NFL offseason should be exciting

By on March 2, 2005

The NFL season has ended, the New England Patriots have won their third Super Bowl in four years, and there will not be another football game for about seven months. However, there are still some very interesting happenings in the NFL coming up and various teams have been making major personnel changes that will have major impacts on next years season. What can we expect, what has happened, and what mistakes have teams made already?

The free agent market this year looks the strongest it has been in years in the NFL. Already former pro-bowl quarterback Drew Bledsoe has inked a three-year, 14 million dollar contract with the Dallas Cowboys. I think this is a great move for the Cowboys as they have a strong line, a strong running back and receivers who will play better with the former first pick Bledsoe throwing them the ball. Look at this as being one of the single strongest off-season signings this post-season.

Randy Moss trade rumors were all over the place, the Vikings traded him to the Oakland Raiders for linebacker Napoleon Harris and two draft picks in the upcoming NFL draft, including the seventh pick overall, in the biggest trade this postseason. The Vikings were simply sick of all of Randy’s antics putting him over the team, and were able to get some significant value for the player, as he enters into the big salary years of his contract.

The trade also makes sense for Oakland as they feel it is a weak draft year and took full opportunity to acquire one of the most talented wide receivers in the game. I like this move for both teams as it lets them take new directions. Look for this trade and the re-signing of Jerry Porter to provide Oakland with an exciting, explosive offense and to lead to a great year for their quarterback Kerry Collins. Look for Minnesota to use that 7th pick to add some more defensive talent to their roster, while they might sign another wide receiver from free agency.

One day following his release from the Carolina Panthers, pro-bowl wide receiver Mushin Muhammad signed with the Chicago Bears for a jaw-dropping 30 million dollar contract for six years, with 12 million in guaranteed money. Muhammad brings Chicago a big playmaker for their offense, which was last in the NFL last year.

Muhammad can help turn this around if he can put up numbers like the ones he did this year where he caught 93 passes for 1,405 yards, 16 touchdowns and averaged 15.1 yards per catch. However, I do not expect this move will improve Chicago rapidly, unless they add another wide receiver or a more experienced quarterback, although there have been rumors that former two-time MVP Kurt Warner might be taking snaps for them next season.

Every season, NFL teams talk about how they need to improve on the defensive side of the ball and this off-season is going to display some of the best talent the NFL has to offer. The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans released former pro-bowl cornerbacks Ty Law and Samari Rolle, respectively. In my opinion, Ty Law is the absolute best player available in free agency this year, and any team’s defense will get significantly better by adding him. Teams such as the Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs who are loaded with offensive talent but have abysmal defenses should take a hard look at trying to sign him. Samari Rolle will also make any team’s secondary immensely better next season.

Another former pro-bowl cornerback, Patrick Surtain of the Miami Dolphins, is seeking a trade rather than re-negotiating his contract. Miami seems to be looking mostly for big offensive players to rebuild their team with and Surtain could be involved in a major trade in this postseason, similar to the Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey trade between the Broncos and Redskins last year.

Indianapolis seems to be a great fit for a similar trade, since they have franchised Edgerrin James, who has expressed a desire to play for Miami and would fit the type of player that Miami would seem to want for Surtain. This potential trade seems to make a lot of sense on paper; we will have to see how it plays out over the rest of the off-season.

Pro-Bowl wide receiver Derek Mason of the Tennessee Titans was cut to help make room under the salary cap, but is still a very potent weapon in the NFL. He has averaged over 1000 yards in each of the past four seasons, with 29 touchdowns in that time, and averaged about 13.4 yards per catch. Simply put, this 31-year-old receiver is an asset to any team looking for strength on offense. He will probably be one of the most sought-after free agents this post-season.

Finally, big-name quarterbacks are still available with the aforementioned Kurt Warner and former Cleveland Brown Jeff Garcia. For a team looking to improve its chances of success this year at quarterback, I think that a veteran quarterback might be just what some teams need to turn their franchises around. The key to success with one of these quarterbacks is that the team needs to either have a strong offensive line, or build one around these quarterbacks, as they are very strong pocket passers who need time to be effective.

Kurt Warner showed he still has talent as he started the Giants off to a 5-4 start, more wins than they had their entire previous season. The Giants decided this was not good enough however, and benched him for their first pick Eli Manning, who promptly went 1-6 for the rest of the season, but that is a topic for another editorial.

Garcia never seemed to fit in Cleveland, but he really did not have much to work with there. He is a riskier pick than Warner, but could still be significantly better than any draft pick quarterback could this year.

So, with all of this talent available (and more to come) there is simply no excuse for whatever your favorite team is to not improve their roster for next season. This off-season looks to be one of the most exciting in a long time and it will only lead up to another great NFL season this fall.


About Michael Pistone