Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday March 12, 2007 12:28AM; Updated: Monday March 12, 2007 10:05PM
There are still good players out there -- Indy cornerback Nick Harper, St. Louis wideout Kevin Curtis, Indy linebacker Cato June, Cincinnati wideout Kelley Washington, Seattle safety Ken Hamlin -- but none worth paying the kind of money we've seen paid so far. In both Tennessee and Green Bay, the teams are under fan pressure to get better soon. The Packers won their final four games, finished 8-8, and got Brett Favre back for one more season (presumably), and the fans' expectations, naturally, are: We've got to win now. Tennessee showed major-league spunk the second half of the season with Vince Young leading the charge, also finishing 8-8.
The worst thing for Green Bay happened before free agency, when the Chiefs re-signed a tight end the Packers badly needed, Tony Gonzalez. Then the Packers passed on their own running back, Ahman Green, after the Texans bid up his price tag to $8 million in bonus and salary in '07 -- this for a guy who'd missed 13 games due to injury the past two years.
"We haven't been sitting on our hands,'' said Thompson, with Wolf sitting in his office, "but history has told us that many of the guys who sign in free agency end up being bad deals for the teams who sign them. It is nerve-wracking, but you're almost better sitting out the first week until the prices come down to earth. Some teams, so far, are lowering the standards -- maybe not lowering the standards, but paying regular players like very good players, and that's something we're not willing to do. It's a little disconcerting, to be honest, to watch players you're interested in sign elsewhere. But I learned to be patient from the guy sitting with me right now. So I can sleep at night.''
As for Reinfeldt, there were two bad signs -- and two bad signings -- for the Titans on Sunday evening. The Patriots signed the receiver Tennessee really wanted, Donte' Stallworth. The Titans offered him more guaranteed money and more average per year than New England did, but the Patriots got him because they're a better team with a better quarterback right now. And Philadelphia signed the restricted Dallas free-agent linebacker Tennessee wanted, Ryan Fowler.
On one of the Titans' fan message boards on Sunday night, the Tennessee braintrust was being chided for its inactivity. "Kerry Freakin' Collins?'' one poster wrote, questioning whether the best they could do was signing the veteran quarterback back to a risk-free, one-year deal.
Now, Tennessee turns to Harper, a much-needed cornerback because of the Pacman Jones problems, and backup Detroit corner Jamar Fletcher. Not exactly the mother lode, though Harper would be an excellent addition because it would also subtract the best cornerback from the best team in the division.
"I'd say the free-agent class was average, at best,'' Reinfeldt said Saturday. "And we're not going to do crazy things just to react to what other teams are doing. What I'm doing is just taking a deep breath and trying to get through it. We also want to be careful because I'm not sure what signing some of these guys to the contract they're getting is going to do to your locker room. And you're kidding yourself if you think some of these signings aren't going to impact some guys you already have under contract.''
Think of it this way: We always chide the Redskins for being so aggressive in free agency, then going out and not doing well during the season. What has winning the offseason done for Washington the last three years? Gotten them a 22-28 record when the ball's kicked off, that's what. So don't go and automatically think the 49ers are so much better because they've signed Nate Clements and Michael Lewis to contracts totaling $110 million. And don't think the Bills have solved all their offensive line woes by throwing $74 million at Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker. If history is a good judge, winning free agency might just be the same as losing.
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