The Oakland Raiders will miss the lockdown coverage that Nnamdi Asomugha provided, as the Narbonne HS grad will take his talents to Philadelphia, where the Eagles have formed a “Dream Team” of their own. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Ronnie Brown will join Asomugha in Philadelphia. Because of the free agent signings, many insiders are picking the Eagles to be one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Now that Chad Ochocinco is playing for a class organization like the New England Patriots, and a no nonsense coach like Bill Belichick, he may decide to keep his mouth shut and help the Patriots make a run at another Super Bowl. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Patriots and Eagles make the biggest splash during NFL free agency thus far. Big names sign quickly after owners and players agree to new CBA.
New Eagles quarterback Vince Young didn’t waste anytime drawing the ire of some players around the NFL. Upon arriving at Eagles training camp, Young called his new teammates a “Dream Team.”
It didn’t take long for Green Bay’s tight end JerMichael Finley to chime in.
Finley tweeted: “Man i wish we had the damn Eagles on the schedule. All this “Dream Team” talk is killin me…”
And with that said, let the games begin.
After the NFL owners and Players Association locked horns during a less than protracted lockout, a disaster was averted last week as both sides agreed to a deal, allowing gridiron talk to take center-stage again.
You know, I was beginning to think that instead of seeing players do battle on the field, we would all have to witness Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith joust in the media and the courts about how to share billions in revenue.
Luckily the lockout snore fest is over and the free agency period has been in full swing since last Friday.
And Philadelphia and New England didn’t waste a second in making an impact.
Eagles are the Big Winners
The Eagles signed the NFL’s biggest free agent prize. Philly swooped in and grabbed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha away from teams such as the Jets and Cowboys.
Asomugha’s deal with the Eagles caught everyone by surprise. The Eagles weren’t even thought to be in the running, but Philly added an invaluable piece that makes them an instant contender for the NFC title.
The Asomugha deal followed another move that garnered the Eagles another Pro Bowl caliber corner. Philadelphia traded Kevin Kolb to Arizona for defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick.
Rarely do I deem a trade mutually beneficial. There’s usually a winner and a loser, however, both teams will benefit from this move.
Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha will form one of the best corner tandems in the NFL. At press time (August 2), Asante Samuel is still an Eagle, but the team is shopping him.
With Kolb out of the picture, the Eagles hit the free agent market and signed the enigmatic Young. As evidenced by his declaration, Young doesn’t shy away from the spotlight.
Unfortunately, when the going gets tough, Young doesn’t have a history of stepping up to the challenge. Due to quarterback Michael Vick’s style of play, chances are, Young will see the field this season.
Can he withstand the harsh and vulgar Philly crowd? I doubt it. Young couldn’t take the heat in Tennessee, so why would I believe he can stomach Philly?
With that said, the guy’s still a good insurance policy, and he has a winning record. Besides, how hard can it be to throw the ball as far as you can and watch the speedy DeSean Jackson run past the secondary for pay dirt?
The signing of Cullen Jenkins will help the Eagles’ defensive line and Ronnie Brown can share carries with explosive tailback LeSean McCoy.
If the Eagles rework Jackson’s contract, there’s no doubt that they’re the NFC East favorite and will compete with Green Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans for the conference.
Patriots Take on Reclamation Projects
I don’t know any other way to describe the trades for Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth.
Both could fill positions which are dire needs for the Patriots, but they could also create distractions and sow dissension in the locker room.
Head Coach Bill Belichick is legendary for being an extreme disciplinarian. Players who have had problems elsewhere such as Randy Moss and Corey Dillon have come to New England and thrived.
To his credit, Ochocinco isn’t a bad guy or a malcontent. At worst, he’s an eccentric guy that really loves Twitter and the reality TV Cameras. It’ll be interesting to see how he and Belichick coexist.
Quarterback Tom Brady gets way more pub from the paparazzi and glamour magazines then Ochocinco, however, he’s got a handful of Super Bowl rings.
Ochocinco’s act will grow tired if the Patriots are winning and he’s demanding the football. Belichick cut Moss last season, and he won’t hesitate to do the same to Ochocinco.
Both acquisitions will go boom or bust. I don’t see any middle ground. The Patriots traded away late draft picks for both, so it’s a worthy gamble.
I think the moves along with an improving defense should be enough to propel the Patriots past the Jets in the AFC East.
New England will be right there competing for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl from the AFC with the Steelers, Jets, Ravens and Colts.
Best of the Rest
Philly and New England may have grabbed the headlines, but don’t kid yourselves. Several teams made moves that could better their playoff chances.
The Seattle Seahawks are one such team. True, they were probably the worst team to ever make the playoffs last season, but so what.
Seattle allowed quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to leave via free agency. He signed with the Titans, leaving Seattle with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst to compete for the starting job.
Call me crazy, but I liked what I saw from Jackson during his limited opportunities in Minnesota the past few seasons.
Jackson showed that he has an NFL arm and has the ability to buy time with his scrambling. He could finally thrive now that the shadow of Brett Favre isn’t hovering over him.
Whitehurst also showed flashes last season that he can get the job done. Will he take you to the Super Bowl? No. But with the additions of wideout Sidney Rice and tight end Zach Miller, Seattle could win the weak NFC West.
Robert Gallery will help solidify Seattle’s offensive line, too.
Arizona’s acquisition of Kolb is another great move. Since Kurt Warner retired, the Cardinals have struggled at the position and wasted the talents of receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Atlanta’s free agent signing of defensive end Ray Edwards will help its defense which was embarrassed at home against Green Bay during the playoffs.
The Jets lost out on the Asomugha sweepstakes, but acquiring Plaxico Burress is intriguing. His signing likely means that Braylon Edwards’ days with the Jets are done.
However, the Jets re-signed receiver Santonio Holmes, linebacker David Harris and defensive backs Antonio Cromartie and Eric Smith.
If quarterback Mark Sanchez continues to develop, the Jets will be right in the thick of things.
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