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This has been some NFL offseason. Well, not quite for Patriots fans. I mean, solving the Vince Wilfork issue was a big accomplishment, as they got their man in the middle, but now need to look for some complementary pieces. They might have missed out on some big name players, but there are more fish in the sea. Still, other teams have made out like bandits, while others have struggled to keep their franchises afloat. Here are some of the top stories from the short, but productive NFL offseason.
It was the first day teams were allowed to sign free agents and one team went out if its way to sign valuable free agents. But it was the Bears…a team that is notoriously cheap? They went to the Super Bowl and then dropped their top running back in Thomas Jones. So, when then opened up their wallets, it was a surprise.
Still, they walked away with the top player available in defensive end Julius Peppers. He will now give the Bears a solid pass rusher and someone who, combined with a healthy Brian Urlacher, could give the Bears the best defense in the NFC North.
Then, the Bears topped it off by signing running back Chester Taylor and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. Taylor will team with Matt Forte to give the Bears a balanced running game and Manumaleuna will be a much needed weapon for Jay Cutler.
When Mike Holmgren was brought in as President for the Cleveland Browns, change was going to take place. There was questions if Eric Mangini would remain with the team, but he is still there. However, someone had to be blamed for the Browns 5-11 record last year. It became clear who was taking the fall.
Cleveland traded for Seneca Wallace, as the former Seahawk was part of the Holmgren system. It was similar to when Holmgren went to Seattle and took some Green Bay backup quarterback named Matt Hasselback with him. The, Cleveland did something amazing. They cut Derek Anderson and traded hometown hero Brady Quinn, leaving Wallace as the only quarterback on the roster.
However, when Jake Delhomme was released by the Panthers, he vowed revenge against his former team. So, he found his way to Cleveland, where he would most likely be the teams opening day starter. Should he remain the teams go-to guy, he will have his chance at revenge this upcoming season. The Browns are rebuilding, but for now they might have found their quarterbacks for both the first and second string.
Future Hall of Famers just get no respect. LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the most dominant running backs in the history of the game. He passed the likes of Jim Brown on the all time rushing list this year. Still, now he will have to finish he career like Emmitt Smith did, with another team. It has been a whirlwind offseason for Tomlinson, but now he needs to move on.
On Feb. 22, The Chargers released their nine-year veteran after they put nearly 12,500 yards on him. It must be hard to leave a place where the weather is always perfect, but Tomlinson still believes he has stuff to offer other teams. He was being recruited by top quarterbacks. Drew Brees publicly stated his desire, while Brett Favre apparently was sending some text messages. (If that’s true, then can we put the Brett Favre is coming back rumors to rest. He’s coming back.) However, who would turn down the opportunity to join a team on the rise in the largest TV market in the country. That’s why Tomlinson will join the Jets in New York next season, making his first appearance on the first Monday night game in the new Meadowlands Stadium.
Last season, The Bengals surprised many by winning the AFC North. They started with season with a strong offense, but it faltered by the end of the season. Then during the playoffs, they could only muster up 14 points against the Jets while their star receiver Chad Ochocinco was completely shut down. This was mainly due to the fact that he did not have a receiver to take the pressure off. Say what you want about Laveranues Coles, but he was hit or miss. They re-signed the defensive players they needed to, so now they needed to turn to the other side of the ball.
They have been flirting with Terrell Owens. Sure Owens had a down season in Buffalo, but come on, that was Buffalo. They are currently a step below the Raiders. So, do not be surprised if you find two great receivers playing together in Cincinnati to form the ever entertaining “T-O-chocinco”. However, the Bengals have already a former 1,000 yard receiver who makes big plays all the time. Antonio Bryant was well under the radar as a member of the Buccaneers last season. Now he joins Chad and a stellar quarterback Carson Palmer and could possibly be part of the trifecta with Owens. Along with Cendric Benson, would that be the best offense in football? There would be a chance.
Baltimore made only one real move this offseason, but it should prove to be a great one. After a surprising trip to the AFC Championship in 2009, the Ravens followed it up by starting the season 3-0 with the best offense. Then after a loss of the Patriots, they began to struggle. They lost their next three games and throughout the rest of the season were either as explosive as can be, or couldn’t put up the points. The were missing one piece and they might have received it.
They needed a wide receiver, but not just any one would do. They needed a dominant one and they got it. Anquan Boldin will now move from under the shadow of Larry Fitzgerald and become the man in Baltimore. Veteran Derrick Mason will be able to take the load off his shoulders and put it on Boldin. Also, the signing of Donte Stallworth will give Joe Flacco more targets and could make the Ravens the team to beat next season.
Do not think the small moves don’t matter. Nate Burelson and Kyle Vanden Bosch will immediately help the Detroit Lions. However, losing Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle and Kurt Warner could spell doom for the Cardinals. For New England, they now have holes they need to fill because of their players signing elsewhere (tight ends especially, though the team reportedly signed Alge Crumpler). Still, there are plenty of months ahead of them to find their own diamonds in the rough.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Antonio Bryant, Baltimore Ravens, Brady Quinn, Chad Ochocinco, Chester Taylor, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Derek Anderson, Donte Stallworth, Jake Delhomme, Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers, LaDanian Tomlinson, New York Jets, Seneca Wallace, Terrell Owens