Early reviews are in (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday March 6, 2007 12:57PM; Updated: Tuesday March 6, 2007 1:06PM
Ten Moves I Disliked
1. The Texans sign Ahman Green -- There would seem to me to be a big difference between the Green of the past three years and the one who was an offensive force in Green Bay from 2000-2003. Texans offensive coordinator Mike Sherman -- Green's former Packers head coach -- obviously sold Houston on a running back who just turned 30, with more than 1,800 career carries to his credit. The Texans will pay Green $8 million this year, the first season of a four-year, $23 million package. We can't see Green being enough of a difference-maker at this point to deserve that kind of generosity.
2. The Cowboys sign Leonard Davis -- At least Green has a track record the Texans could tout. The other team from Texas gave the largest signing bonus in team history to a guy who's more of a never-was than a has-been. Davis got $18.75 million guaranteed in his seven-year, $49.6 million deal, even though he was the biggest disappointment on one of the NFL's worst offensive lines in recent seasons. He might play guard in Dallas, he might play tackle. But he already played the free agency game to perfection.
3. The Bucs sign Jeff Garcia and trade for Jake Plummer -- Why does Jon Gruden continue to get the benefit of the doubt? The offensive genius tag has been ringing hollow for a while now, and his penchant for running quarterbacks through Tampa Bay in recent years -- Ryan Leaf, Rob Johnson, Brad Johnson, Brian Griese, Tim Rattay, Luke McCown, Chris Simms -- hasn't spawned a string of successes. Here's a prediction for you: That love affair that Garcia and Gruden have been waging from afar over the past three years or so won't end as well as it started. Gruden's quarterback relationships never do. In this case, all Gruden has done is probably remove any remaining chance that Simms develops as the Bucs' long-term starter.
4. The 49ers sign Ashley Lelie -- He never made it big in Denver. He didn't do much in Atlanta. But he'll be a lead receiver in San Francisco? What do the 49ers see to pin their optimism on? Lelie has been inconsistent and averaged a tad more than 2½ touchdowns per season in his five-year NFL career. This looks like a potential third strike and you're out if he doesn't step it up significantly in San Francisco.
5. The Dolphins release Randy McMichael -- He had a $3 million roster bonus coming, and Miami's trade efforts fizzled, but to just give away the club's career reception leader at tight end, after three consecutive seasons of at least 60 catches, seems short-sighted. McMichael is only 27, and he remains one of the more athletically gifted tight ends in the league. Is Miami's offense so over-stocked with playmakers that it can lose McMichael and Wes Welker in the same week and not even feel it?
6. The 49ers sign Nate Clements -- Don't get me started on the notion of there being "shutdown cornerbacks'' in today's NFL. I'll grudgingly give you that Champ Bailey is not wise to throw at, but there's no way that Clements is a difference-maker in the same sense. Look, the 49ers had a ton of cap room and they had to spend a good bit of it or we'd rip them for that. Clements is a quality cornerback, but him getting $22 million guaranteed and $29 million in the eight-year, $80 million deal's first three seasons qualifies as stupid money. By the nature of current league rules in regards to the passing game, it's nearly impossible for a cornerback to hold that kind of value.
7. The Dolphins release Joey Harrington -- Maybe they're positive that one of the top two quarterbacks will be there when their No. 9 pick rolls around in the draft. Maybe they'll trade up to try and get Brady Quinn at No. 2. Maybe they're convinced Daunte Culpepper will be healthy and return to Pro Bowl form, or that Cleo Lemon has a bright future ahead of him. But in his defense, Harrington did win five out of 11 starts last year -- including five of six at one point -- and Miami only won one game in which he didn't start. The Dolphins owed him a $1 million roster bonus, but that seemed a reasonable price to keep him around as a possible insurance policy again in 2007.
8. The Cardinals sign Al Johnson -- Having watched the Cowboys throw silly money at one of their former offensive linemen (Leonard Davis), the Cardinals decided to respond in kind, giving Johnson, who was Dallas' backup center last season, $17.5 million over four years, including $3.5 million to sign. To repeat, Johnson played behind Andre Gurode last year in Dallas, and he comes to Arizona to compete with incumbent center Nick Leckey. It's a good gig, if you can get it.
9. The Bucs sign Kevin Carter -- You wonder if the Bucs remember 2004, when they loaded up on veteran free agents such as Charlie Garner, Joey Galloway, Todd Steussie, Derrick Deese and others, then proceeded to go 5-11 in one of the worst chemistry experiments in recent NFL history. Carter has been a solid pro, but he's 33 and has 12 years in the league under his belt. If there's a rule in free agency, it says you sign players on the downsides of their career at your own risk, and avoid four-year, $23 million deals to guys who have already played their best ball.
10. The Bills fail to trade Willis McGahee -- Buffalo might still be working on this one, but the optimum time to strike might have already passed. With running backs like Travis Henry, Thomas Jones, Ahman Green and Lamont Jordan solidifying their NFL addresses for 2007, the Bills' trade market is shrinking. If the Giants are still interested, and the Bills are still serious about moving McGahee -- and I think they should be for the right price -- the time to deal is now.