During the offseason, a lot of attention was given to the draft with exciting and promising rookies in Green and Dalton, replacing JJo with Nate Clements, and bringing in Gruden as the new OC. But two key newcomers who I felt got overshadowed by all these key acquisitions are Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson.
As we've seen, and Anthony & Josh pointed out in recent posts, Howard is playing absolutely lights out. And Lawson is performing solidly himself. The added icing on the cake is they are only 28 and 27, respectively, and each making around a considerably low $3M/yr. Not only did we find two more than adequate replacements for Rey and the injured Rivers, but they could end up becoming our bookend outside LB's for the next 4-5 years - as opposed to a temporary band-aid like Dhani Jones.
Obviously, the Bengals
scouting department scout over the years has been a joke, though these two recent pickups are evidence Marvin's claim of met demands by Mike Brown over his rehiring was actually legit. Not knowing anything about either of them prior to this season, I ended up researching the Raiders and 49ers blogs to find out why they were let go so easily.
Regarding Howard, most of the Raiders fans considered him as a disappointment, being relegated to backup and special teams over the years. And with Lawson departing, most 49er fans were apathetic, considering him a possible starting 4-3 OLB, but ineffective in their 3-4 system.
Bottom line, neither LB was regarded with much optimism and Cincinnati was the only team in the NFL to seriously consider them. If there were other teams interested, they would have costed more. We can say what we want about Mike Brown, but these FA landings (and surprise success of Dalton/Green) were in stark contrast to our traditional approach of overpaying aging veterans and providing refuge for the NFL's pariahs.
Out of curiosity, what offseason acquisition do you feel deserves the most kudos for research and decision making? Not necessarily our most valuable pickup, but the most bang for our buck in terms of scouting/personnel.