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Free agent period will separate best front offices from the rest

money

We don’t know when free agency will start.  We do know that the craziest period of NFL player movement is on its way, which gives front offices a unique opportunity to separate from one another.

“What’s going to happen is you’re going to have some inexperienced general managers and owners go crazy early on,” one longtime G.M. told SI.com’s Don Banks. “They’re going to think, ‘I’ve got to go out and do something crazy. This is my window of opportunity.’ But I think that’s absolutely the wrong move.

“There are so many free agents and so many guys out there that if you’re just patient, you can wind up with some good players at really good value and not put yourself out there [at risk] with a couple mega-deals.”

We agree with all of that, especially the good value part.  There are essentially two free agent classes available because of the restrictive 2010 rules.  On top of that, teams were hesitant to hand out long-term deals before the lockout, which left even more quality players available.  On Friday’s PFT Live, we talked about the impressive depth of this free agent group.

Good front offices should be able to find young, quality value without overpaying.  Still, some teams will go gaga for veterans.

“That’s going to happen, I promise you,” the general manager told Banks. “A couple of these guys are going to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be aggressive. We’ve got a fat wallet and we’re raring to go.’ I just hope those teams are in our division. Because when you go back over the history of free agency, it rarely works out with the big-money guys. Just look at the last five years or so, with Albert Haynesworth, Joey Porter or Terrell Owens.”

Front offices may only get a few days to learn the new rules before they start spending.  It’s going to be a fascinating time to watch how teams work.

This free agent period should reverberate for years after, rewarding those teams that were most nimble and wise identifying talent.

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69 Responses to “Free agent period will separate best front offices from the rest”
  1. jthom19802 says: Jul 10, 2011 10:36 AM

    Sounds like Martin Mayhew talking.

    Whoever it is, they’re absolutely right though. We’d all love to have Ndami but the truth is if you wait for him and maybe two other top corners to come off the market, there will be a very large drop-off in asking price and plenty of decent CBs still out there.

    It’s nice to have a 10, but is it worth it when you can get a 8 to start and a 7 for depth – at the same cost?

  2. skoobyfl says: Jul 10, 2011 10:37 AM

    The Buffalo Bills should have $39 Million to spend, they are going to end up quite short of the minimum level.

  3. wryly1 says: Jul 10, 2011 10:42 AM

    Only the volume of FA’s will be up. What will remain unchanged, is the reality that a team cannot build through free agency. At best, a team can only expect to achieve some temporary, spot upgrade or improvement at a postion – and even that has proven to be an expensive and risky proposition that busts as often as it booms.

  4. camdenyard says: Jul 10, 2011 10:44 AM

    So Ozzie and the Ravens will be fine. Thanks!

  5. imatulsadawg says: Jul 10, 2011 10:45 AM

    If the league and players keep screwing around with negotiations they’re going to be truely “free” agents. Free to join the rest of us in the 40 hour grind.

  6. bronconation7 says: Jul 10, 2011 10:46 AM

    As long as we land 3 or 4 defensive tackles. Hopefully nobody else needs one.

  7. tomsd1 says: Jul 10, 2011 10:47 AM

    Having a true 10 at corner (and there are very few) makes the other team change their offense -but you raise a good point about depth.

  8. drgfri says: Jul 10, 2011 10:50 AM

    Jets will be looking for a free agent who looks fabulous in high heels

  9. mushin9 says: Jul 10, 2011 10:53 AM

    A smart gm will use this insane spending spree to lock up their own and add quality depth to the team for the next five years. Second tier FA’s that would be first tier in a normal year. Guys that come at a reasonable price and fill out the roster with quality to the third string. It’s going to kill a lot of undrafted player’s chances which is a shame.

    I’m looking at you Pioli. Go get em’ “Don”

  10. shootermcgavin1 says: Jul 10, 2011 10:54 AM

    Gene Smith is licking his chops.

  11. goawayeverybody says: Jul 10, 2011 10:57 AM

    As usual, the Saints will rule the free agency with their wise, low-cost moves.

  12. nahcouldntbethat says: Jul 10, 2011 11:00 AM

    Paying top dollar for the best free agents is going to be the way to go. Waiting for the bargains essentially means that you’re taking everybody else’s leavings and there’s generally a reason those guys are still available after the wave has passed.

    In a normal year, with normal cap restrictions there would be some merit in waiting for the first few major deals to go by and then prioritizing the best of the second tier. This year however there’s no benefit at all to doing that because most teams are going to have to spend a fair amount of new money anyway to get up to the new floor. Better to get value for the cash you’re going to have to spend anyway.

    Santonio Holmes is much more valuable, albeit riskier, than any other wide receiver out there. Teams choosing not to make a high bid on him so that they can snap up people like TJ Houshmandzadeh after the wave has passed are making a huge mistake.

    The reason the Jets have gotten where they have over the last couple of seasons is that they’ve recognized that talent is a non-negotiable asset in the NFL. You have to have it if you want to win.

    Now they’re going to find themselves swimming in the shark tank with a bunch of other teams all forced to the same conclusion.

  13. redwinglion says: Jul 10, 2011 11:02 AM

    I disagree completely.

    If you want a current example, take a look at the NHL free agency period that just began July 1. The contracts that were given to mediocre players were INSANE. A guy like Tim Connolly who scored only 13 goals last year got $4.5 million–a big contract for an average player. Teams started throwing huge money around left and right and it diluted the market very quickly. It’s going to happen here, too–a couple GMs are going to start throwing out huge contracts and the avalanche will begin.

    The only winners in this one are going to be the teams without huge needs.

  14. vargafamily1 says: Jul 10, 2011 11:13 AM

    Why this talk about free agency? Is it because the lockout talk is too unbearable now? I don’t care who does what in the next free agency period. I just care that there will be a next free agency period.

  15. marshmont says: Jul 10, 2011 11:14 AM

    i live in baltimore. ozzie newsome has one of the best front offices in nfl. vinnie seratto is on a talk show9(105.7 fm) he said you have to jump into free agency or all the good players will be gone. he said this last week. some people never learn.

  16. darthhitman says: Jul 10, 2011 11:25 AM

    @jthom19802
    Was thinking the EXACT same thing

  17. tombrookshire says: Jul 10, 2011 11:26 AM

    Eagles front office is one of those with an eager young second year GM who has already said numerous times that he’s ready to go, ready to spend and ready to be aggressive. I guess Howie Roseman is one of the guys in the article that has seasoned GMs snickering. Great to be a fan of a team that’s a laughing stock!

  18. MichaelEdits says: Jul 10, 2011 11:27 AM

    That’s certainly bad news for the Redskins.

  19. purpleman527 says: Jul 10, 2011 11:30 AM

    We don’t know when free agency will start. We do know that the craziest period of NFL player movement is on its way,………………………..
    ———————————————–
    Um, it is?

    Was a deal reached or are you believing the “deal is close” garbage?

    At this point, I don’t know how anybody can write about hypothetical situations.

  20. jsratx says: Jul 10, 2011 11:58 AM

    Rick Smith stands by ready to torpedo any realistic chance of improving the Texans. Get your rest, Rick; it takes a special level of incompetence to do what you routinely do.

  21. crimhollingsworth says: Jul 10, 2011 12:02 PM

    Seattle is going to blow $150 million on Kolb and either Asomugha or Joseph.

  22. dewalt2990 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:03 PM

    Ask Martin Mayhew, he’ll tell you he likes FA after the draft. He said that a couple days after the draft ended. Chances are, the Lions have a plan for EVERY scneraio.

  23. inthecrowdlax says: Jul 10, 2011 12:09 PM

    Stop pimping free agency. Where a bunch of never was players get overpaid. Go Steelers

  24. regulator1978 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:10 PM

    That’s what I like about Ted Thompson. He has put Green Bay in position to compete for years to come without overspending on free agents…

  25. georgeanderson2 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:14 PM

    Have agents been able to speak with GM’s during this “lockout”?

  26. kom2k10 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:20 PM

    These quotes come from Bill Polian…. No doubt about it

  27. faderwader says: Jul 10, 2011 12:29 PM

    Looks like its Mike Brown’s time to shine!! Lots of experience and money to spend….. Just no football knowledge or eye for talent…. I hate loving the Bengals so much!

  28. marjones45 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:29 PM

    Free agent period will separate best front offices from the rest

    Doesn’t it always??

  29. vickadelphiaphreedom says: Jul 10, 2011 12:30 PM

    Curious to see if a guy like Nnamdi, at 31, goes for the cash or the chance at a ring. Almost as curious to see what asinine moves Dan Snyder makes in the first 12 hours.

  30. rico004 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:44 PM

    Sooo what you’re sayin is the Redskins are screwed

  31. supersuckers3 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:50 PM

    Ahh yes. The F word(s) of the NFL. Free Agency…

    Looks as if some are finally picking up that this method of core building ruins franchises. Thanfully, the Green Bay Packers have the steadfast one…Steddy Teddy!

  32. monsterscream says: Jul 10, 2011 12:52 PM

    The Baltimore Ravens have the best front office in the NFL.

  33. dd393 says: Jul 10, 2011 12:55 PM

    The bottom line is still the same. The better organizations hire a good scouting staff and trust them, and build from within, with possibly a player or two being picked up in free agency to fill an immediate need or two. You don’t build a team by signing free agents, you build a team through the draft and use free agents as a supplement. The cream will rise to the top and the bottom feeders will sink to the bottom, as always.

  34. firerosenthalthebastard says: Jul 10, 2011 1:04 PM

    I always thought the draft separated the best from the rest NFL free agency is often times a big old tease.

  35. samoanjungle says: Jul 10, 2011 1:04 PM

    Well I guess the Bengals will be the bottom-feeders yet again. Sort of like that girl who was the caboose in “Centipede”

  36. dirtydrynn27 says: Jul 10, 2011 1:19 PM

    To the above comments….”The Redskins are screwd” ….Dan Snyder will make an asinine move”….Please know that Vinny Cerrato is not their GM anymore and please know that Dan hired a GM and stays out of the way unlike Jerry Jones,So up yours all of you Redskins Haters!!!

  37. 52crabcakes says: Jul 10, 2011 1:21 PM

    In Ozzie I trust!

  38. semperfi24 says: Jul 10, 2011 1:36 PM

    regulator1978 says:Jul 10, 2011 12:10 PM

    That’s what I like about Ted Thompson. He has put Green Bay in position to compete for years to come without overspending on free agents…
    ________________________________

    Yeah, and between the time Favre was sent to the Jets, and last seasons SB, all the Packers fans have done (on this very site) is bitch and complain about how awful TT was. If you are going too bitch about how he operates, you cant alsoo praise how he operates when he proves all you Packers fans wrong, just saying

  39. semperfi24 says: Jul 10, 2011 1:42 PM

    To follow up my last comment, apparently my “o” key is sticking, lol. My apologies to the grammar police

  40. descendency says: Jul 10, 2011 1:45 PM

    @redwinglion

    I was just about to say this exactly. “Second Tier” players are always overpaid for in FA, especially after a guy like Nnamdi gets some insane dollar value. The next best CB will get something close to what he gets, especially if it is right after Nnamdi signs.

    Whoever this GM is, he is likely being told by his owner to not spend anything or he’ll be fired.

    The smart GM is one who spends money wisely, not the one who waits for everyone else to get huge contracts.

  41. fooch21 says: Jul 10, 2011 1:46 PM

    tombrookshire says: Jul 10, 2011 11:26 AM

    Eagles front office is one of those with an eager young second year GM who has already said numerous times that he’s ready to go, ready to spend and ready to be aggressive. I guess Howie Roseman is one of the guys in the article that has seasoned GMs snickering. Great to be a fan of a team that’s a laughing stock!
    ___________________________________
    Seriously? Eagles have one of the top 3-4 front offices in the league. They are always ready to be aggressive, but they also are smart about it! Plus GM for the Eagles is only position name to keep their talented young front office guys on board before they are poached by other teams, i.e. Tom Heckert. Everyone, except you, know that Andy Reid makes the personnel decisions. For a team that is always in the playoffs they are always well under cap with room to maneuver…

  42. clintonrb says: Jul 10, 2011 2:11 PM

    john clayton thinks free agency starts on july 22
    he states everything has been worked out except the rookie wage scale/number of years etc..
    a little more positive than i was expecting

  43. jbcommonsense says: Jul 10, 2011 2:13 PM

    ”some inexperienced general managers and owners go crazy early on.”

    The question is not whether GMs act early or late. It’s more important that they target young talent without blowing too much cash on any one or two deals. Santonio Holmes, for example, will cost an arm and a leg, yet has never quite delivered. If my Redskins are gonna pay that kind of money, I’d rather they went after Sidney Rice and some cheap veterans like Santana Moss, Roy Williams or Plaxico Burress.

    Next, they should renegotiate McNabb’s contract so that he [and Haynesworth?] are tradeable. Then exchange whatever they get for McNabb for QB Kyle Orton.

    Shanahan and GM B. Allen, please listen!

  44. dontouchmyjunk says: Jul 10, 2011 2:21 PM

    Terrell Owens did his part with every team he played for. He put up the numbers his contract warranted.

    Not all big name, high priced FA’s are busts. Drew Brees tops the list, followed by Reggie White. Others include, Asante Samuel, Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, the before mentioned TO, Priest Holmes, Plaxico Burress when he left Pittsburgh, Michael Turner, Steve Hutchinson, Simeon Rice, Kevin Mawae, and Curtis Martin. There are as many hits as misses with these players.

    The GM quoted in this story is not entirely correct. Signing expensive FA’s doesn’t guarantee a Super Bowl, but the above mentioned players more than earned their money. Most great players never see Free Agency because their original teams tag and sign them. That’s the real fact of the matter.

  45. clayjustsackedyou says: Jul 10, 2011 3:00 PM

    Free agent period will separate best front offices from the rest

    *****************************************

    No the draft is what seperates the best front offices from the rest. The rest are just overpaying trying to make up ground in free agency.

  46. marshmont says: Jul 10, 2011 3:00 PM

    as a ravens fan i believe the ravens front office is in the top 5. new england, indy, pittsburgh, green bay are excellent.

  47. saturn1111 says: Jul 10, 2011 3:03 PM

    Okay…so this free agent period will “separate the good front offices from the rest” because “Good front offices should be able to find young, quality value without overpaying. Still, some teams will go gaga for veterans.”

    Sounds like it will be just like every other free-agent season to me.

  48. olduke says: Jul 10, 2011 3:13 PM

    I like Ozzie, but when’s the last time the Ravens won a SB? Pioli is right up there with the best GM’s.

  49. 706vet says: Jul 10, 2011 3:21 PM

    Looks like the Eagles will benefit.

  50. barronhastoholdorakpo says: Jul 10, 2011 3:35 PM

    I’m so glad Vinny is gone.

  51. xtb3 says: Jul 10, 2011 3:50 PM

    Has nothing to do with who is the best front office ie- GM. It will be whose owner will spend and not hmm and haa on prices. Whoever comes out and buys the best players will be the winners and many of these owners won’t let their GMs do “what is best to field the best squad.”

  52. marshmont says: Jul 10, 2011 4:42 PM

    olduke……….steve bisciotti bought the ravens from art modell in 2004. he inherited brian billick. he is a great owner. NO team has a brighter future today than the ravens. he gives ozzie total control. he also has said he is willing to take risks with players. first rounder jimmy smith could turn out to be a real bargain. the coaching staff is very good. the team has tons of stars.

  53. melonnhead says: Jul 10, 2011 4:47 PM

    please know that Dan hired a GM and stays out of the way unlike Jerry Jones

    —————————————————————-

    Sure. Dan Snyder says he stays out of the way so he doesn’t get criticized when the Redskins suck AGAIN. He can’t handle being criticized and we know this because he sued a newspaper for criticizing him. The team structure has changed so many times since he bought the team. The only thing that remains constant is that Dan Snyder’s still there and the Redskins still suck.

  54. lowleadman says: Jul 10, 2011 4:58 PM

    If the Redskins are smart, this is the year that they don’t make any fa splashes, clean house and get rid of McNabb, Haynesworth and every other useless piece of crap they foolishly paid for. Did I mention DeAngelo Hall? Cut or trade them all, and get in position to get Luck in the next draft, hand the reins to Senor Mouse aka Shannahan, and lets see what he can do with some money and a good foundation.

    As far as all other teams, no one is going to go gaga in fa this year. Well, all other fiscally responsible teams witrh an eye beyond this year, anyway.

    I hope the Jets go and get NaDami what’s his name as the Pats rebuild their TE and rb positions.

  55. melonnhead says: Jul 10, 2011 5:01 PM

    Seriously? Eagles have one of the top 3-4 front offices in the league. They are always ready to be aggressive, but they also are smart about it!

    ————————————————————

    Gotta admit, can’t argue with the way they went after guys like Jevon Kearse, Donte Stallworth, Takeo Spikes, Stacy Andrews, Darren Howard, etc.

  56. deadmanwalking47 says: Jul 10, 2011 5:01 PM

    “Seriously? Eagles have one of the top 3-4 front offices in the league.”

    that’s right!and how many superbowls have they won under that front office? keep dreaming buddy!

  57. bunjy96 says: Jul 10, 2011 5:03 PM

    FA is a crap shoot just like the draft.

    More times than not the FA ultimately signs for so money ends up a bust.

    Hopefully some GM’s are smarter than that.

    Unfortunately past history says, they will continue to waste money.

    Let’s see who the dumb shxx’s are.

  58. saturn1111 says: Jul 10, 2011 5:27 PM

    lowleadman writes:

    “If the Redskins are smart…”

    I write:

    That’s a big “if.”

  59. txhc says: Jul 10, 2011 6:12 PM

    So that means the Cowboys are screwed again then? *facepalm* I hope Garrett has a say in this.

  60. 1historian says: Jul 10, 2011 6:46 PM

    Quoth the raven (aka my brother-in-law): “Remember the seven P’s”.

    Quoth I: “WTF are the seven P’s?”

    “Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

    Recently the Green Bay Packers were named the best operation in pro sports. Nailing down the coveted #122 spot, aka the WORST were the Cincinnatti Bengals.

    some things never change

  61. peanutbutter&jelly says: Jul 10, 2011 6:54 PM

    jeff ireland’s time to shine or time for him to go one or the other

  62. eaglesnoles05 says: Jul 10, 2011 7:02 PM

    This article’s title can be changed to “Soon, as if you needed another reminder, events will show the difference between the Eagles’ front office and the Redskins’ front office. Redskins suck.”

  63. 1historian says: Jul 10, 2011 7:16 PM

    You can bet that the best organizations know already who the best players are, whom they want and how much they are willing to pay for them. You can also bet that they will not be adverse to getting into fake bidding wars over players they don’t really want in order to dupe other teams into paying too much.

    Of course that all depends on this silly shut-out/strike ending.

    I find myself caring less and less.

  64. georgeanderson2 says: Jul 10, 2011 9:25 PM

    Jeff Ireland will be ready to play Steve Ross fantasy football. They will be jumping the gun and over paying for names, they need to sell tickets. Tony and Jeff have their resumes ready and will be thankful once they are out. Please go get TO so as fans we can watch Marshall and TO destroy Henne and Tony, that will be good tv, maybe the Dolphins can run that reality show on their hand held gameboy devices while “fans” party it up in the in stadium club, they can get facebook/twitter updates during the game on what is taking place on the field.

  65. pftstory says: Jul 10, 2011 10:06 PM

    The talent is already identified. The teams know who they want to target and have their lists based on which FA rule is eventually agreed to.
    There is no waiting. The negotiations are in play and we will see contracts signed 2 minutes after “midnight”
    There will be no waiting.
    The chioce is go after the “Nnamdi” at your position(s) of need and compete with 5-6 other teams for the same guy or focus on the 2nd or 3rd ‘best’ guy and maybe compete with 1-2 other teams and have him signed before the losers in the chase for the “Nnamdi” come calling.

    Yes some team(s) will throw insane money at a guy to be sure to get the big prize. But the opposite approach is not to wait. It is to take action and secure the “next best” talent at the right price before the insane contract clouds everyone’s self worth.

  66. irishsweetness says: Jul 10, 2011 11:08 PM

    That’s the Bears f**ked then ….

  67. irishsweetness says: Jul 10, 2011 11:10 PM

    Hey Melonhead, Jerry Jones has three rings …

  68. txhc says: Jul 11, 2011 3:03 AM

    “irishsweetness says:
    Jul 10, 2011 11:10 PM
    Hey Melonhead, Jerry Jones has three rings …”

    Dude, I’m as big a Cowboys fan as there is but those rings are Jimmy’s and everyone knows it.

  69. fmwarner says: Jul 11, 2011 3:59 AM

    marshmont says: Jul 10, 2011 11:14 AM

    i live in baltimore. ozzie newsome has one of the best front offices in nfl. vinnie seratto is on a talk show9(105.7 fm) he said you have to jump into free agency or all the good players will be gone. he said this last week. some people never learn.

    ____________________________________

    Ozzie’s great, no question, but I’m not sure you want to use Vinny Cerrato to help argue a point about smart football.

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