Wednesday, April 24, 2013

To the hype machine Batman!!

NFL free agency is about to start. You’ll see a bunch of splashy headlines about big names, but the truth is free agency is overhyped. NFL teams aren’t generally run by idiots, the very best players rarely hit free agency. Now some talent gets out because the salary cap prevents teams from keeping everyone for long – but the best players don’t walk. Lots of signees don’t pan out. Last year the hot QB commodity was Packers backup QB Matt Flynn who signed a three year $19.5 deal with the Seattle Seahawks. Last season Flynn threw 9 passes as he never won the starting job; which went to third round pick Russell Wilson. Often the best signings are relatively unknown figures whom someone recognizes as a raw talent they can develop – Wes Welker had played for two teams in three seasons and had one career touchdown catch when the Patriots signed him. Of course those diamonds in the rough aren’t easy to spot – too often teams get excited about players who have just a good outing or two. Flynn was that way (he had had two career starts), most infamously perhaps was Rob Johnson.

Better teams build through the draft (not that there aren’t a lot of hype and busts there as well). Here is a list of free agent pickups who started in that last Super Bowl:

Randy Moss
Jonathan Goodwin
Justin Smith
Ahmad Brooks
Carlos Rodgers
Donte Whitner

Vonta Leach
Matt Birk
Bryant McKinnie
Ma'ake Kemoeatu
Corey Graham
Bernard Pollard
Cary Williams

How many of those would you call stars? 1? 2? Free agency fills out a roster, but teams can’t use it to create the backbone of their squad. Well they can – but then you end up being the Washington Deadskins.


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