Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Mar 2007

Free Agency Breakdown: Top Fives

In my catch-all free agency preview for FOX, I looked at the best free agents, the ones to avoid, the best bargains and the teams that will be most active in free agency. Free agency is off to a wild start; there have already been some pretty surprising developments in the 24 hours since I wrote this.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 02 Mar 2007

32 comments, Last at 20 Mar 2007, 11:54pm by SJM


by underthebus (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 3:31pm

Joey Harrington a Top 5 bargain free agent? um...ok.

by Dr. Mooch (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 4:15pm

The Bills aren't one of the top 5 teams to watch. In a fit of juvenile sulking, Ralph Wilson has announced that they will employ "cash to cap," internally counting all bonuses against their salary cap for this year. So their roughly $40 million in cap room isn't much after all. They're effectively out of the market for any free agent worth talking to, particularly having used some $15 million of that "cap room" to sign middling DE Chris Kelsay.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 4:48pm

Re #1
Did you read what MDS wrote, or just the headlines? Harrington is a listed as a bargain because everybody, including Joey, knows he sucks, and he'll be paid accordingly and be fine with it. If Kerry Collins still has delusions of playing, I'd rather see the Titans end up with a guy like Harrington who'd be fine with not playing. Of course, I expect somebody will bring JoeyH in somewhere he might play. Is he old enough for Gruden to bring him in yet?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 5:06pm

The Vikings have ended up having more than 30 million in cap room, after all was calculated, but there just isn't hardly anybody on the market worth spending much money on. Sure, they could use Thomas' outside pass rush, but the price he is likely to get, at age 30, makes him a lot less attractive. They already have receievrs who can't catch, so what is the point of getting Lelie, unless he comes at very reasonable price?

Heck, the best FA values may be offensive linemen, but the Vikings already have a lot of money tied up in the o-line. On the other hand, they could certainly structure a deal which didn't affect future cap space, so they might as well consider it. If nothing else, they could block people pretty well.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 5:20pm

I think the Cardinals should make a very serious run at Dielman.

They also need help at tackle. But it's looking more and more like they have a serious shot at Joe Thomas. The Lions might intend for Foster to start, and take Brady Quinn. If the Browns take Adrian Peterson and the Bucs take Calvin Johnson, or something like that, Thomas could be available for the Cards.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 5:36pm

Dr. Mooch, that's a joke that I'm just not getting, right?

by underthebus (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 5:37pm

#3 Oh I'm not ripping on the article. I do think he'll be a deal, but I think at the least it's arguable that he'll be a "bargain". Especially considering he does suck, as you say. I just felt like pointing it out because it did stick out in the article. It's better then me saying FIRST!!!

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 5:52pm

Well, I've poked around a bit and clearly the Bills "cash to cap" thing is not a joke. Sadly, I think that puts the Bills into "Gotta get rid of this owner before we go anywhere" territory.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 6:10pm

Looks like London Fletcher might follow Jesse Armstead and Jermiah Trotter to the deadskins for some Snyder bucks.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 6:24pm

Re 1, 3, 7:

My guess from what I know about Harrington is that if there's a team and a coach that make him feel comfortable, he'll be willing to play for a 2007 salary in the $1 million range. That's not even 1 percent of the salary cap.

Harrington is maybe the 50th-best quarterback in the league. I think the 50th-best quarterback in the league for less than 1 percent of the salary cap is a bargain.

Keep in mind, last year Harrington had a better DVOA than Culpepper in the same offense. The year before he had a better DVOA than Garcia in the same offense. He's younger than both those guys and has less of an injury history than both those guys, and yet he'll almost certainly make less money in 2007 than both those guys. I stand by my statement that he'll be one of the top bargains.

by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 6:44pm

Nick Harper should stay put?

Couldn't he go the Lions make a lot more money, and still be effective?

by Vince (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2007 - 7:19pm

I like that two of the free agents to avoid were starting for Atlanta last year. That team sucks.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2007 - 2:32am

11: Who would want to leave the Super Bowl champions to go play for the Lions?

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2007 - 12:14pm

re: 13 Damien Woody

by dave crockett (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2007 - 2:11pm

I won't be heartbroken if Seattle shells out big money for Dielman. That's what the market is going for these days, and putting Dielman alongside Jones and the emerging young linemen we have on the right side could put the offense back among the elite.

But I'll be a little rankled if Seattle ends up in a serious bidding war with Denver over Patrick Kerney or Dan Graham. Even if we sign Graham we still aren't done at the TE position. I certainly don't think you break the bank for him when you can find another mid-tier guy (and/or re-sign Stevens), draft another blocking TE (e.g., Joe Newton), and rotate them.

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2007 - 2:13pm

I like that the Falcons have let go of two overrated free agents (and cut two overrated LBs to boot) and signed one of the top bargins in Ovie Mughelli. Bobby Petrino looks like he will invalidate the statement in #12.

by langsty (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2007 - 9:11pm

JAFF, you weren't irritated that they let Griffith go? I love Mughelli, but I was bothered that they apparently couldn't find a role for a guy as versatile as JG. then again, it's not like they replaced him with a scrub.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2007 - 1:59am

14: It was a rhetorical question, but you answered pretty well. I have to give you credit for that.

by Dexter (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2007 - 7:02am

Harrington could end up being a great bargin, as a backup of course. Every team needs depth at QB, and getting someone with the experience Harrington has, for a reasonable price would be good.

I do not think anyone plans on starting him. Im a Cowboy fan and wouldnt mind having him backup Tony Romo.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2007 - 2:17pm

Seriously, I wish the Fins had kept Harrington, I like him as a backup. It seems kinda funny to think that he is probably the 50th best QB in the world.

by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2007 - 5:21pm

I would have like to have kept Grifith, but apparently he didn't fit into the Petrino offense. I think he could have been the big TB that Petrino is looking for, but fumbling might have been a problem.

by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2007 - 8:20pm

The best bargain that has developed this year is the Vikings' signing of Hutchinson last year. They got a guy who is probably the best guard in the league for the same money as above-average guards are getting one year later, with less guaranteed.

And that's not even mentioning that the Hutch signing sparked the Seahawks to sign Burleson, who is more or less a scrub, and give the Vikes their 3rd round pick.

by SJM (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2007 - 11:24pm

Re 22:

Yeah, it's amazing how the Vikes managed to make the Seahawks a lot worse without making themselves better. Then again, the Redskins did the same thing to the Jets a while back.

by Mike B. (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2007 - 2:29pm

Re: #6 -
Ralph Wilson is legendary for being cheap, and keep insinuating that Buffalo can't compete in the league with finances the way are...

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2007 - 2:29pm

Wondering if MDS considers White a bargain at the contract agreed to with the Lions? Obviously they paid more than 'mid-level' $$

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2007 - 8:16pm


Hutchinson definitely did not make the Vikings better last year. That's not to say the improvement won't show itself significantly over the next few years. It's certainly not the best bargain that's developed this year, but I think it shows how much a players' success should just be attributed to the amalgamation of talent in one unit. Walter Jones didn't look as good with Spencer/Womack/Sims next to him, to about the same degree that Hutch looked less all-world with McKinnie and Birk filling the roles of Walt & Tobeck.

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 03/07/2007 - 8:13pm

According ALY and ASR, the Vikes went from ranks of (runblocking/passblocking) 31/29 to 14/22, which is a pretty good improvement from adding one lineman...

by stravinsky (not verified) :: Wed, 03/07/2007 - 11:39pm

re #6 and #24:

Is Buffalo really that bad a market? It seems like its only Wilson who's crying poverty and none of the other small market owners.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 9:05pm

Re 25, no, I don't think White was a bargain at that contract. I thought the Lions would sign him for quite a bit less than that.

by pharmboyrick (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2007 - 8:49pm

Travis Henry is perfect for Denver's offense. His contract is incentive laiden and provides protection from any suspensions. A very good pick up.

He could challenege L Johnson and Tomlinson for the rushing title, given Denver's ability and commitment to running the ball. Unbeliievable running games in the AFC West!

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/16/2007 - 11:25am

Travis Henrey is a beast with 4.4 speed.

by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 03/20/2007 - 11:54pm

Re: 30 and 31

Travis Henry is going to turn 30 this season and costs a lot more that the typical Denver back. He's also not much of a pass catcher, and his rushing DVOA has been negative every year he's been in the league (6).

But he's a "beast," so he'll "challenge for the rushing title."