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Contenders Mostly Bystanders Early In Free Agency


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Contenders mostly bystanders early in free agency

By Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange 1 hour, 35 minutes ago

ATLANTA—Less than a full week into free agency, the NFL hasn't undergone so much an upheaval as it has a facelift, with individual and collective fortunes churning because of the player movement that has transpired since the league officially opened for business last Tuesday afternoon.

But this part of the picture, at least, remained unaltered: The crazy spending binge that has taken place so far, and the yearly roster reshaping that allows fans in some precincts the kind of hope that only the annual draft once provided, has not altered the landscape for most of the league's best franchises.

As of Monday morning, fully half of the NFL's dozen playoff teams from the 2011 season had yet to sign an unrestricted free agent from another franchise. Yeah, a few of the six teams had added so-called "street" free agents—Atlanta, for instance, brought in guard Vince Maunwai and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, neither of whom logged a regular-season snap in '11—and many spent the first week of the period ensuring that their own unfettered players didn't escape. A few, like the Ravens, and guard Evan Mathis, admittedly missed out on guys they pursued.

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But in places such as Pittsburgh and Green Bay and Houston, at least so far, they don't have to smash the "Easy Button" to order up a case of erasers or Wite-Out. And they haven't reached for the panic button, either, and probably won't.

Stability and continuity might be passé pursuits in many places, but for teams that possess the manner of staying power that seems to annually make them postseason contenders, those attributes are still bedrocks. Free agency is a breathless time for a lot of team officials and their fans. For the clubs with stability, it is instead a time to exhale and watch patiently until the market corrects itself.

Sure, the fans in places like Green Bay and Pittsburgh probably grow restless every March as the free agency parade rolls by and the home teams are spectators to the cash craze. Ten months later, though, those franchises are usually rewarded for their patience. And a least a few other clubs seem to be embracing the formula.

At the inaugural concert of his latest tour here Sunday night, Bruce Springsteen kicked off a two-hour, 40-minute party with "We Take Care Of Our Own," from the recently released "Wrecking Ball" CD. The song doesn't intentionally have football overtones - although the title track from "Wrecking Ball" was actually written in 2009 to mark the razing of Giants Stadium - but it was notable that several Atlanta Falcons officials were in attendance to see The Boss rock Philips Arena. For the past several years, the Falcons and owner Arthur Blank annually made a free agent splash by pursuing some of free agency's highest profile names.

It was that penchant for trying to buy a Super Bowl that prompted this columnist a few weeks ago in The Tip Sheet to speculate that the Falcons would chase defensive end Mario Williams, the pool's biggest unrestricted prize—remember, quarterback Peyton Manning was technically a "street" free agent, having been released by the Colts and on Monday choosing the Broncos over the Titans and 49ers—with owner Arthur Blank typically opening the vault.

But the Falcons never made a move on Williams, finally having learned an important lesson, in sitting out at least the most frenetic segment of free agency.

Said one middle-level team executive last week, noting that the likes of Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson and Ray Edwards haven't helped Atlanta advance beyond its opening playoff games in its last three postseason appearances, as the market opened: "We've tried it the other way (and it hasn't worked)."

Granted, the results of traditional roster building, the drafting and development of players, doesn't always work, either. Still, it's laudable that the rosters of six of the last seven Super Bowl champions didn't include a top-shelf free agent acquisition. Next week will mark the third anniversary of the last time the Packers actually signed an unrestricted free agent of any level, in fact.

The free agency signings of the past week have, indeed, made headlines. But if history is an indicator, they probably haven't made Super Bowl champions of any of the teams involved.

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I think the roster is finally to the point where FA isn't as necessary. Not to mention we have coaches who are more capable of using and developing talent. There aren't many holes on this team now so now TD can add real talent to this team. If he signs McNeil, we have only slight holes left. Now TD can start adding 1st-3rd rounders as depth instead of relying on them to be impact players like in the past. With the #55 pick, TD can essentially pick any position and it be a justifiably pick.

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I think more than anything I would like for TD to sign the players before camp this year that he seems to always find just before the season starts.So they can contribute early on. he does have a knack of finding solid players that were over looked. you have to give credit for that!

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I think more than anything I would like for TD to sign the players before camp this year that he seems to always find just before the season starts.So they can contribute early on. he does have a knack of finding solid players that were over looked. you have to give credit for that!

The Patriots had 18 UDFA's on their roster last year. People fail to see the value of players in late rounds and UnDrafted players. Let's hope we find a gem or two.

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The Patriots had 18 UDFA's on their roster last year. People fail to see the value of players in late rounds and UnDrafted players. Let's hope we find a gem or two.

But the Pats also had coaches who can develop those UDFAs and trust those UDFAs to make plays by giving them chances. We didn't until now. HeIl, MM and BVG wouldn't go deeper than #2 on the depth chart.

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But in places such as Pittsburgh and Green Bay and Houston, at least so far, they don't have to smash the "Easy Button" to order up a case of erasers or Wite-Out. And they haven't reached for the panic button, either, and probably won't.

Pastabelly really knows how to draw comparisons. rolleyes.gif

Consider - Green bay is still the top team in the NFL, regardless of any move they might (or might not) make, Pittsburgh was over the cap limit by close to 20+ million this off-season, and Houston had barely $658,000 to play with before restructuring several contracts. Like most of Pastabellys' BS this whole article stinks.

By his foresight, i should expect him to pick us to win the superbowl next year if we dont make any moves worthy of an ESPN headline? Pffft.

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I think the roster is finally to the point where FA isn't as necessary. Not to mention we have coaches who are more capable of using and developing talent. There aren't many holes on this team now so now TD can add real talent to this team. If he signs McNeil, we have only slight holes left. Now TD can start adding 1st-3rd rounders as depth instead of relying on them to be impact players like in the past. With the #55 pick, TD can essentially pick any position and it be a justifiably pick.

You'd think that, wouldn't you?

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Pastabelly really knows how to draw comparisons. rolleyes.gif

Consider - Green bay is still the top team in the NFL, regardless of any move they might (or might not) make, Pittsburgh was over the cap limit by close to 20+ million this off-season, and Houston had barely $658,000 to play with before restructuring several contracts. Like most of Pastabellys' BS this whole article stinks.

By his foresight, i should expect him to pick us to win the superbowl next year if we dont make any moves worthy of an ESPN headline? Pffft.

They don't generally don't play in FA signings any year! only signing their own players. That's the point he's making. And stay near the top teams in the league year in year out. Pffft

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They don't generally don't play in FA signings any year! only signing their own players. That's the point he's making. And stay near the top teams in the league year in year out. Pffft

And all those teams actually score points in the post-season or at least win games, did Pastabelly mention that?

We have no basis to 'sit on our hands in post-season' like those teams do.

This idiot lumping us in with teams who have multiple championships and continuous winning seasons every single year has absolutely no bearing on our inactivity this off-season.

You wanna go into next season with the exact same team that got thier azzes handed to them by the elite teams in the league last year?

Just proves what a homer you are. Enjoy the results.

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But the Pats also had coaches who can develop those UDFAs and trust those UDFAs to make plays by giving them chances. We didn't until now. HeIl, MM and BVG wouldn't go deeper than #2 on the depth chart.

Key word in your post is until now and I agree with you. We need to get value and many good players have been UDFA's we need to capitalize on some of those. Cause it is those types and late round picks along with hitting on 50% of your first four rounders to build depth

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And all those teams actually score points in the post-season or at least win games, did Pastabelly mention that?

We have no basis to 'sit on our hands in post-season' like those teams do.

This idiot lumping us in with teams who have multiple championships and continuous winning seasons every single year has absolutely no bearing on our inactivity this off-season.

You wanna go into next season with the exact same team that got thier azzes handed to them by the elite teams in the league last year?

Just proves what a homer you are. Enjoy the results.

for last 50 years you would have been right.

But just maybe we have turned the tide with 4 winnings seasons in a row, the only time since we came into the league. so this is uncharted waters for the Falcons of the past. I'm willing to be a homer if that's what it takes to have a winning program or you? These teams don't win the super bowl every year and sometimes have their *** handed to them. But they don't run out screaming like someone cut their head off like some of you. Maybe we are following a different road map that has a different results. maybe like the ones teams before us have used and won the super bowl with. maybe the quick fix aint it. And yes I plan to enjoy the ride as well.

signed,

Homer

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for last 50 years you would have been right.

But just maybe we have turned the tide with 4 winnings seasons in a row, the only time since we came into the league. so this is uncharted waters for the Falcons of the past. I'm willing to be a homer if that's what it takes to have a winning program or you? These teams don't win the super bowl every year and sometimes have their *** handed to them. But they don't run out screaming like someone cut their head off like some of you. Maybe we are following a different road map that has a different results. maybe like the ones teams before us have used and won the super bowl with. maybe the quick fix aint it. And yes I plan to enjoy the ride as well.

signed,

Homer

Maybe i see that after 40 years we are as close as we've ever been to a championship, and i'm not happy about us not making those last few moves to get us the final step closer to that goal.

Believe me, i've seen us close several times before, but never this close. Mistakes have haunted us every step of the way and i dont wanna see us fail again and end up back in the basement wondering what we could've done different. I'm sincerely tired of that road.

Call me a homer too, but i'm not willing to put all my faith in another FO who promises us one thing but ends up delivering another. We could have been aggressive this off-season, signed some players to make a huge difference in our recent failures, but we didnt. Now we're gonna have to go into yet another season with big questions about whether we see any difference in our teams' chances as compared to the last four years.

Yes, there's always faith, but just for once i want to go into the season as the favorite due to an overwhelming physical and talent difference between us and other teams, not just on hope alone.

Edited by HouseofEuphoria
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Maybe i see that after 40 years we are as close as we've ever been to a championship, and i'm not happy about us not making those last few moves to get us the final step closer to that goal.

Believe me, i've seen us close several times before, but never this close. Mistakes have haunted us every step of the way and i dont wanna see us fail again and end up back in the basement wondering what we could've done different. I'm sincerely tired of that road.

Call me a homer too, but i'm not willing to put all my faith in another FO who promises us one thing but ends up delivering another. We could have been aggressive this off-season, signed some players to make a huge difference in our recent failures, but we didnt. Now we're gonna have to go into yet another season with big questions about whether we see any difference in our teams' chances as compared to the last four years.

Yes, there's always faith, but just for once i want to go into the season as the favorite due to an overwhelming physical and talent difference between us and other teams, not just on hope alone.

with the cap rules it will only happen thru the draft. money is controlled to make all teams equal to large degree. It's only where you place the dollars in the positions you choose to be the most important, I choose the offense line. It didn't happen for me. But I hope they either draft or coach up the talent we have. I feel talent wise we are not as far off in skill positions as people want to say. We may be better! H3ll I say we are better. Now if we can fix the lines, o-line can put us over the top in scoring and Nolan will create problems for the competition.

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