There is a lot going on in free agency everywhere right now except for Cincinnati, right? Seems like all the good players are getting picked up by good teams. Man, time to bash the front office! Get the pitchforks and torches!
But let's actually look at things a little more deeply. Who are the teams signing people? I think we can all agree that most, if not all of the contracts signed to this point are closer to potential land mines rather than stepping stones. Still, people are overrun by emotion and raising the roof on our foolish front office.
So, using the knowledge of our wise leader in a recent post entitled "The Bengals are on the Right Path", Jason Garrison points out that the Packers, Patriots, Ravens, and Falcons are the teams that have been to the playoffs 3 times in a row. I'm going to throw the Steelers in here as well, as despite our utter hatred for them, they should certainly be viewed as a model organization, probably more so than the Falcons. That group looks pretty legit, right? So what have these guys been doing in free agency? I'll use a player that signed with a different team as a -1, a signing as a +1 and any player in the PFT top 100 as a -1 as well, as having free agents on the loose seems to be a major source of conflict here in the jungle. I also will not include RFAs or resigning them, as they are pretty much stuck with their current team whether they like it or not.
Packers: Lost: Erik Walen. Signed: No one. Top Tier FA: Greg Jennings. Overall: -2
Overall, the only team that really has come out "ahead" is the Steelers. I should have included cuts into the equation, as they cut a lot of "big" players to sign all of those little guys there. Considering the Ravens had important cuts too it would probably emphasize my point more. But that is just more work than I wanted to do (comment section open to anyone who wants to put that down), and besides even without that I think the case makes itself.
But really, to reiterate, the guys that were signed (mostly re-signed) by all of the teams were: Greg Warren, Bruce Gradkowski, Ramon Foster, Davis Johnson, Larry Foote, Plaxico Burress, Danny Amendola, Chris Canty, Sam Baker, William Moore, Garrett Reynolds. Not exactly the hottest names in free agency.
And the dropped and FA players? Let's see: Dunta Robinson, Lawrence Sidbury, Brett Grimes, Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Paul Kruger, Daniel Ellerby, Donald Thomas, Wes Welker, Patrick Chung, Sebatian Vollmer, Aqib Talib, Klye Arrington, Keenan Lewis, Cary Williams, Ed Reed, Bryant McKinney, Eric Walden, Greg Jennings.
Damn. That second list seems a lot "better" than the first. But the good teams just aren't biting. How about the Bengals?
Now, it would seem to me that certain people are looking at some pretty bad teams making some pretty big moves and screaming at the top of their virtual lungs "Hey! Why aren't we doing that!" It's easier to see the big moves happening at big prices, while the real winners are the ones sitting in the corner waiting for those desperate teams to blow their wad and move in when the players' desperation favors them. I pose the question, considering this list, why in the world would the Bengals do much at all in the early stages of the game?
It seems to me that most good teams have figured out that economical free agency is the way to go, as by the end of next week I'm sure all of these teams will be much more active. Signing your own and adding value buys, which basically means buying after the initial wave of free agency is done, seems like as sound of a strategy as there is. I've said it before and I'll say it again, good teams build through the draft. They make free agency a precursor, not a supplement. It is slow and requires patience, but I think it's the best way to build a consistently good football team.