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Rankinf all NFL teams' offseasons-The Sporting News

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Counter measures Print this | E-mail this | Font size: 131415161718 Posted: June 8, 2006 Phil Barber The wolves began to circle and howl even before the Vince Lombardi Trophy had been wiped clean of prints -- and they struck ...

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Old 06-12-2006, 10:45 AM   #1
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Rankinf all NFL teams' offseasons-The Sporting News

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Posted: June 8, 2006

Phil Barber


The wolves began to circle and howl even before the Vince Lombardi Trophy had been wiped clean of prints -- and they struck as soon as the free-agent period began, pouncing on anyone separated from the herd.

Seahawks wide receiver Joe Jurevicius was the first prominent player to go -- snapped up by Cleveland on March 11. That began a rapid-fire series of raids on the two Super Bowl 40 teams. Over the next 11 days, the Seahawks also lost guard Steve Hutchinson (who received a sneaky offer -- the wording made it impossible for the Seahawks to match -- from the Vikings) and safety Marquand Manual (Packers) while the champion Steelers bade farewell to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El (Redskins), safety Chris Hope (Titans) and defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen (Jets). The Jets also struck the Seahawks, signing cornerback Andre Dyson.

"After winning the Super Bowl, you feel you want to keep everybody," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert says.


"In reality, that wasn't going to happen."

It's common, even expected, for other teams in the league to poach Super Bowl teams during the free-agent period. More interesting were the responses of this year's conference champions.

The Seahawks struck back. In addition to retaining running back Shaun Alexander with an eight-year contract worth a potential $62 million, they shelled out $18.5 million in guaranteed money to land 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson, one of the most coveted defenders on the market.

"We decided that during the first frenzied week of free agency, we were not going to jump in and spend a lot of money," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren says. "Yet we went out and got Julian Peterson, which was a huge signing for us. After that, you try to fill specific spots."

Seattle did that by re-signing defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and fullback Mack Strong and bringing in free agents such as offensive lineman Tom Ashworth and wide receiver Nate Burleson.

In comparison, the Steelers were immobile. They signed 11 of their potential free agents and a few guys from other teams, but there weren't a lot of recognizable names on the list. From a distance, the approach looked passive. But anyone familiar with the system built by the Rooney family and refined by coach Bill Cowher knows it's just part of the plan.

Whereas some teams -- the Redskins and Raiders are recent examples -- attempt to reload every year with veteran newcomers, the Steelers rely on a more organic model. One AFC personnel director describes the formula this way: "Don't overpay; don't mortgage your future; draft correctly; maintain a core of players; and let a few guys go."

The Steelers adopted the model out of necessity when they had an older stadium and couldn't compete in the open market. They continue to apply it to near perfection.

"You have to be a little forward-thinking," Cowher says. "What will your roster be like in three years, four years? Even some guys we bring in through free agency, we like guys who are on their second contract. (Wide receiver) Cedrick Wilson, (linebacker) James Farrior -- guys who had been with their first team. You still have a chance to develop them as players."

So when Randle El left, the Steelers had Wilson to take his place and drafted Ohio State's Santonio Holmes to take Wilson's place as the third wideout. And when von Oelhoffen skipped town, they had Brett Keisel, a former seventh-round pick who had learned their system and was ready to move into the position.

Of course, the Steelers' system would fall to pieces if the organization weren't so stable. The Rooneys have owned the franchise since its founding in 1933, and Cowher, entering his 15th season, is the longest-tenured coach in the league. Colbert, whom Cowher calls "a breath of fresh air," is beginning his seventh season in Pittsburgh. Everyone from chairman Dan Rooney to strength coach Chet Fuhrman knows precisely the type of player that fits the system.

Despite their spending, the Seahawks seem to be building a similar foundation and recently extended Holmgren's contract through 2008.

Every team, not just Pittsburgh and Seattle, maneuvered through a competitive offseason. From the Dolphins and Lions (both A's) to the Patriots (F), our grades were based on a team's level of improvement or decline.

Dolphins: The whopper was the trade for Daunte Culpepper, who likely will be the Dolphins' best quarterback since Dan Marino. Perhaps more important, the volume of serviceable newcomers -- guys such as tackle L.J. Shelton, linebacker Keith Newman and cornerback Will Allen -- gives coach Nick Saban a much deeper roster. Grade: A

Lions: The new quarterback combo (Jon Kitna and Josh McCown) is a lot better than the old one (Joey Harrington and Jeff Garcia), and the Lions retained a few of their important free agents, such as left tackle Jeff Backus and defensive end Kalimba Edwards. Grade: A

Giants: The best protection for Eli Manning is a stout defense, and the Giants likely will be formidable after acquiring linebackers LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short, cornerback Sam Madison and safety Will Demps. The team also lost some defenders, but the balance is positive. Grade: A-

Seahawks: Determined to avoid two recent curses -- Super Bowl loser and Madden computer game packaging -- the Seahawks opened their wallets wide. They re-signed reigning league MVP Shaun Alexander and added linebacker Julian Peterson and offensive lineman Tom Ashworth. The negative was losing guard Steve Hutchinson. Grade: A-

Texans: They're still taking hits for their decision to bypass Reggie Bush in the draft, but they shone in acquiring veterans. None of their defections will be too painful, and veteran pickups such as wide receiver Eric Moulds, linebacker Sam Cowart and center Mike Flanagan will add some stability to a downtrodden franchise. Grade: A-

Buccaneers: They didn't bring in much new talent, but they retained the players they needed most: right tackle Kenyatta Walker, defensive tackle Chris Hovan and fullback Mike Alstott. OK, they might miss safety Dexter Jackson. Grade: B+

Browns: Receiver Joe Jurevicius won't make up for Antonio Bryant's speed. On the other hand, the Browns snagged a couple of wily old-timers, linebacker Willie McGinest and defensive tackle Ted Washington, who know all about Romeo Crennel's defense. And they have solid new O-linemen, center LeCharles Bentley and left tackle Kevin Shaffer. Grade: B+

Redskins: The arrival of wideouts Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd will take some pressure off Santana Moss. But the defensive changes -- safety Adam Archuleta and linebacker Andre Carter in; LaVar Arrington, cornerback Walt Harris and safety Ryan Clark out -- are pretty much a wash. Grade: B

Cardinals: You can say they overpaid for a back with almost 2,200 carries, but Edgerrin James gives the Cards the type of skill player who can help them turn the corner. That's assuming quarterback Kurt Warner stays healthy because Josh McCown now is in Detroit and it's no certainty Matt Leinart will be ready. Grade: B

Jaguars: They improved incrementally on defense, re-signing cornerback Terry Cousin and adding linebacker Nick Greisen and cornerback Brian Williams to offset the departures of Akin Ayodele and Deke Cooper. Grade: B

Panthers: The offense will get boosts from receiver Keyshawn Johnson and center Justin Hartwig. But you have to wonder whether adding linebacker Keith Adams and tackle Maake Kemoeatu will be enough to offset the losses of linebackers Will Witherspoon and Brandon Short and safety Marlon McCree. Grade: B-

Jets: They forfeited quality (defensive end John Abraham, center Kevin Mawae, left tackle Jason Fabini) and gained quantity (at least seven players who are likely to make contributions). The best of the additions is defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen. Grade: B-

Cowboys: Dallas got rid of one mercurial wide receiver (Keyshawn Johnson) and gained a surreal one (Terrell Owens). The kicking game climbed two notches with the signing of Mike Vanderjagt, and the departure of guard Larry Allen is balanced by getting tackle Jason Fabini. Grade: B-

Falcons: If they can coax a couple of good years out of safety Lawyer Milloy, 32, and get speed-rushing end John Abraham to play hard every down, this grade might end up looking too low. Grade: B-

Bills: They lost experience by letting safety Lawyer Milloy, wide receiver Eric Moulds and defensive tackle Sam Adams go. But they got a good defensive tackle in Larry Tripplett and wrapped up arguably the best player on the team, cornerback Nate Clements, with their franchise tag. Grade: B-

Bengals: It was a fairly quiet offseason for the Bengals, who lost one backup quarterback (Jon Kitna), gained another (Anthony Wright) and picked up a couple of Super Bowl rings on the fingers of defensive tackle Sam Adams and safety Dexter Jackson. Grade: C+

49ers: They added experience on the offensive line (guard Larry Allen), speed at receiver (Antonio Bryant) and stability on the corner (Walt Harris). They probably needed a lot more, especially after getting picked for linebackers Julian Peterson and Andre Carter. Grade: C+

Broncos: The Broncos had a big draft day, trading for wide receiver Javon Walker and moving up to select quarterback Jay Cutler. But defensive end Trevor Pryce will be missed, and we're not really buying Ron Dayne as the next rags-to-riches Denver running back. Grade: C+

Steelers: You can almost disregard this grade. The Steelers always seem to compensate for free-agent losses with astute drafts and development of talent. This year, they locked up most of their own free agents (cornerback Deshea Townsend probably was the most notable), although they lost defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen, wideout Antwaan Randle El and safety Chris Hope. Grade: C

Titans: They replaced safety Tank Williams with Chris Hope, linebackers Brad Kassell and Rocky Boiman with David Thornton and center Justin Hartwig with Kevin Mawae. Hmmm. They do get a bump up for signing wide receiver David Givens. Grade: C

Bears: The Bears are the least-altered team in the league. Their biggest acquisition was backup quarterback Brian Griese. They lost nobody of substance. Grade: C

Saints: They drafted Reggie Bush and nailed one of the offseason's prize jewels: quarterback Drew Brees. On the downside, departures carved up an already-thin roster. Particularly ravaged were the offensive line (center LeCharles Bentley, tackle Wayne Gandy) and the defensive front seven (end Darren Howard and linebacker Sedrick Hodge). Grade: C

Raiders: There weren't any Moss-like splashes this offseason -- just the addition of a talented but inconsistent quarterback (Aaron Brooks) and a pass rusher (Lance Johnstone) to complement Derrick Burgess. Cornerback Charles Woodson finally made his exit. Grade: C-

Eagles: The best move was re-signing right tackle Jon Runyan. They're hoping the flight of Terrell Owens is addition by subtraction, but they can't say that about linebacker Keith Adams. Grade: C-

Packers: The secondary looks stronger with the additions of corner Charles Woodson and safety Marquand Manuel. But the Pack will lack one quality blocker (Mike Flanagan), one big-time receiver (Javon Walker) and one solid kicker (Ryan Longwell). Grade: C-

Rams: The defense will look substantially different, especially along the line, where Ryan Pickett, Damione Lewis and Tyoka Jackson all used to reside. Safety Adam Archuleta also is gone, but middle linebacker Will Witherspoon and safety Corey Chavous were good pickups. Grade: C-

Ravens: They poached Denver for end Trevor Pryce and running back Mike Anderson, who will back up Jamal Lewis. Defensive losses include Will Demps and Maake Kemoeatu. Grade: C-

Chiefs: About the only thing that stands out among a lackluster group of transactions is the loss of fullback Tony Richardson -- a valued blocker and receiver. Grade: D+

Colts: The Colts replaced kicker Mike Vanderjagt with Adam Vinatieri and kept linebacker Cato June. But this roster was just too tempting to teams with spending money. The defections included Edgerrin James, David Thornton and Larry Tripplett -- all significant. Grade: D

Chargers: Safety Marlon McCree likely will become the best player in the secondary immediately. But that doesn't nearly compensate for the loss of Drew Brees. Grade: D

Vikings: They loaded up on offense, welcoming Steve Hutchinson, Tony Richardson and halfback Chester Taylor. At the same time, they watched the breakup of the defense they worked so hard to build last year. Linebackers Sam Cowart and Keith Newman, end Lance Johnstone, safety Corey Chavous and corner Brian Williams all left. Grade: D

Patriots: Coach Bill Belichick and vice president of personnel Scott Pioli have long since proved their ability to find replacement parts, but this is starting to look like a dismantling. The offense lost wideout David Givens and lineman Tom Ashworth, the defense lost linebacker Willie McGinest and cornerback Duane Starks, and the special teams lost kicker Adam Vinatieri and returner Tim Dwight. Besides wide receiver Reche Caldwell, who is expected to start, the Patriots have little to show on the other side of the ledger. Grade: F


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Old 06-12-2006, 11:03 AM   #2
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RE: Rankinf all NFL teams

letting Hodge go should have given the team an immediate B rating :P
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Old 06-12-2006, 11:13 AM   #3
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And letting Brooks, Haz, and Venturi go should have been gravy for ANYTHING we did after that.
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Old 06-12-2006, 12:03 PM   #4
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Yeah but they aren't ready to pick the Saints as an A-team with a rookie head coach and all of the question marks, especially on o-line and LB. I think the rating is fair.
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Old 06-12-2006, 12:15 PM   #5
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Wow Pats got the only F, that's bold. Personally, I think we should at a B or B-.
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Old 06-12-2006, 12:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by GoldRush26
Yeah but they aren't ready to pick the Saints as an A-team with a rookie head coach and all of the question marks, especially on o-line and LB. I think the rating is fair.
They're not ranking teams, they are ranking teams' off-season moves. For the moves we have made this off-season, and the addition by subtraction alone, , I do think we should be higher than a C. Not a sfar as how our record is gonna be, but as far as what we have done to improve the team in one offseason.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by saintswhodi
Originally Posted by GoldRush26
Yeah but they aren't ready to pick the Saints as an A-team with a rookie head coach and all of the question marks, especially on o-line and LB. I think the rating is fair.
They're not ranking teams, they are ranking teams' off-season moves. For the moves we have made this off-season, and the addition by subtraction alone, , I do think we should be higher than a C. Not a sfar as how our record is gonna be, but as far as what we have done to improve the team in one offseason.
OH....my bad. In that case it could be argued that we should have a higher grade. But losing Bentley was still huge, and we didn't adequately address the LB situation. But I believe our pickups were the best since ive been a fan.
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Old 06-12-2006, 05:25 PM   #8
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Didnt address LB ????? Anthony simmons and Scott Fujita are both starters and Polley is a starter andn Bowckwalt not grea but can start plus finch coming back
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Old 06-13-2006, 12:41 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AllSaints
Didnt address LB ????? Anthony simmons and Scott Fujita are both starters and Polley is a starter andn Bowckwalt not grea but can start plus finch coming back
I said didn't adequately address LB. Simmons and Fujita are definitely better than what we've had and are starters for US but come on....they are far from the cream of the crop as far as LBs go. Seeing as this has been our weakest position for years now, we could have done a better job. We've upgraded but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
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Old 06-13-2006, 02:47 AM   #10
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I hope bringing in the great Drew Brees is a good thing.
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