the mode of receiver first, improving blocking type player the team targeted.


WIDE RECEIVER

Brandon Lloyd (Washington/trade w/SF) –
Lloyd persevered through a long season in San Francisco to put up good numbers with a terrible offensive team. The primary go-to receiver in San Francisco, Lloyd proved to be a solid receiver, with good speed and quickness. Lloyd's strength is his ability to create separation, catching almost everything thrown his way, and the yardage he collects after the reception. His route running has improved over the past year and should only get better working with the Redskins' staff. Trading a third- and fourth-round draft selection for Lloyd should prove to be a steal for the Redskins.

Antwaan Randle-El (Washington) – This jack-of-all trades talent lands where he certainly can fill a need. Randle-El is an explosive talent in the return game and is not as well known for his skills as a receiver. In Washington, he will quickly team with wide receivers Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd to provide the Redskins a deadly combination of speed and quickness, while giving a jump-start to the Washington return game. Randle-El creates separation with ease and gets into his routes quickly, while catching the ball well.

Andre Davis (Buffalo) – Great speed, below average route-running, and injury issues are the story regarding Davis. Effective in the return game, Davis has the tools to be a successful receiver, but is consistently hampered with nagging injuries, which cost him significant playing time. As Davis gains experience he may become a legitimate wide receiver, but at this time he is a downfield threat due to his speed. If he ever buys into his routes, Davis could be a huge success.

Joe Jurevicius (Cleveland) – The Browns were seeking a bigger receiver to line up opposite Braylon Edwards. In Jurevicius, the Browns have landed an experienced receiver that played very well in the 2005 season. Jurevicius' quickness is deceiving, as he has displayed the ability to get open consistently and makes tough receptions. With a need at wide receiver, this signing is a solid choice for the Browns.

Koren Robinson (Minnesota) – Robinson took advantage of the opportunity the Vikings provided him upon his signing early in the 2005 season. Quickly becoming a factor in the kick return game, Robinson has become a fixture in Minnesota and was evolving in the Vikings passing game. Under new head coach Brad Childress' offensive scheme, Robinson could play a major role. With his maturity on the rise, now may be the time Robinson begins to play to his potential.

Isaac Bruce (St. Louis) – Only due to salary cap issues prior to the new CBA was Bruce released, then pulled back from the cut list. Due to the CBA, the Rams had the additional funds under the salary cap to re-sign Bruce to a new contract. New head coach Scott Linehan wanted Bruce back and he got his wish, as the reliable veteran has inked a three-year deal with the club. Bruce still plays the game at a high level, while he may not be as explosive as he once was, Bruce remains one of the better receivers in the game, teaming with Torry Holt.


CENTER

Justin Hartwig (Carolina) –
Hartwig is a solid center despite lacking overall size. Physically strong and willing, Hartwig will engage a defensive lineman and ride him. Shows the ability to consistently beat a lineman to the gap. Is a good run blocker, pass blocking skills are improving. Looking for a center, Hartwig is a solid signing for the Panthers.

LeCharles Bentley (Cleveland) – Cleveland wanted to get physical this off-season along the offensive line, and a major step was taken with the signing of LeCharles Bentley. Bentley moves well for a man 315 pounds, can maul the opposition, can get to the second line of defense, and has displayed the agility to adjust on the fly. One of the top players available in free agency, Bentley can play center or guard at the highest level.


GUARD

Milford Brown (Arizona) –
Inconsistent is just one description of Brown. One play he can look like an All-Pro, the next Brown can appear to have no clue. Despite having great size (6-4, 330 pounds), Brown can struggle against a defensive lineman push, while showing sloppy footwork and slow reactions. Can maul in close, but can not be expected to reach the second level of the defense with any consistency. Though being a four-year veteran, Brown still appears to be a project and should be expected to provide depth to an offensive line. At this time, this signing is questionable if for anything other than depth purposes.

Jason Whittle (Minnesota) – Whittle will step in and provide the Vikings with much needed depth along the interior of the offensive line. Minnesota's offensive line struggled last season, some of which was due to injury, players not playing to potential, and an overall lack of talent in the scheme.


OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Kyle Kosier (Dallas) –
Improving, versatile talent. Can play the guard or tackle positions, showing sufficient quickness to get to the second level of defense and shed off the corner. Lacks overall strength to be physical, but is aggressive and follows through the play. While not as physical as you would like, Kosier is very agile and should be a solid fit with the Cowboys.

Kevin Shaffer (Cleveland) – Shaffer is a young and improving talent that will fit nicely into the Browns reshaped offensive line. Not overly big, Shaffer uses his hands and feet well to get into position. Has shown some minor inconsistency against quicker ends off the corner, but has worked diligently to improve his awareness. With a need at the left tackle position, the Browns have solidified the weakness with the signing of Shaffer.

Victor Rogers (Detroit) – Needing help along the offensive line, the Lions retained the services of tackle Victor Rogers. Rogers, a large lineman, can engulf a defensive lineman but is often beaten by quicker ends. In Rogers, the Lions keep an average lineman that should help with depth issues.


DEFENSIVE END

Darren Howard (Philadelphia) –
If healthy and in the right mindset, Howard can be a dominating type of defensive end. With an explosive first step, coupled with good strength and athleticism, Howard has displayed the ability to run past or fight through a blocker. Better pass rusher than run blocker, but is solid in all facets of the game. Became discouraged in New Orleans due to on-team and front office issues, along with injury. Lining up in this aggressive Philadelphia defense should be a perfect match for Howard and the Eagles.

Trevor Pryce (Baltimore) – When/if healthy, Pryce is an explosive force. Injuries appear to have robbed him of his great quickness and strength off the ball. Pryce is a good fit in the Baltimore defensive scheme, if healthy. The jury is out on this signing until Pryce proves he can play without injury issues.

Anthony Weaver (Houston) – Weaver made significant strides during the 2005 season. Point of attack play improved, and has shown the ability to get into the backfield. Plays the run reasonably well and will be expected to make plays in the Houston defensive scheme. Pass rush skills improving as he learns to play off blocks. Houston needed quickness and athleticism at the end position, and Weaver could be a solid starter for the Texans.

Aaron Kampman (Green Bay) – The Packers and Kampman worked long and hard to get a deal done prior to the defensive end hitting the open market in free agency. Kampman, very good against the run and a better than average pass rusher, felt at home in Green Bay and didn't want to depart. Give credit to the Green Bay front office for stepping to the plate and retaining this popular and consistent lineman. If Kampman would have opted for free agency, he would have been in high demand.


DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Justin Bannan (Baltimore) –
Bannan plays low to the ground and provides continuous effort. Displaying the ability to stay tough against the run and true against stunts and double teams, Bannan possesses the ability to maneuver his opponent. His aggressive nature and physical play are a solid fit within the Ravens defensive scheme.

Ted Washington (Cleveland) – Washington can still play the defensive tackle position well, though he isn't the same player he once was. As asset on first and second down, Washington will stuff the interior of the line, providing linebackers the opportunity to make plays. In Cleveland, the interior of the defensive line is a weakness, one which Washington will impact immediately.

Larry Tripplett (Buffalo) – Larry Tripplett is not the run-stuffing defensive tackle he replaces (Sam Adams), but he will give an all-out effort. Much quicker than physical, Tripplett has the ability to penetrate at the point of attack. Will stand his ground and shed blocks, but can be overpowered at times. In need of a nose/defensive tackle, the Bills have adequately filled the need.

Gerard Warren (Denver) – Coming off a sound 2005 season, Warren played well for the Broncos after coming over in a trade with the Browns. Still displays the ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage while playing the run well. For the first-time in his short career, Warren played to the potential expected of him for an extended period of time and should be a mainstay along the Denver defensive line.

Ma'ake Kemoeatu (Carolina) – Big, run-stuffing defensive tackle is physical at the point of attack and will certainly improve an already good Carolina defensive line. Kemoeatu was highly sought due to his ability to manhandle blockers and make plays. This is a very good signing for the Panthers.

Kendrick Clancy (Arizona) – Clancy came into his own during the 2005 season with the Giants. Plays the run well and displayed improved strength and quickness. Plays extremely hard and does not quit. Is not a factor rushing the passer, but has learned how to take up space and slide off blocks. A nice facelift for the Cardinals run defense.

Chris Hovan (Tampa Bay) – Hovan turned his career around in Tampa Bay after being jettisoned from Minnesota. Still shows the ability to shoot the gap and run-stopping ability improved once moving onto Tampa Bay. Did not disappear in games in 2005, as he had done in Minnesota. While not a top-quality defensive tackle, Hovan is better than average in the Buccaneers scheme.

La'Roi Glover (St. Louis) – Glover remains a solid defensive lineman and should improve an already quick Rams front four. Undersized for the 3-4 in Dallas, Glover should excel in the familiar 4-3, which will be run in St. Louis. With ample speed and quickness as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Glover has the ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage and attack the quarterback, while playing the run well.


LINEBACKER

Sedrick Hodge (Miami) –
Plays the pass much better than his productivity against the run. Displays the ability to drop in coverage and handle his responsibilities, while in run support Hodge can get lost in the flow and be neutralized by blockers. Has the quickness desired to rush the quarterback coming off the corner, which is an asset, and could be covered to minimize his average ability against the run. The Dolphins, looking for depth, sign a quality person and player that should fit into the scheme.

Will Witherspoon (St. Louis) – Plays larger than his size (6-1 230 pounds), isn't afraid to stick a ball carrier and will fight through blocks, though has some trouble when engaged and locked onto. Witherspoon is a sideline-to-sideline player, displaying very good speed and quickness. Has displayed the ability to be an asset dropping into coverage, but is a better talent in the open field. The Rams needed help at linebacker and arguably have signed the best available.

Ben Leber (Minnesota) – Ben Leber is a good linebacker and should excel in the Tampa-2 type defensive scheme that will be utilized in Minnesota. With the ability to drop into coverage effortlessly while playing the run on a better than average level, Leber will become an instant starter and player to be looked upon for his leadership qualities. This signing is one of the best from day one in the free agent player signing period.

Shawn Barber (Philadelphia) – Barber returns to Philadelphia, where he tasted his greatest success with the Eagles. If healthy, Barber's athleticism will be a welcomed addition to a Philadelphia defense that was seeking speed and quickness on the outside. The one-year deal Barber agreed to with the team is a safe offer for the team which could pay high rewards, not only for the Eagles, but for Barber if he is able to return to pre-knee injury form.


CORNERBACK

Andre Goodman (Miami) –
Goodman is an exceptional athlete that possesses coverage ability, but lacks the overall skills to become a top-notch talent. Goodman is average at best in run support, a questionable tackler in the open-field, and does not sport the size and strength to fight through a receiver or blocker. An overall average cornerback, Goodman could be a fit in the Miami defensive scheme, which is gearing towards extreme pressure on the quarterback and more support from the safeties against the run (less time in coverage).

Brian Williams (Jacksonville) – The Jaguars were looking for another solid cornerback to improve their defensive backfield. Williams provides the Jaguars with a solid talent at the corner that can play safety if necessary. During the 2005 season, Williams solidified his position as a starting quality cornerback.

Sam Madison (NY Giants) – The Giants headed into the off-season looking to improve their below average defensive backfield. In Madison, the Giants have a cornerback that has the ability to man-up on a receiver and at times demonstrates the skills to take a receiver out of the game. While not as dominant as in years past, Madison should be a quality upgrade over free agent Will Allen in New York.


SAFETY

Marlon McCree (San Diego) –
Physical player that has the ability to play either the strong or free safety positions. Displays good quickness and recognition, but can be too aggressive and break down on plays in front of him at times. Very good in run support and better than average in pass defense, though pass coverage skills have improved. The Chargers were seeking an upgrade and physical presence in the defensive backfield, which is exactly what McCree provides.

Marquand Manuel (Green Bay) – Stepped in when starter Ken Hamlin was sidelined during the 2005 season and played well. Manuel is solid in run support and his pass coverage responsibilities did not overwhelm him. Not the swiftest of foot, but is learning to play angles well. Will step in and provide the Packers an upgrade in the defensive backfield.

Corey Chavous (St. Louis) – Chavous remained a quality defensive back in the 2005 season and has shown little slippage. Still displays the ability to cover ground, doesn't make mental mistakes, and supports well against the run. Not overly quick nor fast, depends on his experience to be in position. A true upgrade for a questionable St. Louis defense.

Shaunard Harts (Seattle) – Harts is player that should provide depth to the defensive backfield of the Seahawks. Not viewed as a starting candidate, Harts could fill a reserve role in Seattle and may have the opportunity to compete, especially with Marquand Manuel on the verge of testing free agency and Ken Hamlin recovering from injuries suffered in an off-field incident.


KICKER

Ryan Longwell (Minnesota) –
Remains a solid kicker that should show improvement in accuracy and distance in signing with Minnesota due to the weather element taken out of the equation (home dome games). Displays good length and elevation on kicks. A solid signing for the Vikings.

Matt Bryant (Tampa Bay) – Bryant came into his own during the 2005 season in Tampa Bay and would have been a sought-after free agent if the Buccaneers wouldn't have re-signed him quickly. Displayed consistency and a better than average leg for the Buccaneers, but has had injury issues in the past, which could be concerning.

Jeff Chandler (Cleveland) – Chandler has made his rounds through the league in his three seasons. In Cleveland, Chandler should be viewed as insurance for Phil Dawson, the Browns' consistent kicker. This appears to be a move by the Browns to have an additional kicker on the roster heading into training camp.


PUNTER

Dave Zastudil (Cleveland) –
Solid, consistent punter that can handle holding duties on placekicks as well as kickoffs. Zastudil possesses excellent hang-time on punts and is an adequate directional punter. With a need for an established punter, the Browns did well bringing this Cleveland native home.


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