Free agency splurges aren’t always fool’s gold

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A narrative has emerged in recent years that spending in free agency never helps a team improve itself right away, or at all. And while that may be the rule, the Giants became a pretty strong exception a year ago.

By plunking down big money on defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and defensive lineman Damon Harrison, the Giants instantly improved their defense, propelling the team to its first playoff berth since 2011.

This doesn’t mean a team like the 49ers and Browns can spend their way to a postseason appearance, but it’s not impossible. And the possibility of a team becoming a contender is part of what every team needs to do in order to sell hope and, in turn, tickets, jerseys, hats, and other things that separate fans from their money.

Only one team wins the Super Bowl. The other 31 need to make money. And money gets made by making fans want to spend it. They want to spend it if they think the team can win.

The effort to make them think the team can win includes signing free agents. Whether they actually help the team win is a different issue for another day.

9 responses to “Free agency splurges aren’t always fool’s gold

  1. Bad teams rarely become good overnight simply by splurging in FA, but good teams can definitely get over the top with some smart big signings.

  2. It takes time to evaluate FA signings, however, just the same as rookie draft picks–now the production level expectations might be different but how they help or in most instances don’t help takes some time to evaluate. A good team will be built in the draft with some FAs sprinkled in there to fill gaps and allow some young players time to develop within a system–I will always stand with the notion that the giants overspent in FA signings (in an attempt to make up for years of incompetent drafting) and will be strained with these heavy contracts, further delaying what will eventually be a complete rebuild once manning retires.

  3. Granted they weren’t all in one year, but Peyton Manning, TJ Ward, Darian Stewart, Aqib Talib, Owen Daniels & Emanuel Sanders were all FA signings by John Elway that culminated in the Broncos winning the super bowl.

  4. The Giants absolutely did improve their defense with those signings. But it cost them a fortune, and after a solid regular season the defense surrendered 23 first downs, 406 total yards and 38 points in a blowout playoff loss to the Packers — much of it just over two quarters. Was it worth it? No matter how much the defense improved, there are clearly still holes to fill, but how much money is left to accomplish that? Can they even afford to bring back JPP, who was already on the roster? I think we need more time to fairly evaluate the real cost effectiveness of those free agent signings.

  5. It worked well for the Giants. However, the draft is still the best way to build. Hopefully, Reese hits good in this draft. I believe OBJ’s contract is up in a year or so, there’s no way they let him go, and that will be an expensive contract.

  6. The Giants spent a lot of money, but they did not use a lot of cap space. They had an enormous amount under the cap last year, and used it wisely to give those guys front-loaded deals which took up a lot of cap-space last year, when they weren’t going to use it, as opposed to spreading out the bonuses over several years, which most deals do. In fact, many deals are usually back-loaded.The Giants were really smart by structuring those deals like that last year, and by signing guys who fit their schemes really well, as opposed to just signing the best available superstars.

  7. Steinberg made a great point recently that barring unusual circumstances very few A players make it to FA in any given year and and as a result B+ players often get A+ money. That said, sometimes that’s all a team needs and string a few of the right ones together and suddenly they add up to a collection of guys playing together at an A level. The Broncos in ’15 and NE in ’14 won Super Bowls by picking up the pieces they were missing in FA. No team has ever had the combination of cap space and draft picks Cleveland has this year and if they weren’t the Browns we might all be thinking ‘There’s a team that could get well fast.’ They may surprise us and actually do just that, after all the only thing keeping many of us from seriously entertaining the thought is that it’s the Browns.

  8. They were a one-and-done.

    And in early December, while vying for seeding, with *everything* to play for, the couldn’t beat a mathematically eliminated Eagles team with a rookie QB while the spotlight was on.

    I don’t see how that’s “working out well.”

  9. therealtrenches says:
    Mar 7, 2017 5:55 PM
    They were a one-and-done.

    And in early December, while vying for seeding, with *everything* to play for, the couldn’t beat a mathematically eliminated Eagles team with a rookie QB while the spotlight was on.

    I don’t see how that’s “working out well.”

    Last season 11-5

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