Posted: Monday March 3, 2008 1:49AM; Updated: Monday March 3, 2008 12:38PM
The Patriots made two big moves -- signing linebacker Adalius Thomas and trading for wideout Wes Welker. Thomas was OK, but wasn't the versatile rusher they thought he'd be. Welker was spectacular, catching 139 passes in New England's 18-1 season while being the security blanket Tom Brady never had. A good but not smashing weekend.
The Bills signed a new offensive line -- Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker -- before drafting a new mega-back, Marshawn Lynch. The result: Buffalo finished 30th in scoring (15.8 points per game), 30th in total offense (277.1 yards per game) and 15th in rushing (112.5 yards per game).
In other words, buyer beware.
So Cleveland, having fixed the running game by re-signing Lewis, progressed to fixing its quarterback depth chart the night before free agency began. Savage was at the office until 5 Friday morning, making sure Anderson didn't get away.
Though Anderson had spit the bit in the biggest game of the year, playing poorly in a Week 16 loss at Cincinnati costing the Browns a playoff spot, he clearly was the first big-time quarterback Cleveland had suited up since resuming its NFL life in 1999.
Signing him for three years means the Browns still have the ability to have two promising quarterbacks (Anderson and Brady Quinn) for at least one more year before deciding to keep one or both for the 2009 season. "The war that we won was the three-year deal,'' said Savage. "We didn't have to sign him for four or five years. And we still keep the Brady Quinn flame alive.''
Coach Romeo Crennel wanted to add at least two pieces to the defensive line. Once the Browns found they could get the up-and-coming Corey Williams from defensive-line-rich Green Bay for a low-second-round pick, they focused on Rogers.
At one point Friday, it looked like rival Cincinnati had Rogers in the fold for third- and fifth-round picks. But when the Bengals balked at paying Rogers a $1 million roster bonus for being on the team on Feb. 29, the trade got nixed. Cleveland was back in the game.
The Browns offered a third-round pick plus cornerback Leigh Bodden. Now, on his own, Bodden, at $1.75 million in 2008, was as valuable to the team as the terminally inconsistent Rogers. But Bodden wanted more money. Lots more money. And Cleveland wasn't willing to pony up.
Plus, a couple of Cleveland coaches loved Rogers, and Savage felt strongly that Crennel could get more out of Rogers than any Detroit coach ever could. (Dubious thinking, but that's what happens on the first weekend of free agency.)
"It's a change of scenery for a guy who had a lot expected of him,'' said Savage. "It's a new lease on life. Is he going to live up to the expectations that everyone has had for him over the years? Maybe not. Is he going to be better than what we had? Absolutely.''
The Browns plan to play Rogers at defensive end in the standard 3-4, and move him inside when they go to a four-man front. They hope the versatility of Williams -- who has been a good interior and exterior rusher for the Packers (one Green Bay official told me Williams "loves football, is one of those first-guys-off-the-bus types, and was available only because we had so much depth on the line") -- will make teams not focus so heavily on Rogers. We'll see. There's a reason Rogers' nickname was "Big Baby'' in Detroit, and it had something to do with his maturity and passive approach to football.
It's going to be fun to watch the Browns this year.