NFL Free Agency: Spending big in March means nothing in December


One of the reasons thePhiladelphia Eagles CEO and chairman Jeffrey Lurie (left) fired Andy Reid and hired Chip Kelly as the Eagles new head coach this season was the moves the team made in free agency in 2011. The Eagles never recovered and spiraled downward in 2012. Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Rosenthal, Around the League editor at, came out with a post tonight that should turn some heads, but only reiterates what we’ve believed all along – that spending huge amounts of money to buy up the hottest players available in free agency does not translate into success.

We’ve all been amazed that the Green Bay Packers have been consistently absent from any bidding for players on the market over the past five years and what has it produced? A World Championship and two straight NFC North Division titles the past three years. And those two division titles have not been tight battles – the Packers are 15-1 the past two seasons against division foes.

While all three opponents – the Vikings, Lions and Bears – have been active once again in free agency, the statements above are testament to the fact that while nowhere near as sexy as bringing in the high-profile players, the draft and develop method is proven to be successful.

What will that mean for the Miami Dolphins who started the player bidding season by handing out $65 million to Mike Wallace? Remember, they haven’t quit. In fact, just today they inked Dustin Keller and Brandon Gibson.

If you read Rosenthal’s information, the Dolphins are in trouble.

Closer to home in the NFC North, here’s what the Packers’ opponents have done since the start of free agency Tuesday night:

Chicago Bears

  • signed TE Martellus Bennett to a four-year contract
  • signed OT Jermon Bushrod to a five-year contract
  • re-signed DT Nate Collins to a one-year contract
  • re-signed CB Zackary Bowman to a one-year contract

Detroit Lions

  • re-signed LB DeAndre Levy to a three-year contract
  • re-signed WR Kassim Osgood to a one-year contract
  • re-signed FS Amari Spievey to a one-year contract
  • re-signed CB Chris Houston
  • signed DT Jason Jones
  • signed RB Reggie Bush to a four-year contract
  • re-signed LS Don Muhlbach to a one-year contract
  • re-signed FS Louis Delmas to a two-year, $9.465 million contract
  • re-signed G/C Dylan Gandy

Minnesota Vikings

  • re-signed WR Jerome Simpson to one-year contract
  • re-signed RT Phil Loadholt to a multi-year contract
  •  re-signed C/G Joe Berger to a one-year contract
  • re-signed S Jamarca Sanford
  • re-signed FB Jerome Felton to a three-year, $7.5 million contract
  • re-signed LB Erin Henderson to a two-year contract

And, of course … here’s what the Packers have done:

Green Bay Packers

  • no current signings

 While Rosenthal says that his findings are far from scientific, “… Dolphins fans may not want to read ahead.”

Here’s what he found from the past five years:

2012: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills signed Mario Williams from the Texans, brought in Mark Anderson from New England and paid Stevie Johnson a gob of money. Everyone had anointed them Super Bowl Champions in March.

The Bills finished 6-10, Williams was hurt much of the year, and their head coach, Chan Gaily was fired.

2011: Philadelphia Eagles

We all know about the the “Dream Team” that was bought – I mean brought – to Philadelphia. This was Andy Reid‘s last hurrah in Philly – one that turned to boos and a spiraling descent that ended in his firing at the end of this past season.

Here’s who they brought in: Nnamdi Asomugha. They also signed Cullen JenkinsJason Babin, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith, and added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Eagles started the season 4-8 before finally finishing at .500 – hardly a success.The team really crashed and burned in 2012 …

2010: Detroit Lions

Rosenthal admits that there wasn’t a standout team from which to pick from this particular offseason, but chose the Lions.

Here’s who they selected: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nate Burleson, and Chris Houston.

The Lions  were 2-14 in 2009 and showed improvement in 2010 – to 6-10. However, to give the Lions some credit, these moves did allow them to improve even more in 2011 when they made the playoffs.

2009: Washington Redskins

The Redskins‘ owner, Daniel Snyder, has year-in and year-out been a huge player in free agency, especially in 2009 when they made Albert Haynesworth the highest paid player at the time in the game. In addition, they brought in DeAngelo Hall for $54 million and gave guard Derrick Dockery unprecedented money.

The ‘Skins went from 6-10 to 4-12 and Haynesworth was an absolute bust, as was Dockery. Hall left the team this season.

2008: Cleveland Browns

In 2007, the Browns were 10-6 and things were looking pretty good until the Draft when gave most of it away for former Packer Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers. In addition, they brought in Donté Stallworth and also signed Derek Anderson.

But it didn’t work out too well. In 2008, the Browns went 4-12.

That pretty much sums it up and provides insight into why Packers GM Ted Thompson isn’t a huge fan of free agency. Clearly, he sees through the hype. And when he does make a splash, like he did when he signed Charles Woodson way back when – he does it when nobody’s looking. Nobody wanted Woodson at the time, remember?

This is a clear lesson, Packers fans. Think about it.