NFL free agency: Instant analysis
Insider's NFL experts break down the biggest impact deals
The 2011 NFL free-agency period is finally under way. As signings and deals take place, keep it here for analysis by KC Joyner, Aaron Schatz and the Football Outsiders crew, Mel Kiper and others, plus projections from AccuScore.
Thursday's (8/4) moves
• FBO on Braylon Edwards to San Francisco
• Schatz on Donte Whitner to San Francisco
Wednesday's (8/3) moves
• FBO on Ty Warren to Denver
Tuesday's (8/2) moves:
• FBO on Zach Miller to Seattle
• FBO on Aubrayo Franklin to New Orleans
• FBO on Ronnie Brown to Philadelphia
Monday's (8/1) moves:
• FBO on Ahmad Bradshaw back to New York Giants
• Schatz on Randy Moss retiring
• FBO on Derek Anderson to Carolina
• FBO on Antonio Cromartie to New York Jets
• FBO on Cedric Benson back to Cincinnati
• Schatz on Nick Barnett to Buffalo
• FBO on James Jones back to Green Bay
• Schatz on Todd Heap to Arizona
• Schatz on Plaxico Burress to New York Jets
• FBO on Peyton Manning back to Indianapolis
• Joyner/FBO on Cullen Jenkins to Philadelphia
• FBO on Mike Sims-Walker to St. Louis
• Schatz on Nnamdi Asomugha to Philadelphia
• FBO on Ray Edwards to Atlanta
• FBO on Jon Beason back to Carolina
• Schatz on Darren Sproles to New Orleans
• Joyner/Schatz on Johnathan Joseph to Houston
• Schatz on Greg Olsen to Carolina
• Joyner/FBO on Chad Ochocinco to New England
• Joyner on Kevin Kolb to Arizona (with AccuScore projection)
• FBO on Jason Babin to Philadelphia
• Joyner on Albert Haynesworth to New England
• Schatz on Donovan McNabb to Minnesota (with AccuScore projection)
• FBO on Reggie Bush to Miami
• FBO on Sidney Rice to Seattle
• Joyner on Steve Breaston to Kansas City
• Schatz on James Anderson and Thomas Davis back to Carolina
• FBO on Bruce Gradkowski to Cincinnati
• Joyner on DeAngelo Williams back to Carolina
• FBO on Eric Weddle back to San Diego
• Schatz on Santonio Holmes to New York Jets
• Kiper on Matt Hasselbeck to Tennessee (with AccuScore projection)
• Schatz on Donte' Stallworth to Washington
• Joyner on Paul Posluszny to Jacksonville
• FBO on Ike Taylor back to Pittsburgh
• FBO on Quintin Mikell to St. Louis
• Joyner on Charles Johnson back to Carolina
• Schatz on Tarvaris Jackson to Seattle (with AccuScore projection)
WR Braylon Edwards signs with San Francisco 49ers
Danny Tuccitto (Football Outsiders): Some may view the Edwards signing as San Francisco's desperate attempt to fill a hole at No. 1 wide receiver created by Michael Crabtree's never-ending foot injury. The truth is that, as a group, the 49ers' wide receiving corps has been among the worst in the league since Terrell Owens left in 2004. Indeed, over the past seven seasons, San Francisco's 16 qualifying wideouts had an average DYAR ranking of 62, with none ranking higher than 25th. So, regardless of whether or not Crabtree misses time, Edwards is a valuable addition.
To be sure, though, expectations should remain low. Edwards is now four years removed from his lone Pro Bowl season, there are two stone hands attached to the end of his arms and he'll have either Alex Smith or rookie Colin Kaepernick throwing passes his way this season. Nevertheless, he's only had one negative-DYAR season in his career, and he ranked 35th last season, which makes him better than almost every San Francisco wide receiver in recent memory.
S Donte Whitner signs with San Francisco 49ers
Aaron Schatz: Hey, now that Whitner is out of Buffalo, maybe one of the other defenders in front of him will tackle a runner every so often. Last season, Whitner made 94 run plays (tackles or assists), 25 more than any other safety in the league. Whitner wasn't playing up close to the line -- he made those tackles after an average gain of 8.3 yards. In other words, he just had a lot of cleanup to do in Buffalo.
Whitner is not the best pass-defender in the world, but he is a good tackler and should help the 49ers. Our game charters marked Whitner with only four missed tackles last season, which is an impressive number given his 96 solo tackles.
DT Ty Warren signs with Denver Broncos
Rivers McCown (Football Outsiders): Warren was a very good run-stopper for the Patriots, but there's no telling whether he'll be able to be the Warren of old for the Broncos. Missing entire seasons at his age is usually an indicator of the end of a career, and given the Patriots' track record with employing older defensive players like Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison, one would have to think that they wouldn't have released him if they thought he could be more than a contributor this season. If Warren does bounce back for the Broncos, it's a great signing for a team that desperately needs some big bodies on its interior line.
The Broncos are on a real youth movement, though, even going as far as to target first-round washouts like Derrick Harvey and Amobi Okoye in free agency to see whether they could turn them around. If you follow that path, this move doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Nor does giving Warren $5 million guaranteed. He could help improve the Broncos' run defense slightly, but he won't be doing it for long.
TE Zach Miller signs with Seattle Seahawks
Rivers McCown (Football Outsiders): If the Tarvaris Jackson experiment fails in Seattle, it probably won't have anything to do with his supporting cast. Miller is an ideal safety valve for the Seahawks, though he can obviously run routes deeper than that as well.
The lack of solid quarterback play really hurt his overall numbers in Oakland, and while his targets will probably drop a bit in Seattle, the chances he gets should be of higher quality. The fact that Miller is still just 26 should help as well, as Seattle now has a pair of solid young receivers (Sidney Rice is the other) in place for the next few years.
If the Tarvaris gamble doesn't work out, the prospect of throwing to Miller and Rice should draw the interest of some better quarterbacks. At five years and $34 million, with $17 million guaranteed, it's hard to say this deal was a bargain, especially for a tight end.
Seattle did well to continue building their franchise for the long term, but it may have overpaid. Never get into a bidding war with Al Davis if you want a bargain.
DT Aubrayo Franklin signs with New Orleans Saints
Rivers McCown (Football Outsiders): New Orleans had a fairly successful run defense last year. In fact, it was No. 1 in the NFL at stopping runners in power situations, by our statistics. But with the addition of Franklin, the Saints are now the owners of some serious beef in the middle.
Between Sedrick Ellis, the newly acquired Shaun Rogers and Franklin, they could create some really interesting fronts in running downs and goal-line packages. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is considered one of the more creative coordinators in the NFL, and he should be able to do some pretty out-of-the-box things with these guys if that is his endgame here.
On paper, it's a strange move, because it would seem like there are a number of better fits for Franklin around the league and the Saints already had a pair of nose tackles. However, New Orleans deserves the benefit of the doubt considering what they've done with their defense since Williams took over, and it's likely a bargain contract since it was reported as only a one-year deal.
Perhaps this signing is a precursor to an Ellis trade?
RB Ronnie Brown signs with Philadelphia Eagles
Danny Tuccitto (Football Outsiders): You know how sometimes you go to the grocery store, grab everything you went there to buy, but then end up adding a pack of gum, a magazine, or the latest issue of The National Enquirer while waiting in the checkout lane? (What's another buck or two, right?)
Well, Brown is Philadelphia's Bubblicious. There's really no other way to explain the signing of an aging, injury-prone running back who averaged only 3.67 yards per carry last season.
To read more of Insider's expert analysis -- from KC Joyner, Football Outsiders and more -- on the biggest NFL signings and deals in free agency, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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